Summary: Safer to have a God you can control!

1Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6He said further, “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 at God. 7Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” 11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” 13But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.

Exodus 3:1 - 15 (NRSV)

Sometimes it’s better to not know what we’re dying to know.

A frog telephoned a psychic hotline and asked about his love life.

The psychic predicted, “You are going to meet a beautiful woman who will want to get to know the inner you.”

“That’s great,” said the frog, “When will I meet her?”

“Next year, in her biology class.” [1]

It’s much more comfortable (and much safer) to have a god you can see and hear, than a dangerous, invisible god – one you always have to wonder what he’s up to and where he’s lurking. That’s because it’s our nature. It’s a matter of control. We want to be able to see and understand; we feel safer that way.

This is one of the reasons why people create their own gods (idols), whether it’s a hand carved piece of wood or stone, or astrology tables, or science or rational thought – having a god that only fits within what you can see and comprehend is having a controllable god; not dangerous – but totally useless.

Jehovah God, being mysterious, huge, invisible and all-powerful (in charge), is also one of the reasons some people reject outright the very notion of there being a god at all. The reasoning is, “if I can’t be in charge, nobody’s going to be in charge. I want to be my own god.” (Incidentally – this was Lucifer’s thing; he said, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God….I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:13-14).

So, create God or be God – these are the only two choices other than serving the true and living God. As Scripture shows us, attempting to sit on God’s throne isn’t a good idea; the job was filled before eternity began!

God made us with a natural curiosity so that we would look for Him. We have, as theologians have reminded us, a god-shaped hole in our hearts. We are incomplete, restless, until we rest in Him. [2]

There will be a day when God is in plain sight; we will see him face to face. But for now God has chosen for us to follow Him by faith, not sight.

The Burning Bush

Now, you cannot see God, nor can you hear him audibly, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see him or hear him. That may sound contradictory, but recall that Moses never saw God as we see each other. What Moses saw was the effect of God’s presence – the bush burned. And that is how we can see and hear God as we choose to walk with him by faith, and serve him.

Several realities about seeing and serving him drawn from the experience of Moses at the place where God spoke to him:

I. God’s bush didn’t give out

Just as the bush was not totally consumed by the fire, the relationship of people like us to a holy and awesome God is meant to last through eternity.

Fire normally consumes everything that gets close to it. But God is not that way. The purpose for relationship is life – abundant life, eternal life. Life with God doesn’t give out.

II. God’s plan didn’t give up

Moses tried with everything inside of him to find a way out of God’s plan. He said he was a nobody, a criminal back in Egypt and couldn’t put two words together without stuttering. He tried to excuse himself, and God just kept pushing until Moses got blessed.

I asked our granddaughter, Chelsea (who is 16) what she thought of this text, and how it feels to follow a God she can’t see. In an email she wrote this:

"So when it comes to finding comfort in my relationship with God, it tests my faith because no matter what emotions are running through my head, i have to constantly remind myself that God truly is there, and continue to have faith in Him entirely, even though he can’t physically embrace me."

I have known times like that – uncomfortable, uncertain of myself and of what God wanted me to do; I looked for any excuse that might float. God doesn’t give up on you, even when you do.

The bush didn’t give out; God didn’t give up, and…

III. God’s love never gives cheaply

Moses’ epic journey with God was a lynchpin of history, and God’s love:

a. It preserved the promises of God to make Abraham’s family God’s family.

b. It changed the landscape and gave us Jerusalem.

c. It paved the way for Jesus, a descendant of Abraham, to die for the sin of all mankind, and open the doors of heaven.

All that did not come cheaply. And in it we see God’s effect in history.

What that means for us

There is a message for you and me in Moses’ experience. Moses never saw God with his mortal eyes until he got to heaven. But he took God at his word and decided to obey and follow – that changed everything! Moses saw the great effect of God on life.

This is where the other part of Chelsea’s email hit me:

"But on the other hand, I have been raised in a Christian home, and I have a strong foundation for all of the relationships in my life. So although I go through times in my life where I doubt His presence, I always have the Bible, past experiences and people like you and my parents to fall back on, and to help me get through it."

And that’s the way it is for you and me – as with Moses, it’s ALWAYS a response of faith, not sight. But, when you follow by faith you’ll see the effect of what God has been doing; is it not the same as a burning bush?

These past two weeks have been devastatingly graphic. We have seen God in Haiti. The skeptics taunt, “Where is your God; why did he let this happen?”

But those who are peering through the burning bush fire have seen their faith come alive. They know God has heard, God feels their suffering, and He is answering!

• He’s moving the hearts of people like you and me to fill little bags with towels, soap and nail clippers.

• He’s mobilizing even atheists to get food to starving children.

• He’s working in the hearts of people to go be the hands of Christ in Haiti and everywhere there’s a need for an answer to the cry of human suffering.

People want to know why they can’t “see” God. I see him quite well!



1] V.K. Tolbet, Cuts Like a Knife, (Maxim, January 2002), 20. On HomileticsOnline

2] Augustine