“Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” ( Exodus 3:1 – 3)
I was determined, committed myself, to move on from the theme of “Called and Chosen”. I even decided to leave the Jeremiah passage alone because it seemed to hint at Jeremiah reflecting on being called by God. Instead, here I am at the calling of Moses by the Divine!
“When the LORD saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Verses 4 – 5)
My plan is try to notice things within the larger story of Moses being called. And there is much to notice. First, Moses was very curious about the burning – burning with curiosity – if you will permit! Many a man (or woman) might have hurried away, scared of something so unnatural. But not Moses. He said, “I must see this thing.” Second, Moses knew (or at least the writer of Exodus portrays him as such) that it was the Lord God that caused the bush to burn but not be consumed. Hey! That is a good analogy for living a highly devoted Christian life – burning or being on fire for the Lord God but not being consumed.
“He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (Verses 6)
Now this is interesting too, because later in his life Moses does look upon the Divine and his face becomes aglow from the encounter.
“Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” (Verses 7 – 8)
Another thing, these names are familiar; further down the road in the history of the Hebrews/Israelites, these are the nations that surround and who they are drawn into wars with. It reminds me, in a way, of the Garden of Eden story; where the Lord God sets up Adam and Eve in a garden that has everything they need, but also something that is very tempting and will ultimately cause their downfall. The nations surrounding Israel and Judah were also ultimately their undoing.
“The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” (Verse 9 – 10)
The Exodus, which is what this meet & greet between Moses and Lord God is leading up to, is also referred to as the Divine calling the God-Self’s people out of Egypt. Yeah, I should have known that called and chosen would be an ingredient here.
“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Verse 10)
However, Moses seems to be declining this not so easy assignment; maybe he does not want to be called and chosen! On the other hand, we know that Moses eventually becomes so close to the Divine that the Lord God-Self (it is said) buries Moses with the Divine hands. So what changed?
“He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.” (Verses 11 – 15)
The Name of the Divine is hard to pin down. The Jews had a way of referring to their Lord God that was more of Divine Pronoun than an actual name. That may have been part of the reason the Jewish Leaders were some shocked and taken aback at Jesus – he so blatantly referred to the Lord God. But, Moses has it right. When you answer a “call”, it is nice to know who is calling you. And why.
You may wonder, beloved reader, why at times I refer to the Lord God as the Divine. The reason is this – many hear a call to change their lives. And it is not always a “Christian” calling. The call to care, compassion, and service to humanity may come in many forms. And there are many paths to the Divine. You see or hear something that captures your attention, and you think “I must know more about this.” And before you know it, you end up on “Holy Ground” and are being lead down a path that leads you to the greatest experience in this world and continues into the world to come. Listen and look, beloved reader. “I AM” may be calling and calling on you! Shalom & Selah!