Exodus 3: The Burning Bush

1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, 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. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

-We’ve talked about before throughout Genesis that when God the Son appears, He comes in the form of a man. But God the Father, who made the covenant with Abraham (more accurately Himself), appeared as fire. Here we see God the Father Himself appearing, not an angel although the word “angel” is used here in verse 2. “Angel” has already been used to describe Jesus and what this word means is a “messenger” or “someone with a message”. Well, there was a message for Moses but this was a message that was going to come straight from God Himself. Rather than sending an angel, God the Father will be taking direct control of communication with His people as part of the covenant He had made. God said that He had promised to bless Israel and give them the promised land. God the Father made the covenant and said He will be their God. God’s promise was that of direct intervention and that’s exactly what He is giving Moses here. The best picture I can make to help explain what is going on here is imagine you are a low-level soldier in your king’s army but you hear that the king himself is coming down to command your unit and lead the men into battle. What an honor! How could you, a mere low-level soldier be worthy of fighting alongside the king? God is always there and always our king but this is a little different in that He’s giving the Hebrews a visible sign of a presence for their sake. God can certainly accomplish everything without having to appear before Moses and things can just sort of, happen, as they do in our own lives. Without this visible presence, many things happen that if one wanted to, they can explain everything away by claiming luck or coincidence. God does it for Moses and the Hebrews sake so that God can be seen fulfilling His promise so there can be no mistake or explaining it as mere coincidence. God has put His own reputation on the line and made a promise that He must fulfill because He is God.

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 I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off 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.

-God says that the ground is “Holy ground”. Though this is heard about a lot especially in pop culture, this is the only time in the bible that the subject of “Holy ground” is mentioned other than when this story is referenced in Act 7. We must realize that because God in the form of a man is always God the Son, this was the only time in history God the Father actually personally came down to visit Earth. All other times was the Holy Spirit carrying a vision or message or Jesus in the form of a man. The hand of God the Father previously came down to perform the covenant with Abraham but now God is “setting foot” on Earth to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Because God is perfect, anything He touches becomes perfect as well. Because God’s “foot” was on the ground where Moses stood, it became “Holy ground”. The ground itself was not special but because God was standing on it, it was. God is telling Moses and all those who will ever read this story that God the Father is personally intervening in this.

7 Then the Lord said, “I have surely 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 Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

-God just got done saying that He will deliver the people and then Moses asks, “Who am I”? It seems he wasn’t listening very well. God is going to bring the people out of Israel and Moses is the tool God will use in His hand. Moses is not the one who needs to think and decide or come up with the power to perform this because God will do all this. All Moses has to do is obey orders. But right away, Moses is thinking in a worldly, self-centered way. God does not make us “work” and make our lives difficult, we are the ones who do this. If we always surrender to God and never worried, we would be at perfect peace all the time. We wouldn’t have to worry about working or where are next meal will come from because God will always provide. The fact that we think we are in control and have to do things to take care of ourselves is what creates so much pain and stress. Moses is freaking out at the thought of being a leader of Israel and having to put himself out there but he isn’t realizing God’s will is going to be done know matter what and so therefore, if God says Moses will be the one He uses, then Moses should know that he will be able to do it.

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 the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on 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.’”

-”I Am” is the only name God ever gives Himself. His name is written as Elohim which is a plural word that means God in Hebrew but it is also referred to as Yahweh or Jehovah. In English, “Jehovah” is a transcription of the proper way to pronounce “Yahweh”. People pronounce this name as “Yaw-way” but this is not accurate. The name Yahweh/Jehovah means “the existing one”. This is exactly what God is saying here by giving His name as “I am”. The actually Hebrew phrase used here is “eh’yeh ásher eh’yeh ” and the word “eh’yeh” comes from the root “hayah” which means “to be” or “to become”. So the full translation of this phrase would be, “ I Am and I Will Be”. So this is not just referring to the present tense, but the future as well. What else could we possibly call God other than, “He Is”?. Any other name would not be accurate and would be diminishing who He is. For fun, try to think of a way to describe a being in a higher way. I can’t! Even if I say “The infinite, all-powerful creator of all the universe and heaven” this description could imply, though not stated, that creating the universe and heaven is all He has done or will ever do or that He is defined only by His attributes of being infinite and all-powerful. To simply call Him “I AM” removes all possibility of misinterpreting or limiting who God is based on His name. It is the perfect name for a perfect God.

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 forever, 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 Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

-Not only has God given him His name but also made it very clear that He is the same God who dealt with their ancestors and the promise is soon to be fulfilled. God is the ultimate communicator. This is why we must always trust the Bible as always having the answer somewhere because God is perfect and His revelation to us must also be perfect. If we do not understand something, we need only dive in deeper and the answer will always come, even if that answer is “we are not meant to know”. “Jebusites” are a new group that have not been mentioned before and it is believed that “Jebus” was the name of the city or area that existed in the same spot before Jerusalem exited. So rather than a common ancestor, Jebusites were most likely Canaanites who happen to live in this area. http://bibleatlas.org/area/jebus.jpg

18 And they will listen 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, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19 But 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 strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

-God is already revealing to Moses that his initial relay of the message will not be received and God will have to do wonders in order to get Pharaoh to let the people go. Foresight, is one of the greatest gifts God can give us. Knowing what will happen ahead of time eliminates all worry and fear because it is set and stone and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. This is why faith is so important because we do not have the gift of foresight and must know already, without being told or shown, that God is in control and everything will turn out well for His good purpose. We also see that Pharaoh hardening his heart was all part of God’s plan to make sure the Israelites didn’t just go but went with wealth to start their own nation. God really did think of everything.

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