Today was the start of Exodus. Exodus begins with the oppression of the Israelites, who have become fruitful in the land of Egypt, and are greatly feared by the Egyptians. Into these circumstances does the story of Moses begin. Today’s reading was from Exodus 1-3.
Why a ‘burning bush’?
Well, it sure attracted Moses’ attention. “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” The bush is described as burning, but not consumed.
But why not a speaking animal? Or a dream? Or writing on the wall? Or a storm cloud? Why a burning bush?
God does not play dice. I don’t think He puts His hand into a bag and pulls out a piece of paper that says “burning bush”. He had a purpose for speaking to Moses through a burning bush. If it was to attract Moses’ attention, I’m pretty certain a speaking animal, dreams, writing appearing on a wall, or a storm cloud would be equally attention grabbing.
So if it’s not to get Moses’ attention, it’s to show something about God. And here’s what I think the symbolism is.
God is like a fire. Hebrews describes Him as a ‘consuming fire’. Yet the bush was clearly not consumed. BUT the place was refined. God called it holy and instructed Moses to take off his sandals. God is a fire. He refines those He has called, who He then justifies, who He then glorifies. We are like metal with impurities. We go into God’s fire and He refines us, only leaving pure metal behind. But to those who have not been called and justified, He does not glorify by refining. He consumes.
It’s quite harsh imagery in a way. The image of God as fire is used several times throughout the Bible. And I think I’ll point it out along the way. But for today, I want to raise something. If we are sons of God, and the Spirit of God is in us, it is a flame that is in us. But how hot is that flame in us? How bright is that flame in the lives of others? Sometimes we cover it with a lampshade. But I believe there’s a need to let it burn bright. To show that God is here with us. And that we are not consumed. Then maybe people will turn aside to see this great sight, and question like Moses: why we are not burned?