Rabbit Trail: Mount Horeb (Pt. 1)

So – Rabbit Trail – that’s what I’m going to call our sidesteps out of our main study into another area for research and understanding.  I don’t expect there will be many rabbit trails here, unless it’ll be something that will enrich how we see a situation in the same way that spices enrich rabbit stew.

…so maybe there will end up being more of these than I originally planned.

But anyway – on to Mount Horeb.  And just a head’s up – I know I go only a few verses at a time, but today I’m going to be hitting a lot of verses hard and fast, and I hope that’s okay with y’all.

The first time Mount Horeb is mentioned is in Exodus 3:1, so our first stop on this road map is in Exodus.  A little back story on this – in the previous two chapters of Exodus, Pharaoh has determined that every boy child of the Jewish people must be killed.  At first two midwives stand up to him, but then he spreads the order to the entirety of his people.  Then, Moses is born and his mother, not wanting him to die, puts him in a papyrus basket in the reeds along the bank of the Nile.  Pharaoh’s daughter goes to take a bath and finds baby Moses and adopts him (and names him Moses).
When he is older, Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and decides to step in and kill the Egyptian.  He hides him in the sand, hoping no one saw him, but the very next day when he tries to stop two Hebrews from fighting, one of them outs him.  Then Pharaoh hears about it and decides to kill Moses, but Moses runs away to Midian.  He helps a group of girls (seven daughters of one priest) water their sheep by rescuing them from other shepherds who were making them go away and their dad takes Moses in.  One of the daughters, Zipporah, marries Moses.
Then the Pharaoh dies.  So we come to this:

(NIV1984) Exodus 3:1-6 – “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 desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  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.  So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’
“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.’
“‘Do not come any closer,’ God said.  ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’  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.”

The first time Horeb is mentioned, it is already called “the mountain of God” (NIV1984, Exodus 3:1).  There can be no doubt that this is an important place just from that phrase.  This is also the place where God communicates with Moses from the burning bush – which in of itself is pretty special.  It is during this conversation that God gives us His name – “I AM WHO I AM” (NIV1984, Exodus 3:14, although I would suggest reading verse 13 and 15 as well).  From this place, God sends Moses back to Egypt to act on behalf of the people of Israel – to save them, to lead them out of Egypt in their great exodus.

Mount Horeb shows up two other times in Exodus – once in chapter 17 and once in chapter 33.
In chapter 17, Moses strikes a rock and water comes “out of it for the people to drink” (NIV1984, Exodus 17:6).  In this place, the Israelites tested the LORD, and He came through for them.  (To read more, check out Exodus 17:1-7.)
In chapter 33, “the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb” (NIV1984, Exodus 33:6) so that perhaps God will go with them.  This is immediately after the entire problem with the golden calf after Moses came down with the tablets with the Ten Commandments.  It’s a part of their repentance, a part of their sadness, a part of their trying to appease God.  (Read the whole story in Exodus 32:1-34:35.  It’s a long segment, but it’s good information to know.)

Tomorrow, we will look at Mount Horeb as it is presented in Deuteronomy, and on Saturday, we will see Mount Horeb as it is presented through the rest of the Bible.

Have a good day today, everyone!

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