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The calling of Moses

Exodus 3:6

Then he said, “I am the God of your father,[a] 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

Full bible text

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 far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” “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,[a] 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.

About this painting

Moses lives as a shepherd in Midian. He watches over the herd of his father-in- law Jethro. Previously, when he was about forty years old, he had made an attempt to make the people of Israël revolt against the oppressive regime of the Egyptians. At that attempt he had killed an Egyptian. However, he had failed to gather the people behind him. Acts 7:23-28, John 1:11.
Moses then fled to Midian.
Now he leads the herd near to mount Horeb, and notices something special; a burning bush. Though the bush is on fire, it does not burn up. God (the Angel of the Lord) reveals Himself in the fire. He commands Moses: ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’
Moses is overwhelmed by the presence of God and dares not look at Him.
God (Jahweh) introduces Himself as the God of his ancestors, and says to Moses:
‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out’. The Lord remembers His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Ex. 2:24. Moses’ mission will be to go to the pharaoh, and to lead the people of Israël out of Egypt, according to the promise God gave Abraham in Gen.15.
Moses remembers his previous failed attempt to gather the people behind him and makes objections. He considers himself incapable and fears that the people will not believe that he acts on behalf of God. The Lord is merciful towards Moses and meets his concerns. He is allowed to go to the pharaoh in company of his brother Aaron. This time God will make the exodus come to pass!

-In many places in the Bible fire is an image of the divine presence. Gen. 15:17, Ex. 19:18, Psalm 18:9. The burning bush is an image of the suffering yet preserved people of Israël. An image of the eternal God, living in the midst of His people, purifying and preserving it. Zech. 2:5.
Deut. 4:20 calls Egypt: the iron-smelting furnace, that is the purging and testing fire.

-About four hundred years earlier God lead Jacob and his offspring to Egypt, where the abundance of grain made the people flourish and multiply. At the end of this era the Egyptian oppression made the people yearn for the promised land of milk and honey.

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