“Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up” (Exodus 3:2–3).
At the end of last week’s message, Moses was living in a place of exile and failure. He was a murderer, and he was rejected both by the Egyptians and by the Israelites. He fled to Midian, far away. He is living as an alien in the foreign land.
There is a bush fire on the mountain which catches Moses’ attention. The bush is burning, but is not consumed. When we first read the story of the burning bush, we see it as a way that God attracts Moses’ attention so that God and can speak to him. But the burning bush is more than a plot device. It shows us the God of Scripture who is a fire that does not consume.
God shows his presence. In Genesis 15:17, God sealed his covenant with Abram by passing through the animal sacrifice as “a smoking firepot with a blazing torch.” During the Israelites’ exit from Egypt, the Lord would appear “by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Exodus 13:22).
God purifies us. God is a refiner who brings his people “through the fire” in order to “refine them as silver is refined” (Zechariah 13:9). Fire is a purifying agent in people’s lives. In Proverbs 17:3, “The crucible is for refining silver and the smelter of gold, but the one who purifies hearts by fire is the LORD.” This is the fire that burns but does not consume.
God calls people to service. In the book of Acts God reveals himself as fires that do not consume: the flames which appear above the heads of each of the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The flames cause them to burn with passion – with love for God and for others.
God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush on Mount Sinai to get his attention and to call him to ministry. For biblical authors, when God appeared as fire he was showing His presence, purifying power, and protection over his people.