Of Exodus 3, Glenn Scrivener writes a created quote of God, “You want to know who I am? Watch how I am with you. Watch how I will deliver you. Watch as I move heaven and earth for you in almighty, redeeming love.”
Gallons of ink and reams of paper have been committed to commentary on the names of God which are much more intelligent than mine. However, while reading Exodus 3, I was encouraged by a biblical truth I had not yet considered.
The burning bush is a powerful symbol of God’s provision for his people. Often throughout the Bible, God’s people are referred to in horticultural terms. For example, in Psalm 80, Asaph recalls when God’s people were saved out of Egypt with the phrase, “You brought the vine out of Egypt […]” Or my personal favorite, the rich, wonderful words of Jesus in John 15, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” It’s also clear in the scriptures and throughout history, fire is symbolic of trouble, difficulty, or persecution. Maybe one of the greatest stories in the whole Old Testament, recorded in Daniel 3, is of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When refusing to bow down and worship a political leader, the three young men were within inches of being thrown into a fiery furnace and excruciating death. In Exodus 3, Moses standing before a bush ablaze with fire – yet as one which would not be consumed – is a powerful picture of a God who, though his people may suffer, will never permit his people to be consumed.
Do you remember when you were a kid, holding a magnifying glass over a leaf? The sense of dark and twisted fun it was to watch the small trail of smoke rise up from the helpless piece of foliage. Or worse, whenever you read the news of a catastrophic forest fire. Something as small as a two-inch match setting ablaze and destroying thousands upon thousands of acres of wilderness. Now image with awe and wonder what it could be like to be only steps away from a bush of the same vulnerability to fire yet standing as strong and green as it ever has. Can you use your spiritual imagination with me and think for a moment if that bush had big, beautiful, fruit on its branches?! The Fruit of the Spirit does not peel-back when exposed to heat. This fruit does not wither and char when put to the flame. Whoever abides in Christ will bear fruit, fruit that will last – fruit which will not be consumed not matter how hot the heat of difficulty, despair, nor persecution. This is the promise we learn from God the Son by his teachings in the New Testament but was first so powerfully displaced by God the Father on a mountain called Horeb.
While Moses was trying to make sense of what he was seeing, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of the fire out of the midst of the bush (Ex. 3:2). This angel (the one sent from God, who is God) would go on to explain to Moses that God’s people have not been abandoned. They will be rescued. In verse 7, God declares – what is perhaps the most beautiful thread of truth throughout all of scripture – he sees his people and they are not forgotten. The angel goes on to tell Moses it will be he whom God uses to free the Israelites. So naturally, after receiving this news, Moses wants to know by what authority this whole plan will take place? The answer is found in verse 13 and I confess I will not take the time to mine the incredible golden truths found in this one verse alone. But what should be an encouragement to us all is God’s answer is an invitation.
God doesn’t just give his name. God doesn’t stop and say, “Oh sorry, was my name tag covered up?” He doesn’t send Moses a LinkedIn request. He gives Moses the invitation to engage in and receive his all-sufficient provision by way of his declaration, I AM WHO I AM. Perhaps another way to think of it is, I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. We fail to love God rightly whenever we approach him as a waiter at a great restaurant. Or a spiritual genie in a bottle ready to grant our every wish. Woe to us who are selfish enough to believe God is sitting on the end of the bench waiting for us to “call his number” and put him in the game – as if we are the center of existence. Far too often we posture ourselves on the throne of our hearts, then ask God to be who we are or who we want him to be. He alone is holy (1 Peter 1:16). He alone is King (1 Timothy 1:17). God is doing a great and mighty work all around us. The world and all who are in it are his (Psalm 24). He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and he never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121). All creation and people, each sunrise and dawning new day, all life experiences exists for his glory.
Exodus 3 is the genesis of a faith-journey which is fulfilled by God the Son in his “I AM” statements of the New Testament. An invitation which remains extended to us daily. Do you hunger? He says, “I am the Bread.” Do you feel hopeless in darkness? “I am the Light.” Do you feel the pangs of death? “I am the Life.” Do you feel lost? “I am the Good Shepherd.” Do you need wisdom and guidance? “ I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Do you feel alone and disconnected? “I am the True Vine.”
God is the fulfillment of all the great “I AM” statements. But not as if he is a servant delivering at our requests. He is all-sufficient. We deficient of all things. He is faithful to be. We, blessed to receive by his invitation.
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