God used title “I Am” that God to define Himself in Exodus 3, but it is more than a title—it is also a description. The “I Am” is the eternal One. The God of the eternal present tense. For that reason, we don’t speak of the God who was or the God who will be, but of the God who is. This idea was behind the opening statement of the scriptures in Genesis 1:1 where we read, “In the beginning, God…” Before time, He already was. And, He is also the One who always will be, for Isaiah 57:15a states, “For this is what the high and exalted One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy…” Both forever past and forever future, the I Am is the God of eternity.
Jesus’ words in John 8:58 carry the same weight. As He debated the religious leaders, we read His words, “ ‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ ” By claiming the “I Am” title for Himself, Jesus was claiming to share eternity with the Father. As God’s eternity is supported throughout the Old Testament, Jesus’ claim to eternity is backed up in the New Testament. John borrows the motif of eternal existence used to open the scriptures in Genesis 1:1 to begin his gospel record, writing, “In the beginning was the Word…” John then goes on to confirm that this Word is none other than Jesus—God “tabernacling” in human flesh (John 1:14). Paul affirms this eternal preexistence of Christ in Colossians 1:17, saying of Him, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Not only does the New Testament claim an eternal past for Christ, it also describes His eternal future, as seen in Revelation 1:17b-18a, “Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!’ ” The writer to the Hebrews combines all of this together in one eloquently simple statement, affirming that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” As such, not only is Christ eternal, He is eternally consistent in His character. So, what is the impact of this eternity?
First, because Christ is eternal He has an eternal priesthood (Hebrews 5:6, 6:20, 7:17, 7:21, 7:24, 7:28). And second, as our good, great, and chief high priest, Jesus has offered for us an eternal sacrifice that provides for us eternal life (Hebrews 10:14). This is the promise of the gospel—that we are rescued from eternal death and given eternal life through the sacrifice of the eternal Christ (John 3:16).
First John 1:2 declares, “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” The life of the eternal Christ came, walked among us in flesh, and sacrificed Himself so that we could share in that life with Him forever. The God of eternity entered time to offer eternity to us.