Day 28: The Burning Bush

Exodus 3:1-10 As part of his plan of salvation, God called forth a leader and mediator for his people-Moses-who carried God’s message to the Israelites and led his people out of their enslavement in Egypt. Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush was a pivotal moment in salvation history. Although resistant at first, Moses embraced the will of God and his role in leading his people out of Egypt. (CCC 203-214, 2574-2475)

Ch 3:4-10 God’s call to Moses took place in four steps: God called Moses by name; he revealed himself as the God of the patriarchs; he revealed his plan for the Israelites, his Chosen People; and he gave Moses a mission to fulfill. (CCC 203-214, 2167, 2575)

Ch 3:5 Removing one’s shoes and covering one’s face are signs of reverence in the presence of God. In the Old Testament, it was believed a person would die if he or she were to look upon the face of God. (CCC 208, 2777)

Ch 3:6-12 I am the God...of Jacob: God was telling Moses that he is the one who made the covenants with the patriarchs and that he would remain faithful to his promises. Moreover, he would continue to show a special predilection for his Chosen People. (CCC 205, 207)

Ch 3:7 The enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt is seen in catechetical tradition as one of the sins that cry to heaven. (CCC 1867)

Ch 3:13-22 I AM WHO I AM: In revealing his name, God made known both WHO HE IS and HOW HE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED, thus beginning a new and MORE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with his people. The fact that he gave his name for the first time indicates that God is not aloof but personally solicitous and deeply interested in his people. Out of reverence, the Jews did not pronounce the name YHWH but usually referred to God as “the Lord.” (CCC 205-206, 446, 2666, 2810)

Leviticus 2:1-16 Cereal offerings involved the burning of agricultural products along with incense. The fact that some of the harvest was offered in sacrifice may indicate that the Israelites had found some stability in their place of residence and could plant and harvest crops. The use of incense suggests an offering of praise to God. (CCC 1334)

Ch 2:11 Leaven, a yeast that causes fermentation, was viewed as “unclean.” Salt functions in the OPPOSITE MANNER, preserving food from corruption and fermentation and, thus, symbolized the Israelites’ faithful commitment to God’s covenant with them. Christ used the terms “leaven” and “salt of the earth” as metaphors to define the power of the followers of Christ to influence those around them. (CCC 782, 854, 940, 2660, 2832)

Ch 3:6-17 The animal offering had to represent the best specimen of the flock, offered in thanksgiving to God. The burnt portion was food offered to God, while the unburnt portion was eaten by the priest and those who shared in the offering. It was thus considered a SHARED MEAL as a sign of communion with God. This type of offering is a type (TYPOLOGY!!) of the Eucharist instituted by Christ. (CCC 1328)

Psalm 45 As in the Song of Solomon, this psalm uses the language of spousal love in marriage, giving a glimmer of God’s love for his people. The psalmist went to great lengths to describe the physical beauty of the bride and the bride-groom and the great joy of their nuptial celebration. The scene foreshadowed Christ’s proclamation of the Kingdom of God symbolized by the depiction of the marriage feast of the Lamb related in the Book of Revelation (cf. Rev 19:7-8). There is also the allusion to the progeny resulting from this spousal union. The queen-bride mentioned in this psalm, according to Christian tradition, refers to Mary, the PERFECT MODEL for the Church given her heroic obedience to the will of her divine Son. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, October 6, 2004)

