Why Doesn’t God Speak to Me out of a Burning Bush?

The story of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3)  is one of those famous Bible stories that almost everyone has heard.  It’s such a great visual image – a burning bush that doesn’t burn up with a loud voice coming out of it – probably a voice like James Earl Jones.burning-bush1

So clearly,  Moses had to do whatever God told him.  But why can’t God just speak to us like this?  And clearly tell us what he wants us to do?

Here are four reasons why God’s not going to speak out of burning bushes any time soon:

1. God speaking verbally like this was very rare even in biblical times. Moses wasn’t expecting this. God hadn’t spoken verbally for nearly 500 years since he spoke to Abraham. And before that it might have been 1,000 years or more since God had spoken to Noah.  It was only during very special occasions that God spoke verbally as He unfolded His plan of redemption.

2. God has now given us His written word. He has spoken to us and His word has been written down in this book we call the Bible. We now have the full written word of God at our disposal.  1 Tim 3: 16 states that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

3. In Jesus, we have God before us. You want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus. John 14 verse 9 states: “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”  Now, I don’t know exactly how the trinity works, but I do know that Jesus stated that he was fully God.  Therefore when Jesus speaks, God Almighty has spoken.

4. God has sent the Holy Spirit to his people. Christians are not wondering this earth alone. In a mysterious way, Jesus sent his Spirit to comfort and guide his people.

God doesn’t speak to you with a booming James Earl Jones voice, but He does whisper in that still small voice. God speaks to us through His word as we read it or hear it preached. He speaks to us by His Spirit as we take communion together. He speaks to us as we pray together. (For those interested this is from the Westminster Larger Catechism Question 154)

Don’t expect another burning bush any time soon.  And that’s OK cause God has spoken.

When China Met Africa

Tomorrow evening at 7.30pm the Justice Film Club continues with a showing of “When China Met Africa.”  Like many issues, there are two sides to the story so it is difficult to think clearly about the issues at stake.

I’ve been to Kenya many times and over the last few visits the presence of the Chinese has become more and more prominent. My brother-in-law is a safari guide based in Nairobi; he likes the new roads, but he has major questions about the future intentions of the Chinese.  Should be interesting!

 

JFC - Autumn 2014

Jesus is not Superman

I started a new sermon series at New City IPC this week in the book of Exodus.  The book starts with a list of the sons of Jacob who came to Egypt and then verse 5 tells us that it was 70 people who made the journey down to Egypt were they settled to work and live.

Why do you think the author included these names?  Why does both Matthew and Luke spend time listing all the ancestors of Jesus?  The writers want us to know that Jesus didn’t drop out of the sky like Superman. No – the biblical story is rooted in history.  Jesus was born as a baby just like you and me.

And the same is true in Exodus – the story starts with a family, a real family, who moves to Egypt. It is vitally important that we keep the Bible rooted into history.  This book is not a book of fables or morality tales – good sayings about how to be a good person and live a good life.

jonathan-and-martha
Superman has arrived!

The bible is a story – the story of God’s work in the world – starting with Creation, humanity’s rebellion, and then God’s work to bring redemption.  In the end we see pictures of the finished work – what the world will look like after God has brought healing to this world.

A quick way to think about this overarching storyline is “Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration.”  Sunday, I shared this diagram by Jeff Seevers with the congregation which I find helpful: Creation, F, R, and R

 

Adoption is wonderful!

I am the proud father of two children. My daughter, Rahel, is now 17 and my son, Kaleb, is 14. Because my skin is white and my wife’s is black our children don’t have the same skin tone as either of us.

RahelAfter Rahel was born, I enjoyed taking her around our city, as I ran various errands for home or work.  One day, as I walked into an office carrying Rahel in the removable car seat, the lady behind the counter said to me, “Isn’t adoption wonderful!”  “Yes it is.” I replied.  And I thought, “I just don’t know anything about it personally”.  Obviously, this woman made assumptions about me which were wrong. Not evil assumptions, but assumptions non the less.

Although I haven’t adopted, I have seen adoption up close though. In addition to several friends who have adopted, my sister and her husband have adopted two kids giving me an adopted nephew and niece. Seeing the love my sister and her husband have for these kids, I am reminded of the love God has for his children.

In the book of Romans, Paul says that we who are in Christ are adopted by God:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [Rom 8:14-15 ESV]

Paul chose this illustration for a reason – God’s love was a choice. He has poured his love upon those who are united to Jesus by faith just like an adopted couple makes a choice to love that child who comes into their family.

Of course, I love my kids, but in a sense, I have to love them. They’re mine, even if they don’t exactly look like it! But God decided to love his children. He wasn’t in need. He wasn’t lonely. He chose to love.

And now those sons and daughters of the most High God can walk into the presence of the King and call out, “Daddy!” just like any earthly child calls out to his loving father. My brother-in-law doesn’t make any distinction between his adopted and his natural born kids – they all call him “Dad” and they all get his full love. By faith, our adoption has placed us in God’s family. No longer questioning if we are loved. The adoption has taken place.

If you are a child a God, rest in His love today. Rest in your adoption.

Yes – adoption is wonderful. (And here’s a place to find out more in the UK)

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