The next stop on our “Summer Vacation” is known by a variety of names in the pages of Scripture–Horeb, the mountain of God, and eventually, Mount Sinai. Some places might not be able to pull off that many names, but when you’ve got God appearing and speaking from a bush that is burning without being consumed, you can probably pull it off. It’s one of those stories that is so well-known that we risk missing the wonder of it. Exodus 3? Oh yeah, that’s the burning bush, right? Yep. That’s exactly the kind of casual approach that God is seeking to avoid here with Moses.
Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”Exodus 3:5 (ESV)
God wanted Moses to know that this place was different. This was holy ground. Why? Because God was there, He was on a mission to deliver His people, and Moses was going to be the one He sent to get the job done. Naturally, Moses had a few questions. He was no stranger to the way things worked in Egypt. He’d been there before, even if it had been a while. He knew he wasn’t up to the task on his own, but God was quick to reassure him, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12, ESV).
We’ll see this more in the days ahead, but I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending now–God does what God says he will do. When Moses asked how he should identify the God who sent him, God identified Himself as, “I am who I am,” before pointing to His track record with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That same promise keeping power was what Moses and the Israelites could count on for the challenging path back to this mountain where Moses stood. And it’s the same power commanded by Jesus, who has given us a mission and promised to be with us (Matthew 28:20).