Friday, July 17, 2009

Fire in a Green Tree

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Moses investigated, and he saw green vegetation on fire, but it wasn’t consumed by the intense heat. He stepped closer, and his eyes hadn’t deceived him.

Scorching tongues of fire flickered in the low branches of a bush, yet the leaves shone verdant green, and then “God called to him from within the bush. ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses, said, ‘Here I am.’” (Exodus 3:4).

In some ways, Moses witnessed a mini-version of what would happen to him over the next few decades. God’s consuming passion for rescuing the Israelites from Egypt included finding a leader to negotiate with Pharaoh. God intended to engage Moses and fire him up -- at the age of 80!

Moses grew up in Egypt, but at the age of 40 he hastily left because he took the life of a harsh Egyptian taskmaster. The next forty years he tended sheep in a wilderness, a place where the harsh conditions sandpapered his heart, got it ready for service.

When God made the call from the hot flames, perhaps Moses had considered retiring his shepherd’s staff to prop his feet on a rock footstool and listen to the latest Bedouin tunes. But God designated another path.

Was Moses past his prime, God didn’t think so. Part of Moses’ job description was to represent God in Pharaoh’s court. Eventually, because of a holy fire kindled in Moses’ heart, he pleaded God’s case against enslavement.

In Reg Cox and Rick Brown’s superb book, The Xodus Files ~ following God in an alien land, they compare Moses and Israel’s journey to this generation of Christians. In File number 4 (chapter 4) they say, “It’s one thing to catch a glimpse of God’s mission. It’s another to be awakened to the possibility that he wants to use you.”

That possibility ignited in Moses. God knows about fickle human hearts, but when Moses heard from God, he said, “Here I am.” Because Moses followed through with God’s call millions were rescued.

God, in majesty and power, drew the Hebrew people into a renewed covenant relationship. After living in bondage for over 400 years, Israel was happy to escape from slavery, but they weren’t necessarily running to God. Later, God explained how he wooed them. “I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4).

Inexperience, old age, young age -- God still knows how to ignite fires in green trees. Authors Cox and Brown say that God’s goal is to communicate his love to all people. “He will craft a mountain, shape a seashore or erect a cross if that’s what it takes to get our attention and alter our eternity.”

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