THE BURNING BUSH: a meditation on Exodus 2

"Moses hid his face, 
for he was afraid to look at God"

Scripture: Exodus 2:23-3:20
(2) 23 In the course of those many days the king of Egypt died. And the people of Israel groaned under their bondage, and cried out for help, and their cry under bondage came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God saw the people of Israel, and God knew their condition.

(3) 1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Mid'ian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I." 5 Then he said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6 And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

7 Then the LORD said, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per'izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" 12 He said, "But I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain."

13 Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, `The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, `What is his name?' what shall I say to them?" 14 God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, `I AM has sent me to you.'" 15 God also said to Moses, "Say this to the people of Israel, `The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you': this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them,`The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt; 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Per'izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites, a land flowing with milk and honey."' 18 And they will hearken to your voice; and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, `The LORD, the God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now, we pray you, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.' 19 I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt with all the wonders which I will do in it; after that he will let you go.



Meditation: God heard the groaning and cries for help and God remembered his covenant. The Israelites were in bondage for over 400 years. Their prayers for deliverance must have seemed futile and their hope in the Promised Land forgotten. Do we not easily give into dejection and despair when our prayers are not immediately answered? We can count on God's help because of his promises. He is a covenant-making God and he does not forget what he has promised.

When the appointed time came God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. What is the significance of this strange appearance in the wilderness? First, God manifested himself in visible form--in the form of a bush on fire and yet not consumed. This theophany or incarnation prefigures another incarnation--the Word made flesh in space and time in the person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. God wanted Moses to know, beyond a doubt, that he was personally called by the living God and was chosen for a special mission--to be the deliverer of his people. In this strange and wonderful encounter we see God taking the initiative to reveal himself to Moses and to draw him into a personal and intimate relationship. The purpose of the incarnation, likewise, is to draw each of us into a personal and intimate relationship with the living God.

Moses' sojourn in the wildnerness had prepared him for such an encounter with the Almighty. He learned through this wildnerness experience to be still before the Word of God. He grew as a man of prayer and as a man of God's word. When the Lord Almighty manifested himself in the burning bush and spoke with Moses as man to man, Moses was ready to see, to believe, to hear, and to obey. Are you ready to encounter God personally, to hear his voice, and to obey his commands?

"Lord Jesus, you have called me by name, and I am yours. Help me to draw near to your presence and to be receptive to your voice. Free me from indifference and complacency that I may do your will eagerly and whole-heartedly."


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