Exodus 3:1-3 “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. 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.’”
The burning bush was not a magic trick. It was an introduction. God needed to introduce himself to Moses some way, and this is how he chose to do it.
Maybe his method seems strange. With Abraham, the Lord adopted a human form to come and visit him. With Jacob he appeared in a dream. Sometimes, it seems, he came as little more than a voice.
For Moses, he is this fire engulfing a mountain shrub, but the branches and twigs are not glowing red, then turning black and disintegrating into ash. The leaves were not curling and then disappearing in the heat. The miracle was an important part of God’s “How do you do?”
The fire that burns down your house or destroys 10,000 acres of forest is a powerful thing. We don’t play with fire because we know it is dangerous. That is the natural power of fire, and we respect it. A fire that can leave a perfectly combustible plant untouched, that can live in its branches without consuming its life, is more powerful still. It is the supernatural power of God, who is not limited by the laws that ordinarily govern the way the universe works. For him the laws of physics are only suggestions. God’s introduction to Moses, where he first meets him, was a way of reminding his future prophet and deliverer, “I am all-powerful. I can do the impossible.”
That was going to be important for Moses going forward. The Lord was going to ask Moses to take his life into his hands and confront one of the world’s most dangerous dictators. Imagine if he asked you to march into North Korean crazy-man Kim Jong Un’s office and demand that he let his people freely travel to the south. You might want to know that the Lord had some supernatural power up his sleeve, because nothing natural was going to bring you out alive. This burning bush was a start to build Moses’ confidence.
God’s almighty power is still a good starting point for knowing what he is like. Some people believe they meet God in the power or beauty of nature–storms, hurricanes, earthquakes; stately forests, tranquil lakes, mountain vistas, or gorgeous sunsets. None of these is God himself. They are only his fingerprint, only his craftsmanship. But you would be right to conclude that a power far higher than yourself stands behind the forces that make us feel so small.
Some people find it hard to believe in an almighty God in a world that seems so out of control, so plagued by catastrophe, cruelty, and suffering. These are not due to a lack of power but consequences of his love and respect for freedom. Sinful people brought these things into the world. You and I have to survive in such a place.
One God alone has the power to deal with the problems of sin and its effects: catastrophe, cruelty, and suffering. It would be foolish to face these without the only God who overcomes it all.