Woods Afire

Exodus 3: 1 – 4

Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father–in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Moses is one of the great heroes of the Bible but how close did he come to being just another person in the parade of folks who keep walking when God calls out to them? 

There are many great people from the past who walked and talked with God. Sometimes, though, I wonder about the people we never hear about. What if Moses had seen the burning bush but not turned aside to go look at it? I can well imagine someone seeing a fire and the reaction of their soul is to run away. When Moses turned aside and went towards the burning bush God Himself came down and spoke with him. How many would be heroes have kept walking when God called out to them? Moses could have said to himself, “I have all these sheep to tend, I can’t wander around looking at curiosities.” He could have responded in fear and fled. “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush.” Don’t you wonder how many people just walked on by?

Abraham is another of our Old Testament favorites, the Father of Faith yet did you know that Abraham’s father, Terah, actually was the one who first started out for Canaan? Unfortunately, Terah got only as far as Haran and then he got comfortable and stopped. So God called out to Abram (Abraham) and said, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you” (Genesis 12: 1). We don’t know Terah’s whole story and I think the reason why is because he stopped. Had he continued on to Canaan we might be calling him the Father of Faith. For all we know, God called Terah out to go to Canaan, that is the way it appears anyway but along the way he found a nice, comfortable spot and he set up camp even though the scripture says that he left intending to go to Canaan.

The moral of the story is, turn aside when God speaks to you. I very much doubt that one of the bushes in your front yard is going to burst into flame so you are going to have to listen a bit more closely. By all means, though, if you see a burning bush, go up to it and inquire if it is God. Let’s be looking for God. Let’s be expecting God to speak to us. 

I love Moses’ response. “Here I am,” said he, but I wonder how many times God called him before He finally got Moses’ attention. Don’t make God set the woods on fire before you answer His call. He generally speaks in quiet, gentlemanly tones. I guess Moses couldn’t hear Him over all the bleating of the sheep. Look to God with the eyes of expectation and open your ears to His voice. Then when He speaks to you quickly answer, “Here I am.”