Text: Exodus 3:1-15
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
“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.
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,the name you shall call mefrom generation to generation.”
This moment where Moses comes upon the burning bush is one of the most pivotal moments in all of the Bible. While God had appeared and made a covenant with others before now, here is where God reveals God’s own name.
Moses has already been through much. He’d already been sent by his mother down the river in an effort to save him. He’d already been brought into Pharaoh’s household and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter. He’d already fled after killing an Egyptian task-master. He’d already married and was living as a shepherd in the land of Midian, watching the oppression from his people, the Israelites, from afar.
Moses was one who had been continually driven away from home. He was driven away first from his mother, then from his adoptive family, then from his people. When Moses comes across the burning bush, the concept of “home” was probably one that was blurry at best for him.
And then Moses hears the voice: “Moses! Moses! Take off your sandals!”
God tells him to do so because he is standing on holy ground. Taking off the sandals, is, after all, a sign of respect. But God is communicating something else as well in this command. Taking off the shoes is also a sign of being welcomed home.
Many people have a “no shoes in the house” rule. When you enter their home, you take your shoes off and you leave them by the door. While for some, this might be about keeping the carpet clean, for some, it is also a way of saying, “make yourself at home!”
When God tells Moses to take off his shoes, God is saying to him, “Welcome home! Kick off your shoes! This is where you are supposed to be!”
YHWH is the revelation of the Divine Name. It means something akin to “I Am who I Am” or “I Will Be who I Will Be.” In the revelation of God’s own name to Moses, God says, “I Am with you.” God shows Moses that the God who was, and is, and will be is the one in whom he can find his true understanding of home.
And yet, even as God calls Moses to the comfort of knowing to whom he truly belonged, he also called Moses to the task of his lifetime – leading his people out of Egypt and the bonds of slavery and oppression. Moses was given his home, but he was also given his life’s mission. Belonging to God didn’t mean a life of ease or comfort. It meant a life of fighting against injustice. It meant a life of constantly being threatened by the powers that be. It meant a life of wilderness wanderings, deep frustration, and hardship.
Home with God doesn’t always mean rainbows and unicorns. It doesn’t always mean comfort and prosperity. If Moses’ life shows us anything, it is that the opposite is more likely true. And yet… when God reveals God’s self to us and invites us home, nothing else can compare.
Moses could not have anticipated what would happen that day as he was tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He could not have known what God would show him. He could not have known what God would give him, in the revelation of the Divine Name.
When God reveals the Divine Name to Moses, God also reveals Moses’ true identity, his true purpose, his true home. It is in God and among God’s people. May God reveal the same to us.
o What words, phrases, or images from the text speak to you? What thoughts or feelings do they evoke?
o What is “home” to you? What qualities does it have?
o When have you experienced true belonging? How can you help others experience that, especially within your community of faith?
Consider someone who is a part of your family, whether it is by blood, by love, or by faith. Think of something you can do to help them feel a deeper sense of belonging this week, and then do it.
Maybe you know someone who isn’t living at home right now. It could be a college student, it could be someone in the hospital, it could be someone who has moved to assisted living. Call, visit, or send them something to help make their space feel a little bit more like home.
Holy God, you call me to remove my shoes – to make myself at home in you and among your people. You are the God who IS. You will always be with me. Through the peace of knowing that I will always belong to you, lead me out to do your work. Give me clarity in your mission and purpose for me, and give me the strength and courage to live it. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.