God Kills Before Bringing to Life

Pentecost 25 Wednesday

Exodus 3:4-5

“But when the Lord saw that he drew near to see, God called him from the bush and said: Moses, Moses! He answered: Here I am. Then he said: Do not come near; take your shoes off your feet; for the place on which you are standing is a holy land.”

Thus, God here deals with Moses in the same way he always deals with his saints: First, he turns him into nothing, before he raises him up. First, God breaks and tears apart everything before he builds it; he first throws him to the ground before he raises him back up. He kills before bringing to life, 1 Samuel 2:6. The devil turns this around. But Moses is frightened, becomes timid, and all his arrogance falls down. All this much happen because of his outward call, to honor the place that was holy. Why is it holy? It is called holy, not because it had been anointed with oil, but because God reveals himself to Moses and talks to him there. God’s Word is there; this is also why the people dwelling there must be
holy. Even if godless rogues are there, the place is nevertheless blessed. And this is also how the people becomes blessed, and the ears and eyes become blessed who hear and see the divine Word, as the Lord Christ says, Luke 10:23-24. For where God’s Word arrives, people hear and see holy things; for the Word is holy and brings about holy people. Thus, where the Word sounds forth is a holy place. Therefore, do not think arrogantly as if you did not need to humble yourself; rather, approach with great fear. For there is not a bush or a fire like other bushes and fires; rather, here is something new, namely, God’s Word that God wants to have honored. You must approach with trembling and fear and not regard it as a human word. He strikes down Moses, because God is here present with his angels and with his Word. Here man must say: “Lord, I am nothing.” And soon courage fails. When God touches one’s heart in this way, one’s wings turn limp and one does not fly high, just as Moses here does no longer want to see the bush; for he is fear-struck. Afterwards, God comes and comforts Moses again. For he wants to begin the redemption of the children of Israel; and Moses is set up as the captain of this work about which he speaks to Moses. Accordingly, he later wants to give his law at this place and turn Israel’s children into his own kingdom and people. Therefore, since God’s Word and law is here, the place must be holy…We should also note well that God uses many words here and says a lot to Moses. For I have said it many times, and still say it, that it is a precious and delightful thing when we hear God’s Word…But that the bush is full of fire while not being consumed, and that Moses has to take off his shoes, etc…happens so that Moses would come before God humbled, recognizing his nothingness, so that he would become a different person, by whom, as an instrument, God would accomplish great things. This is why he had to see the burning bush and be terrified and become different.

St. Louis ed., 3:726-728.

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