“When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!'” (Exodus 3:4)
Moses draws near to this bush that is on fire, perhaps mostly out of curiosity about this strange sight. As Moses draws close, the Living God captures his attention and then begins speaking to him.
God says something simple, yet full of meaning: “Moses! Moses!”
Notice first of all that God invites Moses into a conversation. It is not an abstract or impersonal conversation, but one that is deeply personal. God calls Moses by his name. Moses is not anonymous to God but is known. Moses is not just a resource to be used by God, but a person. And this personal invitation is bathed in loved. Speaking his name twice, God addresses Moses in a way that reflects tender love by repeating his name twice This reminds us that God knows all people personally, even by name, and that God has tender love for people, regardless of their background.
Next pay attention to the fact that God’s address to Moses is an invitation into authentic relationship. This episode at the burning bush begins a long relationship between Moses and God. There are ups, like the literal journey up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, and there are downs, like Moses’ disobedience in striking the rock. In the end, Moses was known as one who God knew and related with face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10). When we hear a computerized voice say our name, reading a text through our phone or car, it doesn’t do much for us emotionally. The message may be meaningful, but the voice often feels at odds with that, coming across as sterile and inhuman. But when I hear someone I personally know call my name—my wife, my child, or my friend—I am immediately drawn into intimate relationship and vulnerable conversation. This episode with Moses and God at the burning bush reminds us that God isn’t interested in standing at a distance. Instead, God risks entering into real relationship with human beings, knowing us and being known by us. This is an amazing and nearly incomprehensible gift.
Wherever you are right now, let me encourage you to pause. Let me encourage you to still yourself and remember there is a God who exists. He has reached out to us first in creation and He has reached out to us even more personally through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Remember that He calls you by name and wants to know you. In the stillness of this moment, hear God call you name. Then, speak your response to Him.