Exodus 3: 1-6 (NRSVA)
1 Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ 4 When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ 5 Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ 6 He said further, ‘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.
Let us briefly consider the implications for the story of God's revelation of his name to Moses at the burning bush, ‘Yahweh’ or “I am who I am.” It is the present tense of the verb to 'be'. It means that God is the eternal presence. Later in the story, Jesus talks about his relationship with Abraham, saying to the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was, I am.” And in Revelation 22, Jesus is called “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” Thus, there is dialectical tension in the story of God's mission because it is the eternal God for whom it is always today — for whom it is always the eternal present.
Now using our imagination, we may say for God right now: Adam and Eve are eating the forbidden fruit; Abraham is setting off from Ur of the Chaldees; Moses is standing barefooted at the burning bush; Solomon is dedicating the temple; Jesus is dying on the cross, and the nations are entering the New Jerusalem. Likewise, you and I are: Sitting with Abraham, being brought out of Er of the Chaldees, standing with Moses at the burning bush, and so on. Not in your time or my time but in God's time.
We are part of a linear story that begins and ends. It starts and finishes through human time, yet it is an eternal story of the eternal God. Now that is our problem: The dialectical tension between the eternal God, who is beyond time and eternally at work, yet, who chooses to work in and through people bound by time. Therefore, this name that God reveals to Moses as his name is vitally important for our understanding of the story of God's mission because God is the eternal God for whom it is always 'now', who operates in linear time to which we as human instruments are bound.
To what is God calling you as you seek to participate in the story of God's mission at this moment in time?
Eternal God. Enable us today to participle in your mission to this world.