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Nov. 11—The story of the Burning Bush in Exodus 3 and 4:1-17 shows that God knows much more about people than they know about themselves and that they should trust him and obey his will.
The Revs. Aubrey Jones and Larry Long say the story about Moses getting his assignment to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land is one of the Bible's most unusual.
"Moses had killed an Egyptian and he was going about a new life chasing sheep around in the desert," said the Rev. Jones, pastor of Chapel Hill Baptist Church. "He felt forsaken and it is remarkable to see God show up unexpectedly, speaking from a burning bush that is not burned up, and tell him what to do.
"Moses says he can't go back to Egypt, he can't speak well and he doesn't even know God's name. But God always has a way to overcome our excuses. He doesn't quit on us.
"We don't see any more burning bushes, but we continue to see God showing up in unexpected places and working in unexpected ways," Jones said. "Every time there is an excuse, he provides a way around it. He is constantly working to redeem the messes we make."
Jones said God reassured Moses by turning his staff into a snake and back again, by making his hand leprous and then healing it and by saying he would turn the water of the Nile River into blood if necessary to convince the Israelites that Moses was divinely directed.
Moses was also told he would be given the eloquence he needed and that his brother Aaron would be his high priest and represent him.
"The lesson is that God is never done with us," the pastor said. "Even when we quit on ourselves, God doesn't quit on us. He doesn't need us to be perfect. He wants us to follow him.
"He reassured Moses that he was in charge and if Moses would just follow him, it would be OK. Moses grows into the role and Israel never has another leader quite like him. He was incredibly humble and faithful. A couple of times when God got angry with the Israelites and threatened to wipe them out, Moses begged him not to."
The Rev. Long, teaching pastor at The Gathering Church in Midland, said Moses's excuse that he did not even know what to call God raises an interesting issue.
"God reveals himself as 'Yahweh' or 'I Am,'" Long said. "We refer to him as 'God,' but that is not really the name of God. 'Yahweh' is 'Lord' in Hebrew, but it is so sacred that they don't speak it. Instead they say 'Adonai' or 'My Lord.'"
Long said the Burning Bush was an early indication of the significance of fire in God's work.
"God became a pillar of fire as he led the Israelites through the desert and the Holy Spirit came as tongues of fire and rested on the people at Pentecost after Jesus' ascension," he said. "I believe the Burning Bush literally happened. I don't think it is a myth."