THE CALL OF MOSES AT THE BURNING BUSH

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    [Exodus:3:1-22].

    Lesson No.: 
    48
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance"  (Romans 11:29).

    Cross References: 

    I God's Revelation of Himself to Moses
    1 Moses tends Jethro's sheep in the vicinity of Mt. Sinai, [Exodus:3:1]; [Genesis:39:1-6], [Genesis:39:22-23]; [1 Samuel:16:19-23]; [Galatians:1:17].
    2 God appears in a burning bush, exciting Moses' curiosity, [Exodus:3:2-3]; [Luke:19:2-3], [John:1:46].
    3 Moses' interest in this manifestation of God's power gives God an opportunity to call him, [Exodus:3:4]; [John:1:47-49].
    4. God reveals Himself to Moses, producing in Moses an attitude of reverence, [Exodus:3:5-6]; [Joshua:5:13-15]; [Daniel:10:8-9]; [Revelation:1:17].

    II God's Revelation of His Purposes to Moses
    1. God reveals His interest in the Children of Israel: He saw; He heard; He knew; and He came down, [Exodus:3:7-8]; [Psalms:139:1-12]; [Genesis:18:21].
    2. God reveals His intentions concerning the Hebrew people, [Exodus:3:9-10]; [Acts:7:29-35].

    III God's Revelation of His Eternal Power to Moses
    1. Moses staggers at the immensity of the responsibility, feeling his incapability, [Exodus:3:11].
    2. God assures Moses of continued interest and concern for him, [Exodus:3:12]; [Jeremiah:1:7-8].
    3. Moses requests authority and receives a sublime revelation of God's eternal existence and name, [Exodus:3:13-15]; [Isaiah:6:1-5]; [Mark:12:26-27].

    IV God's Preliminary Commission and His Instructions to Moses
    1. The commission is outlined to Moses, [Exodus:3:16-17]; [Acts:26:15-18]; [Psalms:103:7].
    2. Moses is instructed to appear before Pharaoh, [Exodus:3:18].
    3. God forewarns Moses of Pharaoh's refusal, and tells how Israel will be delivered, [Exodus:3:19-22]; [Isaiah:6:9-10].

    Notes: 

    We now find Moses, the future leader of Israel, in the wilderness on the side of Mt. Sinai, tending the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro, which was the last step in this phase of schooling that Moses received from the hand of God.

    Someone once said that "renown may have obscurity for a pedestal"; and we find it a solemn truth that those whom God will use must first spend a time apparently apart from Him -- sometimes in "wilderness and desert places," sometimes in valleys of affliction and sorrow, and sometimes in places of great distress and anxiety. These schooling periods are a part of God's plan to bring us nearer to Him; but often we see that they are brought to us by some failure, haste, weakness, or lack on our part.

    In Moses' case this period probably came because of his haste in prematurely assuming what he felt was God's will for him. He saw an injustice being done to one of his people; and since the sufferer was in no position to defend himself, Moses took the matter into his own hands. Perhaps he felt that he would thereby lead a revolt against all injustices toward his people, and free Israel from the yoke of bondage. But that was not God's way nor method, neither was it God's time. God wanted to bring it to pass so no man would receive glory or honour for the deliverance. God wanted His people to worship and honour Him; and, to teach them that worship, He planned to deliver them by His own strong and mighty Hand.

    Moses' call was genuine. He felt the early promptings of God in his heart and was eager to respond. But haste cost him the respect of his people, thereby rendering him powerless to help them, for a time. When we go ahead of God, even in what we clearly know to be eventually God's plan, others will not be able to see what we correctly see as God's call to us. But when we wait for God to work out all the details and put us in the place He designs, everyone will recognise God's hand in the matter and will respect our calling.

    The fact that God appeared in the burning bush was to be a proof to Moses that God had sent him and that God would be with him always. It could be said to be a symbol of Israel in her various distresses and persecutions -- in the fire, but not consumed. It was also a symbol of the church -- in persecutions often, in the midst of enemies, in the region of the shadow of death, but not consumed. It was, in a way, a symbol of every follower of Christ -- persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; walking in the midst of the fire, but not burned.

