Moses and the Burning Bush: Who?! Me?
Pastor Diane Gordon
Mt Pleasant FUMC
September 3, 2017
Scriptures: Exodus 3:1-15
To put all the pieces together in Moses’ story, we need to fill in the blanks a bit. Last week, we left him in the care of the Egyptian princess, being nursed by his Hebrew mother. Now, Moses has grown up, been living a posh life, educated, fed and clothed as one of the elite, ruling class. Then, after some 40 years, or just a long time – 40 is not always literally forty in the Bible, Moses has somewhat of a mid-life crisis. He witnesses one of the Hebrew slaves being beaten and Moses lashes out and kills the Egyptian overseer. This causes him to have to flee to the country where he ends up tending sheep and marrying one of the daughters of Jethro. Then comes the burning bush.
If we read between the lines, Moses has never forgotten his Hebrew roots. This was probably due to his ongoing connection with his older sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron, both of whom grew up in their Hebrew slave household. Moses’ sensitivity to the plight of his birthright people is keen, but when he killed the Egyptian, his first thought was “maybe no one saw me” and he hid the body in the sand. The next day, he sees two Hebrews fighting with each other and he questions the fact that they are fighting with the very people they are related to. They counter with “who made you to judge? Are you going to kill us like you did the Egyptian?” Moses begins to freak out and decides to flee to escape Pharaoh’s anger and punishment.
This is hardly the story of a self-made, upstanding citizen. We have here a man who is saved at birth by a devoted mother who knows this child is special. He is again saved by a Princess who sees beauty in this babe and raises him as her own. He makes a bad choice and finds himself homeless far from home and is saved by a Midian priest whose daughters Moses helped against the bully shepherds at the well as they hogged all the water. Time and time again, Moses is saved. God has plans for Moses. Time and time again, Moses finds a new path where any human might have seen nothing but despair.
We get that way too, don’t we. We face adversity, a difficult diagnosis, a loss of some kind or another, divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job – the list could be long, and we tend to despair. We can’t see beyond the current trouble and we are tempted to give up, give in to temptation, or turn back to old ways and places because it is familiar even though we have grown past it and it wasn’t all that great in the first place. What we must remember is that God sees our plight and has a future for us, still. Hopefully, we are learning lessons we will need later in life.
God sent Moses a burning bush to catch his attention. How has God sought to get your attention lately? What would it take to get you to notice that the Creator of the universe wants to talk with you?
In Moses’ case, God first tells him to take off his sandals because he is on holy ground. In other words, take away anything that stands between you and God. Connect fully with the reality that God is present and wants to communicate with YOU. Put away the phone, the iPad, the camera. Stop doing selfies and check in with God. Being fully present with God, as Moses learned, requires one’s full attention.
Next, be ready for God to ask something of you that won’t necessarily be easy. Moses’ first response is “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt?” Who am I? Who?! Me?
We all carry a boatload of doubts and insecurities with us. We are burdened by old baggage: failed marriages, lost jobs, HUGE mistakes, unforgiven stuff that we just haven’t let go. When God seeks to lead us to the next leg of the journey we get really tempted to say not me, Lord. I am not worthy. Remembering God’s next words to Moses can be the most important thing of all.
“I will be with you.” God doesn’t expect Moses to go it alone. God doesn’t expect that Moses has all the power, courage, knowledge or fortitude that it will take. God knows Moses. God knows US. God knows that we can’t do this on our own, so God promises “I will be with you.”
And when others ask who is this that has sent you to us, we, like Moses, can respond, “I Am” has sent me. When we doubt God’s presence, God’s reality, God’s power, we must remember God’s name. “I AM WHO I AM. This is my name forever, and this is my title for all generations.”
The one all-powerful God IS…is with us, sending us encouragement, sending us healing, sending us strength for the day and bright hope for tomorrow. No matter what.
Take time to be on holy ground. Take time to listen to God’s call on your life. Trust that God will be with you, no matter what. Trust that God will supply whatever is needed to make possible what God wants done. Trust God. Always.