URC Daily Devotion Monday 18th December 2023

Monday 18th December 2023
O Adonai (O Lord)
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush,
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Exodus 3: 1 – 15

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then he said, ‘Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said further, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, ‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.’  But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.’

But Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your ancestors has sent me to you”, and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I am has sent me to you.”’  God also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you”:

This is my name for ever, and this my title for all generations.

This story has captured the imagination of the Reformed for centuries.  Calvin saw the bush as a metaphor for the Church – aflame with the fires of persecution but never consumed as God’s loving kindness ensures our survival.  

The story is one which we know well – and God’s refusal to give a name has led us to use metaphors for God (saying “I am who I am” everytime we want to refer to God gets a little cumbersome!).  Jewish people often refer to God as Adonai, the Eternal One, the Most High.  With them we may recognise God is like a shepherd, a mother eagle who gathers her young, a fierce mother bear who protects her cubs, a strong tower or a rock upon which we stand.  We may say God is like a father, or indeed a mother.  As Christians we see what God is like most keenly in the person of Jesus whose love and life inspires us.  

In today’s passage God has heard the cry of the people and wishes to set them free.  Sadly the editors who wrote this story were writing at a time when the Jewish people were battling various foreign nations so they wrote back into this story an idea that God was partial – a universal God would not displace settled peoples from the land.  Here in this story is an age old, yet very contemporary, fight over land.  The land of milk and honey belonged to someone else.

Our language and ideas about God are, of course, influenced by the worlds in which we live.  Many of us want to enhance our understanding of the one Jesus called father with a range of other, Biblical, metaphors and ideas.  At the heart of our understanding of God, however, are the twin ideas of love and justice.  A love that reaches even us, a justice that lifts the poor and oppressed, a God who redeems the poor and oppressed with outstretched arm.


Come and redeem Your people, O Most High,
that Your love and liberation,
Your justice and loving kindness
will be seen by all the peoples,
that Your praises will be sung,
in acts of justice.  Amen.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister for Digital Worship and a member of the Peedie Kirk URC in Orkney.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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