I AM THAT I AM
by Lancelot C. Knight
Much commentary has been written about the name “I Am That I Am”, the name that the LORD gave to Moses when He appeared to him in a “flame of fire” from the midst of the burning-but-not-consumed bush upon the mountain of God in Exodus chapter three. The consensus among most scholars and commentators is that the LORD is simply saying He is the self-existing One or that He will be whatever He will be.
But here’s the thing about names. Names denote or describe the nature or the character of a thing or of a creature or of a person. I mean, you know what a bear and a snake and lamb are, right? And you know both the characteristic of the natural animals bearing those names and the representative animal characteristic or nature that people exhibit from time to time… e.g. she’s a real bear, or watch out, that guy is a snake, or she’s as gentle as a lamb. And so it is we read in Genesis that Adam named (natured) all the animals the LORD brought to him… therefore they all reside in “the field”, that is the nature of beasts dwell within us (adam).
We also see numerous times in the Bible that when one’s nature or character is changed, his or her name is likewise changed, for again, name denotes nature.
Here are some examples. First we have Abram whose name was changed to Abraham (after God redeemed him out the land of Ur, land of idolatry) and his wife Sarai whose name was changed to Sarah.
Gen 17:15 And God said unto Abraham (father of many nations, whose name was changed from Abram, meaning exalted father), As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai (princess), but Sarah (nobelwoman) shall her name be.
We also see Jacob’s name, which means “heel grabber” or “supplanter”, changed to Israel (prevailer or Prince of or with God). This change of Jacob’s nature, and therefore his name, occurred after he wrestled with God all through the night to the point he could no longer walk on his own (with his own supplanting will), for the hollow (power) of his thigh (his base) was out of joint (properly to sever oneself… see Strong’s). In other words, having now been broken and made lame, his power or base for walking would no longer be through the (worldly) nature of self-will and supplanting, but from hence forth by the (heavenly) nature and power of God. You see, spiritual victory, the “prevailing with God” (Israel), comes only from the defeat of self, defeat of the son of perdition, the man of sin, who is our own self-serving supplanting (the substituting or circumventing of the power of God), by self (yes antichrist, instead of Christ), who fights with everything he’s got to remain in power. Many would call this defeat “hitting bottom”, and if you’ve ever been there, and I have… you will find it is a bottomless pit indeed.
Gen 32:28 And he said, Thy name (your nature) shall be called no more Jacob (supplanter), but Israel (prevailer or Prince of (with) God): for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed (hast overcome).
There is much more that could be said about this change of nature (name) that Jacob experienced. For one thing, we find in Gen. 32:24 that he wrestled in darkness “until the breaking of the day”… until the dawn when the true Light shined, which is when he was truly blessed because he “saw God face to face”, as in came in the presence of the One Who dwells in the inner sanctuary of the heart, the holy of holies within the temple of God (know you not that you are the temple of God?). That is why Jacob named the place Peniel, which means “face of God”. Have you been to that “place” or are you still wrestling in the night?
Gen 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
The word “preserved” used in this verse means delivered, rescued, recovered, saved.
There was also another who saw the Light, the Dawn, the breaking of the Day, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. His name was Saul (meaning desired or willed) of Tarsus (the bull)… as in self-willed and bull-headed (lol). Remember Saul became Paul (little, dwarfed) by the Grace of God when the Light from above struck him and he “fell to the earth” from his high and lofty place. Saul was knocked off (dethroned) his horse (power) and given a new heart (heaven) and thus he became a new creature. Ah, man made into the image (pertaining to the heart, heaven) and likeness (pertaining to the mind, earth) of God. This is what is meant by the old heaven and old earth passing away and the new heaven (heart) and new earth (mind), i.e. the new creation coming into being by the spirit and power of God.
And of course we have you… when your nature changes (or changed) because your cold stone heart is (or was) replaced with a new heart, a heart with fleshly tables for the writing upon of the new covenant (3 Co 3:3).
