Exodus

Wilderness

Exodus 3

Moses and the Burning Bush

3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"

And Moses said, "Here I am."

5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father,[a] the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

7 The Lord said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[b] will worship God on this mountain."

13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, ‘What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'"

15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] 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,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.

16 "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.'

18 "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.' 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."

Reflection

Moses has fallen from the heights of the Egyptian courts and is reduced to a fugitive shepherd wandering in the wilderness. In the Bible, the wilderness is a place of preparation, where God makes ready those he calls to his service. Like King David and the Prophet Amos who were also first shepherds, Moses sets the Biblical pattern of Shepherd-leadership.

We often despise the lowly roles where no one sees us. We would rather be seen exercising our talents. Always remember that ‘God lifts up the humble' (Psalm 147:6a). This is a time of preparation. Moses may not be the most eloquent, but during this time in the wilderness he is being prepared by seeking out lost sheep, binding their wounds, leading them to green pastures where they might grow and thrive. This is a difficult time, an isolated time, with no one to offer praise for his selfless and tireless care of the flock.

Are you in, or have you experienced the wilderness?
Can you identify how that experience has/might shape and prepare you for what you do now/next?

Holy Ground
Following the humility experienced by Moses in the wilderness, God's presence appears to Moses in the humblest thorn bush. Though God reveals himself as fire. Ethereal and yet tangible, physical but cannot be grasped or taken hold of. It offers warmth and comfort, yet holds the power to destroy. God is called a ‘consuming fire' (Deut 4:29). He burns with love, purity and holiness. This is who Moses meets in the wilderness.

This is a holy moment because God's presence makes it holy.

Have you experienced God? Have you been for ministry after a Sunday service? Or opened yourself in prayer or reading the Bible?

Those experiences, where God is present are holy moments. Some are more dramatic than others. But they all serve a purpose. Some reassure us of his love for us. Some are calls to go beyond ourselves, not merely for our own sake but for the sake of other people. They are invitations to participate in God's plan.

If you've had one of those remind yourself of that moment and recommit to living out that call. How were you changed by that experience? If you haven't had one of those experiences, ask God for one today.

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