Updated: Dec 6, 2019
Moses loved this place at the foot of Mount Horeb. He came here often with his father-in-law’s flocks to be talk with God amid the desolate grandeur of the desert. The majesty of the rocks, the life-saving oases, the desert creatures – all revealed his Creator’s power.
Today his mind wandered back to the fabulous temples of Egypt, the wealth and prestige he’d abandoned, his adopted Egyptian mother, and the angry Pharaoh. Sometimes he missed it all, but 40 years in these grand surroundings had erased Egypt’s pull on his heart. How far God had brought him since that day he’d killed the Egyptian! No longer was he the militant young man ready to rescue his people by force.
Oh, he still cared deeply for his people. Prayed for them daily. But he wasn’t the man to rescue them. God needed someone better than he.
Suddenly, something flashed above the shimmering heat and grazing sheep. A fire! That thorn bush at the base of Mount Horeb was on fire. He watched, expecting the bush to crumble into ashes. But it didn’t!
Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” Exodus 3:3 **
Drawn by a holy curiosity, Moses turned out of the path and clambered up the hillside. Then a voice called to him from the fire, “Moses, Moses!” Exodus 3:4a
Years of walking with God had prepared him to recognize the One who called him. “Here I am Lord.” Exodus 3:4b
“Do not draw near this place,” God warned. “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5 Moses trembled as he slid off his sandals and “hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:6
God continued, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 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… Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:6-8,10
What?! Me?! “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11 How could he lead the Israelites out of Egypt? He was a shepherd, not a warrior!
“I will certainly be with you,”God assured him. Exodus 3:12 The “I Am” had specifically revealed His call on Moses’ life and and He would equip him for it.
Moses obeyed this specific revelation and went to Egypt. Day by day, the “I Am” guided Moses, equipping him to lead the Israelites. For forty more years he would wander the desert, this time with two million challenging Israelites. Yet those years were rich in blessing, for “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Exodus 33:11.
General and Specific Revelation in Moses’ Life
Moses’ story is a familiar one. As children we delight in his rescue from the river. As adults we stand in awe of his patience and self-sacrifice on behalf of the ungrateful Hebrews.
But have we noticed the roles that general and specific revelation played in his life?
As an infant, Moses’ life was saved through his mother’s faith and ingenuity, his sister’s boldness and an Egyptian princess’s compassion (Exodus 2:1-10). God was revealing Himself in Moses’ life through the general revelation of individual’s actions.
When Moses rashly killed an Egyptian and fled to Midian, God ordered these circumstances to place him where he could learn. This was God’s revelation through providential leading.
Then Moses became a shepherd and God intensified His guidance in Moses’ life through the general revelations of nature. “Shut in by the bulwarks of the mountains, Moses was alone with God. The magnificent temples of Egypt no longer impressed his mind with their superstition and falsehood. In the solemn grandeur of the everlasting hills he beheld the majesty of the Most High, and in contrast realized how powerless and insignificant were the gods of Egypt. Everywhere the Creator’s name was written. Moses seemed to stand in His presence and to be over-shadowed by His power. Here his pride and self-sufficiency were swept away. In the stern simplicity of his wilderness life, the results of the ease and luxury of Egypt disappeared. Moses became patient, reverent, and humble, “very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3), yet strong in faith in the mighty God of Jacob.” Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 248.
These general revelations were vital for Moses’ growth. Through contact with nature, God revealed His majesty and power to Moses and changed him into a humble man. This prepared him for God’s call, but did not show him what God wanted him to do. Nature is always insufficient in making anyone’s calling clear. We, like Moses, need to hear God’s voice so that we can do His will.
This is why God gave Moses His specific revelation at the burning bush. God lit up the bush to attract Moses’ attention. Then, when He had Moses’ undivided focus, He voiced His call on Moses’ life. Without this specific revelation, Moses could not have clearly known what it was God wanted him to do.
God used nature (which “He upholds by the word of His power” Hebrews 1:3) to prepare Moses. Then a conversation with the Word of God (specific revelation) sent Moses on God’s mission.
Daily God places “burning bushes” in our peripheral vision. These divine attention-getters take many forms. At times they come with joy: a beautiful sunrise, a blooming lily, a glassy lake, grass in the sidewalk cracks. Other times they come with fear: a whirling storm or a burning fire. God places them in our lives to catch our attention and attract our thoughts to Himself.
Yet notice this, Moses had to “turn aside” to see the bush. God didn’t speak until he saw Moses turn aside.
God rarely drops His attention-getters directly in front of us as we race through life. We must turn aside to focus on God.
Do you remember how Jesus walked with two of His disciples to Emmaus after His resurrection? He gave them a Bible study that renewed their faith. But He would not have stayed for supper if they hadn’t begged Him to stay with them. “Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.” Luke 24:28-29
If we want to hear God’s voice, then we must turn aside from the rush of life, to spend time in the Bible. Jesus will not force His presence on us. We must invite Him to stay!
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20
The Voice from the Burning Bush
You and I will probably never see a burning bush that doesn’t burn. But we can listen to the voice that spoke from the burning bush.
God commissioned Moses, and about 40 other prophets, to write down His specific revelations to them and the world. We find these in the Bible, God’s voice for us today.
Each day, through His gentle attention-getters in nature, God is calling you to turn aside and listen to His voice. He invites you to step out of the rush and step into His presence.
Like Moses, you may be humbled and impressed by nature, you may learn the “invisible attributes of God which are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” Romans 1:20. But you will never know God’s call on your life if you don’t listen to His voice, the Bible.
There are many today who say that nature alone is sufficient to reveal God to us. It isn’t true. The story of Moses at the burning bush shows us how very important God’s specific revelations through His Word are to us.
Friends, we need the Bible! It is God’s clearest revelation to us of His character, His love and His will for our lives. We must daily encounter the “the Word of God which lives and abides forever.” 1 Peter 1:23
Will you turn aside today to read the Bible and listen to God’s voice?
Note: This article is part of a series on How God Reveals Himself. Articles include:
- Five Ways God Reveals Himself – A quick study on the forms of general and specific revelation God uses.
- God, A Heathen King & You – The story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the role of human experience in revealing God.
- Nature’s Role, God’s Call – The story of Moses at the burning bush and the role of nature in revealing God.
- The Reason for Reason – The story of Job and the role of reason in our relationship with God.
- The Best Book of Magic – The Bible is God’s clearest revelation of Himself in written form.
- Jesus – God’s Perfect Revelation – Jesus was both fully human and fully divine so that He could perfectly reveal God’s character to fallen humanity.
** All Scriptures taken from the New King James Version