And God spoke to Moses, and said to him, I am the LORD:…
God appeared to the fathers of the race under one name; to their successors under another. Name is more than title; it is the character, or aspect of character, denoted by the title. Jehovah would seem to have been a title of God before the time of Moses; but to him, and to the Israelites through him, was first revealed that aspect of the Divine character which explained and justified the title. Notice -
I. ONE MAY KNOW GOD WITHOUT KNOWING ALL ABOUT HIM. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob certainly knew God. They believed in him as an Almighty Ruler - one who was ruling them, and who would fulfil his promise to them. His power and his trustworthiness were the characteristics they most relied on. Their faith centred in his name El-Shaddai, and as a living practical faith it tended to secure the righteousness for which - as seed for fruit - it was reckoned. [Illustration: - Certain medicines, in earlier years, were trusted and used successfully to produce certain effects; yet other uses remained unknown until long afterwards.] God was trusted by the patriarchs to the extent of their then knowledge, though they knew nothing of other characteristics which were to be afterwards revealed.
II. WE MAY KNOW GOD UNDER DIFFERENT ASPECTS, AND YET KNOW THE SAME GOD. No doubt the revelation of a new name, the fixing of the attention upon a new aspect of the Divine character, must have been, at first, somewhat startling to those who held by the old traditions. Those taught to believe in El-Shaddai may have held the new believers in Jehovah unorthodox. Yet both, in so far as their belief was genuine, knew and trusted the same God. Jehovah was El-Shaddai only viewed from a new standpoint. There was no contradiction between the two names - one God owned both.
III. WE MAY EXPECT AS THE OLD ORDER CHANGES TO VIEW GOD UNDER OTHER THAN THE OLD CONDITIONS. The new revelation resulted from new conditions. The old order having changed, a new standpoint was necessitated, whence God must be viewed under a new aspect. [Illustration: - The properties of a medicine are discovered little by little, as new diseases cause it to be applied in different ways.] New conditions must result in new discoveries as to the "properties" of God. Application: - God is one; Truth is one; yet God and Truth are many-sided - we see them differently according to the position which we occupy. Some people are in a great hurry to denounce all novelty as heresy; but novelty may mean nothing more than a new point of view, whereas heresy results from distorted vision; it sees wrongly, through personal idiosyncrasy, that which, from the same standpoint, is seen clearly by the clear-eyed. We do well to suspect ourselves when our conclusions differ from those of others. We may test such conclusions in two ways: -
1. What are the conditions under which they have been arrived at? If the conditions have changed, we may expect the conclusions to be different.
2. Do they contradict old beliefs? If so, they should be suspected - or, Do they merely embrace them within a wider faith? If so, they may sufficiently justify themselves. We may expect new revelations, but we must not hurriedly accept novelties. New names will be made known, but they are never really inconsistent with the old. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: