BY CHARLES WOODRUFF
Moses was keeping the flock for Jethro, his father-in-law, and as he approached Horeb, called the mountain of God, the angel of God appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush. “and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Exodus 3:2,3).
There was both curiosity and fear in Moses as he saw the burning bush. More fear came when a voice revealed just who it really was there in the burning bush. “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy 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” (Exodus 3:6). Fear of God is necessary, and normal. A sign of the decadence of our society is -- “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). It was a mark of identification for God to reveal Himself this way. He was to be feared and respected as the God of Moses' ancestors. This was progressive revelation. He had revealed Himself to Abraham as Elohim, the true God who should be feared and obeyed, and as El Shaddai (Almighty God). Then upon the test of offering Isaac, Abraham, as well as Isaac understood God to be Jehovah Jireh (The Provider, or Jehovah Will Provide). “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (Genesis 22:14).
A GOD WHO SPEAKS
God spoke to Isaac several times in his life and was almost always called Jehovah (perhaps because Moses, the human writer of Genesis, was given the fuller revelation of Jehovah). (1) Then we have Jacob (later called Israel). God also met with him in a special way: “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:12-17). Jacob had the encounter with God at Bethel (House of God) and went on to be a prince of God named Israel. He had 12 sons. One of his sons was Levi. This became the line of the priesthood. Moses and Aaron came from that line. Remember Aaron became the high priest, while Moses became a prophet of God, and also the civil authority. At the bush God meets with Moses and reminds him of His history with these patriarchs.
A GOD WHO LEADS.
The experience at the burning bush was preparing Moses for later miracles when God would reveal Himself as the all sufficient I AM. Moses had no doubt been told that Horeb (Sinai) was the mount of God and that it was a place of awe. (2) God used this to rouse up Moses’ curiosity leading him to investigate Mount Horeb. But even more awesome was to see that bush-- that burned and yet was not consumed! Then God reminded Moses that the place was holy ground; holy only because God Himself was there. “And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, here am I. And he said, draw not nigh hither: put of thy shoes from of thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”(Exodus 3:4-5). We go on to see that God had a task for Moses. God was going to use him to deliver His people. God uses men. He doesn't have to. He made the universe. He controls all things. He is before all things. He will be here after all things are gone. He is working out all things according to His purpose. Part of that purpose involves man. Here He was getting ready to use a man. Through the ages He has used many men (and women too at times), to work out His plan. God even became a man to finish the greatest part of His plan of redemption.
A GOD WHO CHOOSES WHO HE WILL USE
Moses was perhaps the greatest man in the Bible, with the exception of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Pretty remarkable when you consider that if God had not providentially rescued him from the bulrushes by the Nile River, he would not have survived. How God rescued him was more remarkable. Pharaoh’s daughter had mercy on him and took him and hid him and raised him as her own. It is even more remarkable that Moses’ sister (Miriam is the only sister of Moses ever mentioned – it was most likely her), was at the river when Pharaoh’s daughter saved the baby Moses (see Exodus 2:4,7).It is remarkable also, that she had the sister choose a Hebrew woman to nurse him, and it was Moses own mother, Jocebed. Remarkable too that Pharaoh’s daughter even paid her wages to care for “her” child. Remarkable that Moses obtained position and received the best education possible in the land of Egypt. Later it was remarkable that “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11: 24, 25). It is remarkable that he sided with the slaves rather than be their taskmaster. Remarkable today that three religions revere him as a prophet. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:1-2).Those words were written by Moses as the psalmist, many years after this first encounter. It is said that Moses spent 40 years in Egypt learning all of man's wisdom available at that time, 40 years on the backside of the desert unlearning all this worldly wisdom, and then 40 years with God learning divine wisdom. Then Moses was ready to be one of the psalmists, as well as a prophet and leader. More later-- D.V.
(1) The King James Version usually renders Jehovah as LORD, but transliterates Jehovah seven times. Later translations, starting with ASV, using Jehovah almost exclusively, then to later versions going back to LORD (e.g. ESV), and some simply Lord (e.g. AMP). It’s obvious that scholars are divided on what to call Him. Yahweh is accepted, even preferred by many. Of course the ancient Jews wouldn’t pronounce the sacred name. In Hebrew there are no vowels, so it comes out like YHWH or JHVH. It is said the scribes would use a pen to write it once, and then discard it. The point being that this God told Moses to tell Pharaoh that I AM was sending Moses. He said His name was I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14). That is good enough for me!
(2) These mountains are called Horeb, and sometimes Sinai. Some think that Horeb is the name of the whole range, and Sinai is the name of a particular mountain; others, that Sinai is the range, and Horeb is the particular mountain; while Stanley suggests that the distinction is one of usage, and that both names are applied to the same place. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary)
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