Exodus 3:1 – 15
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, 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 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. 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, 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.
This well-known event tends to stick in the mind, not only because of the memorable scene but also because of all the mysterious questions it raises. Why a burning bush which is not being consumed? Why did Moses have to take his shoes off? When God speaks of a sign to confirm Moses was sent, why does the sign come after the Exodus? Then there is the rather puzzling answer the Lord gave about who he is. “I am who I am!”
Not all these questions can be answered here but we can see the comfort that was provided for the oppressed Israelites. The Lord describes himself as I AM. There are a lot of thoughts we can bring to that name but for our purposes it is at the very least saying that while all else we experience will be transient, the Lord himself is always and was always and will always be. That is hard to grasp, and we can quickly reach the end of our ability to think when we try to consider one who always was, who has no beginning.
For practical purposes, as opposed to speculation, that is where the burning bush comes to our rescue. Life for the enslaved Israelites was misery. It is no exaggeration to say they lived in a furnace of hardship and oppression (see Deut. 4:20), where their life was consumed by their masters. Even when the Lord began to rescue them, it seemed that life became even harder. Where could they find security? Their help and hope were in the Lord. While all of life was pain and turmoil the Lord remained unchanged and unchangeable. At the centre of their scorching life was one who was unharmed, unfazed and a refuge for them.
That unchangeable constancy of our Lord is the great comfort we have as his people. The Lord Jesus, foreshadowed in Exodus, was in the beginning, was with God and is God (John 1:1). He is our great “I AM” who provides confidence for our lives. He is our righteousness before God. He bore our sins and received our punishment at the cross. He rose from the tomb as the victor over death for us. He gives us eternal security, reconciliation and peace with our God. We are a forgiven and a loved people. In Jesus we have eternal life, and none can take it from us. It may seem like we are amid our own fire, but the Lord Jesus is our refuge and no harm can come to him and therefore no ultimate harm can come to us. We are in the hands of the one who is, and was, and is to come.
This provides us with an important perspective on life for today. We are emerging from lockdown. Will we be safe? What if the economy just continues to decline? What if social cohesion deteriorates? The fires may swirl around but in the Lord Jesus we have the certainty of peace now and forever.
Now, as always, is a good time to think about what is important in your life. Think about what takes a place of priority for you but will ultimately be burned up at Christ’s return. Consider what really matters, the eternal things – like people. Also think about how you can make the most loving use of your security in Christ.
Prayer: Loving Father, thank you that you have not left me to perish in the troubles of life. All praise to you my God that you love me and sent your Son my Lord Jesus bring me eternal salvation. Please help me to live with my mind and my heart directed in faith toward my crucified and risen saviour. In Jesus name. Amen.
A Song: Grace Awaiting Me