God among the sheep tails

For the past few months I’ve been working through Bruce Waltke’s mammoth book An Old Testament Theology. Today I appreciated this little paragraph about God’s humility and holiness, revealed at the burning bush, in Exodus 3:

The presence of the angel of I AM in the bush exemplifies God’s humility (Exod. 3:2) and holiness (v.3). The Eternal lowers himself into a bush amid the dirt and the rocks; he is present among the goats and sheep with dung hanging off their tails. Yet, his humility does not compromise his holiness, for none, not even Moses, may enter his presence with dirt on their shoes. This paradoxical sense, where God demands respect by being clean in the midst of dirt and dung, communicates the power of God’s holiness to purify the surrounding impurities. This idea of intensified by the next paradoxical image, a purifying fire (i.e., God) dwells in a bush that is fit for kindling (i.e. Israel) without consuming it (vv. 3-5). This symbolic theophany also foreshadows God’s grace to stay in the midst of his people after they commit adultery with a fertility deity on their wedding night with I AM (Exod. 20-34, esp. 32-34)

An Old Testament Theology, Bruce Waltke, p366

Photo by Olenka Kotyk on Unsplash

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