Christianity 201

April 11, 2013

Watch for Burning Bushes

Exodus 3 New International Version (NIV)

 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 wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 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. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

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.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

Someone I recently met is the product of a burning bush experience.  God is definitely getting his attention. But I didn’t draw that comparison until a friend pointed it out.  He also mentioned another God-attention-getting moment, from the New Testament.

Acts 9 New International Version (NIV)

9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

I’ve deliberately cut off both off both of these stores before the “what happens next” moment. It’s very easy to have a dramatic, supernatural experience, and then just live in the excitement of what happened without considering the why behind God trying to get your attention.

Physically blinded, Saul was more than a little inclined to be obedient to what God had for him to do next.  The story continues,

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah…

28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. 31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

The calling of Moses was initially less persuasive, as Moses doubted his ability to convey God’s message.  In the next chapter, Moses gets another sign, his staff turns into a snake, but still he says,

4:13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

How many signs is it gonna take? Moses agrees to a tag-team ministry with Aaron, and in Exodus 5 the story really gets rolling.

In either case, both with Saul (Paul) and Moses the story could come to a screeching halt if neither acted on the thing for which God was getting their attention. Or worse, the experience could be idolized.

Fortunately, there is no “Church of the Burning Bush.” (Well, not many.) There’s no “Church of the Blinding Light.” (Maybe a few fringe ones.) There are however many churches “…Of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  It’s all about who is trying to get our attention and what He wants us to do. Not about the how, or the means he uses to do get us focused.

1 Comment »

  1. Saul’s experience is a wake-up call to those who resist a theology based on experience. Saul’s experience brought him to his knees, turned his life around and sent him in a whole new direction.
    Careful not to knock those who say visions, dreams are not the basis for truth. Paul’s conversion and much of his theology is based on vision and revelation.
    Our response to God’s call is a life or death matter. When God call us to be ‘born from above’ do we answer and enter the kingdom of God? Whether reluctant or not God’s big men do respond to the call on their heart. They are ‘obedient to the vision.’

    Comment by g. Hartwell — April 11, 2013 @ 11:28 pm | Reply


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