This is the story of a guy called Moses, an extraordinary life, a chequered past, a dubious upbringing and an encounter with God in the wasteland of his regrets, his mistakes and his shattered dreams. This is Bushfire. God’s encounter with Moses wasn’t in a church or any other religious setting for that matter. It took place in a desert, the backend of nowhere beside a bush that caught fire but didn’t burn.

The story begins with a nation in crisis, a cry to God that reaches Heaven and an epic deliverance as the Red Sea is miraculously parted allowing two million people to walk through without even getting their feet wet. Israel, God’s people are in slavery in Egypt, how they got there is a long story. They did many things that were wrong, turned away from the God who loved them and traded his truth for lies. People have been doing that ever since which is why God sent his son Jesus to rescue us.

When the heat is turned up we can feel that God has abandoned us but the honest truth is that we have abandoned him. Moses was the answer to the desperate prayers of the people. Having said that, there was nothing much in his earlier life that pointed towards him becoming any sort of rescuer any time soon. God often uses people like that. Moses is far from your average superhero. He starts life as a persecuted baby caught up in a genocide initiated by a desperate king, becomes a child refugee floating in a ‘Moses basket’ up the River Nile, gets adopted by a princess and grows up in a palace, discovers his people are the Israelite slaves who then reject him and then he murders a slave driver who was beating an innocent man.

Following the killing, Moses flees 400 miles away from the crime scene and becomes a fugitive. He marries a local girl in an attempt to make a new life for himself. That’s when he encounters God in that strange fire in a remote place in the Sinai Peninsula. He would emerge to lead his people out of slavery and witness many miracles along the way. One of the greatest God followers in history who had a less than auspicious start to life. Maybe there’s hope for you and me after all. So, let’s focus in on the Bushfire by reading a few lines from the Bible, this amazing book that has been banned and burned for centuries and yet speaks into the lives of people from every race, culture and background.

One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, he called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.

“Don’t come any closer, take off your shoes, for you’re standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. “Take your shoes off” This is not some kind of cheese induced dream. This is a fire encounter with the God of Heaven and Earth that he actually feels under his feet

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So, I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey. The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, I’m sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

Out of the nothingness God speaks, often in unusual and unexpected ways. He’s a loving father who reaches out into the flames of our struggles. Notice that God saw Moses long before Moses saw God. The Bible says God knew us in the womb, he watches us, he longs for us, he counts the hairs on our heads and he has a plan for our lives if we will only humble ourselves and stop trying to live our out our own plan.

Moses took a decision to investigate the fire and then God spoke out of it. It was to change not just his life but the destiny of an entire nation he would lead. When we walk towards God, say yes to his plan and start to agree with his truth, huge things can happen, wonderful things can take place. Moses encountered God in the everyday ordinary routine of his life. Further on in the Bible, Jesus called his first followers from the shoreline while they were fishing, same thing. God was never restricted to shrines and synagogues back then and he definitely isn’t restricted to churches and cathedrals now. This is a God who speaks through the fire of real life struggles.

So what is Moses response to this epic adventure he is being invited to live out. Well to be honest it’s a bit underwhelming, he’s got a few objections. Who am I, Who are you, Why me, They won’t believe me, They won’t follow me, I’m not good enough, send someone else! His encounter with God in the fire burned up his old life, his deep inner struggles and propelled him into a tough uncompromised life in relationship with the God who made him.

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