The Burning Bush
by Peter Kek
Pastor Of Grace Reformed Church
Okay, again a good morning to all of you, and a very warm welcome back to worship the one and only true God together, both in-person and also those online. Now we are looking at a series called the “Amazing Stories”. As I pointed out last Sunday that every one of our stories, if you are a Christian, is an amazing story. An amazing story of salvation or of deliverance. If you have never seen anything of how amazing your story is, perhaps you have not seen how amazing alright salvation is. Now that was what we were trying to see in our last story, a story of a God delivering the children of Israel from bondage and crossing the Red Sea. Now, this morning we are going to look at another amazing story, and that is the story of the burning bush.
Look at the graphic on the screen alright. It doesn’t really look like a burning bush, it’s more like the California bushfire alright. But that is not the fire that we are looking at. Not a bushfire that huge, but the little, maybe we call it a little bushfire, which is recorded in Exodus chapter 4. Exodus chapter 4. No, Exodus chapter 3, alright the first 10 verses. That is our text for this morning. So let me just read our text, and we shall look at it in detail. Alright Exodus 3:1-10. Alright verse 1: “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
Now then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Now I’m not sure whether anyone of you have never heard of this story. Maybe some of you this morning have never heard of this. Let me point out that this is really an amazing story, or it is an unusual story because we read in verse 2 for example that when “the Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in a flame of fire in the midst of a bush”, that when Moses “looked, and behold”, now it said here that “the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” That is what is amazing about this little bush or little bushfire here. So it is burning, but it is not burned up or it’s not consumed. Now we know that it is something unusual by any measure. Now if you have seen something like that, you’ve seen the house burning alright, and it burns and burns and burns and burns, and then you see the house is still intact, nothing is burned down alright.
And so what would you do? I’m sure you would do what Moses did alright. You will go nearer, and then you want to see what exactly is this thing here. What exactly is happening? Why it’s not being burned down? And so Moses was curious. Or we might say that this kind of thing only happens in the magic show alright, the magician would try to deceive you. So Moses was thinking that maybe he, you know, something is deceiving him. Maybe you know he’s not seeing clearly that morning. And then we see of course Moses went to try to find out. Now we are looking at this, and what our concern is this morning is this, is to ask that question: What is this story about, or what is the burning bush about? Is this just an amazing story we read and say, Oh, it was a great magic you know or great thing that Moses saw? And so, what is the burning bush about or the significance of this phenomenon?
Let me point out from the very outset here that the burning bush is about the revelation of God. The burning bush, in other words, is the revelation of God. Now that is the most amazing thing, is it not? Sometimes you do hear people come and say something like “and God revealed Himself to me”. Of course, if God revealed Himself to you, that is something marvellous. That is a great thing, God revealing Himself. And so that is how we ought to come to this passage here: Is God revealing Himself to men? Here God is revealing Himself to Moses. Has God revealed Himself to you? If He has, isn’t it not a great thing, an amazing thing?
So the revelation of God is the amazing thing, and that is the point of this story. And there are three questions in regard to the revelation of God alright that we want to look at this morning and which we find in the text, and these questions are: How? The “how”, the “what”, and the “why” alright. That is how does God reveals Himself to people? If God has revealed Himself to you, I want to ask: How did He reveal Himself to you? And what did He reveal about Himself, and why does God even bother to reveal Himself to people?
Alright so let us look at the three questions. First, how. How does God reveal Himself to people or to men? Now let us remember alright- let us remember that there is no way anyone can know God by his own discovery. There is no way we can know God by ourselves alright. In fact, remember Job was the one who said: “Can you by searching find God?”. That was a rhetorical question. In other words, he says we cannot by our own self try to discover God. In other words, God can only be known by revelation. We can only know God if God reveals Himself to us alright. So that is something we need to grasp.
And therefore, if God can only be known by revelation, so we want to ask: But how does God reveal Himself to us? So, we want to thank God because He does reveal Himself. And the Bible tells us the way that God reveals Himself to us is like this: you turn with me to Hebrews chapter 1 alright. Hebrews chapter 1, we find the answer there alright- we find the answer there, how God reveals Himself to people. Now here in Hebrews, in the New Testament chapter 1, the first two verses, now this is what the writer to the Hebrews tells us about God’s revelation. Hebrews 1:1-2, it says: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has”, in verse 2, “in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds”. So, this is how God revealed Himself. ‘Spoke’ means you know God reveals by speaking to us.
