Moses, Moses
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
preached in PCC Worship Services, Apr 2013 to Feb 2014
Part 3 of 3

In this concluding article on God’s call to Moses from the burning bush found in Exodus 3, we will look at Moses’ appropriate response to God’s call and some lessons that we can learn from this passage.

An Appropriate Response

The second half of verse 6 says, “And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” The moment Moses heard the words, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” he was struck with a sense of fear and dread. He hid his face, most probably, by covering himself with his robe as Elijah did, many years later, and the reason he did that was that he was afraid to look upon God. He knew himself to be a mere creature of dust in the presence of the eternal God. He felt himself to be a wretched sinner before the righteous judge of all the earth.

But Moses’ response that day was by no means unique. If you do a survey of all the people in the Bible who were given a close encounter with God, you’ll find that being afraid in God’s presence is very natural.

For example, after Jacob’s wrestling encounter with the God-man in Genesis 32, we read, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Then there was Manoah, the father of Samson, who after his encounter with the angel of the LORD in Judges chapter 13 said to his wife, “We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”

In the New Testament, we read of the apostle John in the book of Revelation and how after he saw that glorious vision of the Son of man, he fell at his feet as dead, and the Lord laid his right hand upon him and said, “Fear not; I am the first and the last.” The sight of the living God or even a visible manifestation of His glory is too much for a finite being to endure.

But not only was Moses’ response natural, it was also very appropriate. Remember how in Isaiah 6, the angels in the immediate presence of the LORD not only covered their feet, which was likewise symbolic of their creatureliness, but they also covered their faces with another two of their wings. Even the holy seraphims could not behold the transcendent majesty and glory of God directly, how much less man. God spoke to Moses from within the bush. Moses responded by stopping, stooping down, untying his sandals, and hiding his face in reverence and fear.

Closing Thoughts

And so we’ve considered the gracious appearance of God to Moses in the wilderness, the wonderful picture that God gave to him of a burning bush that was not consumed, the important truth of the holiness of God, the clear revelation of who God is even the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and finally the appropriate response of Moses to God’s revelation.

In closing, I’ll like to leave us with three simple thoughts. First, this incident of the calling of Moses reveals a number of different attributes of God.

We see the grace and mercy of God in hearing the cries of the children of Israel, looking upon them in their afflictions, remembering His covenant with their fathers, and then appearing to Moses in order to commission him to be their redeemer and deliverer.

We see the power and majesty and immanence of God in the miracle of the burning bush.

We see the holiness of God in His command to Moses to proceed no further and to remove his sandals.

And finally, we see the faithfulness of God and His unfailing commitment to His people in the covenant which He established with the patriarchs.       

Such a God is still ours today. He has not changed in the least. He who heard the cries of His people in Egypt and came down in His power to rescue them will hear our prayers and cries, and He will come down to save us. What an encouragement that is to pray, isn’t it, whether as individual believers or as covenant families or as congregations of the Lord Jesus Christ?   

But the second thought I’ll like to bring to our attention is that one must first know and fear the LORD before he can rightly serve Him.

Even before Moses was called to be the leader of Israel, he was given a clear revelation of God and of His holy character, and he responded to that revelation with fear and reverence. The same is true of all of us regardless of whether we are ministers or members of the church. We cannot truly worship and serve God if we do not have a right understanding and a healthy fear of God.

Let us then strive to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the God we worship. Let us often meditate upon and pray over His glorious attributes and perfections, particularly His attribute of holiness and transcendence. And let us pray that the LORD would take away from our hearts any indifference and irreverence to the things of God and implant in all of us a holy fear and reverence for the God of the burning bush.

But third and finally, I’ll like to remind us that the only way for sinners to have fellowship with Almighty God and to draw nigh to Him is through the LORD Jesus Christ. Remember that it was the angel of the LORD, the pre-incarnate Christ, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush.

Moses would later serve as a type of Christ by being the mediator between God and the congregation of Israel. He was a prophet like no other in the Old Testament. God spoke to him face to face and gave him a revelation of Himself that was both glorious and unique.

But Moses himself was not THE mediator between God and man. He was but a type and a foreshadow of Him. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” All men, including Moses, must go to God through this One mediator – even the LORD Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, may I ask you, “Is Jesus your meditator?” Understand that there is no other mediator in this entire universe. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He says, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

No angel and certainly no mere human being can bring you to God and God to you. Only Christ can do that. Oh would you not cease from trusting in yourself or in other people to save you but look to Christ alone and find in Him salvation and eternal life?

But to you who are believers in Christ, may this glorious appearance of God to Moses in the wilderness turn your attention to Christ and lead you to treasure Him and love Him more. The puritan John Owen puts it beautifully when he writes of this passage, “The eternal fire of the divine nature dwells in the bush of our frail nature, yet is it not consumed thereby. God thus dwells in this bush, with all his goodwill towards sinners.”

Indeed, we are not consumed by the fire of God’s holiness and wrath because of Him who has taken on our nature and dwells among us. And indeed the LORD can address us with such tenderness and affection and care because we are united to Him, who is our great God and Saviour.

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.”

“And…God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.” Amen.

─Linus Chua