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The exodus of Israel from Egypt was admittedly one of the greatest logistical accomplishments in the history of mankind. Scripture tells us there were six-hundred thousand men plus women, children and cattle that left Egypt under the leadership of Moses (Exodus 12:37-38). The massive crowd in the range of two million moved on foot without the benefits of sophisticated communications, mass transit or infrastructure needs normally required by these kinds of populations.
In order to pull off the exodus, God chose to use a man. Like so many places in scripture, we see God choosing a man with whom he can work to accomplish his will. In this case, it was Moses. The scripture tell us much about Moses prior to his Egypt mission. He was an educated man, “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). He was a dedicated man, one who esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (Hebrews 11:26). He was also an acclimated man, one who spent forty years shepherding his father-in-law's sheep (Exodus 3:1). The exodus would require such a shepherd, well-acquainted with the hardships of desert life, one possessing both physical stamina and experience with pastoral care. As we come to our text in Exodus 3:1-10, we learn there is yet another credential that God would require of this otherwise well-qualified candidate. Moses would have to become a consecrated man.
While tending to his father-in-law's sheep in the backside of the desert, Moses approaches Mount Horeb, one of several surrounding mountains, about 7,500 feet in elevation (3:1). He would soon discover that the backside of a desert is a good place for a front row seat with God. It is here the angel of the LORD, the Second Person of the Godhead, appears to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush (3:2). The word “bush” is the Hebrew cenah (thorny bush, bramble). God chose the lowliest of shrubs for the loftiest of purposes!
The bush captured Moses' curiosity. He gazed at the bush long enough to perceive that the fire did not have its natural effect (3:2). Moses decides to take a closer look at this “great sight” to see why the bush is not consumed (3:3). In 3:4, we find the perfect conditions for the Lord to deal with Moses. He has captivated Moses' attention and calls his name. Moses responds: “Here am I.” This is always a good place to be with God—in his presence and ready to listen! The Lord continues: “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (3:5).
Why did God instruct Moses to remove his shoes? The obvious reason is reverence for the divine presence. But there might be a few other considerations. First, if God's presence made the ground holy, the shoes would serve to insulate Moses from that holiness. The task to which God was about to assign Moses would require that he be a partaker of that holiness, a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Secondly, the shoes were man-made, an article designed to protect his feet. Removal of his shoes signified he would need no protection other than God himself to deliver the Israelites from bondage.
This is the main problem with the church in America today. Its pulpits are filled by educated men, dedicated men and acclimated men. These are noble characteristics for which every pulpit committee and congregation ought to look. But how many of these men are consecrated men? How many of them put off their shoes daily to linger in the divine presence, to partake of God's holiness, to allow something of WHO GOD IS to permeate them? Many are prepared, but few are purified! Nothing is more detrimental to a pulpit than education without empowerment, dedication without dynamite or acclimation without an anointing. The greatest need in America at this hour is for pulpits to be occupied by consecrated men, whose lingering WITH God and getting FROM God will make them champions FOR God! It was God's intent to make Moses just such a man!
Now a word about discipleship. It's
all about being a
partaker of God's holiness and the divine nature. There's no better
illustration of this dynamic than Moses in God's presence at the
burning bush. The difference between the OT Burning Bush and the NT
Gospel is the believer is now that thorny bramble, the earthen
vessel, in which the Lord chooses to manifest his glory. Moses saw a
“great sight” as he beheld that burning bush. In like manner, the world
sees a great sight when it sees a believer, full of God's Spirit and
good works, letting the light of Christ shine. In the Great Commission,
Jesus commanded his church to “teach (make disciples of) all nations”
(Matthew 28:19-20). But in order to MAKE a disciple, one must BE a
disciple! Show me a church without converts, and I'll show you a church
with few if any disciples shining as lights in the darkness. That's why
it's so critical that churches have at least one genuine disciple, one
burning light-bearer, in the congregation. That should be the pastor,
one who is able to take his church to the higher ground of
consecration! As goes the pastor, so goes the church.
In 3:7-9, the Lord expresses his concern for his people. He's seen THEIR affliction, heard THEIR cry and known THEIR sorrows. You'll notice in these verses the conversation is about HIM and THEM. The Lord himself has come down to deliver THEM and bring THEM up. A change in venue was coming, an old land for a new land, the land of bondage for a land of liberty (3:8). The Lord mentions six specific groups with whom Moses would have been familiar—nations with kings, armies, territorial boundaries (3:8). They represent both the expanse of the land and the extent to which possessing the land would involve conflict. Now that God has shared what HE has at stake, he proceeds to commission his man.
In the modern-day world, the church is the entity that stands between a lost world and the Lord Jesus, who died for their sins. As God's covenant with Abraham caused him to send Moses to Egypt, even so God, because of the covenant in Christ's blood, sends forth his church into the world. The Church is what stands between HIM and THEM. The only kind of church that is able to deliver THEM and bring THEM out of sin's bondage into the fulness of Christ's salvation is a consecrated church. It is simply NOT enough for a church to have education, dedication and acclimation. It must be HOLY and have the spiritual POWER that only consecration can produce.
In 3:10, the Lord says: “Come now therefore.” God extends an invitation to Moses rather than a command. He is invited to “Come,” not commanded to “Go!” I realize this is a fine distinction. But knowing what we know now about the life and ministry of Moses, this invitation was an INVITATION TO GREATNESS! So it is with us! If you compare “I will send thee” (3:10) with “Certainly I will be with thee” (3:12), you realize that God's invitation for Moses to “Come” was an invitation to “Come to Egypt WITH ME!” God always accompanies those whom he sends!
The burning bush—that thorny bramble the Lord inhabited at the foot of Sinai—prefigured the Lord Jesus, the light of the world, when the Romans placed that platted crown of thorns on his head. The consecration that God requires of us was demonstrated first by Jesus himself on his way to becoming sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. It thus behooves every child of God to follow the example of consecration Moses gave us long ago. Put off thy shoes!