Moses and the Burning Bush,
part of a fresco in the Dura-Europas synagogue, in present-day Syria, discovered in 1932,
the last phase of construction dated by an Aramaic inscription to 244 C.E.
Photo courtesy of Art in the Christian Tradition, Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
So Moses, just a shepherd in the wilderness,
Whose job, to watch for sheep that might be in distress,
Observes an unconsumed, yet burning bush one day,
And does not think it better that he stay away!
Instead, he turns aside to see this bush in flames,
And from the bush, the LORD twice calls out Moses' name
Upon the LORD's observing that this Moses looked!
How strange that Moses does not think his goose is cooked,
But like his forebears, Abraham and Isaac, too,
And Jacob (even Esau!) says words like, "I do."
This Here I am's a sign of danger up ahead,
As if, through thick and thin, the speaker then is wed
To one whose promise not a bed of roses gives,
But rather, presence, if the speaker dares to live
As if this LORD rests not, until oppression ends;
Perhaps, this means, you'll be the one this see-er sends;
He calls himself, to Moses, I AM WHO I AM,
And adds the name, the LORD, the God of Abraham,
The God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, too;
And holiness is more than taking off your shoes.
Scott L. Barton
Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of 'the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.