Turn Aside And See The Fire
Updated: Mar 20, 2020
Our power takes place after our revelation. This blog is an ongoing journal of the beauty of the burning bush and what we can learn and apply in our lives.
When we think about Moses, we think of someone who was a Prophet and the deliverer of Israel, a person who did many great things for God. He led the Israelites to the border of Egypt. After defeating the Amalekites in Rephidim, Moses led the Israelites to Mount Sinai, and there Moses was given the Ten Commandments from God, written on stone tablets. Moses delivered the laws of God to Israel, some of the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against God, so Moses stood up against them, and said they would not inherit the land for 40 years, and that their children would inherit the land instead. After 40 years, Moses led the Israelites around the Dead Sea to Edom and Moab and finally the Israelites conquered the lands of Og and Sihon, received God's blessing through a prophet named Balaam, and conquered the Midianites, those who had become the enemies of the Israelites thanks to their role as enticers of sin against God. Clearly, Moses did many things, but the question we need to ask is, what was the seed? Where did it all begin? And from this, where can we find our power, our calling, our transcendence as a people of God?
Well, it all began at the burning bush, the story in Exodus 3! An incredible vision was made evident to him. That vision was a revelation that restored his faith and restored his energy. When we think of the vision, it is a vision of revelation, permanence, purity and lastly, personal love. It was a vision of revelation because there was a lot of unique revelation within it, which we will unpack in this blog. It was a vision of permanence - the bush continues to flame, was not consumed and was a symbol of a power able to withstand and remain alive. It was a vision of purity, as Moses was unable to enter into the presence and awe of the vision without removing his sandals, for the place where he stood was holy ground - verse 5. It was a vision of personal power and of love, not just a plain love, but a personal love - out of the distance came a strong and powerful voice which was personal, proclaiming to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saying, "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey" - verse 7. The vision was not given to Moses to be kept only for himself, but to be a call for the freedom of God’s people. The light of God is all around us, but only those who take off their shoes can see it, only those who turn their heads and focus their attention can see it. If we give our hearts and focus attentively to meet with God, God will meet with us. The bush was not on the track that Moses was pursuing - but away from it - in fact, it is in the action of turning our attention that we see a great sight. Moses decided to turn aside, as he was curious. When was the last time you were curious concerning the things of God?
God never seeks to terrify us, but he does claim his authority, and called Moses twice by name, in verse 4, “Moses, Moses!” This was powerful as God made His way into the heart of Moses, making him attentive to God's voice, and then, God commands him, "Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground," preparing him to humble himself before Him. Here, Moses is reminded of the holiness of even the ground near God. It is a symbol still evident today - in our prayers, actions like the bending of our knees are honorable and showcase excitement to the worshipping of God. This was "holy ground," not a ground to be profanely stood upon. In John 4:24, John says that "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”. Without focusing on the "in spirit" side, it is clear that worshipping in truth is to worship in a way that adores and honors in a manner that depicts the respect that is duly deserved, and therefore, I do not believe this command to be not only given to Moses but to all of us, to learn that in all ceremonies, the object is to honor the majesty of God, and to let this act of honor be a seriously perceived truth in our minds and hearts, that He be regarded in a manner that is in accordance with his dignity. The sandals being taken off resembles something important, and that is the act of letting go in order to hear the voice of God. Can you imagine what would have happened if Moses did not remove his sandals? Taking off the sandals is a step of preparation, to listen with fear for God. First, Moses turned "aside and see this great sight" - verse 3, then he removed his sandals as per the request. You can't expect to hear the voice of God if you not prepared to hear the voice of God. It's time to let go of those things that are unholy, for we are to approach God with respect, honor and dignity, for He is the indescribable.
"You can't expect to hear the voice of God if you not prepared to hear the voice of God."
Louie Giglio, one of the great narrators of our time, speaking on the indescribable nature of God once said, "don't dwell on your sufficiency, but dwell on God's all-sufficiency." When I think of these words, I think of the bush that was not consumed, an emblem of the power and majesty of God, the all-sufficiency of God. The bush was not consumed, an emblem of Israel at the time - despite their distresses and their persecutions, they were not consumed; an emblem also of the state of us, the Church, a people that at times feel cast down, yet are not forsaken, that know deep down that "when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" - Isaiah 43:2. "Why the bush does not burn,” Moses wonders - why does the fire which burns not burn that which burns easily? Because God has a different plan every time and He was in the midst. Just like God had a plan to preserve the bush from being consumed and to preserve the Israelites, so too, today, God has a plan that every one of not be consumed by the world, the flesh and the devil.
Isaiah 43:2 - "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."
What matters greatly to God is the edification of those who are humbled. If we think about the fire, it was not a great tree, but simply a small thorny bush. This is significant as God chose a weak bush, something small and insignificant, something that was not of any major use in the moment. Moreover, if we think about Moses, he also was small and insignificant, a poor shepherd, but, this didn't matter as God chose him, delightfully aiming to beautify and crown him for he was humble. The invitation was there to draw near, and in James 4:8, James says, "draw near to God and he will draw near to you." As soon as God saw that he took notice of the bush, not consumed with fire, and indeed turned aside to look at it, leaving what is was doing, then God spoke to him. There are a lot of Christians out there wanting to hear the voice of God but not actively leaving things behind to pursue Him. Moses took notice, and left his business behind, as meager as it might have been, he still left it behind, to focus his attention, and that is important to consider. He didn't just neglect it as something trivial, and not worth considering. If he did, what would have happened? Would God have departed? I'm certain he would have, and said nothing to Moses, but God noticed him turning aside and called to him. "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you," - simple. It’s so simple that we sometimes forget the relevance and importance of it - just approach Him, by faith and by prayer, and He will meet you. When one seeks Him, He meets them. This beautiful expression is seldom noted.
A question I need to ask myself is this, and I'm sure you have thought this too - why Moses? Why does God choose someone who is not even good with words? Moses said himself in Exodus 4:10, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Now, this was actually the fourth objection that was raised by Moses and I don't plan on discussing each objection, but, I will look at the reactions by God to this speech objection. First, God did not make any alteration to Moses' speaking ability. This is amazing, because, as is the case with many Christians, Moses was searching for a miracle, for a fix. In addition, Moses came close to blaming God, when he said "nor since You have spoken to Your servant." Moses didn't understand why God chose him, and, when He did, why He did not alter Moses' speaking ability. God, same as with Moses, did not make a mistake in creating Moses - Moses was perfect as he was for his calling. The way that you were created is perfect for what you were created for. God's response to Moses was powerful, saying to Moses, in verse 11 and 12, "Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” What an incredible response! Does it not make sense to look to the Creator of the universe, the One who made the mouth rather than the problems of the mouth itself. Our faith is stirred when we look at God rather than our circumstances. My question is, where are you focusing your attention?
Whether it is the example of the bush or the Lord letting you know of the impossible, He is a God that words wonders and it's important never to forget this. As soon as you forget this, you are living in the world of man-made wonder, a world in which we live, but are not a part of - we "do not belong to the world" for we have been chosen "out of the world," - John 15:19. It’s time to live out of the world, a world that relies on man-made wonder as we belong to a world that relies on the wonder and majesty of God. Apparent impossibilities are possible for Him - by simply speaking, He can do in a moment what will take us a lifetime to accomplish.
Turn aside and see the fire!
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