    When he saw the burning bush, Moses turned aside to see what it was. A poet, unknown to us by name, expressed this beautifully when he said.

    "Far seen across the sandy wild,
    While, like a solitary child,
    He thoughtless roamed and free,
    One towering thorn was wrapt in flame,
    Bright without blaze it went and came:
    Who would not turn and see?

    "Along the mountain-hedges green
    The scattered sheep at will may glean
    The desert's spicy stores:
    The while, with undivided heart,
    The shepherd talks with God apart,
    And, as he talks, adores."

    He who chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt," forgot all about the temporal responsibilities of the few sheep and turned his eyes toward God. And because he did, God could talk to him and call him for a very important work. How many of us miss many blessings that God would give us, merely because we do not "turn aside to see" when God draws near!

    This revelation was given by God Himself Who appeared in the burning flame. And where God is, there must be reverence by man. Moses was commanded to take off his shoes in the presence of his God: God Almighty, the Lord God Jehovah, the Great I AM! In this same manner Joshua, too, reverenced God when he met the Lord on the plains before Jericho.

    The commission given Moses was a huge one. Great issues were at stake and much would depend on the one whom God chose to lead His people into the Promised Land. One cannot blame Moses for saying "Who am I?" When God is calling to positions of responsibility in His service, a person does not feel self-sufficient. The human part of us draws back from such great responsibility. The Apostle Paul said of his call, "Necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (I Corinthians:9:16). But God's commands are His enablings, and with an order there is given the required strength and wisdom.

    There was great comfort and reassurance in the answer that God gave Moses. "Certainly I will be with thee." That meant that Moses would be the servant, not the master. It meant that the work would surely succeed and there would be no lack of grace or power. It also meant that even though Pharaoh would resist the petition, Moses would have an audience with him. How wonderful to have the assurance of that promise when we go forward to battle the foes of righteousness! "Certainly I will be with thee" is a password to every difficult passage and closed door, is strength when the battle is hard, and victory when the "enemy shall come in like a flood."

    There are some passages of Scripture that skeptics many times willingly misunderstand and upon which they base their loud contentions that God is unjust. One of these places is the last few verses of our lesson. God gave Moses a quick summary of the manner in which Israel would be delivered, and said that they would borrow from the Egyptians and thereby spoil the nation through this deliberate action. Unbelievers point to this incident with scorn, saying that innocent Egyptians were thus made to suffer for the ambitions and decrees of the despotic rulers over them, under whom perhaps even the Egyptians suffered.

    But there is no basis for argument. The Israelites were a free people, enslaved because the Egyptians feared the growing strength of the people to whom they owed a great debt of gratitude. The Israelites were made to work without compensation -- and even without furnished materials for a time -- in addition to having their newborn babies destroyed. And each member of the nation benefiting from this cruelty was obligated, at least in a material way, to the Israelites.

    A correct meaning of the term borrow, as used here, will clear up the difficulty. It literally means to ask, request, require, or demand. God instructed the Israelites to demand what was rightly theirs for their services, and it was done in that spirit and was not thought of as a loan by either the Israelites or the Egyptians. It was theirs by virtue of the fact that they had earned it -- and much more. If accounts had been fairly balanced at the time of the exodus, Egypt would still have been in considerable arrears. God permitted the Children of Israel to be compensated in this way.

    Questions: 

    1. Where was Moses when he heard the call of God?
    2. What was Moses doing at that time?
    3. What other men of God also went through a period of schooling before they were best used of God?
    4. What supernatural manifestation did God send to cause Moses to turn aside from his everyday pursuits?
    5. What were Moses' actions when he realised God was speaking?
    6. When God told Moses what he was to do, what did Moses say?
    7. Was Moses right in saying what he did, and what reply did God give to him?
    8. By what name did God identify Himself at this time?
    9. What was this supernatural manifestation supposed to demonstrate to Moses in the years following?
    10. Tell what the broad outline of God's plan for Israel, as told to Moses here, included.