Moses gave God many excuses the day he spoke with him in the burning bush. Even though the dry bush was on fire in the desert, it was not consumed, which indicates to us that God was about to be encountered outside the normal laws of nature and reason. We were just told Moses killed a man at the end of Exodus 2, so the reader reasonably assumes Moses will give this excuse when he meets God a chapter later at the burning bush.
Out of the burning bush, God told Moses, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). For the rest of chapter 3 and into chapter 4, Moses gave God a string of excuses as to why he could not do what God commanded. Moses first used the excuse of pedigree, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (3:11). So God assured Moses he would be with him to back him up. Then Moses used the people of Israel as an excuse, saying they wouldn’t recognize God unless God gave his own sacred name, so God complied with Moses’s request. Third, Moses said the people would not believe him or listen to his voice, Exodus 4:1, so God told Moses what to do in response. Finally, Moses gave the excuse of his own lack of eloquence in speech (4:10), but God provided yet another solution.
Did you notice the excuse Moses did not give? We’d expect Moses to say right away, “But, God, I’m a terrible sinner, for I have killed a man, and someone who takes a human life should not be allowed to be used by you for a great mission.” This kind of excuse seems reasonable to us, because we feel most comfortable operating under the law, rather than grace. To operate under the law means, “If I do this, then I can’t do this.” If I am immoral and kill a man, then I should not be allowed to be used by God for his great purpose of bringing his people out of slavery in Egypt.
However, if you haven’t figured it out by now, God does not operate under the law, but by grace. The burning bush tipped us off, for just as the bush operated outside the law of fire, so does God’s selection of people operate outside the law of morality. Many people think God’s hands are tied just because they have messed up, but that’s thinking like the law, rather than thinking like God. God thinks according to grace, not law. Ever since we digested the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have been looking at the world through the lense of the law, again, thinking, “Because I did this, then I can’t do this.” Our eyes were opened and we have been trying to discern good from evil, which is the function of the law, ever since.
Many people believe God is done with them, just because they sinned and broke the law, but God hasn’t even begun to use them yet. Look squarely at your sin; now look squarely at grace. Don’t use your sin as an excuse. Instead, say to yourself, “God isn’t finished with me yet, but God is only just beginning with me.”
The law is always there to accuse you, it never lets up. And it doesn’t need to be written on tablets of stone to do the job, for it’s ingrained on our souls. Whether we know the Ten Commandments or not, we are conditioned to bring the law into every part of our lives and measure our experiences according to it. Our minds accuse us day and night. Satan, whose name means, ‘the adversary,’ often accuses us moment by moment. We are accused of not being good enough to be used by God, to be accepted by God, or to be loved by God. But just because the dry bush is on fire, doesn’t mean it will be consumed by it.
In the same way, just because the fire of guilt is blazing on you, doesn’t mean it will consume you. The God of grace uses guilty sinners to do his great work. God used Moses, a murderer, to lead his people out of slavery and then to deliever God’s perfect law to the people—how ironic! And so, God can use you, sinner, to lead his people out of bondage and then to teach them the right way to live.
Don’t let your conscience replace your God. All idolatry begins with the law, with some devious observation of human logic, which goes, “This can’t be, because of this.” Ever since Adam and Eve, we have been trusting how we see things more than how God sees things.
This is the same line that took out Adam and Eve in the very beginning, and has been taking out perfectly good sinners ever since. Imagine finding a bagel on a tray at work. One of your coworkers takes the tray and is about to throw out this last bagel. But you say to her, “Don’t throw that away, it’s a perfectly good bagel!” Now imagine going to an animal shelter and finding a dog someone had dropped off because of some ‘defects.’ Sure, the dog isn’t perfect, but you see something loveable in him. While another owner got rid of him, you look at this animal and say to yourself, “This is a perfectly good dog!” so you take him home. Despite living in a culture of waste, we know when something is still perfectly good, whether bagels or beagles.
If you have a sin, confess it to God and to others and then repent from it. That’s about all you can do, besides try to make amends with the one(s) you offended. But after that, it’s just you and the burning bush. You are free to walk in grace, which is outside of the law, and do what God has called you to do. He does not plan to consume you, but use you.
You are a perfectly good sinner. Don’t let the law keep you on the sideline or toss you in the can, because grace has other plans for your life. Your mission is not about your moral track record, but it’s about the glory of God, which happens to burn the brightest in the driest, darkest, and most common bushes.
God always chooses the least, lowest, and lost. Go ahead and read the Bible from cover to cover and see this dizzying pattern for yourself. He knows that sinners shine the brightest—always have, always will.