31 May 2010

Exodus 3:1-15

"There the angel of the LORD appeared to (Moses) in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed." (v.2)


This is one of the great 'theophanies' of the Bible - a moment when the invisible God is revealed through the physical things of nature. Abraham and Sarah encountered three angelic visitors (Genesis 18), Elijah heard the 'still small voice' of God (1 Kings 19) and Isaiah and Ezekiel saw the brightness of the glory of God in the Temple (Isaiah 6Ezekiel 10).

In today's passage, Moses is attracted by the bright angel of God's presence - and for a reason. God has chosen Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that the Egyptian ruler releases the Hebrew slaves. The famous Moses slogan "Let my people go" (eg Exodus 5:1) has found an echo wherever God has raised up a leader to speak or campaign on behalf an enslaved race or oppressed ethnic community.

Moses demands to know who exactly is sending him from the glory of the burning bush to the fury of Pharaoh and his advisers. This is the second half of the 'theophany', as God's character and God's name are revealed as being identical. I AM WHO I AM (or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE) tells us that God is the one whose being is eternal - without beginning and without end.

To Ponder

Is there any reason why the greatest moments of encounter between God and an individual should be mostly in the past?

Who, for you, are the men and women God is singling out to be champions of freedom in our own time?

What security, if any, do you find in the idea that God is without beginning and without end?

Bible notes author

The Revd Prebendary Norman Wallwork

Norman Wallwork is a supernumerary Methodist minister and a retail chaplain in central Exeter. He is also a prebendary or canon of Wells Cathedral.