Holy Ground

Exodus 3:1-12

61 years ago last month, Jim Elliot along with 4 other men gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel on a sandbar in the Curaray River in Ecuador. Before he left the US for Ecuador, said this in 1949:

“I am dwelling in a generation to whom nothing is holy. Sacredness is an aspect people never assume toward anything. They revel in bald frankness which enervates (significantly weakens) moral consciousness.”

Imagine what Jim Elliot would say about today’s culture… that by word and deed ridicules even the idea of holy in regard to Chrstianity. Should not surprise those who know their Bible, told to expect such as end of this age approaches. Keep this firmly in mind: the world, the American culture does not define reality. The God we love and worship defines what is real, what is true, what has value and significance. Has graciously given guiding principles in his word the Bible, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

This portion of God’s self-revelation one of top 10 in importance for sure – transcendent self-existent creator-God stoops to converse with Moses as friend with friend. In process, reveals truths Jesus used to declare his deity, set the stage for not simply delivering people from slavery in Egypt. What fills out rest of Exodus a huge step in God’s work of redemption and special revelation. In these few verses Moses meets God in way he never had before. Moses hears God speak and he responds. Moses sees God’s heart for his people and Moses dares to ask questions of God. In so doing, finds out he’s not center of attention, God is.

A. Moses meets God v.1-3

what he was doing

how the mighty has fallen – from Pharaoh’s home, not just his court, all the way to sheepherder; nothing lower on social scale in Egypt

for most of 40 years, tending father-in-law’s flocks – essential part of his God-appointed training: learning how to be servant-leader rather than driver

was also ideal opportunity to learn his way around area where children of Israel would hang out for another 40 years – safe roads, oases, basic outdoor living skilils never learned in palace or university

what he saw

approached Horeb, mountain of God, aka Mount Sinai, apparently place of pasturage for flock he was leading

saw bush on fire, not all that unusual in that climate; what was startling – fire kept burning with no effect on the bush

Moses’ attention on the bush, was the fire that was important – just any old ordinary thorn bush, far from any ordinary fire

Moses’ perspective gets changed quickly… but how like us – see something out of ordinary, focus on the what, not the who – God has to focus our attention on what is truly significant

who it was

not just any angel, this one a particular angel… of the Lord – Moses not seeing what he thought he saw, was a theophany… visible manifestation of God

was God who called from the bush, was the Angel of YHWH who appeared in a flame – who is both God and the Messenger of the Lord who speaks? the Lord Jesus!

this one of those places Jesus could have pointed to on road to Emmaus, told his disciples “that was Me speaking to Moses”

God could be consuming fire, so he promised to be when they came to Canaan – here, did not consume the bush, no guarantees for Moses if he approaches too closely

how he responded

Moses may be 80 years old, has not lost powers of observation – saw something extraordinary, went to satisfy curiosity

important to keep in mind – was what Moses saw that aroused curiosity, altered path of his footsteps; was what Moses heard that changed path of his life

God uses all sorts of things to get our attention, at same time “special effects” display something genuine about God’s character/identity

B. Moses hears God v.4-6

God called

God’s condescension abundantly clear here – was God who stooped down to engage with Moses on his level by sight and hearing

God’s grace also evident – yes, God making first move… but is still God, giving up none of his attributes – is not safe for Moses to get too close; got explanation later in Ex. 33:20

God’s love on display, here as elsewhere in passage – love requires relationship, God showed intent for relationship, calling Moses by name

Moses responded

stopped Moses in his tracks – in middle of nowhere and someone knows his name… and uses it; besides, was God calling

what else could he say? You got the wrong guy? He went the other way? answered honestly and respectfully

now knew for sure might be ordinary bush, was truly extraordinary fire, needed to approach with caution

important note: Moses didn’t find God, wasn’t even looking for God; was God who took initiative, revealed himself, called Moses

God instructed

in fact, God instructed – you’re close enough – before getting any closer, needed to know two things: who and how

how helps to explain who: seems that at this time, Moses may have known some, even a lot, about true God – didn’t know God much if at all, needed further understanding

take off sandals – humbly and reverently as servant to master – is master who establishes proper and expected conduct, still true

place is holy because a holy God is present – God of creation, God of covenant, God of redemption, God who is making himself known visibly and verbally

Moses acted

hid his face, not out of reverence, but like Adam and Eve out of fear – overwhelmed by this glimpse of God’s glory/majesty

beauty and glory of God’s presence made Moses’ sinfulness, unworthiness painfully clear – God revealed not only some of himself, also revealed much to Moses about his own character and condition

C. Moses sees God’s heart v.7-10

God sees and hears and knows

God not getting caught up on news here – all-knowing God who sovereignly governs his creatures and actions has it covered

God saying something else here: reminding/encouraging Moses that God always on task, attentive to his people, sees that in time and space his purpose and people have reached key point

one more thing: since God knows their sufferings and has not yet acted to change them, suffering must have good purpose

God acts

easy to think of Moses as deliverer of children of Israel from Egypt; he did look like Charlton Heston, sort of! – is that what Bible says, though?

look v.8 – because God sees, hears, knows, God explains his presence at the bush – he, God has come down to deliver

God has come down to more than simply deliver, to bring them to appointed / promised destination – not to deliver into hand of more enemies, to establish them in new home

God repeats

restates his awareness of their plight again, emphasizing his compassion toward children of Israel again… in light of covenant promises

again making clear – is acting purposely… according to his plan, in keeping with circumstances he appointed

God sends

God could simply speak his command and Pharaoh would send Hebrew children packing in an instant – God has another purpose

is part of his eternal plan to show his people things they need to know and learn… including us – remember they are examples

God does what he alone must by himself – at other times, suits his purpose to carry out his plan using human instruments

in this case, Moses will be God’s instrument of deliverance – don’t forget, will be God doing the delivering, Moses just the agent

D. Moses questions God v.11-12

“why me?”

haven’t been there in 40 years, no friends, smell like sheep – how can dropout from Pharaoh school lead 1 mil. people anywhere

“you aren’t the important one”

God answers, but not how you’d think – not a list of Moses’ hidden talents, untapped resources he can call on for the task

emphatically, “I will certainly be with you” – when God calls someone to serve him, nothing else matters… something Moses eventually understood

“here is proof”

something both Moses and people needed to grasp: #1 thing is to serve God, to worship God, to depend on God for all things

Just like for Moses and children of Israel, big picture about far more than change of circumstances. Too many chase wrong things – if I only had this, did that, lived there – and are continually frustrated, dissatisfied, discontented. What we need to do is spend time on holy ground, drawing close to God, striving to worship and serve him first.

Not in own strength – was God who delivered, not Moses. For all delivered from slavery in sin, is God’s power at work in redemption and in our service. God’s power, wisdom, strength, direction made available to us only through Son the Lord Jesus. When united to Christ by faith, depend on him 24/7, can do absolutely anything God calls us to do.

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