Rev 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
A white stone is simply a pure heart and do you know what the new name (new nature) written therein is?
Rev 22:4 And they shall see his face (at Peniel); and his name (his nature) shall be in their foreheads.
Then shall these overcomers (you) be who they are, humble and contrite and of a pure heart, having been tried by fire and given a white stone. This is not a just a mere change of heart but the replacing (by the passing away, destruction even) of the old one (temple) that is defiled and polluted, and thus a new name, a new nature, a new creation is made in the image of God. I mean, that is what the New Covenant is… the writing of the new nature, God’s ways, in one’s heart and mind.
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel (changed from Jacob at Peniel) after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
Now don’t let your mind run off and think this “writing” is somehow done with like pen and ink (a little teenage lingo there), or that God will somehow fill you with scriptural knowledge. Doctrinal beliefs filling our carnal minds do us no good whatsoever. In fact they “kill” us, make us spiritually dead to the letter. Been there and done that. On the other hand, spiritual principles engrafted in our hearts do make a positive difference in our lives. You see, this writing within the book, in us, is done live, as we live, and in real time through life’s experiences in the realm of reality. And it is accomplished through a combination of ups and downs, good and bad experiences, trials and tribulations (wars and earthquakes in divers place) along with some chastisement (the left hand), and also through revelation, spiritual enlightenment (the right hand).
2Co 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
This is the making of Man, born again (renaissance), born from above, made in the image and likeness of God, the Spirit (man, bridegroom) and the Soul (woman, bride) becoming ONE will, one nature… bearing His Name.
Heb 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
As the go between, Jesus Christ, the Mediator (the only mediator between God and man, aka the Comforter and the Spirit of Truth, is the One who brings forth the good will, the voice of the Father, from heaven (heart) to the earth (your mind). To that end, it is written that the only thing Jesus Christ speaks is that which is given to Him by the Father (Jn. 12:49, 14:10).
Now let’s get back to the name, or nature, of “I Am that I Am”. Simply stated, the LORD IS who He IS… at all times whether past, present, or future, and no matter what the circumstances are. In other words, God never changes who He is.
Mal 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
It is significant to note that the Hebrew word for “change” used in this verse means to “disguise oneself”. Here is another verse.
Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
Now, knowing that God IS who He IS at all times, how about you? Are you who you are… at all times, no matter what the circumstances? Do you have His nature (name) written in your forehead? Do you “change not” or do you disguise yourself at times?
Well, how is it we disguise ourselves? By not being who we really are, by changing our behavior to exact a particular reaction from someone. Some people worry so much what other people think, and they are so used to living their lives according to outside influence, or their perception of same, they don’t really know who they are! Others like to appear superior, elevated, like some of our politicians or puffed up preachers do, or to appear righteous to men like Pharisees and Bible toters do, and I could on and on because I am and have been as guilty as anyone in many of these disguises, in fact probably more so than most. But by His grace, even bringing me through the fiery trials, at least now I can get passed (overcome as they say) much of the denial and can see the Pharisee in me and am willing to admit it to myself and others. The point is, the fact is, that when we “act” a certain way we are not “being”… but acting! Therefore as hypocrites, as actors, as changers, as disguisers, we cannot say “I Am Who I Am” after the nature (name) of God.
Consider the following verse:
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The world, including most churches, teaches “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” by the precepts of men (Isa 29:13). People who live this way are those who ask the question “What Would Jesus Do?” In other words, instead of actually being who they really are they act according to a set of standards and beliefs and perceptions of the way they think God (or others) wants them to. Again, they act the way they “think” (which is of the mind, the world) they should act, which is conforming to their belief system which has been built upon sand (carnal, the mind) and not upon the Rock (spiritual, the heart).
