Exodus 3 follows immediately after Exodus 2. What took place in Exodus 2 is foundation to what we read here in Exodus 3. We saw a Moses who was discontent with the oppression of His people. We saw a Moses who was moved from discontentment to action (faith without works is dead). He took matters into his own hands, knowing full well that God was also displeased with the torment of His people. We saw a Moses who fled into the wilderness and came unto a well, where shepherds were oppressing some women. We saw Moses again rise up in indignation and act against the oppression. However, the chapter ends with God reassuring the reader that He has heard the cry of the oppressed, and that He remembers the covenant He has made.
Here in Exodus 3, we find the story picking up again. There is a question being raised. Though the reader has just read that God has not forgotten, we have not seen Moses receive that assurance. Moses has been outside of Egypt, away from his people for 40 years. Do you think that Moses is questioning whether God actually does see, actually does hear? I would. It is at this time, when Moses turns aside to see the burning bush that God gives that assurance and sends Moses back to Pharaoh to release the prisoner, set free the oppressed, and to proclaim good news to the poor.
There is a catch, though. There is always a catch.
Moses would never receive this calling, let alone this assurance, if he had not turned aside to see the bush that is burning, but is not consumed. This sight must have been a marvel, and yet how many of us would have passed on by, only wandering to ourselves as to how such an impossibility was possible? What is equally as radical as the miracle that God performs to get Moses’ attention is that Moses drops everything – we can liken it to leaving work without any warning – in order to investigate this most curious of sights.
For the majority of people, life is too important to drop in order to investigate some “abnormality”. So there were 6 million Jews that died in the Holocaust, and it is a marvel that any survived at all, but so what? Life happens, and I can’t spend too much energy trying to figure out why the Jewish people were not eradicated from Europe, as Hitler’s plan was… So there are millions of people fleeing from ISIS in Syria, and it is incredible that so many are even able to escape their own country, let alone be permitted entrance into other countries, but so what? The Middle East isn’t necessarily known for its generosity and hospitality…
These sorts of quickies are detrimental to our spirituality. It is a quickie because it continues with life, completely content to ignore the pain, the suffering, the oppression, and the hurting. Even if there is nothing that can be done, it behooves us to turn aside to see.
Our very Christianity was (supposedly) formed from a turning aside to see. Everything that is Christian is in utter opposition to the mindset and mentality of the world. It takes a turning aside to see in order to even recognize the alternative – the Gospel. It is not that we have been given the opportunity to go to heaven when we die, but that we have been given the opportunity of heaven now. It is not that we have been promised that peace on earth, or that sinlessness is coming when Jesus returns, but that we can experience these things now. Through being the people of God, we can both have peace, and extend peace.
In the first couple centuries, one of the practices of the early Church was to meet in homes. While there, they would go around the room expressing their needs, expressing the ways that God has provided, expressing the praises that they have, and expressing the burdens that they have. In expressing their needs, if someone else who was present had whatever it took to satisfy that need, whether food, clothing, shelter, employment, or something else, they would speak up and give their brother or sister whatever they lacked. That was simply what they did. It was called “breaking bread”. It was a political statement, because Caesar Augustus was known for handing out bread in the market place and claiming that he was the provider. Augustus called this propaganda “breaking bread”. So, the early church took that idea and used it in a way to provide amongst themselves, and whoever might have joined their fellowship.
It is the wisdom of the world, which is ultimately the wisdom of demons, to seek first your own kingdom. Selfishness is rampant, even within Christianity. When we can take the Bible and employ it in a way that it then benefits us, we have forsaken Christianity to embrace paganism, but called it “Christian”, and called our god of prosperity “Jesus”. There are marvelous statements withing Scripture about how God loves, protects, and blesses His people, but those statements are never to be taken as “promises” that we can “claim”. This is a relationship, and not a magic lantern.
To come into the faith, we must turn aside and see. We must recognize the absolute polarity of God’s ways and the ways of the world. Everything that we’ve before lived, all of our lifestyle choices, the entirety of our attitude, disposition, and mentality toward self and others needs to be radically challenged. Down to the very foundations of what we say, how we say it, why we say it, what we believe, why we believe it, how we act, and why we do what we do needs to be scrutinized under the most anguishing meticulous analysis.
While it might be technically “morally acceptable” to live in a large home, have multiple televisions, multiple cars, all sorts of wireless devices, video games, sports attire, etc, the question needs to be asked, “Does any of this display the character of God?”
This isn’t to say that we can’t have nice things. I type this out on a computer that is hooked up to Internet (albeit borrowed internet). So it isn’t the “things” in themselves. It isn’t about whether what you are doing, or where you are working, is glorifying to God, but about the inward heart. Is the heart bent upon selfishness, or does it lend itself toward others? If you were to learn that a brother or sister in Christ were homeless because they lost their job, and their family was not able to be supported, and so that led to family trouble, which led to divorce, which led to who knows what, would you be willing to take them in?
The radical claim of the Gospel, the radical demand of the Gospel, is that God has not left this world in darkness, but has been lavish enough to give His only begotten Son, paying the highest price – even an unthinkable price – so that you and I might know love. Now that you have experienced that love, go and likewise share it. Be lavish, go beyond simple words, and take up your cross to follow Him unto the ends of the earth.