What is His Name - RR171E09

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: What is His Name
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 9
Length: 0:39:00
TapeCode: RR171E9
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him. He also will hear their cry, and will save them. Where two or three are gathered together in My name, saith the Lord Jesus, there am I in the midst of them.

Oh Lord, our God, we give thanks unto thee that, although the ungodly take counsel together and conspire against thee, thy anointed and thy people, thou dost hold them in derision. Thou dost laugh at their pretentions. Make us mindful, always Lord, of thy heavenly laughter. Give us serenity in the face of these evildoers, and give us a holy boldness that we may be more than conquerors as we face the powers of darkness. Bless and strengthen us by thy word and by thy spirit, and grant us thy peace. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture is Exodus 3:11-18. Our subject: What is His Name? Exodus 3:11-18. “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And He said, certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM : and he said , Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together , and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying , I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said , I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.” [00:04:46]

This is a key passage in scripture, because it is basic...[edit]

This is a key passage in scripture, because it is basic to any understanding of God. If a man does not understand this passage, he has not grasped the full meaning of the faith, of the nature of the God with whom we have to do. One way to begin by studying this passage is to remember Otto Scott’s reaction during a great storm at sea during World War II, when he said to himself, “God is no buttercup.”

Men want to define God in terms of their own understanding, and they regularly pervert the Bible to do it. Thus, in I John 4:8 we read, “God is love,” and the word translated as love is “agape,” which is indeed love, but love in the sense of grace. John is writing about the need for grace, forgiveness, and love in the Christian community, and he reminds believers that God’s being towards them is one of agape, of love, of mercy and grace, and they must manifest this one to another. But we cannot call this a definition of God. It describes one aspect of God’s being. In Exodus 34:14, we read the commandment, “For thou shalt worship no other gods, for the Lord whose name is jealous is a jealous god.” The word, the Hebrew word means “jealous” or “angry.” But we can no more use this statement, that God’s name is jealous then, that God’s name is love, to define God. The same is true of statements that tell us, that God is judgment, that God is mercy, or anything else. [00:07:18]

These are all attributes of God, not definitions...[edit]

These are all attributes of God, not definitions. A definition is a limitation, and you cannot limit God. You can define a piano by describing what it is, because it has limits. It occupies so much space. You can identify a building in terms of certain limits. All definitions are limits, they say what a thing is and what it is not. They give us boundaries, or fences around a concept or an idea, or a thing to help us to understand it. But God is infinite, and He is beyond all definition. He is the source of all definition. “By Him were all things made, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” It is God who defines all creation, because He created it. We define all things in terms of His law, His standard. And definitions are possible because there is a standard, a point of reference and that point of reference is God who is the creator and definer or all things.

This is why there is no grammar today, according to the new grammar. Anything is valid, and they speak about a black grammar, they speak about different kinds of grammar, a do-it-yourself grammar. Why? Because there are no standards, then definition collapses, anything is valid. Meaning disappears. There is only meaning in the world because there is God who is the creator and definer of all things, so we cannot look at anything or define anything, or understand anything apart from God, because if we attempt to do so, we have a false definition which ultimately becomes no definition at all. But God cannot be defined, because He is above and beyond all definition. He is the source of all definition. When we deny the ultimacy of God and His infallible word, we then substitute ourselves and our word and we then reduce meaning to anarchy. Every man becomes his own god, and definer. That’s the meaning of Genesis 3:5, “Ye shall be as God, knowing,” which means determining, “good and evil, all things for yourself,” you’re going to define all things. If you’re going to like it, you’ll call it “good.” If you don’t, it’s “bad.” You become the definer. [00:11:09]

Now this was Moses’ problem...[edit]

Now this was Moses’ problem. God confronts Moses, beside the burning bush, and he commissions him. First, he is to go to Pharaoh, and order Pharaoh to, “Let my people go.” Second, God declares to Moses He will be with him in all of this, and third, the token or proof that God is the source of His commission as this, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” That’s a peculiar proof. God isn’t an easy God to deal with, but He’s the only God there is. Then he says only after you’ve done all these things are you going to get the proof. Now, Pharaoh, or Pharaoh’s father sought to kill you, go back there and face his son. Tell him to let my people go, and then I’ll give you proof, after you’ve led them out of Egypt, after you’ve brought them here to this mountain to worship me.

Well, God makes it clear that we have to move ahead by faith, by faith. Before this revelation, God, God of Moses’ father, Amram, who’s a strange God to Moses. Moses had left Pharaoh’s palace by faith to rejoin his own people, and God had not supported him, and so he was no longer a part of the palace of Egypt, nor a part of Israel, his own people. Now, many years later, when Moses had no advantage as he did when he was a prince, God appears to say, “Certainly, I will be with thee.” All this Moses could not understand. And he answers by saying, “The children of Israel will not understand either. When I tell them,” he says, “the God of your fathers has sent me unto you, and they shall say unto me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say unto them?”

