Then God said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet [out of respect], because the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Then He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Exodus 3:5-6 (AMP)
As Moses curiously approached the burning bush, he was unknowingly saying “yes” to being used by God. When he approached the unconsumed bush, he was stopped by the voice of God, commanding him to remove his shoes, for he was about to enter holy ground. Although this demand may seem arbitrary, Moses’ act of taking his shoes off was an initial act of obedience to God, and following this act, God allowed Him into His presence. He allowed Moses to enjoy the space that He had transformed from common ground into holy ground.
If we want to step into God’s presence and feel His power, the first step is obedience. Because God is omniscient, His instructions may not always make sense to us, but if we want to be where God is, then we should do whatever God asks of us. As God invites us in, we must obediently pattern our lives in conformity to His will. Moses didn’t take off his shoes because it made sense. He did it because his Creator asked him to.
God may not be asking us to take off our shoes when we enter into His house, but He is asking us to leave behind the distractions. When He invites us into His presence, we need to enter carefully and respectfully. We are a child of God. It does not matter what title we hold at work or what designer brands we wear. The material things are insignificant. When we step into God’s house, it becomes holy ground, and there’s no other purpose than to glorify, magnify, and obey Him.
Moses stepped into God’s presence, accepting His perfection and holiness, completely surrendering his life to the Creator. He didn’t ask “why?” He just said, “Yes.” Like Moses, when God asks us to do something, despite how arbitrary, we need to start saying “yes” and trust that His plan is good and full of blessings. Although the commands of the Lord may not make perfect sense to us, it is important for us to understand that God is omnipotent and when we accept His perfect and holy plan for our lives, we act in perfect obedience to His will.
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.
Luke 9:51-56 NASB
In the days of Jesus, there were only two ways to get to Jerusalem. Either you had to go through Samaria, or you had to go around it. Through Samaria was easier in terms of distance, but it was harder because of cultural tension.
When the disciples heard that Jesus was heading to Jerusalem, they were excited but for the wrong reasons. They believed that He was going to become an earthly king. They hoped that Jesus would finally liberate the peasant class. The Samaritans, however, thought that Jesus would increase the divide that existed between them and the Jews. Neither the Jews nor the Samaritans understood Jesus’ mission.
Jesus’ goal, however, was to follow His Father’s will. By going to Jerusalem, He would complete God’s mission to extend the gift of salvation to both the Jews and the Samaritans, and by extension, the whole creation.
The disciples were sent ahead of Jesus to find a place to stay in the Samarian village. They are shocked by this notion and are doubly shocked when the Samaritans rejected them. When the disciples suggest that they call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, Jesus rebukes them.
The disciples made a mistake. They had spiritual power to call down fire, but they lacked the necessary spiritual maturity to make wise decisions. Jesus had to remind them that His mission includes the acceptance of those who are rejecting Him. So, they went to another village.
Jesus had to consistently deal with painful rejections and emotional turmoil as He was doing God’s will. Similarly, if we didn’t have to deal with immature or negative responses from others, following God’s will for our lives would be much easier. But sometimes, challenges help us define our focus in life. Sometimes we may not know how convicted we are about our walk with Jesus until our walk comes under heavy criticism.
When we walk away from criticism, cradling the pain of being misunderstood, and make the choice that obedience to God is more important than being understood by those who don’t want to understand us, we can develop stronger spiritual purpose. When our purpose is central to our lives, we will sometimes have to, like Jesus, set our face towards God’s purpose for our lives.
Whenever it is time to set our faces towards Jerusalem, we need to do so thanking God that He blesses and strengthens us to take the long road, if necessary. Sometimes it is important for us to keep on walking past rejection and criticism so that we can arrive at God’s purpose for our lives.
Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I am has sent me to you.'"
Exodus 3:13-14 NIV
While the Israelites had been crying out to God for many years, there had been almost no worship of Him. Moses knew that the issue at hand is not about God’s name but His relevance.
Moses believed that if he went to Egypt, announcing that God is ready to move, the Israelites would say that their circumstances had never been worse. They would think: How is this long-silent God relevant to us now? Why shouldn’t we consider some other God or other way to navigate this terrible circumstance.
Terrible circumstances can do this to us. They can hurt so badly and cut so deeply that news of another, better day might fall on deaf ears. We may have once hoped, but now we doubt. Circumstances may have affected us so badly that we wonder if anything that we believe is worth believing.
If we find ourselves controlled by our circumstances, we first need to ask ourselves, “How am I doing with God?” We may have once had burning passion, but now does that same passion sit in lukewarm ashes? Maybe the answers were too long in coming, and we’ve settled in a new place called: Life Without an Answer.
