Introduction: The effective power of God to accomplish all things is the theme of Exodus 3. How can we be sure that He will bring about all that He has purposed for our lives? The answer is found in the Name of God, revealed to Moses for the first time in Exodus 3:14 at the burning bush. Because God is “The LORD,” i.e., the unchangeable “I AM,” we can rest on His unchanging faithfulness. He will not deceive us by giving us a false Name on which to call, but will perform for us all that His Name has promised! He has staked His reputation on being unchangeably true and trustworthy, especially when it comes to saving and preserving the lives of His own. May this “account of the bush” (as Jesus calls it in Luke 20:37) be a great encouragement to us to trust all the more in the power of God’s Name.
Monday: read Exodus 3:1-3. What caused Moses to look at the bush in Exodus 3:3 was that it was “on fire yet did not burn up.” The bush burned continuously because of the presence of the God who is known throughout the Bible as a “consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut. 4:24). Since such fire is connected to God’s “jealousy,” we might well ask the question: “Why was God jealous and what prompted Him to come down to that bush?” It was His people’s sufferings at the hand of their tormentors (Ex. 2:23-25) which prompted Him to come down – as He tells Moses in Ex. 3:7-8: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt…I have heard them crying out…, and I am concerned about their suffering…, so I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians….” God was jealous for His people’s salvation, survival and comfort! Pharaoh had touched the “apple” of God’s eye in abusing His people. Now the fire of God’s jealousy was to burn against the land of Egypt!
Pray: Thank God that He is always willing, throughout Bible history, to “go to war” in order to save His people. Though under the New Covenant we must never take up arms to defend the Kingdom of God, since “our weapons are not carnal but spiritual” (2 Corinthians 10:4), God Himself is fully justified to rescue and defend His own, using whatever means He deems right and just – even as He rescued Israel, “His firstborn son” (Ex. 4:22-23). Meditate: Are there Christians that you know of today who desperately need God “to go to war for them” against unjust regimes? May God help us to realize what a weapon prayer is, and that He has put it in our hands in order that we, by faith, might “demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Tuesday: read Exodus 3:1-6 and Hebrews 12:28-29. We must, as Hebrews 12:28 commands, “serve God with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” This is what makes Moses fall on his face, “afraid to look at God” (Ex. 3:6). All through the Scriptures, it is the holy fear of God which humbles and constrains God’s people to be called into His service. Only in humble prostration before God would Moses be enabled to stand before Pharaoh as the deliverer of God’s people. In fact, awe of God’s holiness stayed with Moses his whole life. Almost every time there was a trial or conflict, Moses “fell on his face” before the Lord. For example, take Numbers 14:5, where Moses and Aaron fall before the Lord when Israel rebelled at the entrance to the Promised Land. In the same way, self-abasing awe before God prompted the great prophet to write of himself: “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3)!
Meditate and Pray: “Lord, we would ask that your presence in our lives would always influence us as you did Moses, so that we might find ourselves often on our faces before you instead of exalting ourselves before men. Thank you for your holiness, so great as to make the greatest Old Testament prophet hide his face from you. Thank you for your grace that took the broken, lowly Moses and exalted him to the greatest level of spiritual communion: ‘face-to-face’ with God (Numbers 12:8). Thank you for your Son, Jesus, in whom holiness and grace came to perfect human expression – and who even called you, in John 17:11, ‘Holy Father’! Grant us the grace always to approach you in just such a reverent way. Amen.”
Wednesday: read Exodus 3:2-6 and Deuteronomy 33:16. How amazing that the bush, which burned with fire and caused Moses to “hide his face,” became a symbol of Divine favor! We know this from Moses’ words of blessing in Deuteronomy 33:16, where he bestows on the tribe of Joseph the “favor of Him who dwelt in the burning bush”! How could his experience of God’s fiery holiness become a grace which Moses could bestow in blessing? The answer lies in the frailty of the ‘desert’ bush itself. After all, what bushes in the desert are not spindly, stunted and vulnerable from continuous exposure to the extremes of aridity and temperature? Scholars rightly see that this bush symbolizes not only the presence of the God who is a “consuming fire,” but also His presence in the midst of His frail, suffering people! It was a bush which “was not consumed,” though it ought to have been – a frail desert plant which God would make flourish despite the harsh spiritual and physical conditions of Egypt! Doesn’t such a picture remind you of the description of Israel as “found by God in the desert,” in Deuteronomy 32:10? “In a desert land God found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; He guarded him as the apple of His eye.”
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that He is able to use His fiery presence in our lives so graciously, and for our good – not for our destruction. Though we are as weak as desert greenery, growing in the dry ground of affliction, He is able to keep us alive, and even flourishing. How does the old hymn (# 94, vv. 3 & 4 in our hymn books) put it?
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
Thursday: read Exodus 3:2-6 and Luke 20:37. Yesterday we discovered how the fiery presence of God, though destructive of all sin, and consuming all who would oppose Him (like Pharaoh), is actually a wonderful preservative for His own. How did verse 3 of hymn # 94 put it? The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine. What a word! “The flame shall not hurt thee.” If we need further proof of such miraculous preservation of His people, consider how God identifies Himself in Exodus 3:6 as the “God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” God is able to identify Himself in relation to these covenant ancestors of Moses precisely because He has preserved them – even through the fiery trial of death! As Jesus says, expounding on the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Luke 20:38), “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.” No wonder Moses was unafraid to dwell as an “alien” in this world, first in Egypt and then in Midian! He was persuaded that the very same God who preserved his fathers in the faith, would also carry him through this life, and even through death, into the very presence of the ever-living, “I AM” God!
Meditate and Pray: There are many right now in our church circle of friends, facing cancer diagnoses; surgeries, perhaps terminal illness and even the grief of loss. Ask the Lord to make His presence known to such at this time.
Friday: read Exodus 3:2-6; Colossians 2:9 and 1 Peter 4:12-13. Of course, no study of the “account of the bush” from Exodus 3:2-6 would be complete without understanding that its ultimate fulfillment came when the “fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily” (Colossians 2:9) in our frail human nature. Just as it was a miracle that the fire of Divine Being could dwell in a desert bush without consuming it, so it is an even greater miracle that, in the Person of the Son, the Infinite, Divine nature could come down and dwell in the finite nature of man. But that’s not all… to think that God the Son would not only dwell in our nature…, but also suffer in it! And then be our companion in our sufferings, even “participating with us in them,” as 1 Peter 4:13 amazingly declares! Therefore, like Moses before Pharaoh, we have a forceful message to declare to the hostile world around us: “When you persecute me, you persecute my Lord, who is standing here with me, even in the midst of my fiery trials”!
Meditate and Pray: “Lord Jesus, when we are frail and weak, “tempted, tried and often failing,” lift our spirits by the fellowship which we can enjoy with you in our sufferings. Because you became “our burning bush,” make your presence real, precisely when the “oven” of daily life is the hottest. Moreover, in the interest of Gospel witness to the world, please help our unsaved loved ones and neighbors to say of us: ‘I see suffering Christians, there in the fire… but who is that other one with them, who looks like the Son of God’ (Daniel 3:25)? Amen.”