Running into Burning Bushes

Moses and the Burning Bush

What if Moses had never been placed in the basket? Or received the 10 Commandments? What would have happened if Moses never approached the burning bush? Wouldn’t his life have been far safer? Far more predictable? Far more suburban? I mean, how bad can it be leading sheep? But we know how the story goes, don’t we? Moses approached the burning bush and his life was never the same.

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Chapter 1: Running into Burning Bushes
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Staring up at the golden Jesus, I did think it was a bit unusual they painted him gold and all. In many three-hour Good Friday services when the whole church went through the Stations of the Cross, I had it on good authority that before Jesus was nailed to the cross, he was actually whipped and beaten to a bloody pulp. I’d also been to a lot of churches and I saw with my own eyes many variations of the crucifixion theme. The Jesus I learned about in Sunday school wore no gold chains or rings. No bling on the King of Kings. So for some weird first-grade reason, at first glance, the golden crucified Jesus didn’t make sense to me. I had this negative mental association with gold that dates back to the story of Moses. In Sunday school class, I’d heard of Moses going up the mountain to see God and bring back the 10 Commandments. Upon his arrival back down the mountain, Moses discovered the Israelites engaged in all manner of revelry, dancing and worshipping a golden calf. When I was a kid, I couldn’t eat meat on Fridays (devoured lots of little fish-sticks) and though I had nothing personally against cows, I knew enough catechism to know God wasn’t especially fond of golden calves, idol worship being bad and all. Seems the Israelites didn’t get the memo.

This next part of the story is what I loved as a kid. Imagine the scene: The Israelites are partying like a bunch of frat boys. God sees all the commotion way before Moses does and threatens to destroy the whole lot of them, but Moses intervenes. Then, when Moses arrives at the base of the mountain and sees what God already saw, he’s now so disgusted with the Israelites that he smashes the 10 Commandments. He dumps the golden calf in the fire.  Absolutely destroys the thing by pulverizing it into dust. Pours it into water and makes those idolatrous Israelites drink it. Not exactly protein powder nor a good way to start a long journey on the bad side of God. Makes you wonder if Moses ever just leaned on his staff next to a rock and muttered, “Should’ve never gone near that burning bush!”

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