When God shows up and says that He is going to do the thing that we’ve grown exhausted asking Him for, we may find ourselves wondering, “Who is God to show up now after all I’ve been through?”
When God told Moses to tell the Israelites that He is “I am who I am,” God is saying that He defines circumstances, and that He is not defined by them. His power can be described by how He moves in our situations, but our situations do not confine or define who God is. God transcends our circumstances.
God says to every one of us that He exists above our circumstances. They don’t affect His character, power, or personality. Our circumstances cannot define Him, so we must stop allowing our circumstances to shape our understanding of who God is. Instead, we should let our understanding of God and our faith in God shape our understanding of our circumstances.
But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."
Exodus 3:11-12 NIV
Moses, who had just been stopped by a bush that was burning but wasn’t consumed, was now engaged in a conversation with God, who wanted to send Moses back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites from bondage. God wanted to take the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land so that the Israelites could own and claim it.
Much to Moses’ surprise, God chose him to lead this mission. But at this point of Moses’ life, he is an aged, married family man. He’s now standing in front of the weirdest and wildest representation of divine purpose that someone could imagine. God wants to use him to do something that demonstrates His power.
However, Moses protests. He asks God, “Who am I?” He doubts who he is in the presence of God. Moses trusts in the power of the One who is behind the voice, but he can’t believe that he is the correct choice.
In our lives, we may also wonder why God chose us. However, the lesson that we can learn from this text is that God still uses people. He uses us to express His will, accomplish His works, and show His way. And He often uses people who don’t see themselves as qualified, ready, or prepared.
Each one of us is gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit. The shocking news to some of us is that God intends to express and achieve His will through each one of us. God wants us to change conditions, impact people, extend His love, and express His will.
We all know how important it is to nurture our intimacy with God. We cannot grow up in God until we grow down in relationship with Him. All of us understand that we ought to share our faith. However, we also have a personal mission. What is the mission that God has revealed for each of our lives?
Until we know our missions, we can’t make any sense out of why everything has synchronized the way that it has. Once we know our mission, we can see the way that God is moving the chess pieces. This includes all of our hurts, troubles, and idiosyncrasies, but it also includes all of our possibilities, relationships, and open doors.
God has been using every part of our lives to get us in front of the burning bush so that we can say, “Yes.”
"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you."
John 16:12-15 NIV
In this passage, Jesus wants the disciples to look at His crucifixion differently than their saddened emotions have let them. Jesus wants them to understand that His physical departure is a gift that pushes them to be carriers and conduits for the Holy Spirit. Jesus has been encouraging them all along with teachings and examples.
Jesus wanted to trust His disciples with more. He wanted to trust them with divine revelation, knowledge, and vision. He wanted to tell them more about the connection that his death would have to the salvation of the world. However, the disciples couldn’t handle the weight of it at that time. The disciples’ emotional turmoil would have prevented them from truly receiving anything that Jesus would have given them.
The issue was that the disciples had a weak spiritual immune system. Jesus’ prescription for this was to give them a gift: to walk and work with the disciples at their own pace. This gift precedes the Holy Spirit. Jesus couldn’t have given the disciples the Holy Spirit at this point.
When Jesus says “I have… more than you can bear,” He chose to walk at their pace, and allowed the gift of the Holy Spirit to administer that knowledge at the correct pace. Then, the disciples could come to a place where they could handle more.
As Christians, we want to hear whatever God has to say to us. Whatever He wants to do through us, we want to do. Jesus’ statement, “I have… more than you can bear” is not an indictment, but it is a call towards more. Jesus has provided us the tools to acquire that knowledge and revelation: the Holy Spirit.
Jesus understands that our emotions are real. No matter where we are in terms of our emotional growth, the pain that we feel is real. So, we have to accept that sometimes where we are is not the right time for us to accept new revelation. That doesn’t, however, mean that there is nothing more to come. God has more for us, but in order to get us to the correct place, we have to walk with Jesus.
Each one of us is at a different spiritual place. Each one of us emotes life differently. This mandates that in certain seasons we can’t handle much more of anything good or bad. God understands that. Our spirituality doesn’t mandate that we all run life at the same pace. We can’t all carry the same weight at the same time.
We cannot beat ourselves up for following life at our own pace. We cannot let other peoples’ expectations become our expectations of ourselves. If we try to outpace ourselves and God’s pace for our lives, we may find ourselves choking at an altitude that we were not supposed to occupy. Instead, we need to trust in God and the Holy Spirit that He is guiding us and pacing our lives to grow.