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Exodus 3:1-12

One in the Burning Bush is Worth Two in the Hand

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. 2 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. 3 Then Moses said, "I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up." 4 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." 5 Then he said, "Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." 6 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. 7 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, 8 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. 9 The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" 12 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."

13 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?" 14 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.'" 15 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.

What's in the Name?

ot_exodus_03_burningbush.tif
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Musings

Moses at the burning bush is perhaps one of the funniest scenes in the Old Testament. It was a widely held belief that knowing a deity's true name gave power over it (to invoke the deity to do one's own bidding). Moses wasn't necessarily going for that, but contrary to his excuse (the Israelites will need convincing) it was he who needed the reassurance (Moses never uses the "I AM" with the Israelites). God's answer was essentially "none of your business" ("I am that I am" or "I am what I will be"). YHWH (LORD) and God (Elohim) was good enough for the Hebrews and it was going to be good enough for Moses, and apparently it was after this discussion. Humor aside, there is not doubt that there is a sincere and complex struggle going on within Moses as he tries to come to grips with this mission. Moses' struggles aside, the mission itself is a very positive message: God is responding out of love to deliver the Hebrews from their affliction.


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Exodus - Egypt - Wandering - 10 Commandments

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