“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where 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.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.Exodus 3:5-6
I Can Only Imagine is the number-one-selling single of all time in Christian music. The song inspires hope and lifts my spirits when I hear it. I love it! And yet, when I read Exodus 3 about Moses meeting God at the burning bush, I can’t help but feel like dancing will be the last thing on my mind when I meet God face to face. His presence will be awe-inspiring, and while I may or may not be afraid, His presence will surely overcome me.
Surrounded by You gloryBart Millard
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine …
Let’s look at Moses’ encounter with God.
- While the burning bush that isn’t consumed is an amazing picture, God could have created an even more noticeable encounter with Moses. Moses was a shepherd far out in the desert of Midian. He could have missed the bush, but he did not.
- God calls his name twice, “Moses, Moses.” The repetition of his name signifies deep emotion, reminding me of a few other instances in scripture. God called “Abraham, Abraham” in Genesis 22 just as Abraham stretched out his hand to slay Isaac. God also called Jacob twice to comfort him in Genesis 26. Jacob had just learned that Joseph was not dead, and God spoke to Jacob about going to Egypt to see his son. I love the story of the sleeping child, Samuel. God awakens him by calling his name, and he commissions him as his servant. There are others – Martha, Saul, and Peter. We take notice when God calls twice!
- This is only the second place where the word holy has been used so far in scripture. The word holy is used in Genesis at the setting aside of the seventh day. In Exodus 3, holy describes the land on which Moses is standing. It’s as if God has invited Moses into His sacred home and space.
- Moses hides his face because he is afraid to look at God.
When I read Exodus 3, I immediately first thought of Isaiah’s meeting with God as told in Isaiah 6. He describes God as seated on a throne, high and exalted. Seraphim are calling out the holiness of God. And Isaiah is overcome by emotion –
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”Isaiah 6:5
When Isaiah saw God, he noted God’s holiness and recognized his unholiness. In Exodus, Moses also notes the holiness of God; even the ground was holy, shoes had to be removed. And in the presence of God’s holiness, Moses was afraid. We don’t have commentary on why Moses was afraid, but we can speculate.
Moses has been writing the account of history since the beginning of time. He had written about God expelling Adam and Eve from the garden because of their disobedience. He also recorded the story of Cain’s punishment for killing his brother, the story of the great flood, and the destruction of the tower of Babel and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses knew about the judgment of God. Quite possibly, he understood his unworthiness to be in God’s presence (as evident by the dialogue at the burning bush – a post for a later date). Moses had murdered an Egyptian and covered it up. Could he have wondered if God sought him out to judge that behavior?
Of course, we know from the story that God is not calling Moses’ name to judge him but to call him, to commission him, to give him his marching orders.
When faced with the holiness of God and His redemptive plan, do you feel similar to Moses and Isaiah? I do. It’s not that I fear harm from God because I know I am His daughter. But I feel the heavy weight of my unworthiness and a deep gratitude for salvation.
Two wonders here that I confessKeith Getty, Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross