Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: November 20 - Presence

Monday November 20th: Presence

Read Exodus 3.

Moses is just minding his own business as a shepherd when he comes upon a curious sight.  There on Mt. Horeb, also known as Mt. Sinai, Moses sees a plain old bush that is lit on fire.  As Moses continues to stare, he notes that the bush is not burning up.  The leaves are still nice and green, the wood is not being reduced to ash.
His curiosity gets the better of him and he goes to see it.  What he comes to know is that in the burning bush is The Angel of the Lord.  We met and pondered this figure last week.  As a reminder, this Messenger of YHWH is often taken as Jesus before he became man.   Remember that Angel is not what we think of as a fluffy cute heavenly creature, but someone who brings a message from God.

As a fun side note, earlier Christians used this account in Exodus 3 as a way to talk about Jesus as both divine and human.  The burning bush describes the two natures of Christ.  Here in the burning bush the two natures of fire and wood are together in one object, just as God and man are in one person, Christ.
Back in Exodus 3, as Moses approaches, suddenly we are caught by surprise.  The Angel of the Lord in verse 2 then changes to just “The Lord” in verse 4.  This further solidifies that the Angel of the Lord and the Lord are one and the same.  Who is this that is talking to Moses?  It is the one that we know as Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus is the one who sends Moses to Pharoah, just as much as Jesus sent his disciples to all the world, or when he appeared to Paul by the road of Damascus to call him as his apostle.
In the famous account of the Burning Bush we also have the revealing of God’s name: “I Am Who I Am.”  Later on, in the Prophet Isaiah, God will reiterate this name as a way to echo Exodus 3 when Isaiah writes seven times, “I am the Lord.”

In the Gospel of John, this all comes together when Jesus says “I am…” seven times.  What Jesus claims in John’s Gospel is that divine name that Isaiah used and what Moses discovered when he encountered the burning bush.
So when we see Jesus in the Gospels, we should be seeing the burning bush become man.