There are very few recorded in Scripture who hear their names called. There are even fewer who have such a glorious experience recorded along with that call. To take the burning bush and reduce it to a simple moment in our own lives when we heard the Gospel and responded, or to reduce it to a time when we decided to become more devoted, or to remember a time when God spoke something to our hearts simply is foolhardy. With such a momentous moment in history, let us have sobriety and humility while we’re trying to comprehend its importance for ourselves.
For Moses, this moment means everything. It is not only that his life will never be the same, but it is the moment when hope arrives. Imagine if you were in his shoes. You’ve spent 40 years in exile. After seeing the oppression and torment of his people, what could Moses be asking himself?
Let me pose it a different way. In Malachi 4, there is the promise of Elijah to fore-run the Messiah. There is hope given to the people that deliverance is coming. God has not forgotten His people. They are back from exile, and now they’re going to have the Davidic Kingdom restored. And then 400 years pass with no prophetic voice. 400 years pass, searching for the Messiah, searching for “The Prophet”, searching for Elijah, searching for God. While the Macabees record some victories, in large there was still much discouragement. God’s words seemed to be failing.
And then there is this moment when a man is baptizing out in the Jordan, prophesying in the power of Elijah. Can you sense the incredible adoration? What must it be for Moses to spend 40 years in the wilderness, questioning whether God really cared and remembered the covenant that He made with His people? It isn’t like Moses is groveling, or something, but that in the midst of life there is still the inner grief. Just like the Americans who continue to cry out for revival, there is the question of “Where is God?”
The burning bush is a moment when God comes down. In the Garden, God comes down to walk with Adam in the cool of the day. At Babel, God comes down to examine the tower. It is the way of paganism to continuously be seeking to go “up to God”. It is the Hebraic understanding that perceives the only moments that God is truly present is when He comes down.
What we can expect the glimmer in the words and eyes of Philip shone when he told Nathanael. “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also in the prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” we can also expect here in the soul of Moses. God has not forgotten. God has not been far off. He has seen. He has heard. And now He has come.
A current kick that I’m on is the marvel of God’s wisdom. What is it in His innate character that would dictate for Him to come to Moses through a burning bush? Why not come down in awesome glory, revealing yourself in such a manner that no one can deny it? Why would God come down in the form of a burning bush that could easily be ignored? And why does God send Moses to Pharaoh? Why doesn’t God just plague Egypt Himself and allow Israel to be delivered by terminating the Egyptians? Does God not have the authority or ability to do so?
These questions show just how contrary God thinks in comparison to us. Our mindset and attitude reflects the same kind of selfishness, the same kind of prowess that the demonic forces exhibit. Our thoughts so often are so much lower.
So, why would God come in a manner that Moses could easily have ignored? Because He knew Moses. Moses wouldn’t ignore it. How do you think that Moses noticed the slavery of his people? It has already been revealed that Moses turns aside to see. God is reinforcing this very thing in Moses. It is an apostolic attribute. It notices the minor notes, and when something is “off”, it won’t let it alone until something is revealed as to why.
It is for this very reason that Moses was chosen to be the deliverer for Israel. It is this very reason that the apostles and prophets are the foundation to the Church. They notice the very minute details, the things that others would pass by and ignore. They won’t let it alone. When something is wrong, they will be ruthless if necessary (in love) to bring maturity and stature into the Body of Christ. Just read the letters of Paul and tell me if you can find one statement that is not connected to some sort of exhortation, rebuke, or teaching that challenges, requires, and/or makes demands upon your life.
God knew Moses’ credentials. And, more importantly, God knew Moses’ inability. He has been on the backside of the desert for 40 years. That kind of extravagance is found a waste in the eyes of the men of the world. What a waste of time. Couldn’t Moses have delivered them sooner, and then Israel would have had their 40 years of wandering already, and now they would be entering the Land. Instead, God doesn’t find it extravagant to wait 40 years before calling Moses, who is now 80.
It is by the weak and foolish things that God desires to defeat the wise and strong. While it is the principalities and powers, the demonic realm, that uses force, intimidation, threat, manipulation, terror, and oppression, it is the wisdom of God to defeat it all through the cross. The cross is more than a moment at the end of Jesus’ life. It is the ever present reality of God’s ways and patterns. Through weakness, humility, foolishness, and an embrace of suffering and pain through love, God defeats and conquers. The question is epochal. Do you believe that gentleness is more powerful than violence? Do you believe that humility is stronger than force? Do you believe that suffering for the sake of love is stronger than oppression and torment?
In Exodus, there are two rods to pay attention to. Pharaoh has a shepherd’s crook. Moses, being a shepherd, has a shepherd’s crook. In Exodus 4:20, Moses’ rod is called “the rod of God”. Thus, we have the question of two wisdoms. Is the cross sufficient to overpower violence, or are we doomed to continually crying out to no avail? Does Light truly push out the darkness is a way that the darkness cannot overcome?
Now Moses stands before God (just pause on that for at least 20 minutes). God is sending him to Pharaoh. It is the wisdom of God to work hand-in-hand with His people. Indeed, while He has every ability to change things in His own strength, God uses His people as a witness. Imagine an Egypt that gets plagued “for no reason”. What reason could it be? With Moses, the reason is given. “Let my people go, or else…”
The end result of sending Moses instead of plaguing Egypt Himself is that Pharaoh acknowledges the LORD (even if without faith), there are some Egyptians that become Israelites and leave Egypt with them, and the whole nation is left asking the question of where their gods were. You see, the God of the Hebrews heard their cry and answered. But where was Osiris when the Nile turned to blood? Where was Hakthor when the cattle were plagued? Where was Ammun Ra when the sun went dark? Did they not have power? Did they not hear the cry of the Egyptians?
Just like Elijah on Carmel, the prophets of Baal cry out all day without any answer, though they obviously expected one. And how is it that the magicians were able to perform these miracles that Moses performed? Could it be that there was indeed some sort of demonic activity at work? Could it be that God was mimicking the illusions of the magicians? Either way, the fact that God permits such witness for the gods of Egypt, only to then manifest their inadequacy, shows that indeed love is more powerful than violence.
So, the question that remains is in what way can we take this and apply it to our own lives? In what ways can we believe that love is stronger than hate? It starts with living in a way that believes it. “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” That includes the annoying guy at work. It also includes the Muslim refugees. It also includes the liberal democrat politicians. It also includes the bully, the jerk, the pessimist, the racist, the guy that can’t get a hint that you don’t want to go out with him, the person that doesn’t realize that you’ve asked them if they want a breath mint 15 times for a reason, and the person with your sport team’s rival. At the end of it all, the reality is that love wins.