Now so this is how God reveals Himself to us. He says here that in these verses, that it’s through various ways through the ages. God reveals Himself through various ways in the ages. In the past, that is in the Old Testament time, God, according to verse 1, now spoke in various ways to the prophets. When we read the Old Testament, we understand what that means. It means that God revealed Himself in various ways. Means sometimes through a dream, like you know give a dream to Jacob and to Joseph, and sometimes through audible voice like Samuel hearing the voice of God, and sometimes through a vision. So in various ways, that is what it means here in you know in Hebrews through the prophets in time past. Then you see, in this present day through His Son- in this present day alright through His Son.
So that is how God reveals Himself in the past in various ways through the prophets. And today, God reveals Himself in His Son. Now, what does that mean? It means that today, we do not expect God to reveal Himself to us through dreams and visions and audible voice. Alright, that’s in time past. And so today, if you hear people coming to you that oh, God spoke to me. I say, how? When I was sitting under the tree one day, and then I heard someone calling me from the back. “Peter! Peter!” I said, who is that? I’m God. Now that that would be untrue because that is not how God reveals Himself to us, or in the dream or in a vision. But no, today He reveals Himself in the Bible. Now “in His Son” here means in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, which today is now in this form, in written form. This is the Word of God.
When you read the New Testament, these are the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we read of the first church, the early church. When we are told that when they were converted, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ doctrine. What is that? That is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ because they know that that is how God continues to speak to us, and that is through His Word. And so therefore we want to ask if you want to know God. In fact, I would like to ask: Do you want to know God? Now if you want to know God, then you must listen to the Word of God. Now if you really sincerely you know say, I want to know God. Then you do not want to read the Bible, you don’t want to listen to the preaching of the Bible, you don’t go to places only have other things, other kinds of activities, but you have no interest in the Word of God, then you have no desire to know God.
So that is the only way alright for us to know God today. And that’s the reason why. Now that’s the reason why it is important that the church preaches the Word of God because that is how people can know God. And that is also the reason why that it is important that you go to a church that preaches the Word of God if you want to know God. And sometimes people ask: Well, how do I choose a church? I know how a lot of people choose churches, and I also know from my conversation with some of these people that the Word of God is not number one alright. They say what? It’s for my children. What kind of music do you use? What kind of songs do you sing, and this and that.
And so that is why it’s important that we go to a church that preaches the Word of God. And that is also why it is important that you prepare yourself to listen to the Word of God every time you come because that is how you get to know God. And that is also why it is important that you are parents, that you ensure that your children hear the Word of God.
Is that your great concern for your children if you want your children to know God? But this is the way to know God. Bring them to hear the Word of God. Encourage them to come to church. Encourage them to attend Sunday school, and you yourself teach them the Word of God because that is how we can know God. Now those are the implications alright. Those are the implications if this is true. And that’s what the burning bush is about, that if we want to know God, God has to reveal Himself to us. And God has revealed. God has revealed Himself to us in His Holy Word. Read it, listen to it, teach it, and we’ll know God.
Now the second question is what alright. What? So that’s how we know God, but what does God reveal about Himself? Now that also we find in this story here, this amazing story of the burning bush. So what does God reveal about Himself? Well, a number of things, at least three things we see God revealing Himself to Moses here in the burning bush. Now the first thing is that God revealed, now this is what God revealed about Himself: that He is the eternal sovereign God. He revealed His sovereign power to Moses in the burning bush. He reveals His sovereign power. That is what God would reveal Himself to us. If you read the Bible, you’ll know that you read of a sovereign God, a God who is eternal, who is almighty. When we speak of the sovereignty of God alright, that God is sovereign, we mean that He reigns supreme. That is the God revealed to us in the Scripture. He reveals to us here that He’s supreme in the sense that He can even overwrite the law of nature.
Now the bush can be burning but it’s not consumed, this is kind of amazing. But God says I’m like that alright, that’s Me. And God is also saying that like the burning bush, He is never depleted. You don’t have enough gas you know after there’s no more gas, you’ll order more gas. No, it’s never depleted. You know that even the sun can be depleted, but not God. And we see that revealed in the burning bush. It’s burning, burning, burning, but it remains the same. And so He’s never used up, He’s never diminished. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That is our God.
And so you listen to what the psalmist says alright in Psalm 104, Psalms 104 about God. In fact, you just read your Bible, you see all these truths in the Holy Scripture. But just listen to what the psalmist says here about God in Psalm 104, beginning in verse 1, say: “Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great”. Now that is our God. He’s a great God. “You are clothed with honour and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, who makes the clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind,” and so on. In fact, the whole chapter, you read on until the end, it speaks of the greatness of God, that He is the almighty God. That is what God is revealing Himself to us. Our God is not little, small God. Our God is a great God. And we see many hymn writers try to capture that in their hymns.
