The Burning Bush - RR171D7

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Burning Bush
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 7
Length: 0:30:26
TapeCode: RR171D7
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Let us worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and the earth. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him. He also will hear their cry and will save them. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, saith the Lord, Jesus Christ, there am I in the midst of them. Let us pray.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we thank thee that thou art here, that thou art the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that thy word is truth and thy judgments altogether righteous. We thank thee, our Father, that because thou art on the throne, this generation shall be judged, the earth shall be cleansed, and they righteousness and truth shall prevail. Give us grace, therefore, our Father, to wait on thee, to work for thee, to rejoice in thee, and to know that all things shall serve thee and thy kingdom. In Christ’s name, Amen.

Our scripture this morning is from Exodus 3:1-10. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, ‘Moses, Moses.’ And he said, ‘Here am I.’ And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” [00:04:11]

Our subject this morning is The Burning Bush...[edit]

Our subject this morning is The Burning Bush. The Burning Bush. Moses, in Midian, found life much easier and simpler than in Egypt. Whatever hopes he may have harbored for a time soon gave way of an acceptance of his life as a sheepherder. Having once been the companion of royalty, he was now the companion of sheep, and the husband of a woman with a very modest heritage. As a sheepherder, we are told, that he took the sheep to the back side of the desert. That is, to a remote wilderness area in the area of the mountain of God, where later the Law was given. The mountain is called both Horeb and Sinai in the Bible. Horeb probably means “a desolate place,” so it was probably a description which also became a name for the area. Here at Horeb, God reveals Himself to Moses. We are told that the angel of the Lord appeared to him. In some way, it is clear that the angel of the Lord must be identified with God. The two are identified again and again, as in Genesis 16:9-13, in Judges 6:11-14, and Judges 13:3-22. It is a pre-incarnation appearance of God in the form of man, and Christians have seen the angel of the Lord as God the Son in his pre-incarnation appearances.

Now, at this time, as the angel of the Lord is identified with God, we must note that at other times, we have God speak of the angel, as in Exodus 23:23, 32:34. So, the angel of the Lord, speaking to God, means that He is a person of the Godhead, and that there are recognizable attributed before the incarnation of the angel of the Lord. He used to have a human appearance.

It is an interesting fact that although two great events occurred at Sinai, first God’s revelation of Himself to Moses, and second, the giving of the Law, Israel never made Sinai a holy place or a shrine, or attached any special importance to it. Now, this was a radical break with all Antiquity. It was a recognition of the transcendence of God. Even today, we follow at a distance, the pagan custom by commemorating places, making national shrines, which is a religious term, because we associate great events more with the time and place, than with an ongoing faith. And that says something about us. We are ready to honor Valley Forge, but there is little of the spirit of Valley Forge in us. We are ready to honor a great many places, but despise the spirit that made those events and places possible. Of course, because of this fact that, the Hebrews attached no significance to the place, and were forbidden to do so. We are not at all sure of the location of Mt. Sinai. We know its general whereabouts. We do not know which particular mountain it was. Wherever sites were marked by Israel on the entrance to Canaan, it was God’s requirement for educational reasons. [00:09:21]

One of the things we are told about God in Hebrews...[edit]

One of the things we are told about God in Hebrews 12:29 is that He is a consuming fire. In this instance, the fire did not consume the bush. Moses turned aside to see this strange sight. At this point, many scholars indulge in naturalistic and evolutionary nonsense, and it is painful to amusing to read their comments. Some have held that the burning bush was the subject of spontaneous combustion because of the sun’s intense heat, or we are told that the original faith of Israel was probably a worship of storms and lightening, and this was a vision of the storm, God with lightening striking the bush. Every kind of nonsense is invented to evade the fact of supernatural revelation. When Moses turned aside to look more closely at the burning bush, God called out to him, “Moses, Moses,” and Moses answered, “Here am I.”

