Moses and the burning bush – the representation of Panagia
“..And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’ So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look…. He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:2-5)
The miracle of the burning bush, where we awe at all natural law being defied, is a miracle well-known by all Christians. In the Orthodox Church we see this early miracle in Earth’s history as a prophecy of the Theotokos’ own divine conception of Christ that was to come.
Saint John of Damascus (c676-c750) expresses this beautiful truth in his hymns where it is chanted ‘plainly foreshadowed by the burning bush that was not consumed, a hallowed womb has borne the Word…. That which was revealed to Moses in the bush, we see accompanied here in strange manner. The virgin bore Fire within her, yet was not consumed, when she gave birth to the Benefactor Who brings us light.
His compositions express the parallel between the miracle of the burning bush and the miracle of Panagia becoming the mother of our Lord with her purity unaltered – her womb becoming the Holy ground that was not consumed by the Divine fire of the incarnate Word of God. Whilst not physically altered, the Holy Virgin is transformed in this moment into the new Eve by re-establishing our union with God and allowing God to, as in the time of Adam and Eve, walk amongst us once again.
Source: August-September 2015 Lychnos Edition