Monday, August 27, 2012

Burning Bushes and Stones

Moses stood before a burning bush.

You know, I don't think we give Moses the credit he's often due.  We look at his situation and, more often than not, nod our head at the familiar story: Moses was put into a basket as a baby and sent down the Nile to save him from the genocide of Hebrew children, raised in the Pharaoh's household, killed an Egyptian guard to protect his enslaved Hebrew brethren, then ran away to Midian for safety.  You'd think that Moses would find a little safety and security away from a tyrannical ruler.

But the bush wasn't burning away.

"I am the God of your father - the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."  At this point, you could almost here Moses's brain ticking off his family's encounters with God.  Adam and Eve - walked with God in the garden.  Noah - experienced God's salvation through a boat.  Abraham - God confirmed His covenant in a dream.  Jacob - God's promise renewed his promise at the top of a high staircase for His angels.  But burning bush?  Nope.

published 1900 by the Providence Lithograph Company
God doesn't stop there.  He goes on to explain to Moses how He's going to use him to free God's people from Pharaoh's hold, and bring them into the land of Canaan, a "land flowing with milk and honey".  "I AM WHO I AM...Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD (YHWH) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.'"  When God used the word YHWH (Jehovah), He was revealing a new and different relationship that He would have with the Hebrews,  one that He hadn't had with them before.

God tells Moses who He is.
God tells Moses what kind of new relationship He will have with Israel.

And if we look throughout the bible, we see God do this again and again. Kings.  Prophets.  Slaves.  God shows who He is and what He is to others.

Then God reveals Himself in a way that was different than any other time before: Jesus.

When we consider who God is and what He does, we often think of someone who's sitting on a throne or big chair, just listening.  Not much going on.  Maybe every now and then He throws a big lightning bolt, or there's an earthquake or two.  But I don't think we think much of God.  He's supposed to be good...we think.  Whenever we fight for our rights, or need to make a declaration of what God might be like, we quote the "God is love" bit.  But we often stop there, not delving deeper into the nature of God, or trying to find out what that love is like.  If we were honest, we'd admit that we want a very selfish love, used at a fleeting moment to secure our needs or wants.  Quick prayers are directed skyward, but soon forgotten in the victory or defeat of the situation.  The loan was secured, or food was put on the table, or a husband came back home.  And God continues to be silent.

But Jesus showed that God is more than our small perspective.

The man with leprosy, needing more than just a word.  And Jesus reached out, touched him, and healed him.

An adulterous woman crying at Jesus' feet.  Jesus raised her up, said "Your faith has saved you." and sends her on her way.

A storm ravages the small boat the disciples were in.  Jesus stands up and shouts, "Stop and be still."  The storm ceases.

A multitude of people gathering on the beach to listen to the carpenter's son speak.  Instead of turning away, Jesus gets into a boat and continues to teach about the kingdom of God coming near to them.

At one point, Jesus was having a discussion with some other Jews, and told them "Abraham rejoiced at the coming of my day.  Indeed he saw my day and was glad."  His listeners looked at him and, like many of us would have done, stated that that couldn't be true.  Jesus wasn't a day over 31.  Jesus response was, "Before Abraham was, I AM."  Some would mistakenly say that Jesus was just claiming to have lived before Abraham.  But the Jews knew exactly what he was referring to:  Jesus was claiming to be God.  The Mighty God who brought the Jews out of Egypt.  The same LORD who gave the law to Moses.  The one who King David called his King.  The Jews immediately picked up stones to carry out a death sentence.  Stoning was the only response for such blaspheme.

Yet, in all that he said and did, Jesus didn't give much room for any other conclusion.  Forgiving sins.  Commanding the wind and waves to obey him.  Opening the eyes of the blind.  Raising the dead after four days.  No one but God could do those things.

God was showing who He was to us.  But what kind of relationship does He want to have with you?

Have you ever had that kind of friendship when you're walking with someone, or sitting next to them, and you know them?  You know their strengths, their weaknesses, their hopes, their fears.  Everything.  You know what their relationship with their parents was like.  You know how they'd react to a tense situation.  God knows you like that.  He knows your joys and your pain.  He knows each of your sins.  And in all these things...He loves you.  He's loved you before your mother and father even thought of you.

And He wants you to know Him.

He's not some old guy sitting on a throne. He's not an unjust judge waiting to hurl lightning bolts at you.  He's God.  The great I AM.  Creator.  Shepherd.  Healer.  Friend.  The Holy One.  Lord.  Jesus showed that he was all these things.  And in dying on the cross, he showed that he was also Savior.  Then he performed his greatest miracle: Jesus rose from the dead.  The one thing that keeps us from knowing God is sin.  All the wrongs we've ever committed...yes, they were done against others.  But they were also done against God.  And if we were to get the punishment for our sins, we would deserve death.  That's a pretty stiff punishment.  God is just.  But He also is love.  Jesus died on the cross with your sins.   God's desire is for you to know His forgiveness and enter into a relationship free from those sins and immersed in His love.
Life is too short not to know that love.

If you want to know God, it just takes reaching out to Him.  Because He's already reached out to you.  Take a moment to confess your sins to Him.  He wants to hear your voice.  If you've never prayed before, then pray this prayer:

"God, thank you for loving me.  I want to know you.  I'm sorry for how I've sinned against you.  Please forgive me.  Come into my heart, Jesus, and make your home there.  Be my Friend, my Savior, my Lord. Change my heart and make me yours."

God is faithful.  He's true.  He will never leave you.  If you prayed to Him just now, find a Christian church to attend and get to know others who belong to Him as well.  And God, who reached out to Moses from a burning bush, will be with you until the end of time.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Thank you for sharing these precious thoughts. God is Love. He loves us more than we can imagine. God is good. He wants us to grow to be mature sons/daughters and have a relationship with him.