We left Moses in yesterday's post as an alien in a foreign land in the desert... for a very long time! For forty years to be exact! Let's continue his story....
We left off at Exodus 2:23-25. It reads, "During that long period...." One version puts it as, "After a long time...." And oh my, it had been! It'd been a long time for Moses! It'd been a long time for the Israelites! Not a hard week. Nor a hard month. Not a long season. Not one or two or three or ten years, or even fifteen or twenty! For Moses, it had been forty years! For the Israelites, four hundred and thirty! A long, long, very, very long time.
"During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them."
I love that passage! For eons, those have been some of my very most faved favorites! Holy Script! Full of hope! Wonder! Joy! Humbleness! Honor! And the thrill of my God and my Savior! It shows the sweetness of His look! It reveals the concern in His face! It gives us a glimpse of how moved He is in His heart when He hears! You can know with all of your heart, that He's in-tuned to every whimper, every whisper, every tear, every cry! And He's quick to want to answer you!
If you've ever "groaned in your slavery" and "cried out" for help from our God... He's heard you! He's looked! He's seen! He's remembered His promise to run to us with mercy to save us when we call out to Him in whatever trouble we're in! He's concerned when we cry! When we groan! When we're bound and imprisoned by whatever it is that has captured and enslaved us.
He's concerned! God! God is concerned! God cares! Like it said, He looks! He hears! He's moved with compassion! He gets up to act! And so... He sends! And here in this particular case, He chooses to send Moses.
"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 desert 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."
Who, I wondered with the ladies, who in here has ever had a burning bush experience? A time when you knew that you knew that you knew that the God of the whole Universe had just spoken to you?! Woo, PAY ATTENTION when God speaks! Write down what He's told you. And don't, no matter how long it takes for God to bring it about, don't ever forget or loose faith that God will do exactly as He's said He would! It's as Luke 1:45,37 says, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said will be accomplished..... For nothing is impossible with God." Let's say to Him as Mary once said, "May it be to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38). "So keep up your courage, men [and ladies], for I have faith in God that it will happened just as He told me" (Acts 27:25).
The thing about burning bush experiences is that it's hard to explain and share with another. It's something so intimate, so wild, so huge, so unexplainable, so unfathomable, that words won't wrap around the experience so that the listener can see and feel and know what we felt and what we now know in our spirits. It can be disheartening. A "burning bush," per se, sounds silly to most. Especially to those that have never experienced such.
Can you imagine being a fellow Shepherd-er of Moses'? Can you imagine being in the desert where he was and seeing him while he spoke with this bush? Not seeing the bush burning as he did, perhaps. And not, hearing the voice of the Lord coming out of it speaking to him. If you were there, if that had happened, can you imagine the wildness in the experience? "Moses! Are you okay, Moses?" You ask him this as he bows to the ground after taking off his shoes, and then hides his face. You hear him say, 'What is Your name? Who shall I tell them has sent me?' (paraphrase mine) And then you hear him say to the bush, 'I don't know how to speak."....................... 'Moses, Moses,' you wonder, 'are you okay, Moses? Perhaps he's had way too much sun in this desert and has been here way too long tending these sheep. Bless the man's heart, he's 80 years old and he's losing it!' But Moses knows! And nothing can un-convince him! Maybe that's why that God didn't merely speak to him in a vision or a dream? Maybe the whole reason why God spoke to him in something so different and un-imaginable was so that it was be that much more believable to Moses. God was giving Moses a task that would be hard, and God did not want Moses to be able to explain it away to doubt Him.
I've often talked about the burning bush! It's impact hit me years ago, it penetrated me to the core. In some ways, it was (it has been) my own burning bush experience. I cannot begin to count the endless times that I used this very Scripture while in prayer to our God. Numerous times! Too many to remember! In the past.... and today, even still!
I've asked that God make me like that bush. To light a flame of fire so fantastic inside my soul that I become "strange" looking, a "strange sight" to another. And that when they come over to see this "strange sight - why this bush does not burn up" that God will call their name from there. And that He will rock their worlds for all of eternity!
But how does that work? How can others see our "bush" on fire without being burned up?