Now, names in Antiquity, and well into the modern era have, in many cultures been definitions. Definitions. Lest a man’s name would change as his character changed. We do not know, the Bible does not tell us what Abraham’s first name was, but then we know that God called him and said that, “I’m giving you a new name, Abram. Father of many.” Later, He changed it again to expand it, he was to be the “father of a multitude,” an Abraham was to carry that name by faith when he didn’t have a single child. That took faith. And if he hadn’t been a very powerful man, with 318 fighting men ready to help him, who worked for him, who were in his household, he couldn’t have gotten away with that name very well. But, it took faith, and Abraham used that name. [00:15:42]

Thus, when Moses says, ...[edit]

Thus, when Moses says, “What is your name, God?” Moses asked God to define Himself. He said, “I don’t understand you, God, and the people aren’t going to understand you. Yes, you were with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but where have you been all this time. Centuries have past, we have suffered, where have you been? I don’t understand you, you are strange and bewildering to me, and if you are to me, what about the elders of Israel? How much are they going to understand?” He asked God to explain Himself, and to define Himself, and this God refuses to do. He declares Himself simply to be “I am that I am,” or “He who is,” “I am He who is, the self-existent one, the eternal being. I am beyond comprehension. I am beyond definition. I am the source of all definition, and I cannot be defined.” It is He alone who can truly define, because “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

So God says to Moses, “Simply tell the people, I am. ‘He who is sent me unto you.’” Then God adds another sentence. “Carry this message,” he says “to the elders of Israel. The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” A strange name. He says, “The only name you can put upon Me is how I have revealed Myself. I am the God who revealed Myself to Abrahams, Isaac, and Jacob. I am known through my revelation.” So he says today, “You want a definition of Me? Here it is, in My word, in the scriptures. In My revelation of Myself in what I have done from Day One until now. That’s the only revelation you will have. What I have done.” Because all of God’s being is consistent. We can never know God exhaustively or holy, but we can always know Him truly, because if we know only a small measure of God’s being as He has dealt with us, and met with us, and redeemed us. We know Him truly, even though that is like a grain of sand compared to the ocean of sand in this world, and the universe. [00:19:43]

So, God says first that He cannot be defined...[edit]

So, God says first that He cannot be defined. But that, then He says He can be known in His self-revelation. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God who reveals Himself, and who enters into a covenant with His people. For us this means we have the whole of God’s scripture, as God’s self-revelation, and we can know Him truly though never exhaustively in His word. God is the Lord. Jehovah or Yahweh, He who is the self-existent one.

Then next, God declares, “This is My name, this is my definition to the generations to the end of time. I can never be reduced to any attribute. I am God, the self-existent being, I am the definer, I am God, He who is. I am that I am.” The absolute determiner of the Lord of all history. After the Red Sea crossing, Israel sang joyfully the song of Moses which began, “I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider He hath thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will prepare Him an habitation, my Father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a man of war. The Lord is His name.” The statement, “The Lord, or Jehovah is a man of war,” is again no more a definition than is the statement, “God is Love,” or that “His name is jealous.” It cites an attribute of God. That God wages war against covenant breaking man. The Lord is His name. He who is is His name. He is the self-existent creator who is the Lord and determiner of all history. Then, next He says, “This is my memorial,” or remembrance “to all generations.” In Hosea 5:12 we read, The Lord God of Hosts, the Lord or Jehovah, or He who is, is his memorial, or remembrance, or name. Memorial is a synonym of name in the Bible. God says that His self-revelation will suffice. He is who He is, or I will be what I will be. Thus God, in using the name which states His being as beyond definition, as the same time makes clear that He is a person, the supreme person in terms of whom we are persons. [00:23:38]

Moses was a rejected man...[edit]

Moses was a rejected man. Now he is told that the elders of Israel will hear His voice. They shall hearken to thy voice, God says. This harkening would be a faulty and a sinning one. It would be a rebellious one. But, all the same despite the rebellions, and they were many, Moses would be their leader under God. To reconstitute Israel as a covenanted community, it was necessary for Israel to separate itself from Egypt, and by means of long-neglected sacrifices, renew the covenant with God. C.D. Ginsburg make clear, very, very tellingly, why a three-day’s journey into the wilderness was necessary. And I quote from Ginsburg’s comment of more than a century ago, “The necessity for withdrawing to so great a distance rose from that remarkable peculiarity in the Egyptian religion, the worship of animals. Cows, or at any rate, white cows were sacred throughout the whole of Egypt, and to kill them was regarded as a crime of the deepest kind. Sheep were sacred to the inhabitants of {Nome?} or Canton. Goats, to those of another. Unless the Hebrews retired to a place where there would be no Egyptians, they would not be able to perform their sacred rites without danger of disturbance, and even bloodshed.”

