The importance of coming to God, and turning aside when you notice something.

In Exodus 2, after Moses kills the Egyptian, he runs away. He then meets and marries his wife and settles into a nomadic lifestyle of shepherding sheep.

When he arrived in Midian I’m sure that, on a clear day, he saw a Mount Sinai in the far West and asked about it. It is the most visible landmark on the Sinai peninsular as the following passage from ‘George a Muller’s boy’ (Collett 2001) makes clear.

‘“We’re going to pass the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments tomorrow morning?’ ‘Yes sir. It was Sinai, wasn’t it?’ …… ‘Have you been in the Suez canal before?’ ‘No sir, but I would like to see the mountain.’ ‘You’ll have to be up by 4.00 a.m. lad.’ ‘I will sir. Where will it be?’ ‘Over on our starboard (right) as we head up the Red Sea. It is over 7,000 feet high.’ ‘How near will it be sir?’ ‘It will be 120 miles inland, but with the sun shining on it and the rest of us in darkness, on a clear day it seems much closer.’”

I imagine that the conversation, maybe with his father in law Jethro the priest of Midian, went something like this:

Moses: What is that mountain in the distance?
Jethro: Oh that’s ‘Horeb’ the mountain of God.
Moses: Have you been there?
Jethro: Yes over the years – the one true God can be encountered there.

Photo of Mt Sinai
Mt Sinai (Horeb)

Jethro’s other name was Reuel, which means 'friend of God,' I’m sure that Reuel had encounters with God on this mountain.

After 40 years of hiding Acts 7:30 Moses is out in the wilderness shepherding his sheep, when “He led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God”. Moses, having probably known about the mountain for all that time, finally decides to go there. When he arrives “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 marvellous 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!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” Ex 3:4

I am sure that a lot of people think that the bush was wholly consumed with a blazing fire. The passage above however shows that the fire was in the midst of a bush. The passage makes it clear that Moses had to turn aside and look intently to see it.

The Hebrew for “turn/turned aside” is sur (5493). This word has strong intent and purpose in it. This is illustrated in 1 Kings 22:32 “So when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, ‘Surely it is the king of Israel,’ and they turned aside (sur 5493) to fight against him and Jehoshaphat cried out. When the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back (shub 7725) from pursuing him.”

It is as if God is waiting for Moses to come to his mountain so that he can notice the sign that He has set up there and give him the Angel’s message (Mc Millan 2004). Deut 33:16 says “And the favour of Him who dwelt in the bush.” The Hebrew word for “dwelt” is ‘shaken’ (7931) which has the connotation of settle down/abide (Brown, Driver, Briggs 2003). So it may have been there for a while. When Moses finally noticed it he turned aside and paid full attention to it. God saw that Moses took time to turn aside, He then spoke to him. This is one of the reasons he learned to recognise “The form of the Lord.”

Numbers 12:6-8 “If there is a prophet of the Lord among you, I shall make myself known to him in a vision; I shall speak to him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord.

The word ‘beholds’ here is nabat (5027) which is also translated consider, gaze, observe, pay attention and regard (Brown, Driver, Briggs 2003). When you consider, regard or gaze at something it implies that a long time is taken when you focus on the matter in hand. It is not something that you can do quickly.

Are you spending time turning aside to notice what God is saying?

Ex 33:11 “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face just as a man speaks to his friend.”

Moses, throughout his life, was someone “Who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” he was therefore trusted with “solid food” Hebrews 5:14

Photo of Big ben lit by the setting sun amidst dark trees

When something lights up in the landscape of your life turn aside and God will speak

You can also turn aside for the wrong reason as is illustrated by Judah in Gen 38:15-16 “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face. So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, ‘Here now, let me come in to you’; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.”

1. Introduction.
2. God's nature as creator and communicator.
3. The role of the Bible.
4. Turn aside when you notice something.
5. Be careful what you worship.
6. The Holy Spirit quickens things.
7. Hide and seek using parables.
8. Ask the Holy Spirit.
9. The inner room is where we meet with God.
10. The importance of peace and stillness.
11. Don't hurry God will speak.
12. Waiting and longing takes us higher to a place where God acts.
13. What price do we have to pay?
14. Holding a word for a time and part of the whole picture.
15. How do we know it's from God/Act in faith?
16. Jesus is open to persuasion!
17. The Language God uses to communicate.
18. God communicates through our sensory organs.
19. God communicates primarily to the heart.
20. God offends our mind to change our heart.
21. Listening depends on your heart attitude.
22. Circumcision is the cure to a hard heart!
23. Listen to your heart
24. Eyes.
25. Lift up your eyes.
26. Make sure your vision is clear.
27. Ears/hearing the voice of the Lord.
28. Reach for higher levels.
29. How God communicates - impressions.
30. Seeing with the eyes of your heart.
31. Visions.
32. Open visions.
33. Trances.
34. Signs.
35. Dreams.
36. Conclusion.
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