A responsive God

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AW Tozer wrote: ‘God is a person, and in the deep of his mighty nature he thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may’ (The Pursuit of God, 2013). How does this statement tie in with your picture of God?


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Bible passage Exodus 3:1-22


Exodus 3

Moses and the Burning Bush
 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

 4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
      And Moses said, "Here I am."

 5 "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6 Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

 7 The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."

 11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

 12 And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."

 13 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

 14 God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

 15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

 16 "Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.'

 18 "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.' 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

 21 "And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians."



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


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The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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God's Response
Some proclaim belief in God, yet regard him as impassive, aloof, unresponsive to human needs. Today’s narrative begs to differ! God has seen the Israelites’ misery, heard their cries and, deeply concerned, is reaching out in rescue. Not only is God acutely sensitive to their sufferings, on an individual level he patiently deals with Moses’ hang-ups (vs 12,14).

But responsiveness is a two-way street. When God used the paradox of an unburnt burning bush (v 2), Moses showed he was receptive by setting aside the busyness of his daily work (v 1) in order to ‘go over and see’ (v 3). It is then that Moses stands ready to receive, and respond to, God’s revelation (vs 4–6).

Our response?
The poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote: ‘Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.’ God, who spoke the universe into existence, has never stopped speaking. But am I intentional about listening? Do I discern the divine in the common and respond with reverence? Or am I one of those indifferent blackberry-pickers?


Respond


‘Holy Spirit, attune my mind and heart to be receptive and responsive to your still, small voice that speaks ceaselessly to me.’

Tanya Ferdinandusz


Deeper Bible study


So far, God has remained behind the scenes, rewarding the bravery of midwives and hearing and responding with concern to the Israelites’ ‘groaning’ (Exodus 2:24). Now he comes centre stage! We have had no indication so far that Moses had any concept of relationship with God, or any real knowledge of him. It is interesting, therefore, that although we see Moses doubting himself and his suitability for the assigned task, he displays no doubt that the one speaking from the ever-burning bush really is who he says he is, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses may not yet know much about God but he has heard about the Hebrews’ ancestors! Moses may not yet be ready to act, but he is certainly ready to believe. Perhaps that readiness, alongside his concern for justice, his cross-cultural education in Egypt and Midian and the self-doubt apparently picked up during his long years of exile, made him the ideal person to fulfil the role God was setting out for him.

By coming to Moses like this in Midian, God makes it clear that his presence and power is not limited geographically or in any other way. God’s reply to Moses’ doubting question ‘Who am I’ to do this job? (v 11), focuses not on Moses’ abilities but on the fact that this God will be with him. The further information God gives about himself and the name he reveals also emphasise that sense of presence and action. God is the one who is and the one who acts: that is all you need to know! I’m not sure that the ‘sign’ (v 12), to be given when Moses had done what God asked and had come back to the mountain, was exactly what Moses was looking for – but the principle that obedience often comes before assurance is worth noting!

Mary Evans


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Exodus 29,30

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A burning bush moment…


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Audio


Everyone needs compassion (Mighty to save)
Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan
Copyright © 2006 Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding/Hillsong Publishing/kingswaysongs.com
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com



There must be more (Consuming fire)
Tim Hughes
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music


Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 07 February 2017

    God is a Spirit (said Jesus, in John 4:24) and not a person, but we are made in His image, with all our emotional attributes and our will to choose. How exquisitely wonderful it is that the great, almighty, mysterious God knows and cares about each of us - even to the point of counting the hairs on our head, as Jesus reminded us. Worth listening to, yes? - even if what we hear turns our world upside down.

  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 07 February 2017

    As usual, my day was enriched by your sharing - stories, songs, and prayerful encouragement. Thanks everyone. DAVID, we wait to see what God will open up for Marie's care, and pray for you all. CAROL, I hope the new drug is helpful in your pain management. Blessings and prayers to all.

