Thorns Overcame Our Excuses

The Book of Exodus opens with names; yet one name becomes prominent in the text from the start: Moses. Moses, the great rescuer of Israel, would first need to be rescued.

Perhaps it was the twists and turns of his life, born under a ban and rescued into pharaohs house, only to end up in a remote, desolate wilderness, that caused Moses to believe he was unqualified for God’s call, and therefore, he had an excuse.

Yet, Moses did live up to his name. Moses comes from a root meaning “drawn forth, bring out, pull out,” but the heart of the name speaks of rescue. He rescues a Hebrew, he rescues the daughters of Jethro, and the rabbis speculate that Moses was attempting to rescue a lost sheep when he noticed the burning bush, leaving the many for the one.

Upon seeing the burning bush, Moses says:

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה–אָסֻרָה-נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה, אֶת-הַמַּרְאֶה הַגָּדֹל הַזֶּה: מַדּוּעַ, לֹא-יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה

“Let me turn aside now to see this fantastic sight; why the bush is not burnt?”

Here at this paradoxical sight, Moses is called by the Lord. In Exodus 3, the Lord says that He is sending Moses – the Rescuer – to pull Israel out of Egypt: as a child being delivered from the womb. Moses says, “Send someone else! They won’t listen to me. Who am I to go into to Pharaoh? I can’t speak.” Can you relate to excuses?

The Lord appears to Moses on a סְנֶה, a thorn bush, in a wilderness called סִין, thorn/clay, on a mountain called חֹרֵֽבָה, Horeb/destruction, the first mountain bump on the Sinai range, Sinai, סִינַי, thorny/mucky. סְנֶה, סִין, סִינַי, are all related and carry the meaning of prickly or sticky. They are also related to the word שִׂנְאָה, hated. How do we respond when we get caught by a thorn, or our when our shoes get stuck in sticky mud?

Moses purposefully settles and spends forty years of his life in a hated, barren and dangerous place, simply because he didn’t want to be involved. Yet, the fire of God settled, and the Messiah, the Angel of the Lord, covered the prickly, hated bush, believed to be a type of fruit bearing bush, perhaps a variety of blackberry. Moses simply did not want to bear fruit, because he did not want the responsibility. He wanted things to remain as they had been: sheep, mountains, quiet.

Moses, called from the fire upon the סְנֶה, thorn bush, to the ministry of the Lord, will be called from סִינַי, Sinai, a thorny/sticky place, to build a nations of priests: servants.

The Torah given from Sinai, the Word of God, pricks our natural man – it hurts, it entangles, it sticks us to something undesirable, it makes us accountable. All of this is responsibility. “Take My message out…” No, I can’t, I don’t know how, people will be mad, insulted, upset…” The voice calls out from an undesirable place: in the midst of the fiery thorns.

When we ask, “Who am I? The Lord replies, “What’s your excuse?” And here’s why…

Dear reader: what we are seeing at the Burning Bush and Sinai is the Word of God appearing in the midst of thorn and fire – caught up in the hated place. Hated without cause. Hated because it slows us down, and causes inconvenience.

The scene on the Cross is the ultimate reality of the Lord in the Burning Bush. As Messiah – the messenger of the Lord – doesn’t appear burning above or on the thorn bush but wrapped in the thorn bush as He is crucified in a Crown of Thorns.

The Word of God caught up for us. Caught up in the hated place. Caught up in the dreaded place. Caught up in the place of our fears, excuses, our sin.

The Word made flesh crowned, taking the pain of our inability, of our reticence to fulfill the call of Heaven in our lives. Moses was told go from the bush. Israel was told go from Sinai. We are told go by the One crowned with thorns.

Paul resisted the call of Heaven on his life until Messiah in a bright light appeared to him and said, “It’s hard to kick against what is pricking you.” Upon hearing the words of Peter in Acts 2:37, Luke says that those assembled were “pricked in the heart,” their response being “what should we do?”

We are without excuse in Messiah. He has taken our excuse. He has taken our fear. He has taken our inconvenience. He has taken our doubt. He has taken our shame. He has taken our sin. He has been crowned with it, in order to carry it to death and the grave in order to overcome our deepest place of excuse – as Paul exclaimed, “O death where is thy sting”…O death were is thy pricking of me…” For we have overcome.

Moses was certain of death should he hear and obey the voice the Lord. Israel was certain of death to hear and obey the voice of the Lord. What we greatly fear, Messiah has already taken, in order that we now hear and obey the voice of the Lord without excuse or reservation. He is no longer speaking from a thorny place, because our the hearts have been pricked and sealed by the Holy Spirit. He now speaks to us from His abiding presence, as our Emmanuel (Heb. 1:1-3), and our salvation.

Who am I? We ask the Lord. He says, “You are My child.”

Be well. Shalom.

One thought on “Thorns Overcame Our Excuses

  1. Pastorfran

    Awesome! Such delight in my ears and eyes and heart is the reading of this post !!
    This podcast writing Chad me at:
    Moses was told go from the bush: “ at go from the Bush…”
    Israel was told go from Sinai: “…at go from Sinai..”
    We are told go by the One crowned with thorns: “…at go with the ONE crowned with thorns…”

    Liked by 1 person

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