Exodus 3

Moses and the burning bush

1 Moses worked as a shepherd and he took care of Jethro's sheep. Jethro was his wife's father and he was the priest of Midian. Moses led the sheep to the far side of the desert. He came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

3:1Jethro was another name for Reuel. See Genesis 2:18-22.

2 The angel of the LORD appeared to Moses there. The angel looked like a fire that was burning in the middle of a bush. Moses looked at the bush. He saw that it was on fire, but the fire still did not destroy it. 3 Moses said to himself, ‘I will go nearer and see this strange thing. I want to see why the bush is not completely burned.’

4 The LORD saw that Moses came near to look at the bush. God called to Moses from inside the bush. He said, ‘Moses! Moses!’ Moses answered: ‘Here I am.’

5 God said to Moses: ‘Do not come nearer! Remove your shoes from your feet. The ground that you are standing on is holy.’ 6 Then God said: ‘I am the God that your father worshipped. I am also the God of your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ Then Moses covered his face. He was afraid to look at God.

3:6God showed himself to Moses as the angel of the LORD. God himself appeared to Moses in a way that Moses could see. He looked like a fire in a burning bush. Moses came near to the bush. He heard God's voice. He knew that it was a very special place. ‘Holy’ means that God had made it special for himself. In those days, people removed their shoes when they worshipped God. They still do that in some places today. God told Moses that he was the same God that his ancestors worshipped.

7 The LORD said, ‘I have certainly seen the troubles of my people in Egypt. I have heard them when they cry for help because of their cruel masters. I know that they are very sad. 8 So now I have come down to save them from the power of the Egyptians. I will bring them out from Egypt to go to another country. That will be a good country and a big country. The land will give them plenty of good food and drink, enough for everyone. These are the nations who live there now: the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Yes, I have heard that my Israelite people are crying for help. I have seen that the Egyptians do bad things to hurt them. 10 So now you must go! I will send you to speak to Pharaoh. You will lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’

11 But Moses said to God: ‘I am not an important person. I cannot go to Pharaoh. I cannot lead the Israelites out of Egypt!’

12 God said to Moses: ‘Be sure of this: I will be with you. After you have led the people out of Egypt you will all worship me here, on this mountain. That will show you that I myself have sent you to do this.’

3:12Moses need not be afraid to do what God tells him to do. God will be with him.

13 Then Moses said to God, ‘If I go to the Israelites, they may not believe me. I will say: “The God that your ancestors worshipped has sent me to you.” But then they will ask me, “What is his name?” Then what will I say to them?’

14 God said to Moses: ‘I am who I am! Say this to the Israelite people: “I AM has sent me to you.” ’

3:14God tells Moses that his name is ‘I am who I am.’ The words can mean, ‘I am what I am.’ They can also mean, ‘I will be what I will be.’ God does not need anyone or anything else. He alone made all things. All things need him. Without him they would not be there. He was God from the beginning, before he made the world. See Genesis 1:1. He is God now, at the present time. He will be God in the future time, for ever.

15 God also said to Moses: ‘Say this to the Israelite people: “It is the LORD God who has sent me to you. He is the God that your fathers worshipped. He is the God of your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” That is my name for all time. All generations of my people must call me by that name.

3:15In English, we write God's special name as the LORD, with big letters. In Hebrew the name is YHWH. In English, this name is sometimes written as Yahweh or Jehovah.

16 Go and call the leaders of Israel to meet together. Say to them, “The LORD God has appeared to me. He is the God that your fathers worshipped. He is the God of your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He said to me: ‘I have been carefully watching my people in Egypt. I have seen the bad things that the Egyptians have done to you. 17 I promise that I will bring you out of your troubles in Egypt. I will lead you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. It is a land that will give you plenty of good food and drink, enough for everyone.’ ”

18 When you say that, the leaders of the Israelites will listen to you. Then you must go with them to the king of Egypt. Say to him: “The LORD God has met with us. He is the God that we, the Israelite people, worship. So, let us go on a journey into the wilderness. That will be a journey of three days. We must offer sacrifices to the LORD our God there.” 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go. Only some great power will make him agree. 20 So I will show him my power! I will do powerful miracles to punish the Egyptians. When they see that, Pharaoh will let you go free.

21 More than that, I will cause the Egyptians to think well of you, my own people. So when you leave Egypt, they will give you many gifts. 22 Each Israelite woman will ask their Egyptian friends to give them things. They will ask the women who live near them and those who live with them in their houses. They will ask for silver things, gold things and beautiful clothes. Then you will take those things and you will dress your sons and your daughters with them. In that way, you will take many valuable things away from the Egyptians.’