Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bushes and Bare feet

My feet, my yard 

Exodus 3:1-6: 
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire; but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.” So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “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 upon God.” (NKJV)

The true meaning of Christmas as G. K. Chesterton said: “In Jesus coming to earth we have not a good man finding his way to God, but the good God Himself finding His way to man.”

The one great fact of all religion is the confrontation of the human soul with the transcendent holiness of God. Somewhere a bush is burning for everyone. God is continually invading human life to make Himself known, and to reveal His will for the invariable purpose of evoking a response in the heart of man. God daily bestrides the path of men; He arrests their startled attention with His presence and seeks to lead them by His longsuffering to repentance.

An examination of our text brings to light the two fundamental facts of the Christian religion that are central to Christmas. They are found to be the revelation of God to man, and man’s response to such a revelation. We will consider first the revelation God makes to man.

God’s Revelation

a) God reveals His whereabouts in the world of nature

David in Psalm 19:1 says: “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” and Paul in Romans 1:20 declares: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen ...”

The world with million fingers points towards God! God, whom the vaulted skies cannot contain appears in every flower, and makes the broken heart of men His dwelling place. Wherever you are, gates open to the divine. The earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush is afire with God. The lilies which neither toil nor spin are His teachers, and so are the stars, pouring forth their side-real fire upon a world in darkness crying for light. The rainbow, glowing softly luminous behind the thunderbolt, is God’s emblem of peace. It tells the world that the earth will never again be swept by deluge and drowning (Genesis 9:12-17) and the star of Jerusalem will never go down in everlasting darkness; and though Freedom be wounded grievously in her temple yet her banner, torn but flying, will remain triumphantly over the grave of tyranny.

God touches every life. He sometimes employs the mute tongue of tragedy, or whispers celestial converse in the laboured breath of a dying child. His hand is visible in the structure of an insect, and in the glory of a spring meadow. He can haunt the mind of Jacob with the deliriums of a dream, or spell out the doom of a blasphemous Belshazzar in the penmanship of a sleeveless hand that writes on the wall.

God speaks to His world. His vocal chords are multitudinous and multilingual, divinely articulate with tidings for all – and great and small – in a language common to all.

b) God may appear unexpectedly.

Where does one expect to find God? In fact one does not find God. Job in Job 11:7 asked this very important question. “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? Of course, the answer to this question is No. It is God who finds you.  James B. Stewart says: “God is not an object of knowledge which one may inquire after with the mere curiosity of a spiritual stamp collector. He is neither an object of scientific investigation nor something which can be inserted in the treasure of one’s knowledge, as one mounts a rare stamp in a special place in an album”

God appears to men in unexpected places. One may seek God in the sanctuary, but God finds him in the market place. One need not make a pilgrimage for the true God knows no limitations of geography.

God appeared unexpectedly to Moses amid the routine of his daily work. The desolate solitude of Horeb’s hillside became for this lonely shepherd a flaming sanctum of God’s presence. The Boston shoe store became a holy mount for Dwight L. Moody. Life’s common wayside can become a Damascus Road. It was Peter Marshall who said: “God has a hundred ways of plucking at a man’s sleeve”

c) God makes Himself known for the purpose of redemption.

This is perhaps most important truth concerning God’s revelation. A faint adumbration of God’s ultimate purpose is seen in His appearance to Abraham in Ur of Chaldea and His consequent command. Genesis 12:1-3: “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” God apprehended Abraham for the purpose of making him the beginning of a race out of which Christ, the Redeemer would be born.

One day in a desert, the Lord lays His hand on Moses. From out of the midst of the burning bush  he hears God’s voice. God appeared to Moses; called and saved him in order to save the nation Israel. Thus the redemptive motive of God is always clearly shown.

On and on through the Old Testament from start to finish, reappearing steadily through all its poetry and prophecy seen in all variations of history and homily, beating out like the deep recurring theme of a great symphony, there is this one great idea that God bares His mighty arm for redemption.

At first this purpose is vague and sketchy, but with the ages, God comes nearer to man and makes more apparent His intentions until at last God stands disclosed on the stage of human history in the Son! Such an hour has been God’s destination since the dawn of that first day men sinned. It has been a tedious and arduous journey; but God never once faltered in the divine intention to save man.

The writer of the Book of the Hebrews says: Heb 1:1-3: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds” Now the summit attained, the journey is done. God will tell us no more of Himself or of His plans to save than that which is revealed to us in His Son. On Calvary, a mountain nearer to the heart of God than mount Horeb, the Cross becomes a flaming bush burning for every lost sinner. Here God never stood so high when man stooped so low!

But the all important adjunct to this functional fact that God appears to man and makes known His will is the truth that man must reply. Let us therefore look at man’s response.

Man’s Response

Today Moses is a towering mountain peak of Biblical biography because “he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of reward” (Hebrews 11:25-26 KJV) But greater than the rod Moses carried in his hand were the shoes which he put off his feet.

Elizabeth Browning quote
For the Jews bare feet were significant. The slave went bare foot! From that moment on Moses was never his own. In reverential awe he responded to God’s love and became the captive of his redemptive mission. Moses offered his bare feet as the token of a new disposition of his heart. Yes Elizabeth Browning was correct when she said:“Earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes”

However, the response may be negative. God gives to all the possibility of saying, No. But remember, if you say no, God is not bound to run His train on your little track! One can live in opposition to God, but not with peace of mind! One can live without His blessing, but not without His judgment. God will allow the shoes to stay on  but if this be your choice then you walk roughshod with the hob nails of stubborn pride, right through the blood that was split for you, and forever you will leave an eternity’s spotless halls with your bloody track.

On the other hand, a favourable response means more than salvation for the individual. Abraham became an instrument of blessing for others. Moses placed his hand in the hand of God to the end that he might lead the Israelites from their bondage. Every other person who has loosed the latchet of his shoes before some bush burning with the presence of God in humble surrender to God’s will has become a part of God’s redeeming activity. When the apostle was saved, he said, “I am a debtor to the whole world” If God has saved you His intention is that you become “a living Epistle known and read of all men” Through your  life God wants to reach someone else. Certainly, it is true.
You are the sinner’s Gospel
You are the scoffer’s creed
You are the only Bible
This careless world will read.
And the remark of Dwight L. Moody is pertinent here: “If the average Christian is the only Bible the world will ever read; then a revised version is always needed!”

“If the average Christian is the only Bible the world will ever read; then a revised version is always needed!” [Tweet]

Conclusion: The only possible conclusion is that man must answer. He is at the cross roads. The crisis of decision is thrust upon him. To refuse is to reject; to choose not to grow flowers is a decision to grow weeds. You know! The white light of God’s presence has pierced your darkness, the flaming love of Calvary burns before you. Christ has come! You are responsible forever for you have come upon His burning bush.

You do not have to find God. He has found you. Then shall we not open the human heart, swing the doors till the hinges start; stop our worrying, doubt and din, hunting heaven and dodging sin?

There is no need to search so wide, open the door and stand aside – Let God in!

God bless you as make this decision this Christmas.

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