“Live and in person” Advent devotion for December 3, 2020. Read Exodus 3:1-4 and Psalm 130.
I think I am just as surprised as Moses to find God speaking from a burning bush on Mt. Horeb. It had never happened before. It never happened again, at least not in the bible or anywhere I’ve ever read. But here on the mountain, Moses has a physical encounter with the Lord who comes to save His people long before His birth in Bethlehem to save His people from their sins. Forty years later Moses would tell the people, “The Lord your God is a consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24). But not today. Today, “the bush was burning, but it was not consumed” (Ex. 3:3).
I can sit and gaze into a campfire for a long time. It’s so relaxing and peaceful. Until it starts talking to you! Once he knew who it was, Moses was afraid to look (Ex. 3:6).
Why do you suppose God chose to manifest Himself in this way to Moses? Well, for one thing, it certainly fits with the law and gospel message of scripture. Fire can burn and destroy. Fire also produces heat and light. Bad news and good news, which you need to fully get the message of God with us. Yes, a holy God comes to punish sin. He also comes to save us from sin. In that sense, fire captures and reveals the very nature of God who is at the same time the Almighty and the all-merciful.
When John the Baptist came preparing the way of the Lord, he said, “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11,12). That ancient fire was returning for both salvation and judgment.
The flames of our Advent candles are a great reminder of these moments. I’m very thankful for the warmth and brightness Jesus brings to what would otherwise be a cold and darkened world!
Thank you, Lord, for the fire of your presence in my life to save, purify and light the way. Amen.