The book of Genesis finishes with great blessing. Jacob’s family is growing in agreement with Yahweh’s promise to multiply them like the stars in the sky. They’ve been reunited with the son that was lost decades ago. They have Pharaoh’s approval and are a blessing to his nation. Yahweh has worked by His grace to change the hearts of 12 brothers and discipline and mature them. They live in a good land. But there is something wrong, captured in the last two words of the book: “In Egypt” (Genesis 50:26). Even though they live in a good land, it’s not the one that Yahweh promised. Yahweh’s covenant with them is still unfulfilled.
Yahweh already informed Abraham of the waiting period that his descendants would live out before they could move permanently to Canaan: “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13). He told them the reason they would have to wait: “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). And He made reference to His plan that would bring them back to the Promised Land: “But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:14). Now in the first part of the book of Exodus, these promises and trials are being put into motion.
As you read, pay special attention to the revelation of God’s name (Exodus 3:13-15). As He says, “This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Exodus 3:15). The name LORD (all caps) / Jehovah / Yahweh, taken from: I AM WHO I AM, expresses His existence independent of creation and without being limited or changed by time. It expresses simultaneously that He is exalted above creation and always was, is and shall be so.
And this fact should be glorious to the Israelites because Yahweh declares that His name, His own identity, is linked with them: “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:15). Beyond any limit put by creation or time, He always was, is and will be faithful to His covenant by grace with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
And as Jesus will underline in the New Testament, our walk with Yahweh in His faithfulness and unchanging and eternal existence is not limited to our earthly life. “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). That is, even though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had died centuries before the declaration of Exodus 3:15 that Jesus quotes here, Yahweh declared His name in a present and constant form (“I am”), indicating a continuous communion with the three even though their earthly life had finished. He is Yahweh, exalted above creation, never changing and never limited by time, always faithful to His covenant… and His chosen ones walk with Him in a living relationship unlimited by time, even beyond earthly life.
Therefore the apostle Paul can declare with confidence, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). He knows what the name Yahweh indicates and celebrates our link with Him by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
With this in mind, notice the use of the name LORD / Jehovah / Yahweh in the Old Testament: it’s going to appear more than 6000 times and sometimes with other titles and descriptions that will reveal more and more of His glory. Notice that in these readings from the first part of Exodus, we will see it related especially with His faithfulness and redemption.