Desert wisdom imparts the Tetragrammaton, the four letter Name of God, YHWH, and the two letter Name YH or Yah, in the light of the Name ‘I AM’ in Exodus 3:14 and the ‘I AM’ sayings in the Gospel of John. It does so in the tradition of Ezekiel’s chariot-throne vision and the revelation of the three tenses of the Name in the Book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:8, we read, ‘I AM Alpha and Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and was and is to come, the Almighty.’ In Rev 21:6, he who is faithful and true says, ‘It is complete, (all is over), I AM Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.’ In Revelation 22:13, Christ himself, God the Son, says, ‘I am coming soon! I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’
The desert has always known the Name was saving in the past, the Name is saving in the present and the Name is saving in the future, as glorification in the Kingdom to come. The Name has justified the saints once and for all in the past, the Name is sanctifying the saints in Christ’s eternal presence in the present and the Name shall glorify the saints in the future age to come. He who is ‘I AM,’ is ‘I AM,’ ‘who is, who was and who is to come,’ revealing three tenses of the Name, but neither Scripture nor Orthodox tradition adhere to a rigid, linear temporal schema of past, present and future. Although the Name is unveiled in chronological time, its mysteries transcend all temporal structures as well as all temporal strictures. The Name as Alpha and Omega is timeless transcendence, whose end is always already present from the beginning, whose last and final revelation was always present from the first, always primordially present from the beginning. The glory of completeness embraces temporal incompleteness as a faithful and true witness to timeless completeness and timeless completeness is what transforms linear time into sacred time.
Christ seals the saints with the truth of his Name ‘I AM,’ with the truth of his AMEN, his ‘so be it’ to ‘I AM,’ the Name whose letters are the first, the middle and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The Name YHWH means ‘He that is,’ who when he speaks in the first person, says ‘I AM,’ answered by ‘Amen.’ The Name is God revealing God, first, last and in the midst, always. ‘He that is, was and is forever coming to be,’ is ‘I AM,’ God’s self-revelation in his Name, saying, ‘I AM’ who ‘I AM,’ unfolding from glory in the beginning toward glory at the end, revealed by wisdom which is, was and shall always be God’s witness to the glory of ‘I AM.’
The three tenses of the Name correspond to the three tenses of the Kingdom in New Testament and Patristic Tradition. The Kingdom is inaugurated when the Name is hallowed in illumination but is still to come when the heart is hard, blind and cannot see. The Kingdom to come is already come in glory when the saints bear witness to its mysteries in glorification. The priceless pearl of the Kingdom remains a treasure hidden in the field of the heart until the presence of glory is revealed. The ‘is’ and the ‘was’ are already included in the future ‘coming’ of glory from the first, just as the ‘was’ is already included in the promise of a future ‘coming’ of the timeless ‘presence’ of glory now. The desert treasures these mysteries of glorification at the heart of purification and illumination, moving freely between the tenses of the saving Name without dissension or fixation.
Christ reveals the meaning of the saving Name to be the Cross of unselfish love, unveiling the Name as a slaughtered Lamb. The Name is crucified whenever confusion profanes ‘I AM,’ but confusion is crucified whenever the Name unveils the glory of God. The Slaughtered Lamb is glorified with the same glory that was crucified on Golgotha, the same glory that was revealed by the Name, the same glory that is purified of vanity by the wisdom of the Cross. The central axis of the Name is glory, glory unveiled in three tenses as purification opens to illumination and illumination to glorification. ‘I AM’ is the axial Alpha and Omega, the first centre and the last, the crucial beginning and hallowing end of glorification in the Name. The testimony that ‘Jesus is Lord,’ means that Jesus is ‘I AM, before Abraham was,’ the ‘way’ that inspired prophets and apostles in the past, the ‘truth’ illumining angels and elders in the present and the ‘life’ that shall glorify the saints in the future when glorification unfolds its hallowing mysteries.
We see here how the tenses interweave and co-inhere when glorification is unfolding, undoing all rigid temporal schemas in a transcendence yet inclusion of time. Logic insists that in predication the verb to be does not entail existence, but the revelation of the Name is not predication but revelation of ‘I AM,’ where three tenses of to be are employed in glorification. ‘I AM’ is not in time with a past, a present and a future, but is ‘I AM,’ who is who he is, who always was who he is and shall always be who he is, to the glory of God. It was said of Antichrist that he was, is not what he was and is not what he will be. Demonic parody has no substance, being fatally subject to the negativity of time, whereas the advent of the Name is a timeless coming of glory that is already what it always is, was and shall ever be, complete with the completeness that is both Alpha and Omega, complete in the beginning yet completing in the end what is revealed in light and glory.
The Name of God is uncreated, creative energy, God in act, actively revealing God’s ‘I AM,’ unveiling his wisdom and glory in the Burning Bush of the awakened heart. This revelation of the Name is always full of merciful compassion and overflowing with the glory of grace and truth. But these mysteries remain concealed when hearts are hard, refusing to turn and see. The Name is not actively nor actually revealed until wisdom awakens the heart to the glory of its grace and truth. Glorification is the fruit of wisdom’s prophecy and of the Spirit’s prayer in the heart, for it is in the wisdom of the Spirit that there is assimilation of grace and truth. The Son is the express image of the Father’s Name, whilst the Spirit bears witness to him with a sevenfold radiance, sevenfold because the Spirit unveils completeness. Blessing in the Name restores the doxology of the Name in the Holy of Holies, confirmed by the AMEN of countless angelic hosts. Sabaoth refers to these angelic hosts who experience glorification as the grace and truth of the unveiled Name.
The Thrice Holy Hymn, known as the Trisagion, is Trinitarian, but may also be seen as a reflection of the three tenses of the Name, for Holy is ‘I AM,’ who is who he is, Holy is ‘I AM’ that was who he always was, and Holy is ‘I AM’ that is to come, whose present coming is met and received as presence with an answering AMEN. Purification welcomes the Name, illumination is transformation in the uncreated light of the Name, whereas glorification is whole-hearted participation in the uncreated glory of the Name. This participation is what the desert calls deification, which is revelation of God’s unveiled face of glory, grace and peace. Perhaps the Cherubic enthronement of ‘I AM’ is transmuting the Cherubic Hymn into three tenses of the Spirit’s HALLELU YAH glorification of the Father by the Son, in which case, time, though completed, is embraced in its incompleteness by the mysteries of glorification, which is consummate completeness.