As we noted in yesterday’s study, the only place in the Bible where YHWH is explained is Exodus 3:14. Though derived from the most basic of all verbs and expressed in the simplest verbal form, YHWH expresses a wealth of God’s attributes. We have already noted that 1) God is a person; and 2) God is self-existent. Today we continue with three more attributes of God.
3. God is self-sufficient. Jehovah (YHWH) also signifies God’s self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency means that God has no needs, just as self-existence means that God has no origins. God does not need human beings. He did not need to create us, and having created us, he does not need us for anything we can contribute to him. Graciously he uses us to carry out his plans, just as he used Moses as his chosen servant to deliver Israel. But he did not need Moses any more than he needs us. God does not need helpers, defenders or worshipers. We contribute nothing to him.
John the Baptist said, “Do not…say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).
When we realize that God is the only self-sufficient One, we begin to understand why the Bible has so much to say about the need for faith in God alone and why unbelief in God is such sin. If we refuse to trust God, what we are really saying is that some other thing or person is more trustworthy, and that is both folly and a slander against God’s character.
4. God is eternal. If God is the eternal “I am,” as his name suggests, then a fourth quality in God is his everlastingness, perpetuity or eternity. This quality is difficult to put into one word, hence, the three words given. What they mean is that God is, has always been, and always will be, and that he is always the same in his eternal being. This is beyond our full comprehension because we live in time and cannot think apart from space/time categories. Nevertheless, it is a comfort because God has set eternity in our hearts—we long to be immortal—and because we know that we shall enter into eternity if we are in him. Moses himself was aware of this and wrote about it in Psalm 90.
5. God is unchangeable. The name of God also teaches that God is immutable, meaning that God never differs from himself. What he is today he will be tomorrow. The one who “is what he is” does not evolve.
This has two important consequences for us. First, God can be trusted to remain as he reveals himself to be. The God who revealed himself to Moses is the same now as he was then. The God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ is and will always be like Jesus. God will never change in any of his attributes. God will always be sovereign, holy, wise, gracious, just, compassionate, and everything else he has revealed himself to be. Nothing will ever change God. Second, God is inescapable. He will not go away. We may try to ignore him now; but if we reject him now, we will have to reckon with him in the life to come.