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Artwork: Marc Chagall, Moses at the Burning Bush

Our first reading on this Trinity Sunday was from Exodus chapter 3 - one of the central stories in the entire Bible. God introduces Himself to Moses at the burning bush - and He introduces Himself by Name, a Name that seems to come in two parts: YHWH ('I AM who I AM') and 'I AM the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” 

The God who made a covenant with Moses' ancestors was still present with His people Israel while they were enslaved in Egypt. God heard their cries and promised to deliver them from their affliction so that they could worship and serve the LORD alone. God would bring them to the Promised Land.

There is an obvious point here which must not be overlooked:

The God of Israel Himself lives His history with His people. Now if this is a history and not just a random sequence of events, then it must have a plot, it must be dramatically coherent. It must hang together in the way that a play does; and like a drama, it must have a cast of characters. If you look at the Old Testament, it is fairly easy to identify these characters of the play, these persons of the plot. On Israel's and humanity's side there are many. But on God's side, there are three:

  1. There is, first, the Lord of Israel who rules Israel's history as its author, who in some sense stands outside of the play or drama as the author of the drama (God the Father).
  2. And then there is God Himself as a figure in the drama, a figure in the history of Israel, the One who dwells with His people. This character appears the Word of the LORD, the angel/messenger of the LORD (Exodus 3:2), and the glory of the LORD.
  3. And finally there is the Spirit of the LORD, the breath/wind of God by which He blows things around and keeps history moving towards its goal of humanity's reunion with God in the Promised Land of the new heaven and new earth to come.

Source quoted

Robert W. Jenson, A Theology in Outline: Can these bones live? (Oxford, 2016).


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