"Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord [Jehovah] God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: and I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Cannanites...unto a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exo. 3:16-17). This name was especially used during the journey from Egypt to Canaan. During this journey the name "I am" is used. From the time we were saved until the time of the kingdom, no matter how many tribulations we pass through, Jehovah is still the I am. He is the one that is called "I am that I am." Friends, during the journey that began at the time we were saved until the coming kingdom, Jehovah’s name is enough to lead us through everything. Jehovah is not God’s name in creation. Jehovah is God’s name for the believers in the wilderness. It is the name in the wilderness and the name that will bring us through the wilderness into Canaan.
THE BELIEVERS’ RESPONSIBILITY
What effect does the name Jehovah have on the Israelites? It makes the Israelites responsible before God for their conduct.
God does not reason. If God ever reasoned with man, man would never prevail against God. One prophet in the Old Testament said that God overcomes even when He is judged (Rom. 3:4). God’s reasoning is too deep, and man can never come up to it. God does not reason; He Himself is the reason. We can consider a few examples from Leviticus and Numbers:
"You shall do My ordinances and keep My statutes to walk in them: I am Jehovah your God" (Lev. 18:4).
"You shall keep My statutes and My ordinances, which if a man do he shall live by them: I am Jehovah" (18:5).
"I am Jehovah" (18:6b).
"I am Jehovah your God" (18:30b).
"Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I, Jehovah your God, am holy" (19:2).
"Do not turn to idols, or make for yourselves molten gods: I am Jehovah your God" (19:4).
"You shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am Jehovah your God" (19:10).
"And you shall not swear falsely by My name, and so profane the name of your God: I am Jehovah" (19:12).
"You shall not curse the deaf, or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am Jehovah" (19:14).
"You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am Jehovah" (19:16).
"You shall not take vengeance, or bear a grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Jehovah" (19:18).
"I am Jehovah your God" (19:25b).
"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, neither shall you put any tattoos on you: I am Jehovah" (19:28).
"You shall keep My sabbaths, and you shall reverence My sanctuary; I am Jehovah" (19:30).
"Do not turn to the mediums and spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them: I am Jehovah your God" (19:31).
"You shall rise up before the greyheaded, and honor the aged; you shall fear your God: I am Jehovah" (19:32).
"The alien who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you; you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am Jehovah your God" (19:34).
"You shall observe all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them: I am Jehovah" (19:37).
"Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be Mine: I am Jehovah" (Num. 3:45).
Is there any reason to God’s command? You must not sin, "for I am Jehovah"! There is no other reason! I will scourge you and chastise you, because "I am Jehovah." "The Levites shall be Mine," because the Israelites owed God something? No, it is because "I am Jehovah." You shall not curse the deaf, because "I am Jehovah." You cannot this or that, because "I am Jehovah." There is no other reason. If anyone among us obeys God because He has said "I am that I am," he is blessed and will not sin. He can find many reasons in the world to sin. But because of one great reason: "I am that I am," he will not sin and will be blessed!
Simply put, there are two reasons for God being "I am that I am."
(1) I am; I am the powerful One. Therefore you cannot do it. I am; I am your power, protection, holiness, righteousness, and supply. Why do you have to sin? You may say, "I have lust within me." Jehovah says, "I am. I am righteousness and holiness. Why do you have to sin?" You may say, "I do not have money, therefore I have to borrow." Jehovah will say, "I am the One who supplies you. Why do you have to borrow? If you sin, it is not because I will not help you nor because I cannot protect you from sin. I am that I am. I can protect you. You sin because you want to sin."
(2) I am that I am. "I am not only power, wisdom, and the one who loves you and has chosen you. I am not only these. I am that I am, I am Jehovah, I am your God. If you do not do well, I will discipline you and chastise you. If you sin, I will chastise you." In the first point, He is the power. In the second point, He will judge. In the first case, He shows us that He is man’s holiness and righteousness. In the second case, He shows us that Jehovah Himself is holy and righteous. He will judge us according to His holiness and righteousness. In using this name, it seems as if He will not reason with us. He told His people, "I am Jehovah, I am the Lord, therefore you cannot sin. I am Jehovah. I have brought you out of Egypt. I am Jehovah. I will bring you into Canaan. I am Jehovah, therefore you must not do any of these things."
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 09: The Present Testimony (2), Chapter 5, by Watchman Nee)