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The Burning Bush

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 6, 2024 12:01 am

The Burning Bush

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 6, 2024 12:01 am

While tending to his flocks, Moses was awestruck by a bush that burned but was not consumed. Then he heard a voice from the midst of the flames. Today, R.C. Sproul draws us into this significant encounter in redemptive history.

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Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul

So on top of this vision of this strange phenomenon of the bush that's burning is not being consumed, now the bush starts talking to him. He hears a voice coming out of this bush, calling him by name, Moses, Moses. Moses said, here I am.

A burning bush that isn't being consumed. The voice of God. God revealing himself to Moses, I am who I am. As we heard yesterday, that was a watershed moment in the Old Testament.

But all too easily, we can read over, skim over that story and not pause to take the time to consider what was really taking place here. Hi, I'm Nathan W Bingham and I'm so glad you're joining us on Renewing Your Mind for this study of Moses and the burning bush. After seeing the providential hand of God in the life of Moses yesterday, today RC Sproul takes us to the extraordinary encounter recorded for us in Exodus chapter three. He'll walk us through it slowly, not skimming over the details in preparation for his deep dive into the text.

Here's Dr. Sproul. In our last session, we looked at the circumstances surrounding the birth of Moses and his rescue from the decree of the Pharaoh that the newborn male children of the Hebrews would be put to death. As we pick up the narrative now leading to the episode and the burning bush, we see what happens after Moses has been adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh and brought into Pharaoh's house and into his family. We read in chapter two, verse eleven, Now it came to pass in those days when Moses was grown… Let me just stop there at that comment. That passes over an enormous amount of significant information because we are told elsewhere in Scripture that in those years, the early years of this young man's development, he was raised as a prince of Egypt, given the most comprehensive and extensive education that was available anywhere in the world at that time. And so, he was again an example of extraordinary providence.

He was given the opportunity of the highest advanced education that any young person could receive at that time in history. And all of that was to prepare Moses not to be a prince in Egypt, but to be the mediator of the old covenant. So, we read then that when he was grown, that he went out to his brethren and he looked at their burdens. So obviously, he at some point became aware that he was not an Egyptian by origin or birth, but rather was a Hebrew. And so, this blood relationship to his kinsmen inclined him to see how his kinsmen according to the flesh were faring. And he looked at their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, presumably a Hebrew slave, one of his own Hebrew brethren. So the Scripture tells us he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand. And then the next day when he went out, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, why are you striking your companion?

And here he's trying to mediate a dispute between two slaves. And he says to the one who was the aggressor in this fight, why are you doing this to your brother? And he said, who made you a prince and judge over us? Who do you think you are, Moses? Do you intend to kill me like you killed the Egyptian yesterday? Moses said, oh no, I thought I did that deed in secret, but the secret's out.

This man knows that I killed an Egyptian, and he knows where the body is buried. So this was a signal for Moses to make haste, to flee outside the jurisdiction of Egypt and seek safety elsewhere. So Moses feared and said, surely this thing is known. And when Pharaoh heard of the matter, he sought to kill Moses.

This isn't the first time that the Pharaoh's intention was to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian, way out in the desert, way away from the cities, way away from the hub of civilization. And when he went into Midian, he sat down by a well. And we are told that the priests of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and they drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father's flock. Then the shepherds came and drove them away.

It was not uncommon in antiquity in these arid lands for there to be range wars and all kinds of encroachments and battles between shepherds over water rights. And here the priest of Midian has seven daughters, and they are tending the flock of their father rather than the men. And they come to the well, and they fill the trough in order to give the sheep their water that's necessary to live. And these other men come in, and they say, get out of the way. We want to water our sheep.

And so the girls are just going to have to wait until after we're done. And Moses sees this. Moses, you see, in these brief passages that describe him in the early years, is a man whose heart is on fire for justice.

He had no patience whatsoever for injustice and for seeing people abused and mistreated. And so his blood boiled at the sight of these shepherds coming in and forcing the women away. But Moses stood up and helped them. And Moses watered their flock.

