A lot of people complain, “What is the purpose of grammar?” “Why is it so important to have “good” grammar?” “Why put so much emphasis on it in school?”
Glad you asked! I maintain that grammar helps to enrich our study of God’s Word, and I will be explaining this position in upcoming devotions. We will begin with the first verb taught in most foreign language courses: to be. Je suis*, tu es, il/elle est, nous sommes, vous êtes, ils/elles sont. Any upper school LCA student taking French can rattle off this conjugation of etre, which of course translates as I am, you are, he/she is, we are, you are, they are.
What a special and deliberate blessing God gave us by giving Himself the Name I AM! He hints at this Name in Genesis (26:3 “I will be with you,”** 28:15 “I am with you,” etc.). But in Exodus He fully reveals His preferred Name to Moses: “I AM has sent me to you” (Ex. 4:14b). God wants us to know Who he is and that His character is completely reliable and trustworthy..
Now, think about this Name grammatically. The first person of to be – I AM – signifies a living Being, God’s self-chosen identification; yet it is also an essential verb in every language. In the 2nd person it is the beginning of Peter’s confession of Jesus in Matthew 16:16: “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.” And in 3rd person the psalmist declares, “Know that the Lord is God.” I AM, You are, He is. End of discussion.
But not really. Jesus dares to call Himself God over and over again Consider the images in John: “I am the gate,” “I am the good shepherd,” “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world,” “I am the true vine,” “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” “I am the resurrection and the life.” The Jews of that day knew that Jesus was deliberately identifying as the Son of God, which was blasphemy. And His words condemned the Son of God to death on the cross for us. Rejoice with me that the great I AM is alive today and watching over us!
Challenge: When you read Scripture, see how many times you can find the forms of to be as they refer to God.
*Fun fact for French fans: If you take the “I” out of Je suis, you see Jesus. Just a thought….
**The Hebrew “I am” can also be translated “I will be.”
Barb Lewis was a teacher at LCA for over 20 years. She lives in Laconia with her husband and dog. Her passion for grammar has shaped the lives of many LCA students over the years.