Exodus 3:1-15 - The Great I AM
God gets to do whatever he wants. This is important. Just when we think we've got him all figured out, he has a habit of surprising us. On this occasion, he surprises Moses by turning up... disguised as a bush! God knows exactly what he's doing and knew that this was the best way to get Moses' attention on that day.
When Moses realises who it is, 'he hid his face because he was afraid to look at God' (v6). This is such a good example of how people ought to react to God or the idea of coming face-to-face with him. If only more people today would acknowledge how scared they would actually be if they met the Creator of the Universe. Several famous atheists in our media reckon they'd have a right old go at God if they ever met him. They think if God is real, that he's their equal. They're wrong. If God is real and they meet him face-to-face, they'll be scared. God is God. He is not scared of tiny atheist scientists, comedians or panel show hosts. Moses' fear is a good example to us of humility in the face of God. We should be humble too.
In this passage we see God's concern for the suffering of his people who are slaves in Egypt. In the Bible we see that God is often concerned but never worried. There's a difference. Worry has to do with fear and not knowing what will happen. That's why God never worries and that's why he commands us never to worry (Matthew 6:25). But God is concerned. He cares. He hurts. He is not immune to our pain. He is not indifferent. Just because he knows his perfect plan, doesn't mean he's unaffected by the parts of it that include our suffering. When we hurt, God hurts. He knows (and so do we if we know the story) exactly what he will do to rescue the Israelites from slavery. He is concerned but never worried. That's why he can and must be trusted.
God says in v8 "I have come down". God is the God who comes down. His concern for the state of his people means he comes down to rescue. The stories of the Old Testament show this idea again and again and they all point us to the ultimate "coming down" when God becomes a human being himself - Jesus. This 'coming down' of God to visit Moses and save Israel shows us God's incredible love, humility and commitment to his people and should remind us of Jesus and why he came.
When Moses worries and isn't sure about God using him, God's gives him a sign (v12). The sign is that Moses and the Israelites will worship God on this mountain when they are free. There's just one problem with this sign. Moses can't see it yet! Later in the chapter, God does give Moses other signs that are more immediate but we should notice that his first answer here is for Moses to trust him and expect that everything will happen just as he says. He wants Moses to be able to say, "Really? That's how it's going to turn out? That's great! Let's go!" But Moses is a long way from being able to trust God that much!
Moses asks two questions: "Who am I...?" and "Who are you...?" Moses thinks first of all about himself and his own lack of power and then about the power of the one who is speaking to him. God tells Moses, "I AM WHO I AM". God is God. No equal. No-one beside him (1 Samuel 2:2). He is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4) and unchanging (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). This is who Moses is meeting!
And if you know and love Jesus, you've met him too!
‘Very truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’