The burning bush, part one

It is so so so good to be back!  I promise the time away was not ill spent, as I’ve amassed over a month’s worth of Bible blogs as part of a study I’m calling Moses Moments.  What’s funny is, as I started reading Exodus I wasn’t intending on writing about Moses.  Mostly I was just continuing reading my Bible from the beginning.  But as I started to learn about Moses I found several moments in his life resonating with me.  Sure, I knew all the highlights, but this is the first time I’ve read Moses’ full story in the Bible. Everything I knew was from sermons and movies and just from being raised in the church. Reading it for myself really opened up Moses in an interesting way for me.  As you’ll see over the next month, I didn’t start out with a favorable view of the man, but his life account is a truly fascinating one and one that I think holds a ton of great wisdom and knowledge for us as modern believers. I got a ton out of it and was really blessed by the life of Moses.

The Burning Bush

Exodus Chapter 3, Chapter 4

I know it’s an obvious place to start, but I was really caught up in this. I knew all about the burning bush, but what I wasn’t aware of is just how reluctant and hesitant Moses is to follow the commands of God.

Let’s set the stage here. You’re an older guy, and you’re out working as a shepherd and you see this bush that’s on fire but not being burnt up. So you approach to check it out and all of a sudden the voice of God starts talking to you from the burning bush. He even calls you by name!

I want to pause for a moment here, because I think we lose something sometimes when we’re reading our Bibles. These aren’t just incredible stories, they’re incredible TRUE stories. There’s a real danger to get desensitized to the miracles and magnificence of some of the events of the Bible. Just like I no longer flip out every time I see great special effects in a Hollywood blockbuster, sometimes I find myself just accepting spectacular moments in the Bible like they’re just old news. Yup, burning bush, God talking through the burning bush, yeah, heard this story a thousand times. I really have to combat that in my mind, and the way I can do it is by just slowing down when I’m reading. Slow down and put yourself into the story. Imagine it as if you’re the main character. Modernize it, if that helps. Moses was out working, so imagine you’re at your job or on your way to your job. You park the car, you’re walking towards the store where you work, and these flames catch your eye. You glance over and a bush is on fire, but it’s not being destroyed. The flames are clearly real, yet the branches and leaves of this bush aren’t being consumed at all. You approach, and all of a sudden the unmistakable voice of God booms out of this bush, calling you by name.

This is really something strong on my heart. Whenever I’m reading my Bible, I can fall into traps with this. If it’s a story I already know well, like when I studied the book of Job or Jonah, it’s like watching a movie for the tenth time. You like it, it’s a great movie, but you’re not really focusing in on all of the details. Jonah’s a religious guy but he doesn’t want to go to that city, hops on a boat heading the other way, big storm caused by God, Jonah tossed overboard, swallowed by a giant fish, eventually spit out, finally does what God asked him, the end. There’s such a danger to letting our familiarity with certain Bible stories cloud our reading of them. I think it’s important to combat that by slowing down. Don’t measure your Bible reading success by how much you read, but how well you read. Even if you only get through a page that day, as long as you really took it in, as long as you really soaked in it and understood it, that’s what matters.

The other trap is the one I mentioned above, just viewing miracles as if they’re commonplace. When you deepen your knowledge of God, that means you’re coming to know more about all the awesome things He’s done. So when you read about a burning bush, it’s a miracle yeah, but it’s one of hundreds recorded in the Bible. We’ve got healings, and crazy weather phenomena, and people raised from the dead. It’s easy to look at these things and think “Well yeah, God’s infinitely powerful, of course He can do all this stuff.” And that’s true, He is and He can, but I think it’s really dangerous when we find ourselves just passing over displays of God’s power in the Bible. The burning bush is an awesome display of God’s power, and an awesome display of the importance of what Moses was needed for. God needed to get his attention and a big way, this was a mission that needed to be talked out a little bit.

Sometimes when I write these blogs I can blur the line of who I’m writing them for. Most times it’s for me and my hope is that it can also help some of you along the way. Every once in a while I feel like I’m writing for you, sharing something that was put on my heart to share. This time there is no doubt, I’m writing for me. Because honestly, in none of my notes on this did I once really respect the awesome power of God that’s represented in the burning bush. I passed right over it. My deep and lifelong familiarity with this story caused me to jump right beyond what is an incredible, supernatural display of God’s infinite power! I promise you, if I walked outside today and saw a burning bush that wasn’t being consumed, and God spoke to me out of it, I wouldn’t just shrug and go “yeah, heard all about that before, no big deal.” It would stand as the single most incredible thing I’d ever seen with my eyes and I would probably spend the rest of my life sharing the story with every person I met. And if that’s the impact it would have on me in my life, it’s important for me to realize that someone did see a burning bush once. That this section in Exodus isn’t telling me a neat fairy tale, it’s documenting an incredible, miraculous display of God’s power. And as I just shared, a display so mighty and incredible that it would be life changing to experience it. That’s the impact moments like this in the Bible should have on me. I was obviously reading too fast and with too much familiarity when I went through this part of Exodus because it didn’t even phase me. I didn’t even write a single note about the awesomeness of the burning bush itself.

The Bible isn’t just a book of stories. It’s a document of true stories, a living testament to the power and character of my God. When the Bible talks about something amazing God did, we should take notice. When God displayed his awesome powers, there was always a reason, and I guarantee you those who lived it took notice, just as we should stop and take notice when we get to those points in the stories.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, today I come before you with a request on my heart.  Please, awaken a hunger for your word in the people I know.  You know the names and faces and hearts of those around me, of those who have been heavy on my heart in recent months.  I also ask this on behalf of myself and fellow believers, draw us deeper into your word.  All of life is in this book.  All the strength, all the love, all the guidance, everything is there.  You also made it entertaining, something which I’ll forever be thankful for.  Thank you that it’s not a dry text book, that you knew how much your people love great stories.  What a great story it is, because it’s your story.  Call your people to your book.  Let us prioritize it in our lives, help us get to a place where the Bible sits in a rightful place of priority in our day.  And Lord, when we read or hear about your word, guard us against being overly familiar.  I skimmed right over a miracle when I read about the burning bush because I was so familiar with hearing about it.  What a travesty that would’ve been if I hadn’t corrected it.  Your awesome power doesn’t go on display at random, and when it’s recorded in the word then let us take notice.  Let us meditate on these moments and treat them as the special events that they are.  This is a book with a deep, absolute purpose, please help me not to ever get so caught up in reading it that I don’t pay tribute and respect to the incredible God I’m reading about.  Thank you for your book, God, thank you for all that it represents and contains.  In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Well, I hope 2016 is off to a great start for all of you and that this week is going good so far.  Mondays can be tough, but just remember that you are dearly loved by God.  He’s for you and He loves you.

 

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