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THE VOICE FROM THE BURNING BUSH.
Exodus iii: 1, to iv: 31.
T must have been a great change in the life of Moses,
after he had spent forty years in the palace as a
prince, to go out into the wilderness of Midian, and
live there as a shepherd. He saw no more the crowded
cities, the pyramids, the temples of Egypt, and the
great river Nile. For forty years Moses wandered about
the land of Midian with his flocks, living alone, often
sleeping at night on the ground, and looking up by day
to the great mountains.
He wore the rough skin mantle of a shepherd; and in his
 was the long shepherd's staff. On his feet were sandals
which he wore instead of shoes. But when he stood
before an altar to worship God he took off his sandals.
For when we take off our hats, as in church or a place
where God is worshipped, the people of those lands take
off their shoes, as a sign of reverence in a sacred
Moses was a great man, one of the greatest men that
ever lived. But he did not think himself great or wise.
He was contented with the work that he was doing; and
sought no higher place. But God had a work for Moses to
do, and all through those years in the wilderness God
was preparing him for that work.
All through those years, while Moses was feeding his
flock in Midian, the people of Israel were still
bearing heavy burdens and working as slaves in Egypt,
making brick and building cities. The king who had
begun the hard treatment of the Israelites died, but
another king took his place, and was just as cruel. He
was called by the same name, Pharaoh, for this was the
name given to all the kings of Egypt.
One day, Moses was feeding his flock on a mountain,
called Mount Horeb. This mountain was also called Mount
Sinai, and is spoken of by both names in the Bible. On
the mountain Moses saw a bush which seemed to be on
fire. He watched to see it burn up, but it was not
destroyed, though it kept burning on and on. And Moses
said to himself:
"I will go and look at this strange thing, a bush on
fire, yet not burning up."
MOSES SEES THE BUSH ON FIRE
As Moses was going toward the bush, he heard a voice
coming out of the bush, calling him by name, "Moses,
Moses!" He listened, and said, "Here I am."
The voice said, "Moses, do not come near; but take off
your shoes from your feet, for you are standing on holy
So Moses took off his shoes, and came near to the
burning bush. And the voice came from the bush, saying:
"I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, and
of Isaac, and of Jacob. I have seen the wrongs and the
cruelty that my people have suffered in Egypt, and I
have heard their cry on account of their task-masters.
And I am coming to set them free from the land of the
Egyptians, and to bring them up to their own land, the
land of Canaan, a good land, and large. Come, now,
 and I will send you to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and
you shall lead out my people from Egypt."
Moses knew what a great work this would be, to lead the
Israelites out of Egypt, from the power of its king. He
dreaded to take up such a task; and he said to the
"O Lord, who am I, a shepherd here in the wilderness,
to do this great work, to go to Pharaoh, and to bring
the people out of Egypt. It is too great a work for
And God said to Moses:
"Surely I will be with you, and will help you to do
this great work. I will give you a sign of my presence
with you. When you have led my people out of Egypt, you
shall bring them to this mountain, and they shall
worship me here. And then y ou shall know that I have
been with you."
And Moses said to God:
"When I go to the children of Israel in Egypt, and tell
them that the God of their fathers has sent me, they
will say to me, 'Who is this God? What is his name?'
they have suffered so much, and have sunk so low, that
I fear they have forgotten their God."
You remember that Moses had been out of Egypt and afar
from his people for forty years, a long time, and in
that time he did not know whether they had continued
the worship of God.
And God said to Moses:
"My name is 'I AM,' the One who is always living. Do
you go to your people and say to them, 'I AM hath sent
me to you.'
Do not be afraid; go to your people, and
say to them what I have said to you, and they will
listen to you and believe. And you shall take the
elders of your tribes, the leading men among them, and
shall go to King Pharaoh, and shall say to him, 'Let my
people go, that they may worship me in the wilderness.'
At first he will not let you go; but afterward, I will
show my power in Egypt, and then he will let you go out
of the land."
But Moses wished some sign, which he could give to his
people, and to the Egyptians, to show them that God had
sent him. He asked God to give him some sign. And God
said to him:
"What is that which you have in your hand?" Moses said,
"It is a rod, my shepherd's staff, which I use to guide
And God said, "Throw it on the ground." Then Moses
 it down, and instantly it was turned into a snake.
Moses was afraid of it, and began to run from it.
And God said, "Do not fear it, but take hold of it by
the tail." Moses did so, and at once it became again a
rod in his hand.
And God said again to Moses, "Put your hand into your
bosom, under your garment, and take it out again."
Then Moses put his hand under his garment, and when he
took it out it had changed, and was now as white as
snow, and covered with a scaly crust, like the hand of
a leper. He looked at it with fear and horror. But God
said to him again:
"Put your hand into your bosom once more." Moses did
so, and when he took it out, his hand was like the
other, with a pure skin, no longer like a leper's hand.
And God said to Moses, "When you go to speak my words
if they will not believe you, show them the first sign,
and let your rod become a snake, and then a rod again.
And if they still refuse to believe your words, show
them the second sign; turn your hand into a leper's
hand, and then bring it back as it was before. And if
they still will not believe, then take some water from
the river, and it shall turn to blood. Fear not, go and
speak my words to your own people and to the
But Moses was still unwilling to go, not because he was
afraid, but because he did not feel himself to be fit
for such a great task. And he said to the Lord:
"Oh, Lord, thou knowest that I am not a good speaker; I
am slow of speech, and cannot talk before men."
And God said, "Am not I the Lord, who made man's mouth?
Go, and I will be with your lips, and will teach you
what to say."
But Moses still hesitated, and he said, "O Lord, choose
some other man for this great work; I am not able to do
And God said, "You have a brother, whose name is Aaron.
He can speak well. Even now he is coming to see you in
the wilderness. Let him help you, and speak for you.
Let him do the speaking, and do you show the signs
which I have given you."
At last Moses yielded to God's call. He went from Mount
Sinai with his flocks, and took them home to Jethro his
father-in-law; and then he went toward Egypt, and on
the way he met his brother coming to see him. Then the
two brothers, Moses and Aaron, came to the elders of
Israel in the land of Goshen. They
 told the people what God had said, and they wrought
before them the signs which God had given.
And the people said, "God has seen all our troubles,
and at last he is coming to set us free." And they were
glad, and gave thanks to God who had not forgotten
them; for God never forgets those who call upon him.