The angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed. This bush was located on the backside of the desert — a desolate place which was visited seasonally by shepherds. Moses was there because he was tending the flock of his father-in-law.
The book of Genesis records the angel of the Lord speaking to Abraham in differing ways but never as a burning bush. It is significant that the Lord introduced Himself to Moses as a bush which is aflame but is not consumed. It is contrary to nature for a flaming bush not to be consumed. There is no natural explanation for that which Moses witnessed. What Moses saw happen cannot happen. The moment that Moses realized that God was speaking to him, he knew God to be a God who could do the impossible.
The very first word which God spoke to Moses was his name (v. 4). God knew Moses before Moses knew God. We know Moses through the first two chapters of Exodus. We know Moses was taken from the river by Pharaoh’s daughter and reared as her son. We know that he was rebuffed by his people (Ex. 2:14, Acts 7:27). We know that he had been separated from his people for forty years when God spoke to him (Acts 7:30).
God introduced Himself to Moses with the words: “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (v. 6). While Moses was the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh, he knew that he was a Hebrew (Ex. 2:11). It is apparent from the Lord’s words that Moses possessed a knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but that he did not know Him in a personal way.
In verse 7, the God of miracles told Moses that He was aware of the suffering of His people and that He had heard their cry. Forty years earlier, Moses had witnessed the harsh treatment of his brethren. He was well aware of the treatment of which God spoke. In verse 8, God revealed His plan of action to Moses. The time had come for the seed of Abraham to take possession of the land which God had promised them. We note the Lord’s direct involvement in His words: “I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land”.
God identified the promised land as the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Moses, as the human author of the book of Genesis, theoretically could have received knowledge of God’s promise to give the land of Canaan to Abraham’s seed prior to this time. It is more likely, however, that God’s words were news to him.
In the text before us, God spoke to Moses and announced that He was sending him to Pharaoh such that he (Moses) may bring His people (the children of Israel) out of Egypt (v. 10). In verse 11, Moses asked God what qualified him (Moses) to do this. God answered: “Certainly I will be with thee” (v. 12).
God chose Moses. God had other choices available. God is not limited to men. That said, there were 603,549 other men who came up out of Egypt with Moses (see Num. 1:46).
Moses asked, “Who am I”. This is a reasonable question. Moses had been tending the flocks of his father-in-law for forty years. Tending sheep did not qualify him to go before Pharaoh or to lead almost two million men, women and children out of slavery. God answered, “I will be with thee”. In a very gentle manner God informed Moses that he was looking the wrong place for strength. Moses was looking to Moses, not to God.
God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be with Moses. The God of the fathers of the children of Israel would be with him. The children of Israel would demonstrate, time and again, that they did not know the God of their fathers as they refused to trust Him to deliver the land of Canaan to them.
God is “I AM THAT I AM”. Names mean something. In this case, I AM means God is self-existent and the possessor of all life that has been and always will exist. This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the God of both the Old and the New Testaments. This is the God who has reached out to all men through Christ Jesus. He is the great I AM, the self-existent God. This is the God who would be with Moses.
Throughout the Holy Bible, references are made to God using names as Elohim or Jehovah. One can find God referred to as the Most High. On occasions, commentators will use the name Yaweh. We may refer to God as the Creator. When we address God in prayer, we use Father and Lord. These names, like “God”, are not names of God. The self-existent God has no name because names are assigned by one of higher ranking and there is none above the self-existent God. God did not create God. God is and God would have all men know Him as I AM, the one and only being who is, was, and always will be.
The children of Israel would witness miracle after miracle. They would see God fulfill His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They would see God bring them into the land of Canaan with the great gain that He had promised Abraham.
All who are second born through Christ look to the fulfillment of a better promise. We are called, not to wait for the resurrected Christ to return, but to be His witnesses in all places (Acts 1:7-11). If we do as God commands, we have the same promise given to Moses. Christ has said: “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Today is the day of our witness.