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Sometime during my childhood I watched the 1956 film “The Ten Commandments,” which starred Charlton Heston as Moses. Did you ever see it?
I was mesmerized by the film, especially the part when the character of Moses goes up Mount Sinai to meet God. In the film, Moses returns with the Ten Commandments, and his appearance greatly changes. He looks like he has aged forty years. As a child, I really wondered what happened up on that mountain. Did an actual fiery bush represent God? Was Moses frightened? Was He exhilarated? What did God say to him?
I found myself wishing, time and again, that I could have been a small insect on top of that mountain, and witnessed it all. Blasphemy? Perhaps—but I felt so very curious. These questions did not leave me as I grew older. I still wonder about the interactions on that mountain, and even wonder how I may have reacted had I been in Moses’ place.
As I began to understand the station of Moses as a prophet of God, I came to realize the unimaginable gulf of difference that stood between his station and mine. How could I even begin to imagine what it would like to have the Burning Bush address me?
I started to understand it a little better when I read this passage from the Baha’i teachings, which explains the interaction that took place between Moses and the Burning Bush, that moment of connection between God and His prophet:
Call thou to mind the days when He Who conversed with God tended, in the wilderness, the sheep of Jethro, His father-in-law. He hearkened unto the Voice of the Lord of mankind coming from the Burning Bush which had been raised above the Holy Land, exclaiming, ‘O Moses! Verily I am God, thy Lord and the Lord of thy forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ He was so carried away by the captivating accent of the Voice that He detached Himself from the world and set out in the direction of Pharaoh and his people, invested with the power of thy Lord Who exerciseth sovereignty over all that hath been and shall be. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 265.
Time passed, and as I grew older I began to read the writings of Baha’u’llah, which made me aware of a limitless bounty given to all humanity. Baha’u’llah wrote:
Every single hair of Mine head calleth out that which the Burning Bush uttered on Sinai, and each vein of My body invoketh God and saith: “O would I had been severed in Thy path, so that the world might be quickened, and all its peoples be united!” – Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 75.
Baha’u’llah tells us that “The people of the world are now hearing that which Moses did hear, but they understand not.” – Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 265.
Baha’is believe that we have the boundless privilege to have at our fingertips Baha’u’llah’s authenticated writings, some written in his own hand. For the first time in human history, we can access the pure and unaltered words of God, just as they were revealed to God’s newest messenger. Look at it this way: we have the most precious bounty of having access to the words of the Burning Bush—word for word! That inestimable gift given to Moses has now been made available to all humanity! We can choose, at any time of day or night, in any place, to have access to these powerful, beautiful and life-giving words. What a privilege! What a gift!
We now have direct access to the word of God, as Moses did, in the writings of Baha’u’llah. The words of Baha’u’llah are not exclusively for Baha’is—instead, his words belong to the entire human race, regardless of color or creed, education or social status, language or even religion.
Now that we have been given such a precious gift, what are we going to do with it? Are we going to display these writings on a bookshelf, as we would display a thing of precious value? Or are we going to read these beautiful words, and study them systematically, every day? Are we going to allow their beauty into our hearts and souls? Baha’u’llah asks us to:
Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 136.