Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his 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 flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “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. Exodus 3:1-6 ESV
“Now I will arise,” says the Lord,
“now I will lift myself up;
now I will be exalted.
You conceive chaff; you give birth to stubble;
your breath is a fire that will consume you.
And the peoples will be as if burned to lime,
like thorns cut down, that are burned in the fire.”
Hear, you who are far off, what I have done;
and you who are near, acknowledge my might.
The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
“Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?” Isaiah 33:11-14 ESV
In the summer, when the weather and the underbrush are dry and the wind is blowing, a wildfire can become a huge blaze and wipe out everything on acres of land in a matter of minutes. A wildfire can move as fast as 14 miles per hour, and it will burn everything: trees, brush, homes, and even people. These fires are very dangerous. People who fight them sometimes die, and many people have lost their homes to wildfires. They are powerful and frightening forces.
When God came to Moses, God showed himself as a fire. He told Moses not to come too close, and to take off his sandals. Taking off his sandals was a way of showing respect. Moses was very afraid when God called to him and talked to him. He didn’t even want to look at God. God’s anger burns like a wildfire, and sinful people deserve to be wiped out by the holy God. To meet God as Moses did is a frightening thing.
But the fire in the bush didn’t consume the bush like a wildfire does. God didn’t come to destroy Moses for his sins. God came to talk to him and tell him about the work he had for Moses to do. God’s voice was a voice of mercy and grace, not of anger. He came to begin the work of saving his people Israel from slavery.
We were also slaves to sin and death, and God came to us in mercy also. He came to us in Jesus. Jesus didn’t come to punish and destroy us, but to give his life for us on the cross so we could be forgiven. God is holy and righteous and we are sinners who deserve punishment, but because of Jesus we don’t have to be afraid of God. We know he loves us and comes to us to help us.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive our sins and help us. Thank you for sending Jesus to be our Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.