Moses was tending the flock. Of course, he was. Moses was a shepherd. This was something he did everyday. This was his routine. The text tells us that Moses leads the sheep to the “far side of the desert.” Maybe this area offered more suitable grazing. Maybe this was just another part of the routine. But, what happens next was not. Moses was not aware of it, but he is about to have a face-to-face experience with God.
Moses – the Hebrew turned Egyptian, turned exile, turned shepherd, – has an audience with God. A personal, face-to-face encounter with God.
God gives him two commands, both which are justified on the basis that Moses is on holy ground and in the presence of a holy God: “Do not come any closer” and “take off your sandals.” The removing of sandals is a sign of reverence common in the ancient Near East, a practice that still continues to this day. Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals. Moses is in the presence of God.
God can turn your daily routine into holy ground.
God announces himself to Moses as “God of your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” We must not take this lightly. God is showing Moses that he has been with his ancestors. He is God of the past. God is in the burning bush at this very moment. He is the God of the present. And God is about to tell Moses that he will deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. He is the God of the future.
He is saying, “Moses, I have been here. I am here. I will be here.”
After hearing this … one might think that Moses would skip with joy all the way from Mount Horeb to Egypt with the good news. The promise of redemption! God has heard their cry! God has responded. Yet, this is not Moses’ reaction. If you continue to read you see that Moses objects. He pleads his case for not being the right guy for the job. Moses proceeds with a list of objections. Who am I? What is your name? But I am ineloquent! God replies: “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”
For our purposes, let’s look at one of Moses excuses. Moses thinks that he needs to know God’s name in order to have authority over the people. It seems to be a silly request but God answers it.
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”
“I AM” is God’s personal name. The personal God who showed up in a burning bush now gives Moses his personal name.
This confuses some people – but imagine a business card. If God had a business card it would read:
Name: I Am
Job description: God
Moses leaves this encounter with a personal experience with God and the personal name of God.
God is personal but we don’t have the option of creating our own personal God.
Many people create a God that likes the things they like and hates the things they hate. They want a God that speaks like them, thinks like them, and looks like them. As people who put our trust in the Bible, we don’t get that option.
The God that revealed himself to Moses continues to reveal himself in throughout Old Testament. He also revealed himself in the New Testament. Yet, in the New Testament God did not show up in a burning bush but he took on flesh. God showed up in the person of Jesus Christ.
But I guess what Jesus did not fit image of God that many people had created in their own mind. You see this time and time again in the New Testament take for example John 8:49-59. After a heated argument, Jesus drops the bombshell:
“Before Abraham was born, I am!”
Jesus is not merely claiming to know God he is claiming to be God. Jesus uses for himself the very name for God given at the burning bush. His audience understands Jesus’s claim immediately. They pick up stones and are ready to stone him to death for blasphemy (as Leviticus 24:16 states is the due punishment for such a crime).
Jesus states, “I am.” Jesus states, “I am God.” Jesus states, “I’m the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Jesus states, “I am your God.” This is not the only instance in which Jesus makes this claim. He also states …
I am the bread of life (John 6:35)
I am the light of the world (John 8:12)
I am the gate (John 10:9)
I am the good Shepherd (John 10:11)
I am the resurrection (John 11:25)
I am the way, truth, and life (John 14:6)
I am the vine (John 15:5)
Sometimes enormous value shows up in unexpected places. God in a burning bush. God in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Are your eyes open? Are you too distracted or busy to notice? Allow God to turn your routine into holy ground.