“Hound of Heaven” Meditations: 3. No!!!!!!!!!!!
Ex 3:6 Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
When God first turns up, He evokes different reactions I believe. I suspect for most of us, we don’t even realise initially what is going on, that it’s God knocking on the door, that we are approaching a divine encounter, because for most of us it is the Holy Spirit quietly nudging our conscience or quietly prodding questions, preparing us for the time when suddenly (to our awareness at least) we are confronted with the Gospel – whether by reading the Bible, hearing it from a friend or preached in a church – and suddenly it becomes serious.
God encounters in the Bible are many and varied and the first ones are often low key and we’re just told, “God said to….” but for Moses there was drama and it’s his response in our verse above that has grabbed my attention. Why was he afraid to look at God, to face God?
Have a new look at the passage in Exodus 3. He is in the desert with his sheep, a place of familiarity and therefore confidence. He’s been there for forty years. His life as a prince of Egypt is a distant memory and time heals thoughts of failure – and boy, had he failed, throwing it all away by killing an Egyptian slave overseer.
So here he is, and he sees this bush on fire. Nothing terribly unusual about that but what is unusual is that the flames don’t seem to be destroying it, so he wanders over to take a closer look. And then it happens! A voice speaks to him, apparently from the flames, calling his name. His name? This is getting personal. Is this a hallucination? Then he’s told to be careful this is holy ground (what does that mean???) but then the voice identifies Himself – the God of his famous forefathers. At this point he bows down, covers his face with his hood and is afraid. Why? Come on, really, why is he afraid?
Well, for a start he realises this God from the accounts passed down through the families is real. This is not a mere hallucination. Second, this God obviously knows him – He called him by name. When such a twofold awareness breaks into to our hitherto self-centred and godless life, that can be scary.
Now what is amazing about this Ex 3 & 4 God-encounter is that nowhere does the Lord bring up Moses’ past, nowhere does He point out that Moses is a failure. Moses knows that, he’s had forty years to try and forget it, but can you tell me that deep down, Moses hasn’t got a horrible feeling that, to coin an expression, ‘the chickens are about to come home to roost’. But actually they are not. Do we fear to face God because of what we fear He will bring up? Relax, He’ll only do it when He sees you’re ready for it. In the meantime He wants to bless you. More tomorrow.