Friday, November 1, 2013

Before they call, I will answer...Promises from the Wilderness #13

Love this quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes...


Exodus Chapter 3 is where the encounter of the  burning bush and God's call/recall to Moses is found.  Moses is at the backside (KJV), the far side (HCSB), the west side (NASB) of the wilderness.  Not only is he in the wilderness, but he is so deep in that he is really as far away from where his calling is as possible.  It is there that he comes to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.

Horeb is the lower summit of the two peaks that make up the entire mountain of Sinai.  The name "Horeb" means desert, dry, wasteThe wilderness isn't a place of total barrenness.  There is pasture and water in the wilderness, as well as sparse, rocky and dry areas - that is why vast flocks of sheep and cattle are shepherded in these places.  It is open, a place that is yet unclaimed. And just so we don't mistake that Moses is still in the environment of the wilderness and not some lush oasis, the writer makes sure that even here, at the mountain of the Lord, "Horeb" is used as the correct description of where God is speaking to Moses...because we need to KNOW that He will speak to us while we are still in that waste place, He doesn't wait for us to "get to the right place" or to "pull ourselves together"...He speaks to us right where we are...

It is here that Jesus appears as a consuming fire to him. But not until He knows that Moses is paying attention.

40 years have passed since Moses fled Egypt.  He isn't longing to leave this wild place according to the text, but seems to be at peace serving his father-in-law (whom we saw was a type of Jesus).  Has he really learned to be content in all things, as the Apostle Paul later wrote?  Had he stopped hoping for his destiny, and was only living out the remainder of his days "stuck" in the wilderness?  Did he believe (hope?) God was ignoring him due to his poor choices years before?  Was his heart crying out "I know there is more for me than this?"  Had he stopped asking God to use him?  Did he know that God still watched over his every breath?  Did he know he was constantly in God's presence, that there in the wilderness, there was no place he could flee from it?  We aren't told for certain, and it is in these possibilities that we can find our own stories...

When Moses has noticed the marvel of the bush that burns but isn't consumed, that is when Jesus calls to him.  And this calling isn't the "still small voice" that Elijah heard and is preached about as the way the Lord usually speaks into our hearts...this calling cannot be mistaken!  It is a calling out, a cry, a loud sound!  It is a summoning, a proclaiming, a commissioning, an appointing, a calling and endowing.  It is the same crying out of a town cryer, announcing some sort of news.  That is what a call from the Lord is like!  You cannot mistake Who it is and what it is -  the only condition is that you become aware there is something extraordinary happening. And Jesus makes sure it is pretty hard to ignore that there IS something supernatural at hand!

And thus the choice of promise for today...Jesus had met Moses when he first fled into the wilderness, was constantly with him every moment of those 40 years, and at just the right time He called out to Moses, answering his heart's cry before Moses had uttered it out loud...

Is it time for your "burning bush" experience?

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