Burning Observations

Moses almost didn’t survive infancy. Pharaoh had commanded that all Israelite boys be killed, but his mother saved him, and he ended up being raised in Pharaoh’s household—let that irony set in. When he was about forty years old he saw an Israelite being mistreated, and when he intervened, he ended up killing an Egyptian. In fear and shame, he left Egypt and when out into the wilderness… where… he found love!

He got married to the daughter of a man who had a lot of sheep, and for the next forty years he worked by watching over his father-in-law’s flocks.

When he was about eighty, he was doing what he did every day for the past forty years—watching sheep—when he saw an intriguing sight: a bush that was being burned, though not being consumed by the flames. Whatever was fueling the fire was unseen. So, he went over to the bush to see what was going on.

And that’s when one of the most important interactions between a human and The Divine occurred.

God says,

I have observed the misery of my people…I have heard their cry... Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them…The cry of the Israelites has now come to me.

This is not the picture of an aloof God. He’s seen the pain of his people. He’s listened to their cry. And He’s coming down to do something about it.

There’s a long tradition among Christians which sees echoes of the Incarnation here. God saw the pain of his people enslaved to Pharaoh, and He came down to deliver them in Egypt. God saw the pain of His people enslaved to sin and death, and He came down in Bethlehem, Calvary, and in a garden with an empty tomb.

And, God still sees our pain. He still hears our cries. And God still comes down to deliver us, save us, and redeem us.

There are moments when we think we are alone. There are moments when we think that no one is listening. There are moments when we think that this is all there is, and that the universe is conspiring against us.

But, no. The story of the Exodus, and the story of the Incarnation remind us that God is watching, listening, and coming down to be with us.

As God says to Moses, by that bush that was burning,

I will be with you.

That was true nearly 4,000 years ago, and it is true today.

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