God wanted to assure Moses and Israel that God would become what they would need Him to become. In using the words “I AM THAT I AM,” God used an expression to reveal to Moses a promise and pledge found in His name.
Throughout the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, God is known by his four-letter name YHWH. The King James version of the Bible masks this name to some extent, and most of the time the King James translates YHWH as “LORD.” However, this same name is translated as Jehovah in some cases in the King James version (Exodus 6:3; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4). The Rotherham translation uses the word “Yahweh” as the translation of God’s name. In all of these cases, the meaning of the Hebrew name YHWH – God’s name – is “the Self-existent,” “He who becometh,” or “the becoming one.”
The Hebrew words in Exodus 3:14 for “I AM THAT I AM” are ehyeh asher ehyeh which should more accurately be translated “I will be what I will be” or as Rotherham translates it, “I will become whatsoever I may become.” This expression in Exodus 3:14 is an idiom, an expression that has a meaning that cannot be understood by the individual words. So, what does “I AM THAT I AM” mean?
By using the translation “I will become whatsoever I may become,” we see the relationship of this phrase to Yahweh – “He who becometh.” They both use the word “become.” The use of ehyeh asher ehyeh in Exodus 3:14 was God’s way of assuring and pledging to Moses and Israel that God would become whatever they needed Him to become.
Remember the context of the passage in Exodus. The Israelites were crying day and night for deliverance. God was calling Moses to help lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses asked God – what is God’s name or what should he say to the Israelites? In God’s response, He provides a promise to Israel – He would become what they would need Him to become – in this case – their deliverer. This promise found in the name of God can be extended to the world of mankind. God will become what they need Him to become – an architect for the plan of salvation that will bring them back into harmony with Him. In the case of the heavenly church, God will be all we need to make our calling and election sure.
For further reading on the subject, articles in the following publications will be helpful: