The Message of the Burning Bush (Genesis Series wrap-up sermon … on Exodus 3-4)

Consider Exodus 3-4. What happens there (as God speaks to Moses at the bush) soon after will produce everything that is written down in Genesis. Not a word of Genesis or any Scripture was set down as inspired text until after this close encounter between God and man at the bush. This incident should matter to us since (of course) it is true and real history, and because God deemed it vital enough to record it for us and for our children, forever. ALSO, as Lawrencians, the image of Mosesat the burning bush mattered to us in the past: See, the University of Kansas’ original seal (created one year after its 1865 founding) features this scene!

Burning bush Blog post

What is the meaning of “Moses and the Burning Bush”? KU’s first chancellor, Rev. R. W. Oliver, chose the seal in 1866 … [of] Moses, kneeling in awe before a bush which is engulfed in flames. The translation of the Latin: “I will see this great vision in which the bush does not burn” (Exodus 3). Fire symbolizes knowledge in many stories and myths. Moses is thought to represent the humble attitude of the scholar who recognizes the unquenchable nature of the pursuit of truth and knowledge. KU’s Integrated Marketing Campaign called for a de-emphasis of this seal, using it only for formal KU ceremonies and functions, no longer on brochures, letterheads, and business cards. Surveys of all KU stakeholders indicated widespread confusion about the meaning of the Latin and how this symbol fits for a modern university. [from the School’s website]

Frankly, that paragraph was NOT authored by Rev. Oliver and the founders! So we ask: Is that tidbit about “academic unquenchability and intellectual curiosity” really the core meaning of Moses at the bush?! Is that what the founders had in mind? Is that why God took pains to appear 3,450 year ago? Or is this modern take yet another example of philosophic dishonesty, to make it seem that we are honoring our past, even as we ignore it? Would Rev. Oliver, or Moses, or God Himself be welcome on campus, or in our fair city today, to speak their truth? Isn’t it better to say that the meaning of Moses and Burning Bush includes this?

There is a God (who claims to be the only God, and to be our Maker), so the atheists & agnostics & polytheists & pantheists are wrong) … He has a name (pointing to His self-existence, so “open theology” is wrong with its weak, learning, evolving deity) … God can speak (to us, intelligibly, so we can know Him and His will; so the Deists with their distant, uninvolved god are wrong) … and God is attentive to everything(so secularists of “the divided life” are wrong) … and God recalls old commitments and covenants sworn by Himself and by us (so all who deny His sovereign rights are wrong) … and God has the power and the will to act, to rescue, and to save His people. The same God with the same voice goes on to teach Moses that God made man and the mouth of man (as such, God acts as if He has the right to tell us what to say)! The same God goes on to teach Moses and us about His law, His perfections, His glory, His mercy, and His means of atonement.

The Gospel at the Burning Bush

2:23. Their cry for rescue came up to God. Where sinners find themselves, in bondage.

2:24. God heard and remembered His covenant. Not that God had forgotten!

2:25. God saw them andGod knew … their plight, His solution, and their future in Him.

3:1-6. God takes initiative in our salvation; we do not know what we need nor how to fix us.

3:7-12. God uses a deliverer to save: Our Deliverer always lives to do the Father’s will.

3:13-14. God’s name points to His absolute self-sufficiency (I am because I am) versus our total dependence.

3:15-22. Salvation is grounded in God (who is independent and unchanging); He saves us in order to keep His ancient promises. Deliverance always involves sacrifice and warfare (vs. Egypt, Canaan … in the heavens and in our hearts). The true riches will end up with God’s children … His Word & His gifts & His Kingdom.

4:1-9. Rescue requires miracles: plagues and signs … or many resurrections.

4:10-17. Those God calls He empowers: to believe, repent, confess, receive, grow, …

3:12. God kept His promise (He was with them and He saved them) … so we worship Him!

So in brief, what is the message of the burning bush which you, the nearby uni-versity, and your world must hear (again)?  Like a prophet … God is there and He is not silent (I am, I observe, I empathize, I speak, I will act).  Like a priest … God redeems and rescues through the sacrifice of a substitute (shown in the mercy and justice of the Passover), so that God is both just and the Justifier.  Like a great king … God has authority to call His people to holiness and to service ~ equipping them to pursue both: I will go with you, will share My name with you, will give you My law-word, will strengthen you, and will be your God!