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The Burning Bush - Bible Story Summary

God Speaks to Moses from a Burning Bush

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Burning-Bush650x375.jpg

God spoke to Moses through a burning bush.

Morey Milbradt / Getty Images

Scripture Reference:

Exodus 3 and 4.

The Burning Bush - Story Summary:

While tending his father-in-law Jethro's sheep in the land of Midian, Moses saw a baffling sight on Mount Horeb. A bush was on fire, but it did not burn up. Moses went over to the burning bush to investigate, and the voice of God called to him.

God explained that he had seen how miserable his chosen people, the Hebrews, were in Egypt, where they were being held as slaves. God had come down from heaven to rescue them. He picked Moses to carry out that task.

Moses was terrified. He told God he was not capable of such a huge undertaking. God assured Moses he would be with him. At that point, Moses asked God his name, so he could tell the Israelites who sent him. God replied,

"I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation." (Exodus 3:14-15, NIV)

Then God revealed that he would perform miracles to force the king of Egypt to let the enslaved Israelites go. To show his power, the Lord turned Moses' staff into a snake, and back into a staff, and made Moses' hand white with leprosy, then healed it. God instructed Moses to use those signs to prove to the Hebrews that God truly was with Moses.

Still afraid, Moses complained that he could not speak well. God was angry with Moses' lack of faith, but promised Moses that his brother Aaron would join him and speak for him. Moses would tell Aaron what to say.

After saying goodbye to his father-in-law, Moses met Aaron in the desert. Together they went back to Goshen, in Egypt, where the Jews were slaves. Aaron explained to the elders how God was going to free the people, and Moses showed them the signs. Overcome that the Lord had heard their prayers, the elders bowed down and worshiped God.

Points of Interest from the Burning Bush Story:

• The names Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai are used interchangeably in the Bible. Several sites in the Sinai Peninsula have been proposed by scholars, including Jebel Musa (Mount Moses) and Jebel al-Lawz, but the Bible does not give a specific geographic location.

• Scientists have tried to deny the miracle of the burning bush with various theories. Some say it was a "gas-plant", vegetation which emits a flammable substance. Others claim the fire was caused by a volcanic vent near the bush. Still others say it was merely a plant with red flowers and there was no fire at all, but the Bible clearly states the bush burned but was not consumed.

• God's name, "I AM", reveals his independent existence and eternal nature, unbound by past, present or future. Jesus Christ used this term to express his divinity: "Very truly I tell you," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58, NIV) The Jews picked up stones to kill Jesus, claiming he committed blasphemy.

• After Moses completed his assignment of leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, he returned to this same holy mountain, where God gave him the Ten Commandments.

Question for Reflection:

God promised Moses from the burning bush that he would be with him throughout this difficult ordeal. In predicting the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah said, "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). (Matthew 1:23, NIV) If you take hold of the truth that God is with you every moment, how would that change your life?

Bible Story Summary Index

(Sources: The New Compact Bible Dictionary, edited by T. Alton Bryant; The Bible Almanac, edited by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White Jr.; The Bible as History, by Werner Keller; Bible.org, and gotquestions.org)

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