On Tuesday night passed I was standing outside our home with my friend Wayne. As we chatted I looked over my neighbor’s house and saw a half moon with a half circle, pencil line of light at the bottom. Although so thin it radiated quite some light. The beauty of the night sky is awesome.
Moses, however, saw a different light during the day time. It was a bush that was burning. Please read:
Ac 7:30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31When he saw this, he was amazed at the sight. As he went over to look more closely, he heard the Lord’s voice: 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look. 33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.'”
1) Forty years passes when shepherd Moses sees something that not only caught his eye, but caught his attention. At first sight, Moses’ amazement might have been natural because there is not too much fuel (wood, grass, etc.) to catch fire … yet having said that, the region in Midian’s desert where Moses cared for the sheep must have had sufficient shrubs and small bushes for sheep to feed on. As soon as Moses see a bush burning his amazement might have been that the scorching desert sun caused the dry leaves in the bush to ignite. Yet his amazement was seeing an angel in the flames. Luke records Stephen drawing his information from Exodus, so it will be helpful to consider:
Ex 3:1 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. 2 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. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” 4 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.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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.
Remember there was no written Scriptures at this time, therefore God used direct Revelation to arrest the attention, interest and mind of people. Thankfully we have the complete Bible today and all suggested “extra Biblical Revelation” must be examined according to what the Word has to say.
2) Exodus tells us that this angel Stephen refers to is actually “the angel of the Lord”. This is known as a Theophany. A Theophany is God manifesting Himself in a tangible way to human beings. At times it was in human form or it was the angel of the Lord. In this sense, the angel of the Lord is actually the Pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.
3) The bush that was burning did not burn up. Moses decides to go to this bush that is on fire, yet it does not burn up, which is rather unusual. He wants to investigate. As soon as he does this the LORD calls out to him and there is some interaction:
Ex 3:4 “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
Why does the Lord tell him not to come any closer to the bush? Because the flames of fire represent God who is holy … this is the reason he needed to remove his sandals. That ground where God was, is holy ground. Many years later the prophet Isaiah tells us of his experience:
Isa 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy , holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
The Lord is the thrice holy God and what Isaiah sees is a vision where Moses had witnessed a Theophany! This is why … Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. There are a few things to observe about the Theophany Moses experienced.
(1) Although he knew all about the true God, the God of Israel, God reveals Himself to Moses. The dramatic event of the burning bush that does not burn up teaches Moses that one of the characteristics of God is perpetual holiness. At the same time it reveals to him a characteristic of man … he is unholy. He is a sinner. He cannot come near to God because even though the bush did not burn up, man would. Moses now understood the “terrible holiness” of God! The very same lesson ought to be real for us. God’s holiness demanded nothing less than a pure, perfect offering for our sin. There was no one to make such an offering because all are sinners … but the Son of God offered Himself because only He as a Blood Sacrifice would appease God’s holy anger and remove sin from the sinner who believes.
(2) Although not mentioned, Moses refers to the God who name is LORD. This is significant and very important because any one might refer to “God” but might not be referring to the real, true, living God, the God of Creation. LORD is God’s proper name and the Holy Spirit as He inspires Moses to write the Book of Exodus, gets him to include the name “LORD” so that there is no mistake who he is referring to or who he will be serving.
(3) God explains that He is the LORD God of Moses’ ancestors … “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” No wonder Moses’ mother groomed (in the holiest use of the word … indoctrinated) him. This God was the God of Moses’ father and his mother was also a staunch believer. Consider this, God was building a nation. He required a leader for this nation. He is now choosing a man who grew up in Pharaoh’s palace and as a child was groomed in the Hebrews religion because of godly parents.
Holy, holy, holy, are You LORD God Almighty. You are a fire that consumes, though in love and mercy You have made Yourself known to us through Your Son Jesus Christ. LORD, help us never to treat You and the things associated with You lightly. Grant us greater holiness please. Amen.