The Trinity in the Bush: Not a Campfire

We’re running through the idea that God is revealing to Moses Who He Is, Is, Is. “I AM WHO I AM.”

Let’s keep in mind we’re looking for:

  • God the Father—who speaks, hears, renames, makes promises, tells the future
  • God the Son—who fulfills or embodies the promises spoken, makes the impossible possible, and takes things that should be dead and brings them to life
  • God the Spirit—who accompanies, cares for, and multiplies

God begins to reveal Himself to Moses in

Exodus 3

“The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”

I think I’ve often read/processed the opening sentence incorrectly. Kinda like Dreamworks when making Prince of Egypt. ‘The angel of the Lord appeared to him as a blazing fire…’

Dreamworks Prince of Egypt
photo credit: lovingthestories

 

Or maybe a bit more blazing.

Moses and the Bush
art credit: findingthewaytotheheart

But that’s not what it says. It says, “in a blazing fire.”

Now before we say that “in” and “as” are pretty much the same, let’s think about what Nebuchadnezzar says in

Daniel 3

“Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?… Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!”

Back up a bit and Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego say to the king,

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire…”

Daniel's 3 Friends
In the furnace: art credit: Biblestudytools

Whether we argue that the fourth man in the fire is in fact God (and not an angel) isn’t the point. (Although it would be consistent with the idea that the God of Isaac rescues from death.) Both the boys thrown in and the king doing the throwing give witness to the fact that they were “in” the fire. Note also how both scenes use “blazing fire.”

The picture I get in Exodus 3 now looks different. Moses turns aside to see a bush that won’t burn up. The angel of the Lord is “in” the “blazing fire”. Not “is” the “blazing fire”. So I now see a bush, a blazing fire, and the angel of the Lord in the fire.

Is the angel of the Lord a theophany, a physical appearance of God? My vote is Yes. I’m voting this is the God of Isaac (God the Son) showing up in bodily form. I’m also voting that the fire is the God of Jacob (God the Holy Spirit). Here’s why:

When  the Israelites appear to be trapped between the sea and Pharaoh’s army, I see…

Exodus 14

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward…” The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.

We here have three actions by three distinct actors: the Lord said, the angel of God moved, and the pillar of cloud moved. This same pillar of cloud is also at times the pillar of fire.

Now watch again.

Exodus 3

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, in writing Exodus 3, just equated looking at the angel of the Lord and the burning fire as looking at God. Moses is looking at the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.

Moses and Jesus in the Bush
art credit: holytrinity

Now, what about the God of Abraham?
It interests me that there’s a trade in action. Go back to the end of

Exodus 2

“…and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.”

This was actually the first verse to tip me off to look for the Trinity. Why? Because besides remembering (which I lump together as an action that all three did together as represented by mentioning Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), the word God is used three times for three actions. God heard, God saw, and God took notice. Why do that? Isn’t the acting noun, the subject of the sentence, already established? I’m saying the same word is used to reflect a subject that is one and three.

Look again at

Exodus 3

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called…

The Lord saw, God called. And after announcing who He is, we switch back to “The Lord”. Am I saying this is further proof that “the angel of the Lord” is God, that He’s doing the calling? No. Moses saying he was looking at God is enough for me to equate the two. My bet is that the words “the Lord” (a.k.a. Yahweh) represent all three. But that’s not the point. The point is to draw attention to the separate actions, and therefore possible separate actors.

Now let’s notice the words spoken and what those words contain.

The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people… So I have come down to deliver them… I have seen the oppressions… and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring the people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

What does God say? God begins to tell the future and make promises.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

God promises fulfillment of what He’s saying (God of Abraham)
God promises rescue from Egypt (to be carried out by the God of Isaac)
God promises His accompanying presence (God of Jacob)

So, where’s the Trinity?
The fire, the angel of the Lord, and the voice of God.

Moses and Who is in the Bush
art credit: lavista
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