Summary: When Moses met God at the burning bush he learned that Israel's freedom was to come on God's terms... not his, nor anyone elses. What were those terms and what do those terms tell us about our Freedom in Christ?
In March 2013 - in Texarkana, Texas - a woman and her son were cleaning up their yard when they came across a black snake.
Now, I don’t know if the snake was poisonous… but I do know it frightened them. In their panic they doused the snake with gasoline and then they set it on fire.
Unfortunately, the snake didn't just lie there. It slithered off under a bush, and THAT caught fire.
The bush was close by their house… and THAT caught fire.
They managed to call 9-1-1 and said “We were trying to kill a snake with fire!... It done caught the house!”
Firefighters rushed to the scene, but not only was the house destroyed, their neighbor's house was damaged too.
And I’m not sure they ever did find that snake.
(Uncle John’s Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader, p. 246)
In that story, a snake set a bush on fire and it changed the life of an entire family.
In our story from Scripture today, GOD set a bush on fire… and it changed the life of an entire nation.
But there is something significant about THIS bush… and THIS fire. This bush and this fire and been planned by God.
It wasn't an accident… it wasn't a coincidence.
This bush was chosen by God.
And this fire was created by God.
One of the things that really annoys me about cable channels like History or Discovery channels is that, when they present a “documentary” about Biblical events, their experts always seem to try to pass off the miracles of God as if they were mere coincidences. As if those miraculous things told us in Scripture could somehow be explained away as being the results of well-timed natural disasters.
That’s what the priests of Pharaoh tried to do during the 10 plagues… and they could do it for awhile. But eventually there were just too many coincidences for their liking, and they finally had to confess to Pharaoh: “This is the finger of God.” Exodus 8:19
As I was studying this passage, a question came to my mind.
Why would God do it this way?
Why would He bother to do this burning bush thing with Moses?
And a couple of thoughts came to mind.
1st – I think Moses was bored and apathetic, and God intended to wake him up.
Moses had once been a promising leader in Egypt. He’d been part of the household of Pharaoh, a man of prominence and importance.
But now, he’s just a nobody. He’s in a dead end job taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep, and he’s been in this dead end job for the past 40 years.
But suddenly… something catches his attention.
A bush is on fire, but it’s not like any fire he’s ever seen before.
ILLUS: How many of you have ever been around big bonfire?
They are so neat.
Aside from the flames that leap into the sky, you can hear the fire crackling and popping and sizzling, and you can see the leaves wither and disappear.
But NOT with this fire.
This is a bonfire in a bush where there’s no snapping and sizzling and popping… and the leaves are still green. And it’s so unusual that Moses says: “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” Exodus 3:3
(PAUSE) Now, at first, this bush is just a curiosity.
There’s not much else to do out here in the desert and this oddity is a diversion for him.
But then, the curiosity becomes… a holy place.
Moses gets close to the bush and GOD declares:
"Do not come near; put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Exodus 3:5
Now…THAT would get MY attention.
Then God told Moses: “the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." Exodus 3:9-10
The burning bush was there to get Moses’ attention, but it had an even more important purpose. God was sending Moses to free His people, and this encounter at the burning bush was meant to impress on Moses the fact that when God freed Israel it would be on HIS terms.
It wasn't going to be done Moses’ way.
And it wasn't going to be done Pharaoh’s way.
And it wasn't going to be done the way the Israelites wanted it done.
Israel’s Freedom was going to be God’s terms.
And the first of those terms was this:
God was freeing Israel because He WANTED to… not because He HAD to.
Exodus 3:7-8 tells us “Then the LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey...’”