Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
[The following is based upon vocal ministry given at Germantown Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Twelfth month, the 31st.]
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed (Ex. 3:2).
One of the significant things about the burning bush that Moses saw was that it continued to burn. The bush burned and was not consumed. And so, Moses was drawn to look at it: he’d not seen anything like it before. For fire burns while it has fuel: wood, gas, or some other material. But when the fuel has been consumed, the fire goes out. The fuel is finite, and once it is gone, the fire no longer burns.
We humans are like fire in that we have a finite amount of substance to fuel our lives. We have limited time to live; our understanding is limited by history and circumstance; our capacity to love is limited by our affections, and often fails when we come into conflict with others. Our life powers are limited, much to our chagrin.
Moses was a man who was intensely aware of his limitation: he couldn’t speak properly; he had run away from his people whom he knew to be suffering; he had even killed a person. He felt his shortcomings keenly. When God spoke to him from the burning bush and told him that he would send him to Pharoah to liberate the Israelites, Moses–feeling his limits and doubting his ability–replied:
Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? (11)
Because Moses felt and knew his limitation, he was prepared to become a spokesperson for God (a prophet); his sensing the truth of himself readied him to respond to God. We, too, may heed the promptings of truth about ourselves, and be led by the seed of God within. We, too, may be given to see the light, to know eternal life that is beyond our finitude; we, too, may be delivered from captivity and led into the promised land.
Contrarily, we may be hemmed in, enslaved by the inward Pharoah. Who is this Pharoah within, who will not let us go? He it is who would prevail; who would control and dominate; and who’d refuse to see what is, in truth, immediately before him.
To Moses, who saw his limitation and confessed his need for strength, God replied: “Certainly I will be with thee (12).” The power and wisdom of God, Christ the light within, visits, empowers, and sustains our lives indefinitely, eternally. Like a fire whose fuel is not consumed in burning is the life he brings to us: a life whose substance is not consumed in time but is eternal.
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