Those Burning Bushes

unnamed-1Ever since I was in preschool, my family has attended Bible Study Fellowship. It’s an international program, and if you’re ever traveling in the United States or abroad, you can find a local BSF group that will be going through the same materials as your group back home. Here in Oklahoma, I go to a men’s group that meets in Northwest Oklahoma City, and when I’m back home I go to one with my dad.

This year’s study centers on the life of Moses. We started about a month ago, and last week we covered Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3). I’ve read the passage numerous times, but there were several things that stood out to me more than others.

Burning but Not Burned

When Moses saw the bush, he was awed by the fact that the bush was burning but not burned. It reminds me of another situation—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace. But what was so important about this? For one, it was just the self-sufficient power of God. God gives life; His own life and the life He gives originate from Himself. If we truly understood such power in our own lives and its redemptive and transformative implications, how much more would we seek to know God and dedicate ourselves to Him!

Moses complained that he wasn’t a good speaker, that Israel wouldn’t listen or believe, and that he just wasn’t the right person to be in his position. But wasn’t that would drew him to see the bush in the first place? Bushes aren’t supposed to be burning without being consumed. God calls ordinary people to do His work not just because of its effect on other people but also because of its effect on the people carrying the message. It enables them. It transforms them. It burns them—every shred of self-confidence that they ever had—but then it does not consume them. It makes them burn with the wonder that causes other people to observe and say, “What is this wondrous sight?”

Holy Ground and Taking Off Our Sandals

This is something I don’t completely understand. I don’t know what the holy ground was. Why did Moses have to take his sandals off? Why couldn’t he come closer to see the fire? Was this simply an act of humility that God expected Moses to display?

Something about this situation brought to mind Isaiah 6, where Isaiah sees a display of God’s glory and sees his own inadequacy of standing before the Lord. Whereas Moses seemed to cower in fear (and how often do we do the same thing!), Isaiah understood immediately that he needed the cleansing, purifying act of God in order to stand in His presence. My only conclusion from Moses was that when we approach God, we must come with a specific reverence for His presence—but in some way, that reverence for God overflows into the rest of our lives because we live with the knowledge that God is everywhere at the same time.

Turning Aside to See the Great Sight

Here’s the final thing that didn’t even let me get to the really interesting parts about God’s signs that He would show to Israel: Moses turned aside to see the bush. Moses was a busy man! He was a shepherd, and if sheep don’t have their shepherd, they go astray. Why did he think he could just his daily life come to a grinding halt just so that he could satisfy his curiosity? I’ve never thought that before, but with busyness steadily on the rise in my own life, for someone the idea that this thought would even enter my mine helped me recognize where my own life’s priorities are.

Sometimes we struggle with the balance between our own goals on the one hand and service to God on the other. Why can’t they be one and the same? As I read this small excerpt from Exodus, I realized that when we find ourselves competing between two sides like this, God’s way must prevail over our own. If our goals aren’t what the Lord is leading us to do, we should strongly consider reassessing our lives.

Maybe the day-to-day isn’t God’s way or maybe there’s some part of the path that’s noticeably absent from our lives. Maybe it’s that we started on the right path, but then we charged too far forward and that relationship with God that directed us to where we are now has somehow vanished. Maybe sin has built up in our lives, and we continuously keep it in the closet, unwilling to confess to God and allow Him to cleanse us again. Maybe we’re not taking heed thereto according to His Word.

Sometimes we just need to stop what we’re doing in order to observe those burning bushes in our lives—those gems from God’s Word that we’ve let fall by the wayside, those friends who are still actively engaging God’s truth in their lives, those moments where we felt divine closeness and desired to deepen our walk with Him. Perhaps we should look at our sandals, shed those barriers that keep us from entering into the holiness of Christ, step out of our own ways, and turn aside to see “this great sight.” May God grant to us that serenity and desire!