Summary: Most of the time we think of spiritual giants just itching to do God’s work. Moses was actually very reluctant to answer God’s call. This gives us ordinary folks hope. God takes us - whatever we have in our hand - and uses it for His glory.
What are you like when God calls you? Do you actively listen for His voice then jump at the chance to obey? Or are you just kind of going along, doing your job, minding your own business and when God calls you might reluctantly go along if He twists your arm enough?
You might think that a spiritual giant would be the former - but believe it or not, the latter better describes Moses than anything else. It gives us hope that even we can become a reluctant hero.
We pick up the story of Moses after he’s left Egypt, under a cloud of a criminal murder investigation - ends up in Midian and marries into a sheep herding family. It’s interesting that when Moses left the palaces of Egypt, he ended up going back to what his people did - shepherding - but something that he himself had probably not done before.
So here he is, most likely in the southern Arabian peninsula - leading the flocks around looking for pasture - and just happens on Mt Horeb - otherwise known as Mt. Sinai. It’s called the mountain of God - but that’s only because of what happens later.
Apparently this was a fairly fruitful area of pastures and even fruit trees and when the nomadic people need water, this is where they go in times of drought. It’s not just one mountain but a series of small mountains. Now whether you call it Mt Sinai or Mt Horeb isn’t really important for our discussion - it depends on which tradition of translation you use - the important thing is the mountain where Moses will receive the 10 Commandments later on.
So the Angel of the Lord meets Moses here. Two things to note here - first that the term "angel of the Lord" usually refers to Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate state. This same term is used 55 times in the Old Testament - first with Hagar when she was driven into the wilderness in Genesis 16. Also when Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, with the story of Balaam and his donkey, then with Gideon - and lots more.
It’s not just an angel - there is a definite article in the Hebrew - so we have, I believe, Jesus meeting Moses - but not only that but it is the angel of the LORD. This translates the Hebrew word YHWH - the Father’s personal name that He will give to Moses here soon. So we have the Father, the Son - in the flames of a bush - a bush that is on fire but is not consumed. What does this remind us of, hmmm - perhaps Acts chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit came with tongues of fire? The trinity. Awesome picture!
So Moses says - hmm, that’s interesting, I’ll go take a look, it’s not every day you see a burning bush that doesn’t burn up. God didn’t speak to Moses until he came close. Why didn’t God just bar the way - or appear "shazam!" right in front of him. That’s God’s way - He tickles our interest, but if we ignore Him, we can just go on our way - but if we come over and take a look, then He reveals more of Himself to us.
For Moses this would have been a frightening thing for sure. Most likely visits back home would have been filled with stories about God’s visitations to his ancestors - and here God is wanting Moses to know exactly how the line goes - from Abraham, now to him. It’s the same God. Moses is afraid - rightly so.