Daily Reading & Meditation

 Moses' Encounter with the Burning Bush

Scripture Reading:  Exodus 3:1-6

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.

Meditation: Moses fled to the wilderness of Sinai as a fugitive hunted by Pharoah’s forces and cut off from his own people, the sons of Israel.  In such dire circumstances Moses could have rejected Israel’s God.  Had not God rejected him and sent him to a ‘no man’s land’ of misery and isolation?  The wilderness of Sinai is harsh and barren – extreme cold at night and searing heat by day.  No one could live in such a place unless they knew where to find water, food, and shelter, all scarce quantities in the dry barren desert.

Fortunately Moses found refuge with the Midianites, a nomadic tribe of the desert who taught him how to survive in the harsh environment of the Sinai wilderness.  Moses spent long days and nights under the desert sky tending the sheep of his father-in-law, named Jethro or Reuel, which means ‘shepherd of God’.  During his night watches Moses must have counted the distant stars and murmured how far he now was separated from his own people, the sons of Abraham.

While God must have seemed distant and silent in the remote wilderness, Moses nonetheless called out to him and sought out his companionship in exile. God met him in the unlikeliest of places – at the foot of a mountain, in the dry heat of a summer mid-day, in a scraggily bush caught on fire but not consumed. 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 (manifestation of God) 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 Christ's incarnation, likewise, is to draw each of us into a personal and intimate relationship with the living God.

Moses' sojourn in the wilderness had prepared him for such an encounter with the Almighty God. He learned through this wilderness 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 word?

"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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 (c) 2006 Don Schwager