Disciple Hour: Exodus 3:1-9

Last time we saw in Chapter Two, three snapshots of Moses’ life.  We saw how God rescued him from Pharoah’s decree, how Moses understood that he was actually an Israelite and we saw that God had given Moses compassion for his people and their situation.  Now is the time when God calls Moses to obey Him and rescue His people.

Since Moses had fled Pharoah and Egypt settled in with Jethro and his family and marrying Jethro’s daughter, Zipporah he has become shepherd of Jethro’s flock.

Exodus 3:1–9 (ESV) 

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 

1.  A Bush That Burns But is Not Consumed (3:1-3)

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.”

Moses has become a shepherd caring for his father-in-law’s herd. 

Moses is in the region of Horeb and within that vast region is the mountain of God.

The mountain of God is none other than Mount Sinai where God will lead His people through Moses back to in order to receive the Ten Commandments in Exodus 19ff.

Moses’ day probably started out as many of his days did.  Nothing too amazing going on.  No looking for God to reveal Himself, just life in the desert with the herd of sheep.  God had a different plan for Moses that day.  

Here, God will present Himself to Moses this is called a theophany.  There will be an even greater theophany when God speaks to Moses later in the Book. 

God has a tendency to enter our lives at often at the least expected time.  Perhaps you can think of a time when you were just living your life and God took the lead and revealed something to you.  For us, we may be reading His Word and there it is.  Something you’ve noticed and God then shows you something amazing about Himself.  Perhaps this truth is like a bush that burns but is not consumed?  It’s something, no doubt that gets our attention and stays with us.  

God condescends to envelop this ordinary thorn bush with His presence.  The fire has been used many times to depict the presence of God.  He will be a pillar of fire to guide His

people through the wilderness.  Here we see God is present in the bush.  

Normally a fire needs fuel to burn.  Here, this is different.  This fire is a self-sustaining fire.  It is contained and complete within itself.  God is self-existent and does not need anyone or anything to exist.  

2.  Moses, Don’t Come Any Closer!

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 

Chapter 2 of Exodus we saw how God was preparing Moses for this very moment.  God prepares people.  He matures us and gets us ready for His service.  Moses and God were friends.

Exodus 33:7–11 (ESV) 

Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand at his tent door, and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10 And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. 11 Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. 

We looked at this concept Wed. night how it is the Lord is the friend of sinners.  Here we see a wonderful example of how God came down to Moses.  When we use the term friend we must be careful and guard against making God too familiar.  He is not like us and safeguards have to be made in order for Moses to enter into God’s presence.

Moses could not enter into the presence of God like he was.  

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Preparation had to be made.  Moses had to remove his sandals because the place where he stood was holy ground.  The ground was not special except in that moment God’s presence was there.  Moses had to be warned by God not to come any closer until he did so with reverence.  

The language here is that of extreme caution…literally, STOP!  STAND BACK!  This was for Moses’ safety.  Unless he approached God with reverence and awe this would be Moses’ undoing.

God here is stressing His holiness to Moses.  God is entirely the Holy Other.  There is none like Him anywhere else.  The ground was made holy because God’s presence was there is a very special way.  Holiness means separation.  God is completely separate from His creation.  

Hosea 11:9 (ESV) 

I will not execute my burning anger; 

I will not again destroy Ephraim; 

for I am God and not a man, 

the Holy One in your midst, 

and I will not come in wrath. 

Moses could not come too close to God even after he removed his sandals.  God is not a Being that we can scrutinize, He is not subject to our judgements.  God is perfect in righteousness and is completely set apart from His creation.

This command of God stopped Moses in his tracks and he quickly removed his sandals and then in great fear… And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. 

What do we learn from God requiring Moses to only approach Him in reverence?  How does this apply to us?

What preparation do we make prior to coming into the presence of God?  What preparation do you make for the Lord’s Day?  Do you approach Sunday morning worship with reverence?  It is important to come to be with one another and to enjoy Christian fellowship.  It’s always fun to hear the buzz of conversation as we catch up with one another.  There also should be a time when we are silent as we approach God and prepare for worship.  How could we prepare ourselves for Sunday mornings even better?

How would you explain the fact that God is omnipresent and yet when we approach Him in worship we must do so with reverence?

How can we even think that we have the right or even the ability to come into the presence of God.  He is Holy and we are sinners…

1 Corinthians 1:30–31 (ESV) 

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 

We too become holy, set apart and able to approach God through our holy and righteous Savior.  We could never keep God’s Law but Jesus kept it for us with perfect holiness.  When we believe and trust in Christ for salvation, we too are given an acceptable holiness.  

Colossians 1:21–23 (ESV) 

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 

God is Holy and He is also the Savior.  For everyone who trusts Christ as Savior, God’s holiness works for us and not against us.  His very holiness is given to us so we don’t have to bury our face in fear but we can boldly come before the thrown of grace. 

Isaiah 43:3a (ESV) 

For I am the Lord your God, 

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 

How do we embrace the Holy God as Savior?  He is the Savior but how is it that He

becomes our Savior?

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q: What is effectual calling?

A: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

3.  I Have Surely Seen the Affliction of My People   

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 

God tells Moses that He has seen, heard, and knows all that is going on in Egypt concerning His people.  He is getting ready to rescue them. 

God stoops down to save…

and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey

We also learn that in rescuing and giving His people the Promised Land, God will judge the people who are guilty of worshipping other gods.  place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

God came down to save His people.

This is a very good picture of what Jesus did for us.  He came down to save us.  Jesus became a man, took on flesh and died on the cross to save us.  He rescued us from our slavery to sin.  Our promised Land is Heaven.  

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