I mean, here's where the Bible is the master of understatement. There's all these shepherds coming in there chasing the women away, and Moses held it. They were here first.

Come here, girls. Bring your sheep. We're going to let them drink, and I'll stand here and defend you. Now I don't know how imposing a figure Moses was, but obviously these other fellows did not want to mess with him. This was the Old Testament answer to true grit. And so they came to Reuel their father, and he says, how is it that you've come so soon today? My, you girls are back early from watering the flock. And they said, an Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.

And Reuel is interested. Where is he? Why did you leave this man?

Call him. Bring him home that he may eat bread that I can repay him for his kindness toward you. Then Moses was content to live with this man. And he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses, and she bore him a son.

He called his name Gershon, for he said, I have been a stranger in a foreign land. So now by chance, the happenstance of the hidden providence of God, Moses is adopted into a new family. And then the family of Reuel, who's the priest of Midian, marries his daughter, bears a son, finds a home as a stranger in a foreign land. Now it happens, we're told, in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. And the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out.

Now at this time, Moses is forty years old. He's not a boy anymore, but the same people that were subjected by this enormous burden of slavery imposed upon him by the Egyptians are still slaves. They're still moaning. They're still groaning.

They're still crying as the burden of slavery gets worse and worse for them. And they cried out, and their cry came up to God. This is one of the most significant moments in the Old Testament history when God heard the cries of this people.

When God listened to the groans of these slaves in Egypt, and the Lord God omnipotent moved heaven and earth through His servant Moses to address that travesty of inhumanity. So God heard their groanings, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, and with Isaac, and Jacob. These are the descendants, God said, of the man with whom I made this covenant, and where I said, I would make him the father of a great nation.

And that I would bless him, and that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, and his descendants would be as the sand of the sea, and as the stars of the sky. And I repeated that promise to his son Isaac, and then to his son Jacob. And I watched as their children went down into the land of Egypt, to the land of Goshen. But I've never forgotten that covenant promise that I made to Abraham and his sons. And now I hear the sons and the daughters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob crying. The cries are in my ears. And so God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

Fast forward. More years pass. Moses is now 80 years old. And every day of his life, his job is to take the flocks of his father-in-law and have them graze to the edge of the desert, and right to the base of the mountain of God, Mount Horeb.

And for 40 years, every single day, Moses is not enjoying the rank and privilege in the palace of Pharaoh, but he is a shepherd, making sure that the sheep are being protected and nurtured every day. It's hard to imagine a more boring existence than that. When I was in high school, I worked in the summer at the Continental Can Factory in Pittsburgh, which was one of the largest factories in the world. It made cans. That's why it was called Continental Cans. Cans of every type imaginable, soup cans and coke cans, Coke cans, grape juice cans, and Delco battery fluid cans, and all the rest. But my job as summer employee was to fill in on the lines where employees were taking their week's vacation.

We would be part-time and take over the job. I've got to tell you about this one job I had. It had to do with bottle caps for like Coca-Cola bottles, the old caps that you needed a church key to open them. And you sit down at a table, and there are these two huge bins, and the bins from the left are filled with these metal bottle caps, thousands of them. And on the right, the bins are filled with thousands of pieces of cork, about that big, and you have to take a piece of the cork and push it into the base of the bottle cap because that cork insulates the top of the bottle cap. And there were people that were so good at this that they could take like five caps at the left hand, five things, put them together, they were on piecework, and they're working like every day for eight hours. In the den of that factory, there were people who were doing that same job for fifteen years. After fifteen minutes, I thought I was going to lose my mind trying to find fulfillment in my life, stuffing pieces of cork into bottle caps.

Horrible. Well, Moses didn't complain. He did his monotonous job day in, day out, year in, year out, until the most incredible experience he would have in his life in all of his 80 years. I'm not going to expound on the theological significance of it right now, but I just want to refresh our memory of the narrative itself, which begins in chapter 3 of Exodus. Now, Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, that's the other name for Ruel, the priest of Midian.

