Prints by Jeanne Kun and Reflections by Don Schwager
The Burning Bush
“Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God”
Exodus 2:23-25; 3:1-12
God heard the groaning and cries for help and God remembered his covenant. The Israelites were in bondage for over 400 years. Their prayers for deliverance must have seemed futile and their hope in the Promised Land forgotten. Do we not easily give into dejection and despair when our prayers are not immediately answered? We can count on God’s help because of his promises. He is a covenant-making God and he does not forget what he has promised.
When the appointed time came God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. What is the significance of this strange appearance in the wilderness? First, God manifested himself in visible form – in the form of a bush on fire and yet not consumed. This theophany or incarnation prefigures another incarnation–the Word made flesh in space and time in the person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. God wanted Moses to know, beyond a doubt, that he was personally called by the living God and was chosen for a special mission – to be the deliverer of his people. In this strange and wonderful encounter we see God taking the initiative to reveal himself to Moses and to draw him into a personal and intimate relationship. The purpose of the incarnation, likewise, is to draw each of us into a personal and intimate relationship with the living God.
Moses’ sojourn in the wilderness had prepared him for such an encounter with the Almighty. He learned through this wilderness experience to be still before the Word of God. He grew as a man of prayer and as a man of God’s word. When the Lord Almighty manifested himself in the burning bush and spoke with Moses as man to man, Moses was ready to see, to believe, to hear, and to obey. Are you ready to encounter God personally, to hear his voice, and to obey his commands?
“Lord Jesus, you have called me by name, and I am yours. Help me to draw near to your presence and to be receptive to your voice. Free me from indifference and complacency that I may do your will eagerly and whole-heartedly.”
“God spoke all these words”
Reflection: On Mount Sinai God spoke and gave the Ten Commandments so the Israelites might live with him as his people. The word decalogue literally means ten words. The Decalogue is the unique expression of God’s will for our lives, teaching us how to love God and our neighbor. Obedience is the acceptable sign of our love for God. If you love me, you will obey my commands (Exodus 15:26, John 14:21).
The Decalogue was written on tablets on stone by the hand of God (Exodus 32:16). These commandments are written on our hearts in the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:33; Matthew 22:37-40). Do you revere God’s commands and seek to conform your life more fully to his will?
Irenaeus, an early church father, wrote: He commanded them to love himself and trained them to practice righteousness toward their neighbor, so that man might not be unrighteous or unworthy of God. Through the Decalogue he prepared man for friendship with himself and for harmony with his neighbor. This was to man’s advantage, though God needed nothing from man (Against Heresies, Bk IV).
“Lord Jesus Christ, you willingly submitted you will to your Father’s will and you obeyed out of perfect love. Help me to conform my will fully to your will and to reject whatever is contrary to your commands.”
The Pillar of Fire
“The Lord went before them by night
in a pillar of fire to give them light”
Exodus 13:17-22; 14:1-9
Reflection: God called his people out of Egypt on a long journey to an unknown future and to a strange land promised to them. God led his people by the roundabout way of the wilderness to the Red Sea. This route was the way chosen by God, not by Moses or the people. While the alternate route was quite a bit shorter, it was also occupied by the Egyptians. They would have had to fight the Egyptians if they had taken that route. God spared them from battles they were not yet prepared to fight.
The wilderness was vast and desolate, and largely uninhabitable. Without a good guide, they would have easily perished. God manifested his presence among his people in a special way in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. He guided them through the wilderness by means of this pillar of cloud and fire. His continuous presence enabled them to persevere on their journey to the very end. It was their greatest consolation while they wandered as aliens and sojourners (Numbers 14:14).
The wilderness was the place of preparation and testing for the people of Israel. When Israel had encamped between the wilderness and the Red Sea, Pharoah sent his special hand-picked forces to bring the Hebrews back to Egypt. This would be their first test in the wilderness, as they waited on God.
Before the Lord Jesus began his public ministry, he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days of preparation. There he encountered testing and spiritual warfare. Through this testing he proved his readiness to obey and to trust his Father.
The Lord leads us into the wilderness by his Holy Spirit (we are not yet home with the Lord in heaven). We, likewise are aliens on pilgrim journey to the promised land of heaven. God guides us on our journey through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who is our pillar of cloud and fire and our guide and teacher ((John 14:16-17,26; 1 Corinthians 10:1-3). Are you ready to submit to the Lord and to trust in him as he leads you through the wilderness of spiritual warfare and testing?
“Lord Jesus Christ, your word is my lamp and your Holy Spirit my light. Help me to always walk in your presence and to obey your will fully. Give me courage and perseverance in times of testing and temptation.”