Moses then is told three things: first, he is come no closer; second, he is to take off his shoes because third, the place is holy because God is present. Now, to Westerners, this requirement of taking off one’s shoes seems quaint and Oriental. The fact is that our custom is most common to barbarians. Until well into the history of Christendom, it was barbarians only who walked into their houses with shoes. Civilized people left their shoes at the entryway. The two key areas where a man was to go unshod were, and in some places still are in a home and in a place of worship. It was a mark of respect. It indicated and indicates that the place is set apart, it is a safe place, and it is also clean area which must not be polluted by the world’s dust and dirt. In the West, the removal of one’s hat by men is required in churches, and in homes, both men and women remove their hats. But, well, that was true also in Antiquity. It was also required that shoes be removed and it was done in many a place well into the Christian era. The removal of one’s shoes also signifies rest. And the idea of rest was once basic, and in some countries, still is to worship eating and being at home. And so shoes, at such times, were and are discarded. We have here a series of remarkable images. The burning bush represents Israel. As Keil and Delitzsch wrote, “Israel was burning in the fire of affliction, the iron furnace of Egypt, but they were not consumed.” At the same time, the fire we can say represents Egypt, but it also represents God, by whose ordination the persecution took place in order to prepare Israel for freedom. [00:13:42]

Then we have a desolate place in the wilderness become...[edit]

Then we have a desolate place in the wilderness become suddenly a sanctuary where Moses meets God. First, we must make sure that we understand that Moses does not find God, God finds him. God initiates this event, it is revelation, not discovery. Then second, it is specific and particular revelation. It is to Moses, and he answered, “Here am I.” Third, Moses is warned against coming closer. Modern religiosity is often presumptuous, and assumes an easy familiarity with God which the Bible does not permit. God calls Himself our Father, but we must remember the Fatherhood there represented is patriarchal, it’s not a disrespectful, chummy, or an easygoing one. The unshod feet speak of peace and rest, but not a casualness in God’s presence. Some prominent pulpiteers who have been stars in American churches for about a century and a half, have also, over the generations been notable, moral shipwrecks. I believe that part of the problem has been their cheap and easy familiarity with God. No sense of awe, no respect. We are, today, too casual with regard to God. Men are less ready to violate the moral laws of God when they hold Him in awe. And when they have an easy familiarity with God, they have a casualness towards the Law of God. I think a memorable line, which we had recorded on one of our Easy Chairs recently, and which two or three of you have been quoting ever since was Otto Scott’s description of his reaction to a violent storm in the North Atlantic in World War II. He said he realized that God is no buttercup. This is a lesson that our generation has forgotten, and is soon going to learn.

Then next, we must say that God identifies Himself not only as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and with Jacob, but as the God of thy father. We are told very little about Moses’ father, Amram, other than that he was a Levite. God knew Amram, and He identified Himself as the God of Amram. This brought God very close to home for Moses. The patriarchs represented a remote past, but a man’s father places God very close to him. [00:17:42]

Then next, the reaction of Moses was one of fear and...[edit]

Then next, the reaction of Moses was one of fear and awe, he covered his face. God declares that he has seen the affliction of Israel, that He has heard their cry. He is now going to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians and given them Canaan, a land oozing, or flowing with milk and honey. The word is literally “oozing.” The six peoples living in the land are cited. Which is an interesting list of ancient peoples, and archeologists love that verse because it is so helpful. The abundance of milk and honey means an area of rich pastures, and many wildflowers, shrubs and trees for bees to collect nectar from which to make honey. It is an image of prosperity and wealth.

It is necessary for us today to realize that Palestine today has very, very little relationship or resemblance to Palestine in our Lord’s day, or in Moses’ day. Even apart from all other oppressors, beginning with the Romans, who stripped the hills all around Jerusalem for miles in order to crucify tens of thousands after the Jewish Roman War. The total destruction of the area came with the Turks, who turned many, many areas, including Palestine, into a desert. They put a tax on windows and windows disappeared. They put a tax on trees, and people could no longer afford to have a tree near their house, or a non-producing tree on their property.

