Don’t Beat around the Bush

May 24, 2010 at 11:57 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Common Expressions, Exodus | 7 Comments
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The origin of the expression “beating around the bush” is thought to be from when hunters would employee folks known as “beaters.” These beaters (sort of the bird-hunting equivalent of golf caddies maybe) would beat the bushes to scare up birds. They would “beat around the bush” until the hunter would raise his shotgun and “get to the point.”

The common expression, “stop beating around the bush,” reminds us of Exodus Chapter 3:

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to 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. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

Exodus 3:1-3

Moses had killed an Egyptian and fled from Pharaoh. God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush and gave him a clear specific order. But instead of obeying right away, Moses started “beating around the bush.”

Sometimes we tend to do the same thing when God tells us to do something we don’t want to do. We don’t usually just say “No, God, I am in rebellion against You. Therefore, I flat-out refuse to do what You say.” Instead, we “rationalize.” The sin of rationalization, along with pride, may be our most frequent sin. I remember, as a kid, seeing a movie called The Big Chill. One of the characters, played by Jeff Goldblum, was explaining to his friends how frequently we rely on rationalizations. I’m sure this is a paraphrase after all this time, but he said something like, “Rationalizations are more important to us than anything. Try to get through a whole day without at least one big juicy rationalization.”

Here are Moses’s excuses or rationalizations – his “bush-beating:”

1. Who am I?

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

Exodus 3:11

Moses says, “I’m not worthy, I’m a nobody,” and God basically says, “You’re right, but I will be with you.”

And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Exodus 3:12

2. Who are You?

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus 3:13–14

Moses didn’t have a Bible, but today we can know if we’re really hearing from God by comparing what we hear to God’s Word.

3. How will I keep them from thinking I’m crazy at best, or lying at worst?

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

Exodus 4:1

God told Moses that He would give him what he needed to do the job. Moses yielded his rod to God. When he thought of it as his, it was just a crutch. But when he thought of it as God’s, God used it to do His work.

4. What if I can’t say it the right way?

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

Exodus 4:10-12

When we realize that our rod isn’t really our rod, and our tongue isn’t really our tongue – when we yield them to God, He can use them.

5. How about somebody else?

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.

Exodus 4:13-16

This fifth rationalization seemed to make God mad. However, He told Moses to take Aaron along with him, reminding him that he would be accountable for him.

Let’s not rationalize and beat around the bush with God. When it’s time to serve Him, let’s trust Him, believe His Word, bring along a friend, and work together for God.

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  1. […] had been given signs by God. First, God appeared to him in a bush that burned but was not consumed. Then God gave Moses the ability to turn his shepherd’s rod […]

  2. […] staff did not have any intrinsic power. It was a visible symbol of the power of God. The word translated […]

  3. […] trusty rod, the visible symbol of God’s power in him, had been there through thick and […]

  4. […] away, they were the least of the least of the least. They had been that way for a long time before God called Moses to deliver the news of their deliverance. Why had God allowed their bondage to go on so […]

  5. […] 4. When It’s Time to Cut Loose (Exodus 2, 4:21-26) 5. What Is God Like? (Exodus 3, 15:11) 6. Don’t Beat around the Bush (Exodus 3-4) 7. Spiritual Arteriosclerosis (Exodus 4, 7-11, 14) 8. This Is Not a Negotiation […]

  6. […] Moses moved toward the bush which burned without fire but was NOT consumed. We have the amazing opportunity to moved toward the fire which WILL consume all those who would pass it by in indifference or unfaithfulness. Even as we are moved with terror at His blazing majesty, we are invited to move nearer and nearer. This is King in Whom safety is found not by fleeing away, but by drawing closer and closer in the grace of His Holy Prince, Jesus. […]

  7. […] of John), that was clearly a claim to be God, because “I AM” was the name by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the Old Testament. Furthermore, look at the evidence: (1) Jesus said that those who had seen Him […]


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