Life-Study of Exodus

Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0397-9
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 7 of 185 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF EXODUS

MESSAGE SEVEN

THE CORPORATE THORN-BUSH

We have seen that the thorn-bush in Exodus 3 is a symbol of Moses as God’s called one. In the eyes of God, Moses was a thorn-bush. No one has much appreciation for a thorn-bush. Although Moses had been rejected by man, he was accepted by God, and the fire of God’s glory burned within him and upon him. Therefore, Moses was a thorn-bush burning with the glory of God.

The burning thorn-bush in Exodus 3, however, refers not only to Moses as an individual, but also to the children of Israel as a corporate entity. God’s people, the children of Israel, included those who were weak and those who were strong. Moses was only one among God’s corporate people. To the Lord, the thorn-bush burning in chapter three was not only an individual, but also a corporate people. My burden in this message is to consider the corporate aspect of the thorn-bush. As individuals, we all are today’s Moses. But we are also part of the church as the corporate thorn-bush.

God’s goal in dealing with His people, the children of Israel, was to obtain a proper dwelling place. Deuteronomy 33:16 speaks of God as the One who dwelt in the thorn-bush. This word, written by Moses, indicates that God possessed that burning thorn-bush as His house, His dwelling place. Who would ever have thought that God’s habitation on earth would be a thorn-bush?

Moses must have realized that the burning thorn-bush he saw when God called him was a symbol of himself. At the time of Deuteronomy 33, Moses regarded himself as a thorn-bush, but to God he was “the man of God” (Deut. 33:1). In the individual aspect Moses was a thorn-bush, and in the corporate aspect the children of Israel were a thorn-bush. Nevertheless, the God of blessing dwelt in such a bush. If God does not dwell in us, we are finished. Without Him we are nothing more than ordinary thorn-bushes. Although we may be cultured ladies and gentlemen or well-trained professionals, we still are thorn-bushes because our fallen nature is related to thorns and to the curse.

In referring to God as the One who dwelt in the thorn-bush, Moses’ heart must have been full of thanks to God. During the last forty years of his life, Moses knew that he was just a thorn-bush. But he knew also that God was with him. We all need to have such a realization. Whenever we have a proper spirit before the Lord, we know that we are a thorn-bush. We know that even our natural virtues, such as kindness, humility, and patience, are “thorns.” Sometimes we may even feel like prostrating ourselves before the Lord and confessing to Him how pitiful we are. As he was blessing the children of Israel, Moses must have had such a sense about himself.

A well-known gospel song says, “I’m only a sinner saved by grace.” The sense Moses had was much deeper, even more tender and sweet than this, for he realized he was a thorn-bush burned by the glory of God. Today, as believers in Christ, we are not merely sinners saved by grace; we are a thorn-bush burning with the fire of God’s glory. Moses had this realization both about himself and about the children of Israel as God’s corporate people. Deep within he knew that both he personally and the Israelites corporately were a thorn-bush.

I. THE THORN AND THE FLAME OF FIRE
IN GENESIS 3

We need to see that there is a connection between Genesis 3 and Exodus 3. In both chapters we have the thorn and the fire. The thorn in Genesis 3 indicates that man is under a curse (vv. 17-18), and the flame of fire indicates that man is excluded from God as the tree of life (vv. 22-24). According to Genesis 3, thorns came from the curse due to sin. Hence, thorns are a symbol of fallen man under the curse. Immediately after the curse was pronounced, a flaming sword was placed at the east of the garden “to keep the way of the tree of life” (v. 24). Thus, sin brought in the curse, and the curse brought in the flame of fire. The function of fire in Genesis 3 is to exclude sinners from the tree of life, that is, from God as the source of life.

If the Bible had ended with Genesis 3:24, our situation would be forever hopeless. According to chapters one and two of Genesis, we were created specifically to receive God as life. The man created by God was placed in front of the tree of life. Then in chapter three sin came in, man fell under the curse, and the fire of God’s holiness excluded the cursed sinners from any direct contact with God as the tree of life.


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