Meditations in Exodus: 11. Know your God
Ex 3:5,6 Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Living in the day in which we live, with the entire Bible at our disposal, I am certain we take for granted the amount of knowledge about God we have at hand. It is perhaps only when we consider these early books of the Bible that we realise it hasn’t always been so. The revelation of who the Lord is came only slowly.
Moses has been carrying on his business looking after his sheep when he is arrested by the sight of a bush on fire but not being consumed. He wanders over to get a closer look and as he does so he finds a voice speaking to him from within the fire. The voice calls him by name. Who or what it is knows who he is. As he goes to get closer to it he is then told to beware for this is holy ground. Now that must have meant something to him and when the voice identifies itself as the God of his ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it creates within him a sense of awe and he covers his face, not wishing to look directly into the flames.
Now what might it have been that provoked that reaction? Well, by designating Himself as He did, the Lord indicates that He knows that Moses has been taught about the history of the Hebrews. To say that He is the God of these three Patriarchs puts content to any consideration of who God is. He had had dealings with each of those three men and in those dealings had revealed a lot about Himself. What do those men tell us about God?
- First, that He is a God who can communicate with human beings.
- Second, He is a God who knows all about us.
- Third, He reveals He has purposes for us that lift us from the level of self-centred godless sin to the level of a significant God-relating human being who can bring good to the world.
- Fourth, He persists with us even when we are slow to comprehend what is happening.
- Fifth, He can intervene in this material world to bring changes to our circumstances and to our very lives.
- Sixth, He clearly knows what is coming in the future.
- Seventh, He knows what He can do with individuals, i.e. their potential.
- Eighth, He works in, through and around us for the good of mankind.
- Ninth, He is the Creator who made all things.
Now most of those things came about by observing the things He did with those three men The last one came about by revelation passed on through Melchizedek to Abram (Gen 14:19,20).
He had communicated with each of them speaking about their future and the Land He promised them. Despite Abram’s fumblings with the will of God and getting into trouble in Egypt and having a child through a servant, the Lord persisted with him. Despite Jacob being a scheming cunning deceiver, He persevered with him. When neither Abram nor Isaac appeared to be able to have children, He enabled their wives to conceive. He clearly was a God who KNOWS, who CAN CHANGE circumstances and HAS STANDARDS and PLAN FOR THE FUTURE.
The reality of all of that together with the knowledge that He is the Creator of the whole world puts Him on a very different footing to the idols and gods of other nations. Moses would have known all the gods of Egypt after having lived there for forty years and to be confronted now by a challenger to all of that Egyptian mysticism, occultism and superstition was a serious challenge. Whereas life with the gods of Egypt just went on and on with annual repetition and nothing done in respect of them seemed to change anything, the stories that had been carried down in the family of the happenings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob indicated a God who was not about mystical mumbo-jumbo but an all-powerful Being who clearly DID communicate and DID act into people’s lives to bring changes. Dealing with this God had a feeling of reality about it, whereas placating the apparent gods of Egypt just released a sense of fear and uncertainty.
In the light of these things, we might ask ourselves two questions. Question number one: do we have a clear idea of who the Lord is by what we read of Him in the Bible, or is our reading so spasmodic and purposeless that we are left with a hazy picture of who He is and we are uncertain about His intentions toward us? Question number two: do we place our reliance upon things or methods or whatever else of the twenty-first century in a hope that ‘they’ will bring us support and comfort and a sense of wellbeing, or do we see that everything for a sense of wellbeing comes out of a living and real relationship with God?
I ask these things because I have a feeling that the Christianity I see portrayed on ‘Christian TV’ seems to often rely on twenty-first century “you are a good person with a great potential” (which can be utterly godless and the mantra of Personal Trainers or Life-Skills Mentors). The thing about the gods of Egypt was that they were focused on things – rivers, animals, weather etc. etc. Moses is being confronted with a PERSON who is real, who is there, who is communicating with him and who is utterly different from anything he encountered in his life all those years ago in Egypt – and it is that which is going to be at the heart of all that is coming shortly. Not things. Not methods. Not ego-boosting words. A person! THE person. That is who you and I are confronted by in these verses and in our daily lives.