Now turning again to the name of God, “I am that I am” has, according to some scholars, an indefinite text and can mean equally, “I was, I am being, and I will be,” and this is echoed in Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is and which was, and which is to come the Almighty. J.C. Connell has said, and I quote, “I am that I am, signifies that He is self-existent. The only real being and the source of all reality that He is self-sufficient, that He is eternal and unchangeable in His promises. That He is what He will be, all choice being according to His own will and pleasure. In addition, the name preserves much of His nature hidden from curious and presumptuous inquiry. We cannot, by searching, find Him out.”[00:27:10]

Back in the 50’s, a very prominent film actress declared...[edit]

Back in the 50’s, a very prominent film actress declared, after her widely acclaimed conversion, “God is a living doll.” Such a statement Moses could never had made. He was known of God, and therefore, he knew God, the great, the eternal “I am that I am.” Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, how great and marvelous thou art, and we thank thee that thou who didst make heaven and earth hast revealed thyself unto us, and hast declared that thou wilt be our God unto death and beyond death. That thou wilt never leave us nor forsake us so that we may boldly say “The Lord is my helper.” I shall not fear what man may do unto me. We thank thee that thou art the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Amram and Moses, and our God, and the God of our children. Oh Lord, our God, make us ever joyful in this our status in thy covenant. In thy grace and mercy unto us. And make us ever strong in thy service, knowing that we have been called to victory, and that this is a victory which overcometh the world, even our faith. And so, our God, we come to cast our every care upon thee who carest for us, to commit all our ways into thy hands. To yield ourselves unto thee as living sacrifices to be used by thee. In thee do we put our trust. In Jesus name, Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] the difference in definition is interesting. We see this in writers attempting to do biographies larger than themselves, and they can’t explain them.

[Rushdoony] Very good point. And definition is breaking down in every sphere today. The only way they can approach men bigger than themselves is to belittle them.

[Audience] {?}

{Rushdoony} Yes, yes. Any other? Yes?

[Audience] Suggested this name of God in Revelation of God, I am, distinguishes Him from everything else, that is, in light of the fact that man is created in the image of God, does this name have any implications for His creatures? [00:31:31]

[Rushdoony] We are created in terms of the communicable...[edit]

[Rushdoony] We are created in terms of the communicable attributes of God. In other words, there are incommunicable attributes and communicable. The incommunicable attributes are things like eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, and so on. Man can never have that. We are created in terms of the communicable attributes of God, and the Bible, in various verses, cites some of those. The ones it cites are knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion. Now, in those respects, we are created in the image of God. So, we have the ability to know God because of those images, in his self-revelation. But the image of God in man is only the communicable aspects of this being.

[Audience] “I think, therefore I am,” is blasphemy.

[Rushdoony] Yes, Descartes’ statement is the height of folly, because he presupposes that the world is going to be established beginning with his thinking, and it leads to the great statement, not great in its truth, but in its monstrous character, in the preface I believe, to the second edition of Kant’s critique of Pure Reason, yes, in which he says, “Heretofore, men have sought to conform their knowledge to the world existing outside of them. Now, we will conform the world to our minds,” because the great reality, the god in his universe, is man’s reason. So we’ve turned the world upside down since Kant, and everything that is happening in our world today is developing further the implications of Immanuel Kant’s thinking. Now, in something I was writing this week for one of the books I’m working on, I dealt with what had happened since World War I, in the attitude towards marriage. It was in 1927 that the first course in marriage and family was taught at the university, and it was at the University of North Carolina, where a good many evil things originate. Ernest {Groze?} was the first professor. But by the end of World War II, this was changing so it was no longer marriage and family, but increasingly sex education. Now we have seen, in this century, the greatest revolution since the Fall of Rome, because all society the world over, pagan and Christian, was family-centered to some degree, and Christianity more so than any other, because it was truer. Well, when it was family-centered, it meant the individual did not take priority, it was the family and the family under God and His word. So, what has happened now is that, in all these courses, the one thing that cannot be introduced is religion and morality, because it implies a standard from outside and consumerism has triumphed. So, the whole approach, whether it’s on a grade school level or a university level in these courses, which were once family and marriage courses and are now sex education courses, is on consumer education. The child or the young man or woman as a consumer, which means therefore, all law is dissolved. The whole of the family apparatus is dissolved and we have had the most radical revolution in all of the history of Christendom, perhaps in the history of the world, and we’ve been living in this revolution since World War II without fully comprehending the extent of its power and its devastation, and why it is destroying the entire world. Any other questions or comments? Well if not, let us conclude with prayer. [00:37:37]

Our Lord and our God, it is good for us to be here...[edit]

Our Lord and our God, it is good for us to be here, for thy word is truth. Thy word is a light unto us upon our way. Thy word is a promise of victory. Make us strong in thy word and by thy spirit, that we may triumph in the face of all things, and rejoice in the certainty of thy government, and of thy word. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:38:49]

End of tape