When Moses asked the Lord, who shall I say sent me to rescue you (the children of Israel who were in slavery in Egypt at the time), He said to Moses, “Tell them I AM sent you.” (Exodus 3:14). He had just had the encounter in the desert at the burning bush.
There are many references in the Old Testament to the Lord using His compound names which represented different aspects of Him, but “I Am” is sort of like the all-inclusive name, which is further broken down into certain characteristics of Him. We who read our Bible understand that our God is many faceted. He is our Healer, our Deliverer, our King, our Banner, our Provider, our Sustainer, our Righteousness, our Shepherd, the Prince of Peace and many, many more specific names describing a particular attribute of Him.
Jesus, who is God, also made some profound statements using “I am” to identify Himself. He called Himself the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Gate and the Door, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, the Way, the Truth and the Life and the True Vine. Jesus identified Himself as the great I Am.
Jesus asked Peter “Who do men say that I am?” Peter gave Him several answers that He had probably heard confessed by others. Then Jesus asked him, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter immediately acknowledged “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus commended Peter, telling him that His Father is the One who revealed that to Peter.
We can study the names of God, memorize them, speak them back to Him, but what He really desires is that we come to know Him in each of these attributes described throughout the Bible. Most of us, including me, have not taken the time necessary to know Him very well. We may have several attributes that we have some understanding because of life’s circumstances, but I would say that most of us do not know Him very well at all, compared to how much we can and how much He desires for us to know Him.
There are over 300 references related to God and I Am. It would take almost a year to only spend one day meditating on each of those names. Most of them will take a lifetime of getting to know Him in any depth on any one of those characteristics. I think that is why we will need all of eternity to plumb the depths and heights of who He really is! He is Holy which means “set apart, altogether different than.” No wonder those worshipping around His throne just continue to cry out “Holy, Holy, Holy!”
Paul’s heart cry in Philippians 3:10 was to “know Him.” Paul had suffered much for the sake of the gospel. He had realized all of his religious zeal and status had not brought him the fulfillment that he had been yearning for. I love his words just prior to that statement to know Him. (Verses 7-10): “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection, and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection of the dead.”
There is more you can read that may inspire you to make knowing Him your lifelong quest. Paul was a man who had been totally captivated by Jesus after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. His one desire was to please the Lord and share His great love with others. Paul was one of the most learned men of his time but he called it “garbage” in comparison with really knowing and encountering Him. He was willing to suffer great hardship throughout the remainder of his life, because of that encounter with Jesus. He had become a “love slave” for the One who became his Lord and Master. Nothing was too costly for him to make Jesus known to others.
As we finish out this year celebrating His birth into our world may we determine to make it our number one priority to get to know Him better. The only way that can happen is to spend time with Him. There are no short cuts, no cliff notes that will make the process easier or faster. In a world that is so fast paced and full of amazing opportunities and adventures, it is simply a choice that each one of us has to make. It has taken me many, many years as a believer to realize that He is the only One worth pursuing. It may look different for each one of us as to how we can pursue Him more fully. We can learn from those who have the fruit of intimacy and they can inspire us towards our own pursuit, but in reality it is an individual journey.
I have probably read well over a hundred biographies or autobiographies of those who made pursuit of Him their highest priority. Each one is unique and many are very different from my own journey thus far, but they have encouraged me to continue on my pursuit of knowing Him. Sometimes I will attempt to follow their example but always the outworking of my journey will look a little different than theirs. God made each of us unique and we express His life in us slightly differently than anyone else. That is His plan!
We are His image bearers. Clear back in Genesis the Lord made it plain that we were made in His likeness and image for the purpose of taking dominion over the earth. We gave that privilege away when our forefather Adam relinquished his authority to satan in exchange for the knowledge of good and evil. Jesus came to redeem us from our bad choices and empower us to live for Him once again. As we get to know Him for who He really is, we can become like Him.
The more we are like Him, the more others will desire to know the One we are representing. Make it your highest quest to pursue knowing Him from now on until the day you go Home to be with Him.