Now the second thing that God reveals about Himself. Now, so first thing is that He’s a great God. In fact, we can spend the whole session going through and study about the greatness of God, but that’s the first thing. But the second thing He reveals about Himself is this, and that He is a holy God. He’s a great God, He reigns supreme, He’s almighty, and He’s also a holy God. And that is something we must grasp. And that is something that people don’t emphasize a lot. Maybe okay, the greatness of God. But even that, now our conception of His greatness is not as revealed in the Scripture. But remember, He is also a holy God. Look at the passage again in Exodus 3. In Exodus 3, and there in verse 5. There in verse 5, as Moses was curious about this burning bush, he was wondering why it’s not being consumed. He drew near and try to find out.
And then we read in verse 5: “Then God said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.””. In other words, God is now impressing upon Moses: You know what, this is Me. When you are coming near Me, I want you to remember you are coming near a what? A holy God. God is Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. Now we have to see that alright. We have to remember that that is our God. And when we remember that, we remember that God hates. What does God hate? Do we even bother with that? Now that whether God hates certain things, let me tell you what God hates. God hates evil with absolute hatred. God hates anyone who sins. God hates people who tell lies. God hates cheating. God hates immorality. God hates the many things that we all do every day, you know that?
And we never ask ourselves: When I do this, is God pleased? Is God pleased with what I’m doing with my behaviour? Now that is what holiness means. It means that God is holy. He’s perfect. He hates all this evil. And they’re people today who, you know even up to today I believe, who claims that they have seen God. “Oh, I drew near to God.” It’s almost like God is their buddy. We don’t see the idea here you know when Moses feels that God is his buddy you know, he can just approach anyhow without realizing whom he is approaching. And people who tell you that he has seen God, he is you know has like a buddy conversation with Jesus who appeared to him last night. I want to ask: What do you see when you see Jesus? What do you see when you saw God last night as you claim? What did you see?
You know what Isaiah saw when he saw God? It’s Holy, Holy, Holy. When he saw God, he says I’m done. I’m finished. Woe to me, I’m a man of uncleanliness. He saw the holiness of God. When you see the holiness of God, what would be your reaction? When you see the holiness of God, what would be your reaction? Now I’ll tell you this will be your reaction in verse 6: and “moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”. And Moses’ reaction was like any other reactions who truly see God, whether it was Isaiah, whether it was Daniel, whether it was John on the island of Patmos. Whenever they see God, they were struck as dead. And we see here in verse 6: “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid”. He was afraid.
If you have seen the holy God, the Thrice Holy God, and you have some sense, some understanding, some idea of how holy He is, and how wicked and how sinful we are, now this would be our reaction. We will bow. We’ll hide in shame and in fear because He is the holy God. Like I say because He is holy. What does that mean? What does it mean? Let me tell you what it means in Exodus chapter 34. Exodus 34:6-7. Exodus 34:6-7, here we read: “And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth”. And verse 7: “keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”. “By no means clearing the guilty” because He is holy. Because He is holy. Because God is absolutely holy.
What does that mean? It means this: Psalm 7:11. Psalm 7:11. This verse is in the Bible, but this verse is somehow missed. Maybe you read, you kind of miss this verse, and then they want to argue right. You say: Oh, our God is God of love, He’ll never be angry with us. But listen, Psalm 7:11- “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”. You hear that? That is what God is revealing about Himself. He says I’m a holy God, and I’m angry with the wicked every day. That is what we are facing. Now once you know something of God, that is what we are facing. We should realize that this is God, this is us. We’re in great anger in our sin. In our sin. If there is no solution, there is no way out of this. We are all in great danger, facing this great holy but an angry God. God reveals Himself, now this is what He has revealed: He said He is the sovereign God Almighty, that He is a holy God. He is a holy God.
Now listen: If God is sovereign, He can do anything with you, is it not? He can just consume you, you’re finished. And if God is holy and if you are sinful, it means that He will consume you, and He will punish you. There’s no hope for you. But thank God, these are not the only two things that He revealed about Himself. If that is all they have said to us, that I’m the sovereign God and holy God and you’re the wicked one, I can finish you off. But thank God, He also reveals to us the third thing in this revelation, that He is also a compassionate and a merciful God. He is a sovereign God, He is a holy God, but He is a merciful and a compassionate God. Verse 7, Exodus 3:7- “And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.”.
Now, this is our God. Yes, it is the almighty God. Yes, He is the holy God and He must punish sinners, and we are sinners. But He is also a merciful God. He says, “I know their sorrows”. You see, it speaks of the compassion of God. He’s a personal God. He’s not impersonal for us. That is the God revealed in the Bible. That is a God, a God who has feelings.