The description of the king-groom in this psalm does not fit any of the historical kings of Israel of Judah, so it likely connotes a FUTURE KING, the Anointed one who would be the Messiah. Thus, it becomes a prophetic psalm about Christ with references to his everlasting kingdom. Your divine throne endures...above your fellows: The Epistle to the Hebrews (cf. Heb 1:8) cites these verses as having been uttered by God the Father to his Son, Jesus Christ at the moment of his Incarnation. At your right of Ophir: Church scholars associate these words with Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, and use this verse to support the dogma of her ASSUMPTION INTO HEAVEN; this psalm is prayed at the Mass during the day on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and other Marian feasts. Hear, O daughter...bow to him: The Epistle to the Ephesians and the Book of Revelation use the image of the bridegroom and the bride to speak of the relationship between Christ and his Church; there is a similar analogy in Hosea, where God has the prophet marry the unfaithful Gomer as an allegory for his covenant with Israel, which in turn prefigures Christ’s New Covenant with his Church (TYPOLOGY!!). From a certain perspective, the queen can be seen as the Church, the People of God, to whom Christ the Bridegroom gives himself totally, calling for a reciprocal response from his beloved Bride, the Church. (CCC 559, 695, 783)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 16: The Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-6:30)

God appears to Moses in the burning bush, where Moses asks the Lord his name. He responds, “I AM WHO I AM” and reveals His name as Yahweh, which is related to the Hebrew verb “to be”. Israel’s God is not a mere local deity but the one who eternally IS and who holds all things in existence.

  • One day, while shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks, Moses comes to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.

  • There, Moses sees a bush on fire yet not consumed.

  • He investigates and encounters the Lord, who instructs Moses to remove his sandals, for the ground upon which he is standing is holy.

  • This is the first occurrence of the word “holy” since the creation story, when God made the seventh day holy.

  • Not since the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden has humanity trod on holy ground.

  • Here, God calls Moses to a new mission.

  • God tells Moses that he has looked down and seen the affliction of his people and that he will send Moses to Pharaoh to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt.

  • Moses, however, is a man under a death sentence.

  • He fled Egypt for fear of his life, and now the Lord is telling him to march right into Pharaoh’s court and make demands on behalf of Israel!

  • No wonder Moses is not immediately convinced of his chances for success.

  • He asks, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex 3:11).

  • The Lord reassures Moses, promising that he himself will be “with him.”

  • Still unsure of what lies ahead, and wanting to verify just whose messenger he is to be, Moses asks God, “What is your name?”

  • Moses’ inquiry into God’s name may sound strange to us who have grown up in a monotheistic culture, but it was a practical question given the culture in which Moses found himself.

  • The Egyptians practiced a polytheistic religion with many gods, not only worshiping these gods but also their manifestations in created animals and realities.

  • After ten generations in Egypt, the Israelites would certainly be accustomed to hearing the names of many gods on a daily basis.

  • When Moses returns to Egypt and announces God’s plan to the Israelites, the first question put to him would likely be, “Which god sent you?”

  • God answers Moses’ request and reveals his name: Yahweh (in Hebrew, ’ehyeh ’asher ’ehyeh), which consists of a double use of the Hebrew verb “to be,” hayah, meaning “I am who I am,” or “I will be who I will be” (Ex 3:14).

  • To Moses’ question “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Ex 3:11; emphasis added), God responds that “he is” (“I am”).

  • But this implies more than simply that God’s existence is certain and firmly established.

  • Rather, it means that the God of the Hebrews is the one who “is with” Moses.

  • The narrative understanding for God’s name is quite striking and simple: according to the logic of the story, the name Yahweh means that God is with his people.

  • Yahweh is not a distant God, but a God who is present.

  • In Egyptian religious practice, each god had not only a public name known to all, but also a secret name known only to their priests.

  • The priests would invoke this secret name in spells and in their black magic; use of this secret name gave access to the presence and the power of that god.

  • Here, at the burning bush, Moses is the first of God’s people to learn God’s inmost, secret name.

  • The patriarchs, who did not know God’s true name, never performed any miracles.

  • Now, however, the Lord reveals his name, and Moses will work signs and wonders in God’s name!

  • In the New Testament, Jesus will say, “Whenever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst” (emphasis added); invoking Jesus’ name invokes his presence (Catechism No. 2666).

