The Bush Burned And Was Not Consumed
A Solemn Scene
The forty years Moses spent on the back side of the desert had not been wasted years. Invaluable lessons had been learned. Moses needed the weary discipline of those quiet years before he could obey the high vocation and ministry to which God was now calling him. God’s commission to this servant did not come quietly in the still of the night, but in a dramatic spectacle. The lesson it taught never diminished during the forty years of wilderness wanderings. The spectacle Moses beheld was a bush that burned and was not consumed.
The sanctity of the occasion was startling – out of the midst of the bush came the voice of God, “. . .Moses, Moses, . . . put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Ex. 3:4, 5).
God’s calling of His servant by name twice was not unique. At an earlier strategic moment on Mt. Moriah God similarly addressed the father of the Jewish nation, “. . . Abraham, Abraham, . . . Lay not thine hand upon the lad . . .” (Gen. 22:11, 12). Samuel, who would play an important role in the transitional period between the judges and the kings, heard the Lord speak to him, “Samuel, Samuel, . . . Behold, I will do a thing in Israel . . .” (I Sam, 3:10, 11).
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, with letters in his possession from the chief priests and rabbis, was struck blind on the Damascus road. He heard the voice of God, “. . . Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4). In each instance, God had a strategic ministry to impart. The dual call of Moses at the burning bush served to underscore the importance and solemnity of the occasion.
The burning bush which Moses beheld needed no hot flame to reduce it quickly into a heap of white ashes. In all probability the region was arid and dry, the bush scorched and withered, its leaves dead and limp, its branches dry and sapless. The lapping flames should have made speedy work of such a bush. But the thorn was not consumed; no branch or twig or leaf was even scorched or singed. One need not wonder why Moses said, “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight . . .” (Ex. 3:3). The visual object lesson was clear and concise. Though every normal indication argued for the annihilation of the thorn bush, it was miraculously and supernaturally preserved. At that same moment the Hebrew race was enslaved down in Egypt; ‘stunted’ because of depravations; ‘thorny’, with no apparent value; in the crucible of ‘fiery’ affliction. Every normal indication argued for extinction – but like the thorn bush, that people would be miraculously and supernaturally preserved. And like the thorn bush, Jehovah would speak from the midst of her.
How perfect the timing of this revelation. The Hebrews had not yet become a nation. That would happen later – at Mt. Sinai. But at the outset, it was essential that Moses understand three basic facts. First, the people to whom God was sending him would be submitted to the fiery flames of affliction. Second, the Hebrews would be miraculously preserved. Third, God would speak out of the midst of that nation to the peoples of the world. History has recorded Israel’s persecution and preservation. Prophecy foretells that the hottest flames are still reserved for a yet future day called ‘The Time of Jacob’s Trouble’ (Jer. 30:7). Satan and the nations of the world will seek her destruction and fail (Rev. 13; Zech. 14:2). THE PRESENT MIDDLE EAST CRISIS IS THE PRELUDE TO WHAT WILL BE THE MOST GRANDIOSE ATTEMPT TO BURN THE ‘BUSH’ THAT GOD HAS DECREED INFLAMMABLE.
A Sovereign God
Moses was reticent to respond to the call of God for such a monumental task. He questioned, “Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11).
To this objection, God had to reprimand Moses by saying, “. . . I will be with thee; . . . I have sent thee . . .” (Ex. 3:12).
As Moses had to learn that Israel’s deliverance would not be dependent upon him,
- the Church must understand that the future deliverance of Israel is not dependent upon her faithfulness to any stated or implied covenant;
- Israel must understand that her future deliverance is not dependent upon an efficient and courageous army; and
- the world must understand that Israel’s future deliverance is not dependent upon the benevolent acts of the nations of the world.
ISRAEL’S DELIVERANCE IS DEPENDENT SOLELY UPON THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD TO HIS WORD. What His mouth hath spoken, His right arm of power will perform.
The ‘Bush’ will burn, but it will not be consumed.