We read another portion of Scripture in Psalm 103 of such a God that we have. Now, this is the God revealed in the Bible. Psalm 103 and beginning in verse 8. Psalm 103, beginning in verse 8. Now listen to what the psalmist says about God. Verse 8 of Psalm 103: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger”. Yes, He’s an angry God, but He’s still slow to anger. Yes, He’s been patient with us, that’s why we are not in hell yet. He’s patient, He’s gracious, “slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”.
Now that is our God- slow to anger. He will not forever strive at us because He is a merciful and compassionate God. He has feelings, and He has feelings for us. Isn’t that wonderful if people, if another human has feelings for me, it’s already a wonderful thing if you feel for me? But here is God, having a feeling for me. He pities me. He cares for me. He’s concerned about me. That is the God revealed in the Bible, and that’s a God we need to know. And that is the God that Moses has come to know in, as you know, encountered God in the burning bush. God: sovereign, holy, and merciful. Now that leads us to the third question. We have discovered how He reveals Himself to us, and what He has revealed about Himself.
Thirdly and finally, we want to think about the question: Why? Why does God even bother now to reveal Himself to us, to tell us all these things? Why does God reveal Himself to us? In other words, why does God give us His revelation? Why does God even give us the Bible? Now in His sovereignty, He has preserved the Bible until today. He has revealed Himself in His Holy Word. Why the Bible, or why the prophets? Why did God even send the prophets in the Old Testament times? Why did God send preachers all through the ages? Why? Or even why the church? The church ought to be the ground and the pillar of revelation of the truth of God. That is what the church is about. The church has failed in its calling. It does not preach the Word of God, preach the revelation of God. But why? Why the revelation of God? Why the Bible? Why we are going out to preach?
Now let me tell you why. Verse 8, Exodus 3:8, and God said to Moses in the burning bush: “So I have come down to deliver them out of the land of the Egyptians (Mistakenly mentioned “land”, supposedly “hand”), and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.”. That’s what God is saying, that’s the reason why I’m appearing to you in a burning bush. That’s why I’m revealing Myself to you, says here: “So I’ve come”. Now the reason, because I’ve come down to deliver you, to save you. That’s the reason why. That’s the reason why we have the Bible. It’s to save us from our sin, to save us from damnation. That’s why God has given to us His Word.
And that’s why Paul when he writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:15, he tells Timothy you know what? “That from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which is able to make you wise for salvation”. That is what the Holy Scripture is about. It is able to make you wise unto salvation. That’s why if we are eager for another person’s salvation, that God would deliver them, we will be eager to share the Word of God with that person. If we are concerned about the salvation of our children, we would want to diligently proclaim and teach the Holy Word of God, the revelation of God to them because why? It is able to make them wise unto salvation. And that’s what God is saying. That is the reason. That is the reason why I’m revealing Myself, Moses. Why I’m now appearing in the form of a burning bush? Because I’ve come down to deliver them.
But that begs the question: How? How, Lord, would these people be delivered? But read on. Read on in verse 10: “Come now”. God said to Moses: “Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”. Well, the way God delivers us is by sending a deliverer. And here, in this case, God’s telling Moses yeah there’s a purpose of My revelation. It is to save My people. But the way to save them is you. It’s you. Now the ‘deliverer’ here of course can mean two things. It can mean all of us, that we have to bring the revelation of God out so that people may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But in the ultimate sense, of course, we know that it points to the Lord Jesus Christ, the person who will deliver us from sin. It’s that great deliverer, our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ. That is one whom you should turn to if you would to be turned away from your sin and to salvation.
Now let me end by saying this, that if you still do not know God, you have not known about God, now I want to encourage you that you need not remain ignorant. If you do not know God, you say I do not know the God that you are talking about, I say you need not remain ignorant. Why? Because God has already revealed Himself in the Bible. He has already revealed Himself in the Bible, and all you need to do is go to the Bible and read the Bible, or go to where the Holy Bible is proclaimed. That is how you can get out of your ignorance alright and know this wonderful and merciful God. Let us pray.
“Our Father in heaven, we bow before You and we want to thank You as we study this passage, we see that indeed You have not left us alone to our doom and destruction, but that You have revealed Yourself to us and today in the Holy Word. Lord, we want to thank You of what we have discovered this morning and learned this morning of who You are, that indeed You are the great and almighty God, the God who is Holy, Holy, Holy, and yet a God who is merciful and compassionate, that You care for us and that You have sent a deliverer, Your Son to come and die for our sin, and that if we turn away from our sin and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be delivered from sin and damnation. We want to thank You for this precious truth for this, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.