Hearing His Voice Begins With “Turning Aside”
There is a small shrub called dictamnus albus that grows in Israel (as well as many other places). It is also known as the “gas plant” or “burning bush,” because it emits a flammable vapour and has been said to spontaneously combust if it gets hot enough in the desert sun. Some Bible commentators believe the dictamnus albus might be the very species of bush Moses encountered.
And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
This is where Moses received his divine call and discovered God’s will for his life. But there is an interesting detail recorded here that many people miss. First of all, it’s important to note that Moses was not impressed because a bush was on fire. He had lived in the wilderness for forty years. I’m sure he had encountered many dictamnus albus bushes before, and perhaps he had even seen them spontaneously combust. But this one was unique because it kept burning and burning and burning, and yet, “The bush was not consumed.”
I don’t know how long the bush burned before Moses realised something extraordinary was going on. Maybe it burned for a day or a week or a month before he decided to investigate the phenomenon. The Scriptures don’t tell us. But one thing is certain. God never shouted out to Moses from the bush, “Hey, you—Moses! Come over here. I have something I want to say to you!” Instead God waited until verse 4. It says when the Lord saw that Moses turned aside to see, then and only then did God call out to him from the midst of the bush.
I have often been asked, “Why doesn’t God speak to me?” I think many times the reason is so simple—we aren’t listening! We are often so busy and in such a hurry that we rush right past the Lord and never stop to give Him our attention. I wonder how often we miss an encounter with God or a word from heaven simply because we are too busy to take the time to “turn aside.” I have met some Christians who feel very sorry for themselves because it seems they are always being forgotten and passed over. While others have burning bush experiences and receive great revelations from God, they seem to always be left out. They ask, “Is God angry with me? Doesn’t He love me? Aren’t I special to Him?” My friend, perhaps God has just been waiting for you to slow down and “turn aside.”