But that is not how those who hear what the spirit has to say live their lives anymore. They no longer conform to the teachings and traditions of men, but are rather transformed (transfigured) by the Light, by the “renewing” of their minds by the Holy Spirit dwelling within (Tit 3:5). To them, Jesus, the “man” they saw and walked with daily, has gone away and now returned unto them as a “flame of fire” in the Spirit of Truth as the Comforter. They no longer see with earth-realm eyes but with eyes that see into the spiritual realm, the kingdom of God. Another way to describe this is that conforming is done from the outside in (world influencing the mind), while transforming is done from the inside out (heaven, the kingdom of heaven coming to the earth).
You see, when the son of perdition, the man of sin who sits upon the throne of our hearts (in the holy temple where he should not be), is dethroned by Jesus Christ when He comes suddenly to His temple, his (antichrist’s) entire beastly (worldly, of the earth) religious system and all its elements (rudiments) comes crashing down and is cast into the lake of fire and consumed by the spirit of God, who is a consuming fire… and from thenceforth they no longer follow (worship) the beast (of the mind). And you know what else? That person, now renewed by the Spirit of God, no longer has to premeditate, which is to “think”, about what he (or she) says, because what he or she now speaks comes from the heart where the spirit dwells. Antichrist has been delivered up and the beast is no more… and the man of God is become who he is… made in the image and likeness of God!
There is a saying, yea even a mantra, in AA and its sister 12 Step recovery programs like Al-anon, OA, and GA, which is “To Thine Own Self Be True.” The problem is that in order to do that, you have to know yourself. You have to become rigorously honest with yourself and get passed (overcome) the denial that the mind (the supplanter and usurper of the throne of God) places in front of you, and return, which is what repent means, to the “ROOT” of the tree, to the tree of life, which is spiritual in nature, because it is of the “heart”… not the mind.
It is written in 2 Peter that it is God’s will that ALL should come to repentance, which means return to Him. But how is that done? Well, consider that the word “repent” actually means to think differently, to re-think. But what exactly does that mean? Well to think is to reason or dialog. So if you need to repent, to think on a different basis, you need to change who it is you are reasoning with, or dialoging with! In fact this goes right back to garden where Adam listened to the reasoning of his woman, who is influenced by the serpent, the seed of which IS the carnal mind, which as you know is enmity with God (Rom. 8:7), i.e. enmity with the seed of the woman, Christ.
Here is the definition of “reason” as used in Mat 16:7:
Διαλογίζομαι dialogizomai dee-al-og-id’-zom-ahee
From G1223 and G3049; to reckon thoroughly, that is, (generally) to deliberate (by reflection or discussion): – cast in mind, consider, dispute, muse, reason, think.
Now consider the following example of erroneous reasoning:
Mat 16:5 And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread.
The important thing you need to know about these disciples is that they have now “come to the other side”, as in crossed over the sea!
Mat 16:6 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Why is Christ bringing up the subject of religious people here, now that they are on the “other side”? And what is this leaven He is warning them about?
Mat 16:7 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread.
They held a Bible Study and “reasoned among themselves” to determine what the words of Christ meant. Surely their intentions were good and noble, weren’t they? Again, they simply wanted to “know” what the words of Jesus meant. The problem is that their consensus as to the meaning is totally wrong… because their reasoning, their thinking, is with man, i.e. with their carnal minds. You see, it is not about what you “believe” but what you “know”.
Mat 16:8 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?
Why does Jesus accuse them of having “little faith” for merely having Bible Study? Because their “reasoning”, their thinking and dialoging, is seriously flawed and on the wrong level, as in thought out in the wrong realm and discussed with the wrong party. Therefore they cannot possibly reach “understanding” within themselves. They can only form a doctrinal belief, a teaching based on error.
You “see”, the conclusion they came up with is that they brought no bread… which is something you don’t live on… on the other side, for you now “hear the VOICE of GOD” and follow His commands! Have you not read that “Man shall not “live” by bread alone… but every “word” that proceeds out of the “mouth of God?”
