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One day when Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, he came to the foot of the Mountain of God, known as Mt. Horeb.

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.

In the beginning God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden. He spoke with Cain and Noah and Abraham and even wrestled Jacob but by the time of Joseph he was only appearing in dreams. Now he appears to Moses only as the “angel of the LORD”, which is not an angel with wings, which came in with the influence of the Persians, but an avatar of God, a kind of remotely-controlled drone. God has isolated himself from humanity by a layer where a mere symbol (in this case a burning bush) represents his divinity.

He wants Moses to let the children of Israel know the God of their forefathers is about to carry out the terms of a covenant. Moses wants a specific name he can tell the people. So God identifies himself as “I AM THAT I AM”. This is not his actual name, but what he does every moment: He exists. God’s essential activity is being. And he commissions Moses to represent God to Pharaoh as God puts his plan into action to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt.

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Strangers In Paradise