Exodus 3:1-6, “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. 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. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ 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.’ ‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ 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” (NIV).
Sometimes it takes a lot to get my attention… maybe too much… Has it ever been a week like that!
So, Moses’ reaction in the well known story of the burning bush is pretty great. He’s minding his own business, or maybe not even his own business but that of his father-in-law—taking care of sheep. It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. I think what gets me is the nonchalant nature at the beginning of this very intense encounter with the presence of God. At best, Moses is appropriately curious.
“Though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up’” (v. 2-3).
I want this to carry with it some sort of deep theological connection, but the truth is any one of us would be drawn to a bush on fire that doesn’t result in a pile of ash. I’m not sure it had to be God for Moses to check it out. It was, but it didn’t have to be. Anything that burns and burns and can never be quenched is going to be intriguing. Passions… hmmm… there is, indeed, a metaphor if we want to explore it. And Moses does.
As God recognizes Moses’ interest; God speaks to him and he responds:
“Here I am” (v. 4).
Now, interestingly, Moses is going to renege on this (or at least try to) as the passage progresses, but we’re not quite there yet… not today… It does have me thinking, though, about how very ‘all in’ we (I) can be just because something is burning brightly—just because there is a fire—before I gather all the ‘intel’ and stop to wonder what I might actually be getting myself into. I wonder how many times I have missed the obvious right in front of my face. I wonder how many times I have run toward something ‘shiny’ only to almost miss the place where I am standing.
“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (v. 5).
I like my sandals (or at least my flip flops). These words are hitting me hard, tonight, because the way in which they relate to God’s presence in our very midst, to our need to see the holy for what it is, to get our feet dirty (see yesterday’s post and foot washing and all of that), to the permission we might have to dive into what God is doing, even if it’s not what we thought… taking off our sandals is dangerous. And suddenly this hits Moses, and:
“He was afraid to look at God” (v. 6).
Oh my goodness, me too. But I think I’ll peek…