So now Jesus questions them as to why they do not yet understand and tells them to connect with their memories regarding what they experienced and saw concerning the quantities of bits and pieces of knowledge and understanding that were taken up in baskets following the feeding of “bread” and “fish” to the multitudes.
Then they finally understood what Jesus said… which was beware of doctrine (teachings) of Pharisees, religious people along their churches. You see, the things they teach and believe come from vain (empty) imaginations (images), which are conceived in the mind, precepts of men… even by the reasoning together of Biblical scholars who document and document what they teach but themselves have “seen” nothing. I speak from the personal experience of having been there and done that. The carnal mind simply cannot understand the things of the spirit.
Anyway, the point is that if you want to “reason” together with someone, let it be the LORD.
Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isa 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
Isa 1:20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Here is another perspective to consider, to take to heart! This is Paul writing in Galatians.
Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
How can you serve the Spirit of Truth, how can you be a servant of Christ, if you are a “people pleaser”? And don’t confuse this with civility, i.e. trying to be pleasing or pleasant to people.
Gal 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
Gal 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
What Paul came to “know” He did not and could not “learn” from the pages of a book or the teachings of any great Biblical scholar like Gamaliel. Neither can you. But when the Light struck there was a “great falling away” and he did fall… to the earth, as in he was cast down to the earth. What Paul received that “day” was not taught to him nor was it given to him by any man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. You see, one cannot “learn” or “study” a revelation and one can never tell when it will come, as in no one knows the hour. Saul/Paul was certainly not expecting it, was he? He was all wrapped up in his religious studies and teachings and gallantly traveling on the road to Damascus.
Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
Gal 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
It happens according to God’s time, each man in his own order, i.e. “when it pleases God”. And when it pleases Him, at that time, in that Day, He “causes the separation of the man [Jesus] from the womb [virgin Mary in us]” as He calls us by His grace.
I realize this separation cannot be understood by those to whom it has not happened. I speak of the revelation of Jesus Christ. I know that to be true because I myself taught this verse many, many times during my lifetime and now I know I really had no clue as to what it meant. So if you don’t understand, and that’s perfectly ok, my witness and my telling you the very same thing Paul tells you in the next verse won’t really make a difference. All I can say is be patient in the LORD and in time He PROMISES He will make sure you “see”… and at that time you will come face to face with Him. And when that happens, you will not need any man or doctrinal teaching of any kind, or any writings of prophecy, etc., to tell you about his Son, about His coming… because at that time, in that DAY, He will be revealed IN YOU!
Gal 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
Again, the good news is that God will fulfill His promise to you, because it is His WILL that none should perish but that ALL should come to repentance, return to Him.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
And you know what? Not one of us is excluded or exempted from the ALL… because we are ALL in adam, which means ALL die. And since that is indeed God’s will, then sooner or later ALL shall return to Him, though as it is written “each man in his own order (1 Cor. 15:23)”. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22).”
Well, you say, why and how shall we return to Him? This great question is actually asked in the Book of Malachi, whose name means “my messenger”.
Mal 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
The first part of this verse which speaks about going away from His ordinances and not keeping them, very often does not spiritually compute for many Christians, especially those who do not have eyes to see inwardly, into the spiritual realm within. In other words, many do not get the “message” of “his messenger”, Malachi, because they cannot hear what the Spirit in their heart has to say. Oh, we get it in terms of the law, like “not stealing” and “not committing adultery” in the earth-realm of our daily lives to the point that if we no longer do those things we think we are keeping His commandments… when the fact is we are not only spiritually blind but also deaf to the point we don’t even hear His voice or His commandments. We are simply conforming. Again, this I know to be true from firsthand experience, from wandering in the church wilderness in the congregation (body) of Moses, a spiritually dry desert place, for forty years. But Moses, representative of the law, cannot lead us into the promised land. Even so to this day, Satan (our carnal mind) contends for the body of Moses… another good reason to beware of the leaven (doctrine) of Pharisees.
