August 19, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Exodus 3 records the introduction of Moses to Jehovah God. At the time Moses was 80 years old – having spent his first 40 years being instructed “…in all the wisdom of the Egyptians…” (Acts 7:22), and the next 40 serving as a Midianite shepherd after running for his life because he murdered an Egyptian. The following incident, from Exodus 3:2 through 5, happened on Mount Sinai in the Arabian Peninsula:
…the angel of the LORD appeared to [Moses]…in a flame of fire from the
midst of a bush. So he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, but
the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and
see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So 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.” And He said, “Do
not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place
where you stand is holy ground.”
“…the bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” In the hot, dry wilderness such a spectacle would catch anyone’s attention, especially someone familiar with that environment. A bush that had caught fire – and Moses had probably seen a few over the course of 40 years – would be quickly consumed. But this bush just continued to burn and burn and burn – yet remained whole! It was God!
By the way, if it seems unusual that flames could burn without destroying that which hosts the fire, consider hell! It says in Revelation 14:9 through 12 concerning those who “…worship…the beast [the antichrist]…shall be tormented with fire and brimstone….And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night….” The fires of hell burn ferociously but do not consume!
But back to the burning bush: The thing which strikes me is that this was just a common bush occupying a common piece of ground on an ordinary mountain in the wilderness! What made it so special was the presence of God! And God’s presence made that spot, that ground, that dirt holy! Holy Dirt! Moses was commanded to take off his sandals – why? “…for the place where you stand is holy ground.” This is what is written about it in the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary:
The direction was in conformity with a usage which was well known to Moses,
for the Egyptian priests observed it in their temples, and it is observed in all
Eastern countries where the people take off their shoes or sandals, as we do
our hats. But the Eastern idea is not precisely the same as the Western. With
us, the removal of the hat is an expression of reverence for the place we enter,
or rather of Him who is worshiped there. With them the removal of the shoes
is a confession of personal defilement and conscious unworthiness to stand in
the presence of unspotted holiness.
Here is one simple application of this burning bush incident, and I received it at the end of a missionary e-mail from a friend, Rev. Jerry Coleman. This is how he closed his Notes from Jerry – July:
A Scripture I’m thinking about: Exodus 3:4, 5
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from
within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “Do not
come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you
are standing is holy ground.”
If GOD can make dirt holy…
If God can make DIRT holy…
IF GOD CAN MAKE DIRT HOLY…
He can make ME holy!
Think about it! God also made Moses holy and useful unto Himself! Moses was a murderer (see Exodus 2:11, 12); a poor speaker (see Exodus 4:10); not adept at organization (see Exodus 18:13-26); and disobedient! (See Numbers 20:7-12). Yet Moses is recognized by two world religions – Jews and Christians – as the greatest man of the Old Testament! How did God do it? He brought Moses into His presence and changed him from a sinful man into someone who was God-fearing and faithful! He can do it for you!
As Rev. Jerry wrote, “IF GOD CAN MAKE DIRT HOLY…He can make ME holy! ”