God now speaks directly to Moses concerning his calling, and he says that Moses will be sent to Pharaoh to bring Israel out of Egypt. Now, nothing is said here thus far about Moses’ personal faith. The Bible doesn’t waste time on that. All we know is that it is assumed. The Bible takes no time, unlike the modern church, to say that Moses had a glorious experience of God sometime back. But this is one of the sins of the modern church, the emphasis on the subjective, rather than on God, on the faith. God, in His word, is unconcerned about the religious experiences of the men He calls. His concern is to call them, and to send them forth. We can compare it to a military commander. A commander does not ask the men whom he sends out on a dangerous mission anything about their love of their country. He simply sends them out. God commissions us and sends us out, not with guarantees of security, but with an order to obey. [00:22:04]

Now, there is an interesting thing about this chapter...[edit]

Now, there is an interesting thing about this chapter. The Calvinists, the Scots in particular, took this section of the Bible as a symbol. The burning bush, burning but unconsumed, has been the biblical type of their faith as a sign of great affliction but never of destruction. And their choice of the burning bush has meant a rejection of the idea of an easy faith. Let us pray.

Our Lord and our God, we give thanks to thee for thy word. We thank thee that, indeed, thou who didst appear out of the burning bush tells us thereby, that we, too, though we be in the fires of affliction, shall not be consumed, for thou art with us, and thou wilt never leave us nor forsake us. Strengthen us, oh Lord. Prepare us for thy service day by day, and make us more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. In His name, Amen. Are there any questions about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] {?} the fact that the Bible doesn’t state any qualifications to be called by God,

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] And in fact, some of those chosen have been very strange. I think of Jacob, who deceived his father and cheated his brother.

[Rushdoony] Very good point. The Bible never lays down any qualifications. God calls him, orders him, and says, “Whatever you are, do it,” and gives him the power to do it. Douglas Hyde, in his book on leadership, gives a telling example of how the Communists applied that principle, and how one man presented himself to them when Douglas Hyde was still a Communist, when they said that they would train men and make leaders of them in the revolution, and the man stuttered. He was as unprepossessing in appearance as could be, he was incapable of getting out a coherent sentence. But, he was a challenge and they trained him, and he became a very important person in England. Well, if the Communist party can do that, God certainly can and has.

[Audience] One observations, people say it would be easy to be religious if God would appear before me, and yet, God appeared before Moses, and yet Moses’ calling was not easy for him. [00:26:09]

[Rushdoony] Very good point, excellent, yet...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Very good point, excellent, yet. It didn’t become easier, it became harder for Moses. So that, we could say the closer to God, the greater the responsibility. The greater the privilege, the greater the duty. That’s a very important premise of scripture. Yes?

[Audience] I think it was one of the defects of hagiography, when they began to whitewash the lives of the saints. Because, as a matter of a fact, the lives of the saints are harrowing to read. You know that nobody really wants to be a saint.

[Rushdoony] [laughs] Yes. That’s why the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is as popular as it once was. At one time, everybody had that book and read it, in its original unabridged form. It’s not very popular now. Yes?

[Audience] How did God make, how did He make the lightening to hit the bush, to make it go on fire, not to burn, the bush?

[Rushdoony] It wasn’t lightening. It was because God was there and God caused it to burn without burning. We can’t understand that because God is too great for us, but all things are possible with God, we are told, and with God, nothing is impossible. So, God made that bush to burn with fire, and yet the bush was not destroyed, it was not consumed. It’s a marvelous fact because we have a marvelous God. Yes?

[Audience] Well, you remember the gas mantle, with little pieces of globular cloth, that you put in a gas mantle and you set fire to it, and it burned and didn’t disappear?

[Rushdoony] That’s right, very good. That was a fact of my childhood.

[Audience] Unless you touched it.

[Rushdoony] Very good, yes?

[Audience] Are there any significant parallels between this revelation of God and fire at the beginning of his salvation of Israel, and His use of fire at Pentecost, to reveal Himself?

[Rushdoony] Yes, because the Holy Spirit descended upon them, and we are told our God is a consuming fire. Fire of judgment, but also the fire of purification, and of blessing, of empowering, of energy.

Well, our time is about up, let us conclude now with prayer.

Our Lord and our God, it has been good for us to be here. Thy word is truth, and thy word is a joy unto us, and a power. We thank thee. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:30:02]

End of tape