Some Things Are Complicated

That takes some getting used to.

Exodus 2:23-3:6 (ESV)

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Is Moses talking to the angel of the LORD or is he talking directly to the LORD?

The answer seems to be both. In verse 3:2, the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, but in verse 3:4, God called to him out of the bush.

Experts have struggled to understand this. How can it be both? Is this a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ? Is it a theophany?

That’s just a search for the right label. Presumably, even if God were to explain exactly how this works, we wouldn’t understand it. “Angel” means messenger and, somehow, when Moses is talking with the angel, he’s talking directly with God.

More strikingly, verse 3:6 implies that when Moses is looking at the angel, he thinks he’s looking at God. So, the angel’s role as a messenger is much more sophisticated than just delivering words.

But he’s not a video, and he’s not a talking hologram.

Like I said, we wouldn’t understand it.


This gives me fits. I’m never comfortable with not understanding something.

I don’t like it when people say things like, “That’s just a mystery.” It feels like they don’t care. I want to fire back, “Aren’t we at least supposed to try?”

Yes, we’re supposed to try (to understand the great things of God). Never stop trying.

In failing, we learn something about who we are.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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