Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
After the first conflict between God and Pharaoh, Moses, who was God’s representative, was troubled and discouraged (5:22-23). In 6:1-8 God gave Moses a strong word concerning His name and His covenant. Because we are still short of the experience of God’s name and of the true realization of God’s covenant, we need to consider these matters in this message.
Let us first see the name of Jehovah God. His name denotes His person. It is not an empty title, but rather it is the definition of what He is.
In 6:3 God said to Moses, “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God All-sufficient; but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them” (Heb.). For years I was puzzled by this verse. I knew that according to certain verses in Genesis, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all familiar with the name Jehovah (Gen. 12:4; 26:25; 32:9). How can we reconcile these verses with the Lord’s word in 6:3? The answer rests in the fact that it is one thing to know a particular name and it is another thing to know God by that very name. For example, people all over the world know the name of Jesus. However, not all those who know this name also know the Lord by this name. To know the name of Jesus is one thing, but to know the Lord Jesus in an experiential way by His name is another. Jesus means Jehovah the Savior. People may be familiar with the name of Jesus, but they may have no experience of Jehovah the Savior.
This was my situation before I was saved. I was born into Christianity, and my mother taught me the story of Jesus. I even spoke of Jesus to others, and I defended Christianity against attack. However, I myself had no experience of Jesus as Jehovah the Savior. I knew the name, but I did not yet know the Lord by that name. In the same principle, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew the name Jehovah, but they did not know God by this name.
However, they did know the Lord as God All-sufficient, that is, as El Shaddai. El means the mighty One, and Shaddai implies the meaning of breast or udder. Hence, this divine title indicates that God is strong and all-sufficient. As such a One, He is the supplying God (Gen. 17:1; 28:3) and the promising God (Gen. 35:11).
Just as El Shaddai is God’s name for supply and promise, so Jehovah is His name for existence and fulfillment. As Jehovah, God is the existing God (Exo. 3:14; John 8:24, 28, 58) and the fulfilling God (Exo. 6:6-8). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died without enjoying the fulfillment of the promise (Heb. 11:13). In their experience God was the all-sufficient One, but He was not Jehovah. To them, He was the promising God, but He was not the fulfilling God. When God spoke to Moses in 6:1-8, He did not speak as El Shaddai, the promising God, but as Jehovah, the fulfilling God. Here God did not make a promise to Moses regarding the good land; rather, He came to fulfill the promise He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When God was making a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15, He indicated in verses 13 and 14 that it would be four hundred years before the promise concerning the good land would be fulfilled. These years were completed when Moses was eighty years of age. This indicates that what was a promise to Abraham was to be a fulfillment to Moses and to the children of Israel. Therefore, in chapter six God came to Moses and to the children of Israel, not as God All-sufficient, but as Jehovah.
In order for God to be the fulfilling God, He must be the existing God; that is, He must be the self-existing One. In a unique sense, the verb to be is applied only to Him. This verb is a basic component of the name Jehovah. In this universe He alone is the self-existing One. As the One who promised, He is El Shaddai; but as the One who fulfills what He has promised, He is Jehovah, the One who is. God’s existence is not dependent on anything apart from Himself. He exists eternally, having neither beginning nor ending. As Jehovah, God simply is.
Approximately four thousand years ago, God made a promise to Abraham concerning the good land. God’s promise has not yet been fulfilled to Abraham himself, because Abraham has not been resurrected. If God were not the self-existing One and the ever-existing One, the promise made thousands of years ago could not be fulfilled. However, because God is and always will be, He cannot fail to fulfill His promise. In this universe there is One who is, and this One is the fulfilling God. Whatever He says will come to pass. Jehovah will fulfill His word.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob experienced God as the supplying God and as the promising God. They knew Him by the name El Shaddai. But because they did not receive the fulfillment of the promise, they did not know Him by the name Jehovah, although, as we have pointed out, they did know this name. They died in faith without having received the fulfillment of what was promised. But in Exodus 6 God came in to fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For this reason, God said to Moses, “I am Jehovah” (6:2, Heb.). This means that God spoke to Moses and, through him, to the children of Israel as Jehovah, as the One who is.
For years I had difficulty understanding John 8. Three times in this chapter the Lord refers to Himself as “I am” (vv. 24, 28, 58). In verse 58 the Lord Jesus declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham came into being, I am.” As the great I Am, the Lord is the eternal, ever-existing God. Hence, He is before Abraham. Spiritually speaking, John 8 can be compared to Exodus 3, where the Lord reveals Himself to Moses as the I Am (v. 14).
We have pointed out that the name of Jesus means Jehovah the Savior. It does not mean El Shaddai the Savior. The One who came to be our Savior is the ever-existing One, the One who is. He came to fulfill all the promises made by God to His people. Therefore, Jesus came not to promise, but to fulfill. This means that He came not as El Shaddai, but as Jehovah.
In the same principle, God came to Moses as Jehovah, not as El Shaddai. It seems as if the Lord were saying, “Moses, your forefathers knew Me by the name El Shaddai. But now I want you to know Me and to experience Me by another name—by the name Jehovah, the name of the One who is. Whatever I have promised, I shall fulfill.”
The Lord spoke this way to Moses because Moses had complained to Him about the result of his negotiation with Pharaoh. Moses had told Him that Pharaoh had done evil to the people. Furthermore, Moses said, “Neither hast thou delivered thy people at all” (5:23). Therefore, God told Moses that He was Jehovah. He desired that Moses and all the children of Israel know Him by this name and that they experience Him as the existing God and as the fulfilling God. As the Lord was encouraging Moses, it seems as if He were saying, “Moses, don’t be troubled or discouraged. You need to realize that I am here not only as El Shaddai, but as Jehovah. It is time for you to experience Me as the I Am. As Jehovah, the ever-existing One, I shall fulfill My covenant.” When God came to Moses, He came not as El Shaddai, but as Jehovah. He came not to promise, but to fulfill what had already been promised. Therefore, there was no need for Moses to be disappointed or discouraged. God had come into his situation as the existing and fulfilling One.
This should not merely be doctrine to us; it should become our experience in a practical way. In the Lord’s recovery today we are not in the stage of promise; we are in the stage of fulfillment. The stage of fulfillment includes the fulfillment of the promises made both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. One New Testament promise is the Lord’s word, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). This word is being fulfilled among us today. This indicates that we are experiencing the Lord not only as El Shaddai, but also as Jehovah.
We must confess, however, that in our daily living we are short of the experience of the Lord as the great I Am. Although we enjoy singing the hymn about the riches of Christ (Hymns #542), day by day we may still be in poverty. How much do you experience God as Jehovah? It is rather easy to know Him by the name El Shaddai and to declare that He is rich, almighty, and all-sufficient. However, it is quite another thing to have the real experience of the I Am. If we would know God by the name Jehovah, we must have experience. Otherwise, we shall be like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who knew this name without having any experience of it.
More than forty years ago, the church was raised up in my home town. I was very busy with my job in a large corporation. Also, the church affairs required a great deal of my time. It was necessary for me to speak in the church meetings at least four times a week. The Lord’s blessing was upon us, and the number of saints was increasing. I became more and more burdened to give up my job to serve the Lord full time. Over a period of months, I went to the Lord about this matter again and again, but I was not able to settle it. Because the Lord would not let me go, I could neither eat well nor sleep well. Eventually I reached the point where I could not go on until this issue was resolved. One night as I was dealing with the Lord, He reminded me that I had promised to serve Him full time. I told Him that I had made that promise before I had a wife and children. Now I was very concerned how I could support my family if I were to leave my job to serve the Lord. Prior to that time, I had come to know God’s promises concerning His provision. I knew that if we seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, whatever we need will be added to us. However, I did not know God as the fulfilling God. That night not only did the Lord unveil His word to me, but He also unveiled Himself as the One who fulfills His promises. Then the Lord gave me an ultimatum—either take Him or not take Him. As I rose up from my knees, I said with tears, “Lord, I take You.” When I rose to my feet, I knew within that the matter had been settled. From that time until this present hour, the Lord has been real to me as the fulfilling God. I have experienced Him again and again as the I Am. Because He is the I Am, Jehovah never fails. He never ceases to exist; He is and He always will be. From my years of experience I can testify that God is. Hallelujah, we can know Him not only as the all-sufficient God, but also as the One who is!
Young people, my burden in this message is especially for you. I am grateful to the Lord for your faithfulness to His recovery. But I realize that there is a long journey ahead of you and that many trials and tests await you. I want to testify to you that the very God whom you are serving is not only El Shaddai, but also Jehovah. He is not only the sufficient One and the promising One, but also the existing One and the fulfilling One. Because He is the One who is, He will fulfill all that He has promised. I may not be able to keep my word because I may cease to be. But because Jehovah exists eternally and because He is the reality of the verb to be, He will fulfill whatever He has spoken. When you encounter tests, trials, and difficulties, you should say, “Lord, You are. My problems will end, but You, Lord, will be forever.”
Pharaoh was much more powerful than the children of Israel. Nevertheless, after a little while, Pharaoh became nothing. He could withstand the Lord only for a short period of time. After Pharaoh had ceased to be, Jehovah still was.
In chapter six the Lord encouraged Moses by causing him to know Him as Jehovah. It seems as if the Lord were saying, “Moses, you need to know Me by the name Jehovah. You must know Me according to My being, according to My existence. Since I am the great I Am, what reason do you have to be discouraged?” Here the Lord was training Moses to experience Him and to know Him by the name Jehovah.
Do you experience the Lord only as El Shaddai, or do you also experience Him as Jehovah? When you have a need or are in difficulty, do not merely praise the Lord for His richness and sufficiency. You should also praise Him that He is the One who is. Do not simply thank Him that He is able and mighty, but declare boldly, “Lord, You are.” When they are in need, many Christians pray to the Lord as the sufficient One. But have you ever heard of Christians praising the Lord for His eternal existence? The Lord is longing for some to proclaim, “Lord, You are!” We need to be those who praise the Lord in this way.
We should not simply thank the Lord for His richness, sufficiency, and ability. If we have received the revelation of the Lord as the I Am, we shall pray in a new way. When trouble comes, we shall go to the Lord and say, “Lord, here is a problem, but You are. You are the I Am, and I believe in You.”
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