Thursday, August 25, 2011

Exodus 3:1-3 Moses' Curiosity

"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.' "

Exodus 3:1-3 (NIV)

Several items come to mind when we read this passage:
  1. Moses' father-in-law is called Jethro here; previously he was called Reuel.  Why?  The NIV Study Bible note on Exodus 2:16 (pg. 91)  says that Reuel's "other name, Jethro, may be a title meaning 'his excellency.' "  That may be, since Reuel/Jethro is a priest.  I also wondered if perhaps Reuel, which means 'friend of God', according to that same citation, was a name the man later chose, or which the Israelites gave him.  In Exodus 18, Jethro rejoices in how the Lord rescued the Israelites from Egypt, and acknowledges the Lord as 'greater than all other gods' (v.10-11)  Is he just rejoicing in what God has done, or is this a conversion to the true God?  (The Scriptures do not reveal what kind of priest Jethro/Reuel was previously.)
  2. Horeb is called 'the mountain of God'.  The name means 'desert' or 'desolation' and may be either another name for Mt. Sinai or another mountain in the same vicinity as Mt. Sinai.
OK, now let's get to the main event in this passage, which is Moses' sighting of a burning bush in the distance.  At first, Moses is merely interested in the fact that although the bush is burning, it is not being consumed by the flames.  He is curious, as any one of us might be at this strange event.  As a very curious person myself, I understand exactly why he had to go check it out. 

Moses does not yet realize that, as these verses maintain, the angel of the Lord is present in the midst of the burning bush.  However, all Israel (even today) should be glad that God made Moses to be a very curious man, and that he did not just say, "so to get these sheep back home now..." -- for the deliverance which God had plannned for Israel, and which had taken years of preparation on God's part in the formation of Moses' character, learning and experience was about to unfold.

It was time for the shepherd to rescue God's flock from slavery in Egypt.  The time had finally come for the nation of Israel to go to the land which God had promised them.

I just thought about the fact that probably none of these Israelites had been to Canaan before.  Just as it had taken a step of faith for Jacob to take his extended family from Canaan and go down to Egypt, now this same (though vastly more numerous) family would be taking a step of faith to go back home to the land which God had chosen for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment