Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 3:1-15New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Moses at the Burning Bush
Glorified is He and Highly Exalted Above All. AMEN.
My name is Nicole Foster, and I want to enlighten you on my name. My First and Last name together means “Victorious Watchman”. The name Nicole is of Greek origin and means “victorious people”. It has evolved into a French feminine derivative of the name Nicolas. Its root can be found in one of the descriptive names for God, YHWH Nissi, or the Lord is my Victory or Banner. My last name (Which I will say is a name given to my family in slavery, is a derivative of Forrester. The name in English means one who oversees the upkeep and administration of hunting territories belonging to either the monarch, or bishop. In essence, the watchman of the forest- who usually carries around scissors or an axe. Why do I tell you all of this? What’s in a name? Well a whole lot!
As we continue to trek through Exodus and follow the narrative of Moses, we see that there’s destiny and purpose tied to names. Moses meaning to draw out or pull from water is adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, nursed by his mother, and was brought up in all of the wisdom of ancient Egypt. One day, he sees an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew slave. In a fit of indignation and rage, Moses kills the Egyptian. In fear for his own life, he runs south into Midian, marries a woman named Zipporah, and keeps the flock of her father Jethro, the priest of Midian. He stayed in Midian for 40 years. That’s a long time to be in fear.
3 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing; yet it was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said further, “I am the God of your 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 at God.
God has to introduce himself to Moses. He is not familiar with the God of his Fathers, because remember, he was raised as an Egyptian.
7 Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. 10 So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.”
God is getting ready to show up and show out. But Moses is not convinced. As a matter of fact he acts like God didn’t even say anything. He says in verse 11,“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God says, 12 He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
The Divine Name Revealed
13 But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] …Summed up in the Name YHWH.
This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.
YHWH has a few nuisances in its etymology. YHWH means “TO Be” or “Always” in Ancient Phoenician is has been said to mean “The Burst of Energy” or “The Force of Energy” This is powerful, because while Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew him as El Elyon, meaning the “Most High”, or “El Shaddai” the All Sufficient One, God is introducing himself to His people in a new way! He’s about to do exploits, visible signs and wonders. But notice YHWH tells Moses that the ultimate sign will be when the Hebrews are delivered and will worship Him a the mountain. God’s telling Moses He’s going to do it.
Moses is just a stuttering scared shepherd. He’s gone from being in the midst of the splendor of the royal house of Ancient Egypt, to walking with sheep. And in spite of his lowliness God meets him at his lowest point, and tell Him that he indeed had heard the cry of his people in bondage.
God hears our outcry. He see’s the injustice you’ve experienced, He’s sees what you’ve lost. And He moved with compassion in such a way that He does and will do outstanding deeds on our behalf. So much so, that He introduces himself to us with an Everlasting Name, and He’ll do it again with Israel in the birth of Emmanuel, meaning, God is with us! Yes! We can depend on, because in His very Name is our deliverance, our victory, restitution and our salvation.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.