Yes, this is still me sitting in Exodus, gazing around at the wonder of the Lord's ability to speak through a familiar passage of Scripture again. I invite you to walk to the scene of Moses' encounter with the burning bush with me, but we won't go all the way in yet.
I was reading this again recently, and my attention was captured in the first verse. Moses was living as a shepherd, tending the flock of his father-in-law. Typically we kind of skip to the part where the bush is in flames, and Moses hears the Lord calling him. I challenge you to slow down and allow the Holy Spirit to place the magnifying glass on certain areas at certain times in your life. Dig deeper.
"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."
Okay, first of all, why did he lead the flock to the far side of the wilderness? Just curious. I am not gonna pretend to understand the methods of shepherds, but I do know that my Shepherd has led me into the wilderness. I do know that He has taken me into seasons that were not so "green pasture"-ish. I do know that in Hosea the Word speaks of the Lord alluring His people into the wilderness to speak comfort to them. I do know that the Holy Spirit led even Christ into the wilderness to be tempted by the enemy. So yeah, it happens. It isn't just a coincidence that we sometimes find ourselves looking around for a lush, green pasture...yet we find that we have been led to the back side of the desert.
Secondly, I want you to look at the place that Moses landed as he led his flock there. Horeb - the mountain of God. I am thinking that Moses didn't know that this was the mountain of God. Honestly, it makes me want to buy a plane ticket and go find this place myself. Elijah heard the voice of God as a gentle whisper there. Moses saw a bush in flames and heard the Lord calling him there. There is actually a place called the mountain of God!!!
So why don't we hear of it more? I remember feeling drawn to look up the Hebrew meaning of the word Horeb a few years ago, and its meaning may give insight as to why multitudes of people didn't just run and want to stay on this mountain. Horeb literally means "desolate." You would expect it to mean something glorious. I mean, it is the mountain of God. No. Desolate. This stirs in me to recognize that it is when I am the most broken, the most humbled, and the most desolate that I am able to come nearest to my God. It is when I feel like I am left with nothing that a desperation to seek Him is awakened.
You want to draw closer to the Lord? Get ready, because you may find yourself in a desolate place. You will most likely find yourself feeling more alone in this world than you ever have. Here is the payoff, however: the more alone you feel in this world in search of the Lord, the more alone time you actually enjoy with Him. You may not be surrounded by multitudes of supporters in your quest, but you will be surrounded by the Presence of the Lord. I don't know about you, but to be near Him is worth the wilderness. To be close to Him is worth desolation.
Lord, bring me to the back side of the desert if that is where I find You. I just want to be close to You and hear You speak clearly to me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
1 Kings 19:1-18