So, the question has been asked, “Wherein (as in, for what reason) shall we return to the LORD of hosts?” Next verse in Malachi.
Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
This is a really popular verse that is used regularly by preachers to lay guilt trips upon their congregations for not giving or not giving enough money to the church. But this verse has nothing to do with money. It has to do with “defrauding” God, not the church treasury. Here’s the Hebrew word and definition for “robbed” in verse 8.
H6906 קבע qâba‛ kaw-bah’
A primitive root; to cover, that is, (figuratively) defraud: – rob, spoil.
Mal 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
What is this cursing with a curse? Well, try this from Gal 3:10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.” Well, what do you mean the works of the law? It means trying to adhere to the letter… through your own supplanting efforts.
We read 2 Co 3:3 earlier. Let’s review that and continue on a few verses.
2Co 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
2Co 3:4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
2Co 3:5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Do our religious practices, including our Bible studies and keeping of church sanctioned ways, avail us any favor with God?
2Co 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
The letter kills because the keeping of the law (the letter) is done with the flesh carnal mind. That is why it is called the “ministration of death in letters (literal translation)” in the next verse of 2 Cor, vs 7. What does it mean then, “the letter kills”? It means you will be “dead” spiritually, as in unsatisfied deep within and unfulfilled and you will try and find “life” wrestling all through the night… until Peniel.
Let’s go back to Galatians chapter three and finish that thread concerning the curse.
Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Here is the question one more time: Do our religious practices, including our Bible studies and keeping of ordinances and certain days, and church sanctioned ways, avail us any favor with God?
Gal 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The truth that comes from the Spirit through faith sets us free from the bondage of the ministration of death, from the letter that kills, and brings us the blessing of peace through the receiving of the Spirit of Truth. You see, at that point our spirit (will) and His spirit (will) become one spirit… through Jesus Christ… and we become who we are in Christ, bearing His Name (nature) in our foreheads.
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Our source of power, the way we walk, is changed at Peniel, when we come face to face with God.
Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Do you know where God’s house is (1 Cor 3:16)? When we understand that the new covenant replaced (replaces) the first or old one, because God found fault with the first one (Heb. 8:7) in that it was written in stone (our hard heads) instead of in the heart where it becomes more than just a cardinal ordinance, then those who have the witness of Jesus (have seen His face) will know that it is the LORD who receives the tithe, the firstfruits of our soul, not the Levitical Priesthood or the modern church preacher.
Heb 7:8 And here (old covenant, Levitical) men that die receive tithes; but there (new covenant, after the order of Melchisidec) he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
And the storehouse, the treasury, is in heaven where moths and rust cannot corrupt.
Mat 6:20 But keep on storing up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Here are a few final thoughts on repentance or “returning to the Father”, because this is what John the Baptist preached (preaches)… who came (comes) in the spirit of Elijah, if you can receive it. It is a prerequisite to move to the next day, the day you “see Jesus coming to you” and are able to say “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (even dethrones the man of sin).”
Joh 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
In the fourth chapter of Malachi we read the following:
Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Mal 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
So before the day of LORD, before the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” takes place, there must be a “turning of hearts” through the spirit of Elijah (Yah is my God). Here is BDB’s definition of the word “turn” as used in verse six:
H7725 שׁוּב shûb
1) to return, turn back
1a1) to turn back, return, 1a1a) to turn back, 1a1b) to return, come or go back, 1a1c) to return unto, go back, come back, 1a1d) of dying
Again, where does this turning take place? In your heart (heaven), not your mind (earth). It is the beginning of “seeing” the “Lamb of God” upon the throne of your heart, as “seen” in chapter four of Revelation. In Rev. 1:12 John “turned” and “saw” His eyes were as a “flame of fire”. It is the beginning of coming face to face with the LORD.
May God grant you the blessing of knowing and being who you really are… in Him. It is an indescribable freedom.