  • CCC 2666: But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in His incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The WOrd of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: “Jesus,” “Yahweh saves.” The name “Jesus” contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray “Jesus” is to invoke HIM and to call HIM within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the RISEN ONE, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.

  • The Acts of the Apostles repeatedly speaks of “wonders and signs” being done in the name of Jesus Christ.

  • Jesus’ name is a sacrament; it makes present what it signifies.

  • So, too, in Exodus, for Moses to say the name of Yahweh is to invoke his presence and his power.

  • With the gift of God’s name, Moses now has access to God’s presence, and mighty deeds of power are soon to follow.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • Hopefully you are getting the sense that something big is happening

  • Maybe this is the first time you have ever read or heard the words of Exodus

  • A lot of us have not necessarily read or heard all of the words when God appears to Moses

  • Some of you may have noticed that Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of Reuel

  • Today it says that Jethro is the name of Moses’ father-in-law

  • HUH???? QUE?????

  • Don’t worry, scholars say Jethro and Reuel are the same person

  • Similar to JACOB and ISRAEL in the Old Testament

  • Similar to SIMON and PETER in the New Testament

  • It isn’t completely unusual for people in the Bible to have more than one name

  • The most important thing from today’s story is not only does God say, “I have heard, I have watched, I have observed, I care about the sufferings of my people. I have heard their cries”

  • It is SO NECESSARY for us to know that this is true

  • We need to know that if we cry out to the Lord and it doesn’t seem as if there is any answer THE LORD HEARS OUR CRY THE ENTIRE TIME

  • For hundreds of years the people of Israel are blessed by the lord by having more children and becoming stronger

  • They are also in terrible circumstances of slavery

  • Yet, the ENTIRE TIME God has heard their cry

  • THE ENTIRE TIME God has loved every one of them

  • THE ENTIRE TIME God has blessed them


  • This is so important for all of us!!

  • We can be in the midst of horrible situations

  • We can cry out to God to deliver us

  • There can be many times where God does not free us from that particular situation or thing that is in our lives


  • We need to be aware of this constantly

  • We need to recognize that just because God has not answered THIS prayer doesn’t mean He isn’t answering ANY prayers

  • Just because God has not blessed me in THIS PARTICULAR WAY doesn’t mean that He isn’t blessing me in A BUNCH OF OTHER WAYS

  • The people of Israel kept this in mind even as they were slaves

  • God was continually WITH THEM

  • God was continually HELPING THEM

  • God was continually STRENGTHENING THEM

  • God was continually BLESSING THEM

  • God tells Moses what is going to happen

  • Moses is going to come back to this mountain

  • On this mountain, Moses will do something SPECIFIC

  • On this mountain, Moses will WORSHIP GOD


  • God is setting the Israelites free not just because they are made for freedom

  • God is setting the Israelites free not just because slavery is bad and it demeans them

  • God is setting the Israelites free not just to bring them to the Promised Land

  • God is setting the Israelites free so that they can WORSHIP

  • The Lord God sets his people free for their own sake

  • The Lord God sets his people free so that they can become a people who is free to WORSHIP Him as He is asking them to worship Him

  • In Leviticus we see a couple different ways God is asking His people to worship Him

  • Peace Offering

  • Cereal Offering

  • This was the way God had asked in ancient times for his people to worship him

  • God has asked us in the Age of The Church, the Age of The Holy Spirit, the Age of Christianity to WORSHIP HIM IN THE MASS

  • We need to do what God has asked us to do

  • He has created us to worship Him in this way

  • He has given us everything that we need to give Him the worship that He deserves and the worship that He asks for

  • It is such a gift

Prayer by Fr. Mike: "Father in Heaven, we thank you. Once again, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the gift of yourself. We thank you for being with us with your Grace. We know that we can trust you in all things. We know that we can rely upon you in every moment of our lives. And so, this moment, and with these things in our lives, we trust you. We declare you are good. We declare that you are faithful. We receive your love and we rest in your peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen."