Exodus 1-3 The bush was burning, yet it was not consumed

From Exodus 1-3

02 ExodusMoses finds a burning bush that just keeps on burning. Turning for a closer look the LORD calls out and reveals His intention to rescue Israel from slavery. The LORD calls Moses into service.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Exodus begins describing the plight of Israel in slavery and the story of Moses’ birth. Moses is a Hebrew, but his identity as kept secret as he was raised in Pharaoh’s household. When he grows up he defends one of his own people and was forced to leave. Soon afterward God remembers his covenant (Ex 2.23-25). In today’s passage God calls Moses.

3 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.”

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.” (Ex 3.1-5)

‘Priest of Midian’. Moses context is not the best. He is married to a pagan who’s father is a pagan priest.

‘Horeb’, ‘mountain of God’. The mountain will later be significant because Moses will return here and the LORD will give Israel the Law.

‘Bush was burning yet not consumed’. Both the fact that the bush was burning and that it was not being eaten up by the flame would have been unusual. Often the LORD represents himself in fire (Ex 13.21-22; 19.18; 24.17; 40.38; cf. Lev 9.24; 10.2; Nu 11.1-3; Dt 9.3; 18.16).

‘Angel of the LORD’, ‘God called’. Quite often the angel of the LORD is the LORD himself.

Moses is warned not to come near and to remove his sandals.

The action demonstrates his reverence for the LORD and signifies the momentous events that will follow (cf. Josh 5.15).

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 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. (Ex 3.6-8)

‘I am the God of’. The LORD identifies himself as the God of his ancestors. The listing of names is supposed to remind us of the covenant and the promises of blessing, offspring, greatness and land he has made to Abraham’s family.

Do you see yourself as part of God’s  covenant family?

‘Affliction of my people’, ‘deliver them’. The LORD takes responsibility for his people, he recognises their plight and promises to free them from slavery.

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?”

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.” (Ex 3.9-12)

‘I will send you’. God has called Moses into this service. This is quite a massive task that will involve confronting the worlds powers and life threatening situations.

But he stands before the God in the fire who bends the laws of nature.

‘Who am I?’ The LORD has said He would deliver Egypt. Moses is just a lowly shepherd. His question makes the reasonable observation that all God’s servants pail in comparison to the glory of the LORD. Yet he still chooses to work through them.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

God’s plan is revealed. The outcast is chosen to bring God’s special people out of Egypt. This announcement, however, seems somewhat at odds with verse 8, which clearly implies that God is the one who will be doing the delivering. Of course, no contradiction exists. Moses is the means by which God will work his own redemptive strength. There is, in fact, a recurring ambiguity throughout Exodus concerning who is doing the delivering: God or Moses? But this ambiguity is intentional and is expressed as early as 4:16, where Moses “becomes like God” (pers. trans.) to Aaron. Moses and Yahweh’s roles are sometimes difficult to distinguish. (Enns, P., 2000. Exodus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)

Story of Jesus

What does it mean to be called by God? God calls sinners into his kingdom and puts them into service. God’s calling concerns salvation and vocation. We see this in the gospel when Jesus helped Peter catch a large load of fish.

6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Lk 5.6-11)

Are you prepared to come and follow Jesus? He might have big plans for you.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.