  • Louise Knight | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    'Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but it was not burning up.' I find that this is the way that God often speaks to me. Something looks normal (burning bushes in that area were not unusual) but on second glance, there's something odd there. It wasn't burning up. I have learned, over the years, to pay attention to this type of situation. And God speaks. Often my people say that I'm special because God speaks to me. That's not true. We are all precious to God. He speaks to all of us all the time. Our part is to pay attention. Pay attention to things that seem normal but there's something that just doesn't quite fit. And be open to enjoying God's sense of humour. Thank you to all for thoughts and prayers around our adoption of our baby girl. It is hard to describe the depth of the daily delight that she brings to our family. God really does always know what He's doing.

  • Adam Julians | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    In answer to the question about the personhood of God and experience as any human I look at the text and see God bringing about release form oppression and misery just as Jesus said he came to bring release for the oppressed. And that he would be so strong to break the will of an oppressive worldly power to the point of provision being given by that power. I've experienced it in being given to with resources not only that, but years of suffering and enduring have built character. So I have no resentment or regret about the past. I recall Martin Luther King in his "I have a dream" speech about undeserved suffering being redemptive. It seems from scripture that suffering is inevitable but that we are to suffer for good, not for having done bad. And had not Paul grown in character to say that he considered everything (great as it might be) dung in comparison to Christ, that to live for him was Christ and to die, gain. That his longing was to know Christ more and share in his sufferings. Probably to comfort those who would have been concerned about him languishing in prison.

  • Angela Munday | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    "I have come to rescue them" (verse 8)......God is indeed the Saviour of the people; it is who He is......."I AM". When God has our attention His will becomes known to us. He speaks and it is real and glorious; we respond with our obedience and continue listening. HILARY my own daughter, then aged 17, decided to worship at another church in town. Rachel met her future husband there and thirty years later is church leader; God has His own plan for our beloved children as they follow Him. ....Thankyou God for the life of ABIGAIL and the joy she brings. Amen.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    v6 God spoke of being these men's God in the present tense as contrasted with the past tense. We just read over that but Moses hid his face. Jesus used those words too in Luke's gospel.

  • Stephen Nicholls | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    I have always felt that "we are made in His image" means not that he looks like me - a 78 year old overweight lump - but that we have His wonderful ability to love - people, places, animals, and the beauty of nature - His wonderful creation.

  • Derek Forster | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia! Alleluia! you burning sun with golden beam, you silver moon with softer gleam! You rushing wind that are so strong, You clouds that sail in heav’n along, O praise Him! Alleluia! You rising morn, in praise rejoice, you lights of evening find a voice! And all you men of tender heart, Forgiving others, take your part, O sing you! Alleluia! You who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care!

  • Alan Saunders | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    Thanks Derek

  • Roger Hall | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    Moses is present at the mount Jesus' transfiguration. Wasn't that a wonderful thing and shows the ultimate love amd kindness of God. Wonderful mum and dad who far exceeded any righteousness that may accrue to their little Rog! The mystery of God is wonderful and inscrutable yet He looks all the time at the entire page of my life. It will still be in front of him when I personally appear in front of Him. I am truly frightened and may fall senseless before Him. That moment I shall have no other chance but Him who was slain by my sin. I will leave it there!

  • Hilary Dale | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    Thankyou David and Oakley for your helpful comments yesterday. I will let you know how things develop!

  • Hilary Dale | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    Great to hear things are going well for you with your daughter, Louise! Wonderful news!

  • Hilary Dale | Wednesday, 08 February 2017

    Lord, help me to spot you in the burning bushes, not just to walk by without noticing that something's "not quite as it should be". I long to hear your voice and to be willing to take risks to follow you!

  • Roger Hall | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Stephen I know that you and I are similar as ypu describe yourself. We cannot be identical, as it seems that in nature nothing is identical. Just realised that if we were all the same, how would God recognise us! No tree is identical either! (David Pawson. ABC of God.) I find WL thoight provoking and gloriously funny.

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