Burn, Baby, Burn: Exodus 3
Moving ahead Through the Whole Bible, we find Moses working through a semi-normal nomad life: he's tending Jethro's flocks, being married, raising a family. All well and good, and fairly monotonous. That is, until Moses drifts over to the west side of the wilderness, somewhere in the neighborhood of Horeb. Exodus 3 (link) gives us that story.
Today's nerd note: Exodus 3:1 refers to Horeb as the "Mountain of God." Portrayals such as the movie "The Ten Commandments" draw the conclusion that Horeb was always known as this, but it is possible that Moses came to refer to Horeb as the Mountain of God after this experience. Keep in mind, Scripture is not a "live-blog" of an event: historical narratives are written down (or reviewed/edited) after the events happen. Therefore, sometimes later knowledge (like place names) is used to help bring clarity. At least, it would have brought clarity to the original audience.
This chapter could be the source of a year's worth of sermons. In fact, that might be a good challenge: preach one year's worth of sermons that use Exodus 3 as the start point and then use additional passages of Scripture to illustrate or explain those points. You could do it, if you had the attention span for it. I digress…I don't know that I could blog it for a week.
A few thoughts on this chapter:
1. You need to read the whole chapter and see what is said. You'll miss good stuff if you just read my statements. Really, that's a good habit whenever someone goes to talking Bible stuff—read the whole passage. You may find that there's more going on than you or the speaker/writer realize.
2. I wonder what the modern American religious scene would do with the burning bush. Think about it, if your favorite religious author/speaker/teacher/preacher was walking along and encountered a burning bush. If you were walking along, what would you do?
Most of us would stop and look. Then, I fear far too many of us would then run on and blog about it. Or we'd write a book about our burning bush experience and then take a speaking tour. We'd analyze the bush, maybe capture some cell phone video of it. Then, we'd congratulate ourselves for seeing the bush, even if no one else got back to it. We would celebrate that, thankfully, we were carrying an iPhone to get a picture of it instead of being some low-brow whose phone only makes calls.
The offers would pour in: we'd speak at this conference or that coalition; we'd get to rebuke others because we had seen a burning bush and they hadn't. We'd take apart the symbolism: God showed the burning bush to this person, so that means (fill in the blank); the bush was here, so that means this; it was this type of bush, so it means that; and so on and so forth. And we'd expect people to listen to us because we were the witnesses of the flaming curtilage!
But what was the point of the burning bush?
The burning bush was there to get Moses to listen to the words of the Almighty God. Notice: Moses is not told to go the people of Israel and say he saw a bush. He is told to take them God's words about their situation. The bush is merely an attractant to get his attention. It's not meant to be the focus of the story.
God and God's words to Moses are the focus. God does not tell Moses that His name is "The God who can flame bushes without damage." He says that His name is "YHWH, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
We must ever be careful not to confuse the lesser things of God, the simple ways He gets our attention, with His revelation of Himself in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, and the Word of God given us in the Bible. The former things are nice, but the latter Truth is what our lives are driven by.