Say therefore to the Israelites, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.”
When God commands Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he speaks from within a burning bush in the wilderness. What an incredible sight Moses encounters, a thorn bush engulfed in flames that burns but is not consumed. Most of us have never seen a thorn bush, but, as a shepherd, Moses sees them every day, much as we might see an oak tree. Imagine walking out of your home to see a tree on fire, but with leafy green branches waving in the wind. I don’t know about you, but that would get my attention. Then imagine hearing a voice coming out of the tree claiming to be God.
This startling experience is what happens to Moses. After answering the call of God from the burning bush, Moses goes on to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, through the parted waters of the Red Sea, and toward the Promised Land.
Why does God call him and why does he respond affirmatively? Because God sees the misery of his enslaved children, hears their cries, knows their utter desperation, and acts. God does whatever it takes to get Moses’ attention and Moses responds. Immediately.
The tragic plight of enslaved people throughout the centuries has been one of abuse, misery and abject injustice. Here in the book of Exodus, God, once and for all time, sides with the enslaved—not the rulers, not the oppressors. The enslaved.
The Slave Bible, originally published in London in 1807, deleted passages like this one. Completely. For they tell a message of liberation, hope, and freedom for enslaved peoples. In fact, the Slave Bible omitted ninety percent of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and fifty percent of the New Testament.
The Slave Bible was the ultimate Fake News, deliberate propaganda to aid an evil system. The disastrous effects of this kind of Fake News are apparent in America today. People of color still struggle against institutionalized racism that permeates every facet of their lives.
While Moses saw a real burning bush, there are figurative burning bushes all around us in daily news accounts of discrimination. Can you see them?
How might you be a Moses?