Moses and the burning bush - what about the effect on the environment?
On British TV we had the series “The Nativity” and it was wonderful! And how cool was it that all the planning came just right, with Jesus being born exactly on Christmas day!
I especially liked the way that the series filled in some of the human aspects, the detail that you don't get in the Bible. And that got me thinking about some of the other stories so familiar to us. Like Moses and the burning bush.
There was Moses out in the desert near mount Sinai, looking after his father-in-law's sheep and goats. He spots this bush burning but as he was in the desert this was nothing new, with bushes instantaneously combusting all over the place. But he keeps an eye on it for it doesn't seem to be turning to ash and going out like the rest he has seen. Finally he decides to go and have a look.
It takes him a bit longer than he expects for on the way he meets this woman with a clipboard. She is from Burning Bushes plc and tries to get Moses to switch his gas and electric to their lower Longer Lasting Tariff.
Anyway he finally gets there and this voice comes from the bush. It was God and he says “Moses, take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.”
“Cool”, says Moses, but then regrets it as he is hopping from one foot to the other. That sand was really hot.
Moses then says to God, “What is it with you and setting fire to bushes. With all that CO2 being released it's not very eco-friendly, is it? And what it's doing to your carbon footprint I just can't imagine.”
God says, “Moses, shut up! And stop rabbiting on. I made the world, so I think you can trust me to know what I'm doing.”
God then tells Moses how the Egyptians are being very cruel to the Israelites and that he has come down to rescue them.
“That's very interesting,” said Moses, “but what has it got to do with me?”
“Ah that's the best bit”, said God “for I'm sending you to the king of Egypt so you can lead my people out of his country”.
“You trying to be funny?”, said Moses. “I'm a nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? And anyway I've got all these sheep and goats to look after.”
God says to Moses, “Shut up! And stop rabbiting on. Never mind the sheep and goats , this is more important. The Israelites will listen to you when you show them these miracles that I am going to teach you. Throw your stick on the ground.”
The stick turned into a snake and Moses was off like a shot. Now the bible doesn't tell us what sort of snake it was – not that Moses could care less - but as it was sitting there saying “one and one is two, two and two is four...”, I think it was an adder.
God shouted, “Come back Moses, it won't bite.”
Moses came back a little way and said, “It won't bite? It's a snake. You trying to be funny?”
“No, it will be alright. Pick it up by the tail.”
So Moses grabbed its tail and it became a stick again.
So he says, “I hate snakes. Don't suppose you could turn the stick into a puppy? Or what about a hamster, that would be much nicer.”
God was getting exasperated and said, “Moses. Shut up! And stop rabbiting on. Now put your hand inside your robe.”
When Moses took it out it was diseased and covered in white spots. And when he put it back in and out again, it was a s good as new.
“Wow”, said Moses, “can I do the musical version? You put your right hand, you take you right hand out, you do the....”
“Moses. Shut up! And stop rabbiting on “, shouted God. When he had calmed down he said, “If they don't believe you in spite of those two miracles, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the ground. It will turn into blood.”
“Yeuk.”, said Moses. “Can't you turn it into something nicer, say like wine?”
“No,” replied God, “I'm keeping that one for my son.”
Despite all these miracles, Moses tried to get out of it by saying that he had never been a good speaker. It's believed that he had a stammer. But God wasn't having any of it and told Moses that he would help him to speak and tell him what to say.
But Moses persisted and said “No, Lord., please send someone else.”
God replied, “Moses. Shut up! And stop rabbiting on.” No he didn't actually. He took pity on Moses and agreed that Moses' brother Aaron could do the talking, for he was a good speaker. And Moses could tell him what to say.”
So Moses and Aaron set off for Egypt. Moses still wasn't happy about it, but as he was leaving he said to God, “At least if the king and Israelites don't listen to me, with these tricks I have a good chance of getting on Egypt's Got Talent.”
So what’s the message in this story?
Well first don't make fun of one of the most important people in the Old Testament. Despite his initial reluctance to take on the job God wanted him to do, Moses was a fantastic leader and did a great job in leading the disobedient, ungrateful people of Israel. And what a close relationship he had with God, even speaking to him face to face.
Secondly don’t tell anyone to shut up, especially here at The Army. It's not nice and this was a one-off.
Now the interesting thing was that just as God did those miracles, he could surely have healed Moses' stammer, but didn't. And that is something that many people still struggle with today. When we pray to him it seems that some prayers are answered, some are not and for some God provides people to help us deal with the problem or issue.
Even when St Paul prayed to God three times for him to remove his affliction, God's answer was that his grace was sufficient for Paul to bear the problem, “for power is perfected in weakness”.
So if you are dealing with a stammer or some other health problem, don't stop praying or believing, but watch out for the person that God sends to help you cope with it, while you get on with the job God wants you to do.