The Burning Bush

moses-and-burning-bushNow Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover 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 upon God. And the Lord said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:1-10)

The Burning Bush

An aged shepherd moved his flock to the back of the desert as he had done many times before in the tedious work of tending sheep. A mountain was there and the sheep could find good pasture to feed on. It had been a remarkable year as the patriarch thought of where he was forty years previous. What a change had taken place. He remembered growing up the privileged son of the king of Egypt. His allegiance had been divided as he was known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter but in his heart, he knew he was a Hebrew. On a fateful day so many years before, he had murdered a man believing that God had placed him among the nation to deliver his people from slavery. Instead of being hailed a hero, he had banished himself to a desperate part of a country far away tending a flock for his father-in-law. He gazed over the flock that had become so familiar to him drinking in the irony of his life.

It was then something caught his eye. There was a bush on fire. This could be a dangerous thing and concern for the flock. As he looked, he realized the fire burned brightly but the bush was not consumed. He had never seen such a sight. Moving towards the flame a voice spoke to him calling out his name. The voice told him to remove his sandals from his feet for the ground where he stood was holy ground. The Lord God was speaking to Moses and from this time on his life would never be the same.

The burning bush was a pivotal point in the history of man. It was not just about Moses but about the promise God had made to deliver man from the bondage of sin. A promise first made in the garden of Eden, confirmed through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and now begun in earnest through the deliverance of the people of God from Egypt. Moses would be the leader of the people to draw them forth from the land of Egypt. The life of Moses was a testimony of the grace of God upon all men. Born a Hebrew, he was raised in the house of Pharaoh as a son of great privilege. This all came to nothing when he murdered a man fleeing for his life to Midian. Moses seems to have an arrogance about himself that was lost after forty years tending sheep. The Lord needed a humble leader to bring His people out of Egypt. Moses needed to be humbled before taking that job.

God’s providence is evident throughout the life of Moses. Saved from the river, he would lead the people through a sea to freedom. Born a Hebrew, his name would always remind the people of his Egyptian heritage. A man powerful in words and deeds had to become a man of a humble spirit to guide the people of God. The life of a prince became a life of a shepherd. Moses complained of his inability to lead the people while talking to God at the burning bush but on Mount Nebo decades later, he would see the promised land where he had brought the faithful of the Lord. His life is one of contrast. Conflicts always confronted him. His love for the Lord never diminished. Moses was a faithful man of God who first realized his purpose at the burning bush.

We all need those moments. Its life changing. For us it is a cross. It is burning with the love of God that we cannot take our eyes off for the wonder of what we see. The place of the cross is holy ground where we meet our Savior. Freedom is found when Jesus rose from the dead crossing the river of death victoriously leading us to the promised land. In death, we cross the Jordan to live with God forever. Our Savior is Jesus Christ. Now that is a great story.

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