Exodus 3

Moses and the burning bush

1 Moses fed the animals of Jethro the priest of Midian and he kept them safely. Jethro was his wife's father (the same person as Reuel). Moses led the animals to the far side of the desert. He came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

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

4 Then the LORD saw that Moses came to see the bush. And God called to Moses from inside the bush: ‘Moses! Moses!’ Moses answered: ‘Here I am.’

5 God said to Moses: ‘Do not come near this place. Remove your shoes from your feet. The place where you stand is holy ground.’ 6 Then God said: ‘I am the God of your fathers. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face. He was afraid to look at God.

3:6God used an angel to show himself to Moses. The angel looked like a fire in a burning bush. Moses came near to the bush. And then he knew that it was holy. He heard God's voice. In those days, people removed their shoes when they worshipped God. They still do this in some places today. Moses knew that he was in a very holy place. The God of his fathers spoke to him, the one, true God. ‘Fathers’ here means ancestors. Moses was very afraid. God is holy. If we could see God, we would be afraid too.

7 Then the LORD said: ‘I have certainly seen the troubles of my people in Egypt. I have heard that they cry because of their slave masters. I know how sad they are. 8 So I have come down to save them from the Egyptians. I will bring them from Egypt to another country. It will be a good country and a wide country. There will be a lot of good food and drink, enough for everyone. It is the place where all these nations live now: the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 And now I have heard Israel's people cry. I have seen how the Egyptians do bad things to them. 10 Now go! I will send you 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: ‘I will be with you. After you have led the people out of Egypt you will worship me on this mountain. That will show people that I have sent you.’

3:12Moses need not be afraid to do what God commands him to do. God will be with him. God will always give people help when they obey him.

13 Then Moses answered God. He said: ‘If I go to the Israelites, they will ask me a question. I shall say: “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” But then they will ask me, “What is God's name?” What then shall I say to them?’

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

3:14‘I am who I am.’ These words are very difficult to understand. They are difficult to explain in the English language. 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. He was God before he made the world. He is God now, at the present time. He will be God in the future time.

15 God also said to Moses: ‘Say this to the Israelites: “This is the God who has sent me to you. He is the LORD, the God of your fathers. He is the God of Abraham. He is the God of Isaac and Jacob.” This is my name for all time. People will always remember me by this name.

16 Go and bring together the leaders of Israel. Say to them, “God has shown himself to me. He is the LORD and the God of your fathers. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God said to me: ‘I have watched you Israelites in Egypt. I have seen what the Egyptians have done to you. 17 I have promised that I will bring you out of your difficult life in Egypt. I will bring you into the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. It is a country with more than enough good food and drink.’ ”

18 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, the God of the Israelites has met with us. Please let us go on a journey of three days, into the desert. We must worship the LORD our God there.” 19 I know that the king of Egypt will not want to let you go. He will only let you go if someone more powerful than himself causes him to obey.

20 So I will show him my powerful authority. I will cause very strange and bad things to happen to Egypt. I will do great and powerful things to that country. After that, Pharaoh will let you go.

21 And I will cause the Egyptians to think good things about the Israelites. So when you go, they will give you many gifts. 22 Each Israelite woman must ask for gifts from the Egyptian women. They must ask the Egyptian women who live near them. They must also ask those who live with them in their houses. They must ask for silver things and gold things. They must also ask for expensive clothes. You must dress your sons and your daughters in these clothes. In this way, you will take everything valuable away from the Egyptians.’