“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God…and I will make My covenant between Me and you…I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you…Also I will give to you and your descendants after you all the land…of Canaan…and I will be their God.’” Genesis 17:1-8
But ever since creation others have usurped the use of the terms ‘I am’, or ‘I will’.
It began with Lucifer, Son of the Morning.
“…I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” Isaiah 14:13-14
God responded to Lucifer’s pride.
“Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.” Isaiah 14:15
Recall the fate of King Nebuchadnezzar after he credited himself for building mighty Babylon even after he had been warned by God not to be proud but to realize that He (God) establishes kings and kingdoms.
“…he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen…” Daniel 4:33
And then there was the Assyrian king Sennacherib. He also touted his Kingdom and power.
“…By the multitude of my chariots I have come up to the height of the mountains, to the limits of Lebanon…I will enter the extremity of its borders…I have dug and drunk strange water, and with soles of my feet I have dried up all the brooks of defense.” 2 Kings 19:23-24
He was boasting about his accomplishments and threatening Judah’s King Hezekiah not to trust in Israel’s God. Sennacherib was in fact mocking Israel’s God. He reminded Hezekiah of all his victories and conquers. Then God sent word to Hezekiah through Isaiah.
“This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning him: … ‘The daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn…whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the Holy One of Israel.’” 2 Kings 19:21-22
God’s proclamation against Sennacherib?
“Because your rage against Me…have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came.” Isaiah 37:29
Sennacherib’s humiliating defeat.
“And it came to pass…that the Angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand…so Sennacherib…departed and went away and returned home…” 2 Kings 19:35-36
Such pride was also illustrated in the New Testament. Recall Pilate’s statement to Jesus while interrogating Him.
“…Do You not know that I have power (authority) to crucify You, and power to release You?” John 19:10
Jesus’ authoritative response to Pilate:
“You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above…” John 19:11
Thus it is plainly seen that all power or authority claimed by any of God’s creations has been given or granted from above to accomplish God’s purpose. It is absolute folly to claim such power has been achieved by one’s own efforts.
In that context it is interesting to note several relevant statements in the recent State of the Union address.
“As commander in chief, I have used force when needed…and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm’s way…”
“And as chief executive…I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors…”
“I will cut red tape to help states get those factories built…I will use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands…”
“So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation…that’s what I am going to do.”
“…but I’ll act on my own…”
Will he do better than, say, Sennacherib or Pilate?
This column began by quoting an “I am” from the first book in the Bible and will end with a quote from the last book of the Bible.
“I, Jesus…am the Bright and Morning Star…Surely I am coming quickly.” Revelation 22:16, 20