There, do you see it? The bush that is burning and not consumed?
Moses turned aside to have a closer look. We are never told if afterward he longed for the simple days of a shepherd. But we do know something happened in that encounter that altered forever his direction of life. Yes, he received God’s command to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of enslavement to the most powerful nation on Earth at the time. But that was not the significant event.
“Moses, put off your shoes for the ground upon which you stand is holy ground.”
This is a story I have known since early childhood. I was 59 before it occurred to me to ask, “Why put off your shoes?”
God’s answer was, “There is to be no barrier, no separation between you and the holy ground.”
I am sure Moses wore his shoes going back to Egypt and on to the promised land. But the holy ground was now within him for he had removed his shoes and stood upon that ground of hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord.
Let’s jump forward in time.
- The Israelites are running low on food. They grumble against Moses and against God. Why?
- Moses goes up the mountain to receive the law. The Israelites despair of his return and make a golden calf to be their god. Why?
- Standing before the mountain hearing the voice of God, they cry out, “If we hear this voice any longer we will die.” Why?
- 12 spies are sent into Canaan. Two return saying, “We can do this by the power of God.” Ten return saying, “God has led us on a fool’s errand to die at the hand of these giants.” The people listened to the ten rather than the two. Why?
There is one word that answers all these questions: SHOES
For forty years the Israelites wandered in the desert until that generation died. The scriptures tell us that for forty years they walked and “their shoes did not wear out.” For forty years their barrier of separation remained intact; they refused to stand barefoot upon the holy ground.
The same fire that burned in the bush in front of Moses sheds its light within you. Do you see it? All men, women, and children are enlightened with this light. Do you hear the voice saying, “Put off your shoes, remove the barrier between yourself and the holy ground?”
What does it mean to “remove the barrier, to put off our shoes?” The barrier, “the shoes,” that must go is our unwillingness to hear and obey the voice of the Lord. This is what it means to “believe in the light that you may become children of the day.” Look at the text of John 3: 19-21 and consider it in the light of putting off your shoes to stand on the holy ground.
“God did not send the Son to judge the world, but that through Him the world might be saved. But this is the judgment that the light has come into the world and men have loved the darkness, loved the barrier, loved their shoes, because their deeds were evil…But those who do what is true come to the light, put off their shoes to stand in direct contact with the holy ground, that it may be seen their deeds are wrought in God.” (My liberties taken with the text.)