Read Exodus 3:1-6
1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law,the priest of Midian,and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb,the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought,”I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up.”
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look,God called to him from within the bush,”Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said,”Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals,for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said,”I am the God of your father,the God of Abraham,the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this,Moses hid his face,because he was afraid to look at God. (NIV)
Our God is one who invites us to draw near to him. He is no distant deity detached from the everyday routines of humanity. He speaks,he communicates,he invites,he commands. And yet this same God is utterly distinct from his creation and utterly incapable of accepting human beings who have turned from him.
This episode from the life of Moses illustrates this paradox. On the one hand,God communicates with Moses,a criminal fugitive from Egypt. He invites him to come near to the glowing bush. But he also warns him against coming too close,and tells him to take off his footwear as an expression of the fact he is in the presence of someone utterly holy. He can come close but not too close. God wants to relate to him and to use him,but that same God will not be trifled with.
We do well to remember that God is not merely some exalted human being,a perfect version of you and me. He is not some indulgent grandfather who overlooks human imperfection. And we do well to remember that God delights in reaching out to people like you and me. He invites us into his presence and cares for every detail of our lives.
Jesus died on the cross to show imperfect human beings that God and sin were not to be treated lightly. His death on the cross enables us to draw near to this same God. Jesus resolves the paradox.