One powerful way is to be so seeped in the Word that the blaze lights such a fire inside our very souls that it can't help but be seen... and look strange! Kind of like the men on the road to Emmaus that Jesus spoke to when, at first, they didn't realize it was Him talking to them. After Jesus disappeared, they turned to each other and said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32)
I KNOW that feeling! That burning within my own heart! That burning within ME that I get when He talks with ME on my road and when He opens His Scriptures to me so that this once blind man can see!!! I want that! I long for that! I live for that! I bask and bathe and soak in that! I crave that continual burning within! More of Him! More of Him! More of His Spirit! More of His fire lit inside this very vessel He's put me in.
Another favorite verse that has often spoken my exact same feeling is Jeremiah 20:9, "But if I say, "I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name, His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones, I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." As I said, that so often pictures my feeling!! I KNOW what that feels like! I know that fire... that fire I feel shut up in my bones, that begs to be let out. Yet sometimes, when I am lacking that feeling, I'm begging for it back! I always want that fire within! I want to be ablaze with the wonder and the power of my Lord!
But, I wondered again with my ladies, how else can others see our bushes on fire, fully on fire, but not burning up? I asked and waited for an answer. No one said a word. I asked again, seeking for someone to tell me. They didn't. So I answered them with an answer myself.
How do others see our "bush"es on fire and it doesn't burn up? I'll tell you how. I'll give you a prime example. It's when someone says something so ugly to us and lights a fire of fury in us.... and surprisingly, it doesn't burn us up! "Strange" looking!! Strange looking!!! Very STRANGE looking! Not normal! Not what normal man would do! It's when we're being tested with those fiery trials that come our way, and we don't fall for them; but instead our faith is proved genuine, and the reflection of Jesus' face in ours can be seen! (1 Pet 1:6-7; 4:12-13). I've dubbed it a "fiery opportunity"!!! Let's not miss it when it comes! Oh, no need to worry, it'll come! And it'll come often. And when it does, let's be "strange"! Let's be contagious! Let's let other people want what we've got! Want something that isn't quick to burn up! And let's watch Jesus call their name from that site! And watch them hear their name being called by our Savior in hopes to also save them!
Back to Moses. Back to the Scriptures that tell us of him (Exodus 3:6-4:13): "The LORD said, "I have indeed SEEN the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land.... And now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring My people the Israelites out of Egypt.... I will be with you....."...... Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"..... Moses said to the LORD, " O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since You have spoken to Your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."..........
What did God tell Moses to do? And why did He tell him to do it?
God told Moses to "Go" and to bring His people out of the land of their slavery. God told Moses to "Go," BECAUSE He'd heard them crying out, He'd seen their misery, and God wanted to help and to deliver them. Meanwhile, as God is telling Moses what He wants to do, Moses is arguing that he is insufficient to do it. And then, when God reminds him that He made man's mouth.... (and need we forget, He was talking to Moses through a bush! If He can make a bush talk, then surely, He'll be able to help Moses to!)... and He assures Moses that He will help him speak, and He will teach him what to say. But sadly, even after all that, Moses ends with telling Him, "O Lord, please, send someone else."
Woo! Who's praying and God wants to send you to? What are you trying to convince God of? That you're too young? That you're too inadequate? That you're ill equipped? That you're not smart enough? Wise enough? Knowledgeable enough? Strong enough? Bold enough? Etc?
Next time you're praying and no one is coming in answer to your prayer, it just very well may be that God is arguing with the Moses that He intends to send to you, and that that "Moses" is begging God not to make him go.
Or, what about the times when you've been the "Moses"? You've been the one called? You've been the one told to go? Yet, you were scared. And you had your reasons. And you refused?
We've often beg God to use us! And then when the times comes for Him to do so, we turn and tell Him we're not ready, we don't know how, and we ask Him as Moses did, to send someone else to do it.
Oh, that we dare to miss our moment! That we dare to refute or refuse Him! That we dare to help when another is praying! And that we dare to miss our blessing!
Woe, that is just a peek into our wonder with Moses and the bush's fire on Wednesday night. Do you mind a moment as I say this? I LOVE the wonder of God's Word! I love the depth and height and width and all the faceted endless dimensions of it! There's so much to know! So much to learn! So much to be wow-ed and whoa-ed over! So much to teach! So much.... So much... So much of so many things!
LORD, You so very much amaze me!!! I long for You to speak and to amaze me even more! Not only amazement though, Lord, may I be convicted, penetrated deeply, and moved into action and obedience and submission to all that You say and tell!
Speak on, LORD! Like Samuel, your servant is listening! May I not ever (again like Samuel) let any of Your words fall to the ground!