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God’s message brought a mission

November 28, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Exodus 3:1-10, 13-15

1 Moses was taking care of the flock for his father-in-law Jethro [also called Reuel—Exodus 2:18, 20], Midian’s priest. He led his flock out to the edge of the desert, and he came to God’s mountain called Horeb. 2 The LORD’s messenger appeared to him in a flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Moses saw that the bush was in flames, but it didn’t burn up. 3 Then Moses said to himself, Let me check out this amazing sight and find out why the bush isn’t burning up.
4 When the LORD saw that he was coming to look, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!”
Moses said, “I’m here.”
5 Then the LORD said, “Don’t come any closer! Take off your sandals, because you are standing on holy ground.” 6 He continued, “I am the God of your father, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God.” Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
7 Then the LORD said, “I’ve clearly seen my people oppressed in Egypt. I’ve heard their cry of injustice because of their slave masters. I know about their pain. 8 I’ve come down to rescue them from the Egyptians in order to take them out of that land and bring them to a good and broad land, a land that’s full of milk and honey, a place where the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all live. 9 Now the Israelites’ cries of injustice have reached me. I’ve seen just how much the Egyptians have oppressed them. 10 So get going. I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

13 But Moses said to God, “If I now come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they are going to ask me, ‘What’s this God’s name?’ What am I supposed to say to them?”
14 God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am [Or I Will Be Who I Will Be]. So say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’” 15 God continued, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, Abraham’s God, Isaac’s God, and Jacob’s God, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how all generations will remember me.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The details of this story are challenging, but its overall meaning was clear and very important. “Like other Old Testament stories, Exodus is ambiguous about the identity of the figure appearing to Moses. It is first called a divine aide [messenger], a heavenly being acting as God’s representative, but then the figure speaks as if it actually is God.” * Whatever the details, God’s purpose was clear: “bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”

  • A fundamental belief of our faith is that God’s self-revelation, not our own unaided thinking, is the foundation for what we accept as true. What did Moses learn about God through the experience of the burning bush? In what way(s) did that encounter with God and God’s message set in place the central idea (later repeated by prophets, apostles and Jesus himself) that God is on the side of justice in an often-unjust world?
  • “God works in the uneventful routines of our lives. For decades Moses took care of his father-in-law’s livestock…. when the challenge came, something had formed in Moses in the long years that enabled him… to stand before Pharaoh’s throne and declare, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let my people go!’…. the Spirit of God was shaping the soul of Moses long before the burning bush. It is no different for us.” ** How can you remain open to God’s shaping in your life’s uneventful days?
Prayer

Lord of justice and liberation, keep me always alert and attuned to your purposes. Free me from boredom, from the sense that you are too far away to do anything in and through me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

The story of Moses and the burning bush is one I’ve had many different feelings about over the years. As a kid, I thought it was an entertaining story. As a teenager and young adult, I honestly thought it was a bit silly. As I’m moving into middle age, I’m having a new feeling: I’m jealous. Moses is experiencing a supernatural event—of course he’s going to feel motivated to do what God says. When I hear God, it’s often in the words on a page or a nudge in my head—nothing so dramatic as what Moses saw.

The story that God lays out for Moses is one that’s covered extensively in the Bible, though: people are oppressed by a larger group of people, and Moses is called to be an instrumental part of breaking down that oppression. So many parts of that story are relevant to us today. Moses, who was born into a position of great authority and influence, finds himself working a menial job that’s not what he thought he’d be doing with his life. God calls him to challenge not only injustice as a vague concept, but the governing body who is enacting this oppression. Moses gives excuses for why he could never possibly do something that bold, and God gives him what he needs to do the job anyway. This is basically a blueprint for how we’re supposed to handle oppression when we see it in the world around us.

The Bible is full of stories like this that are not only memorable, but show us a little microcosm of how we should interact with the world around us. I may never have my burning bush moment, but I see enough of myself in Moses that I’m able to imagine the awe and wonder that he had when the bush lit up, the trepidation and anxiety that he had when hearing a request, and the bravery he had when carrying out that task. If it’s faith that carries me through when I don’t have evidence that God exists, it’s the emotion and pathos in stories like this that give me the clarity to do the things I really should be doing.

Don’t get me wrong—I would still love to have a burning bush clearly tell me what I should be doing. That would make things so much easier. I would also love a literal angel to show up at my door and give me some pointers or just tell me who to talk to so I can stop all this oppression. But sometimes the burning bushes or the angels we experience today are the ones we read about in ancient texts. There may be times when we encounter literal angels, but there are many times we encounter them symbolically. If we pay attention, these stories and texts could have as much to tell us today in our modern lives as they did the people in the stories and passages. God used angels in the Bible to tell people to stand up to oppression, to help the powerless and fight injustice. Speaking through the words on the page, what are these Biblical angels saying to you today?

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* John Goldingay, Exodus and Leviticus for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p. 17.
** Murray Andrew Pura, study note on Exodus 3:1 in The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, p. 101.