He led the flock to the back of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of Yahweh, the angel of the Lord, appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.

Listen to Moses' reaction. Listen to what he said when all of a sudden he's walking along the desert, and he sees out of the corner of his eyes a phenomenon that he had never witnessed in this desert in 40 years. He looks over and he sees this bush that seems to be on fire, but as he looks at it, he notices that the structure of the bush does not diminish ever, that in no way is the bush consumed, but the fire keeps burning. And so he says to himself, I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.

What we're going to be doing, God willing, in the next eight weeks is to try to answer that question. I'm going to turn aside and look at this great sight and try to find out why the bush is burning and is not being consumed. And that's what I want us to look at as carefully as we know how in the weeks and days to come, because I believe that the answer to that question in a very real sense opens the whole of redemptive history. It encapsulates the very essence of God's self-revelation in history and in His Word right there in that moment. When Moses turns aside with the question, why is this bush burning and not being consumed? And when God saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush saying, Moses, Moses. So on top of this vision of this strange phenomenon of the bush that's burning and not being consumed, now the bush starts talking to him.

He hears a voice coming out of this bush calling him by name, and by the way, using the repetition of his name, which is the Hebrew method of addressing somebody in intimate terms of affection. Moses. Moses. Moses said, here I am. God said, do not draw near this place.

Take your sandals off your feet. The place where you're standing is holy ground. Moreover, he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hit his face, for he was afraid to even look at God. Do you remember how years later when he goes up on the mountain and he says to God, show me your face.

Let me behold your glory. But in the first encounter with the living God, he hides his face. You would too if you were standing in that place of holy ground.

You couldn't dare to look at what was right there in front of him. And the Lord said, I've seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt. I've heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Ivites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me, and I have seen the oppression the Egyptians bring. Come and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. But Moses has a question for God. He asks two questions in this encounter that are of the utmost importance.

The first question is a question we all ought to ask when we're in the presence of God. Who am I? Did I just hear you say I'm supposed to go and lead these people out of bondage from Pharaoh?

God, who am I? It's one thing for me to stand up against a few shepherds out in the wilderness that are taking the water away from my father-in-law's daughters. It's one thing for me to stand up to an Egyptian who's beating one of the slaves. But who am I to go to Pharaoh and say, let my people go?

That's His first question. God said, I'll tell you who you are, Moses. You're the one I certainly will be with. And this is the sign to you that I've sent you. When you've brought the people out of Egypt, you will serve God right here on this mountain. And Moses said to God, indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me, and they say to me, what is His name?

What shall I say to them? He's saying, now, who are you? And here it comes. God said to Moses, I am who I am. Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I am has sent me to you. Moreover, He said to Moses, thus you shall say to the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.

I am who I am. And in that self-disclosure, we find no more profound or deep revelation of the nature and character of God anywhere in sacred Scripture. And so our task in the weeks to come is to explore the significance of these things of which we've just heard in narrative form.

What do these things mean? Why the burning bush? Why the memorial name, I am who I am? Who is this God who reveals Himself to Moses in this moment of history?

That's what R.C. Sproul will help answer tomorrow and Thursday as we continue this study of Moses and the burning bush. Dr. Sproul's entire series is actually 10 messages, more than the four that you'll hear this week on Renewing Your Mind, so I encourage you to request access to the entire series and use this as part of your personal study.

We'll do it with your family or a group of friends. For your donation of any amount in support of Renewing Your Mind, at we'll send you the complete series on DVD along with digital access to the messages and study guide and we'll send you Moses and the Burning Bush the book from Dr. Sproul. So whether you prefer to read or watch, there's resources in this bundle to help you in your study. Give your gift today at or by calling us at 800 435 4343. What was taking place here at this burning bush? Was this a miraculous bush that was simply unable to be consumed or was something else going on? Be sure to join us tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 19:00:11 / 2024-02-10 19:08:14 / 8

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