Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover 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 upon God.
Moses was a shepherd. He was in the desert by himself tending to his father in law's flock of sheep. He was doing his every day normal routine, but this day was about to be much different! God should be able to find us being faithful in the place(s) where He has called us. We need to be good stewards of the little and not despise small beginnings!
In verse 2 it says that Moses looked and saw a burning bush. This was most likely not an uncommon occurrence, but there was something different about this burning bush. So Moses decided to turn aside and look at it again. Moses decided to inspect it and examine it more closely. God notices that Moses turned aside and that's when the Lord speaks to Moses.
Just looking and seeing the bush burning isn't what caused God to speak to Moses. It was when Moses turned aside and continued to look that He spoke to Moses.
God didn't shout from the bush to get his attention. God waited until He saw Moses turn aside to see and look again. That's when God spoke. Many times we don't hear God speaking because we aren't listening. We aren't taking the time to seek Him and turn aside and listen.
In verse 6 it says Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look upon God. I want to take us on a quick journey through Exodus and Moses' life in order to see the progress and change in his relationship with the Lord. Remember that in chapter 3 Moses is fearful and hiding his face from the Lord.
|Photo courtesy of freeimages.com|
Moses saw Israel provided for miraculously while in the wilderness. They followed a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night. They were provided with manna while in the wilderness. They were provided with water from rocks. They were delivered from numerous enemies on multiple occasions.
Now skipping ahead to Exodus 20, in verses 18-21 it says,
Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.” And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.
Moses is no longer fearful and hiding his face from the Lord like he did at the burning bush in chapter 3. Now he is drawing near to "the thick darkness" where there is thunder, lightning, trumpet sounds, and smoke. The same happenings that were causing the rest of Israel to pull away, tremble in fear, and only be bystanders was causing Moses to behave in a completely different manner These things were causing Moses to turn aside and draw closer, not pull away in fear.
"Even if God speaks audibly from Heaven, some people would only hear it as the sound of thunder. The difference between the deaf and the hearing is not how loud God speaks, but how open we are to hear Him speak." - Kris Vallotton
Moses went up on the mountain many times to be with the Lord and receive instruction and direction from Him. Moses dedicated time to being with the Lord. There were at least two separate 40 day stretches where Moses was on the mountaintop with the Lord, besides the many other shorter periods of time. He did this out of hunger. He did this out of necessity. Moses continued to turn aside and seek the Lord.
Moses changed from being a man scared of the Lord and hiding his face to a man that spent incredible amounts of time with the Lord. In Exodus 32 he talked the Lord out of killing all of Israel after they made the golden calf. The same guy who was scared to talk to pharaoh was now bold enough to speak to God and change God's mind! That's a HUGE change, but that change didn't happen over night! It was a long process. This change came out of an ever deepening intimate relationship with the Lord.
In Exodus 33:7-11 it says,
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.
Moses pursued the Lord. Moses worshipped before something happened or until the Lord came. The people of Israel only worshipped after the Lord had already come.
Moses was proactive and the people were only reactive. All but Joshua. And who took over as leader once Moses was dead? Joshua! The Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a friend. Joshua hungered for the same kind of relationship as Moses. Joshua was desperate and hungry as well!
A good question we can ask ourselves: Am I a true worshipper or am I only a reactor?
Later in this same chapter Moses prays an amazing prayer, and this prayer shows just how much he has grown in relationship with the Lord and how truly dependent he was on the Lord. In verse 15 Moses prays, "Then he said to Him, 'If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.'" And in verse 18 he says to the Lord, “Please, show me Your glory.” And in chapter 34 we read that Moses was spending so much time with the Lord and in such close relationship that his face was actually shining!
What if we lived in such a way!? Moses wouldn't leave a place unless the presence of the Lord left first. It sounds very similar to the way Jesus lived. Jesus only said what the Father told Him to say and only did what the Father showed Him to do. They were completely connected in relationship and dependence. We were created to live in the same fashion.
Moses spoke face to face with the Lord as a friend. Moses wouldn't leave a place unless the presence of the Lord left first. Moses wanted to see the glory of the Lord and the Lord honored his request and passed before Him! And finally, the face of Moses was shining with the glory of God. But I believe that none of those things would've happened if Moses had not first turned aside at the burning bush to see the Lord.
Seeking precedes finding.
Deuteronomy 4:29 says, "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul."
We will find Him IF we seek Him with everything we have!
In A.W. Tozer's book The Pursuit of God he writes, "Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted."
2 Chronicles 16:9a says, "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."
The Lord is searching for those that love Him and want Him. He's looking for those that are hungry! He's seeking those that He can show Himself strong to.
I want to encourage you today to take the time to stop and turn aside and diligently seek God with your whole heart. He waits to be wanted!
He's waiting for those that will choose to turn aside.
Shake the earth!