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If you were rasied in a Christian home or at least a nominal one, I am sure we have heard the story of Moses and the burning bush from our childhood days. And I have always wondered why God told Moses to take off his sandals. Of course, He said, " ... the place where you are standing is holy ground."

 

What do you think could be correlation between wearing sandals and standing on holy ground?

 

Thanks!

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I wonder if it goes back to the idea that feet (and likely sandals) were considered unclean and dirty? Did they wear sandals into the temple?

Daniel

That's what I also thought, but then I also think this is the only place where God says such a thing. Why could that be, I wonder!?

And another thing I just thought was that the very place God appeared was also dirty and unclean!?? (I am just thinking out loud!).

Apolojedi (Daniel Eaton) said:
I wonder if it goes back to the idea that feet (and likely sandals) were considered unclean and dirty? Did they wear sandals into the temple?

Daniel

Leslie Jebaraj said:
That's what I also thought, but then I also think this is the only place where God says such a thing. Why could that be, I wonder!?
I see the distinction now. It is one thing to understand why Moses would culturally do it. But why did God command it? Hmmmm.....
well Moses was a herder, no telling what he stepped in...
Makes sense.

Frank said:
well Moses was a herder, no telling what he stepped in...
For the Scriptural reference to the O.P., see Exodus 3:5. Stephen, the martyr, recounts this event in Acts 7:33. A similar occurrence is recorded in Joshua 5:15, when the captain of the LORD's host spoke to Joshua.

What is meant by Holy Ground? Does man determine what ground is holy, or does God?
are Exodus 19:12 and Ecclesiastes 5:1 related?
Did God make the removal of sandals an expression of respect, or did He take an existing expression of respect and use it to show man how to fear the LORD (the ground was not even to be touched, except by Moses)?

The Lutheran Study Bible says "take your sandals off...holy ground. God warned Moses not to keep on his everyday footwear and so defile ground sanctified by His presence. In Near Eastern culture, feet are esp. associated with uncleanliness, which can lead to shame."

Concordia Self-Study Bible says "Take off your sandals. A practice still followed by Muslims before entering a mosque. holy. The ground was not holy by nature but was made so by the divine presence (see, e.g., Ge 2:3). Holiness involves being consecrated to the Lord's service and thus being separated from the commonplace."

Concordia Self-Study Commentary: 3:5 Holy ground. Not the courts of a temple or palace but a thorny bush (Gen 3:18) served as the precincts of holiness. Here sinful man encountered God, an unapproachable "flame of fire" (2) to all unholy creatures. What God does to manifest Himself, even in miraculous phenomena, remains a mystery to man unless He adds His revelatory Word. In a gesture of reverence Moses was to take off his shoes, keep his distance, and avoid an unshielded exposure to the holy God."

See also Deuteronomy 33:15-16 and Mark 12:24-27
Do Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15 fit in here?

My additional thoughts: sandals were required to walk the terrain, and for someone to leave in a hurry (e.g. the Exodus) one would need to have their sandals on. Due to the terrain, lack of sandals would be a vulnerability, especially in rocky land. Would one only take off their sandals in the presence of those they are close with? If so, could God be expressing intimacy with Moses by requesting the removal of his sandals? -just a thought!

Also, look up "foot" (or "feet") in Unger's Bible Dictionary, or some similar resource.
I hope some of this helps!
Thank you all for your thoughts.

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but I think all our reasons are but speculations as to why God said what he said to Moses. I think the best answer could be: We don't really know!
No, Mike, it was not a set-up or something. Only after reading the other comments, this thought (that we can not really know the reason!) popped up in my mind.

Dr Mike said:
OK, I'm confused. If that's how you feel, why did you ask the question? Was it a set up?

Leslie Jebaraj said:
Thank you all for your thoughts.

I do not mean to be disrespectful, but I think all our reasons are but speculations as to why God said what he said to Moses. I think the best answer could be: We don't really know!
Here's just another bit of speculation. More on the spiritual side. I'm reminded of when the disciples were sent out by Jesus to evangelize. They were told that if no one in a town accepted them (or took them in), they were to shake the dust off their sandals when leaving that town. Like the burning bush incident, this again was symbolism. Seems like that junk on your sandals is symbolism for where you have been spiritually, i.e. what sin have you been walking in lately? Thus the disciples were to free themselves of the sinful town they had just left. To disassociate themselves with the place where not even one person would accept the gospel. Likewise Moses, when coming into the presence of the Most High had to symbolically put away the sin he had been walking in. Although his sins are washed away by his faith in the Lord and Christs cleansing work, maybe this was a symbolic reminder of his sinful humanity. I don't think it had anything to do with the ground or the sandals. It had far more to do with the Holiness of God's presence, and the filth that is fallen humanity.

And here's just another thought (ok, so let's stretch symbolism as far as we can take it here (-: ). I don't recall Moses being asked to do that most of the other times he met with God; like the Sinai encounters and being in the tabernacle with the Lord daily. So how about this one: Moses was a Hebrew, a member of God's people. He had fled to a foreign land and lived there a long, long time. Now as God was calling him back to His people, He had to remind Moses of how Holy the God of the Hebrews was. Could the taking off of sandals be symbolism for removing himself from the culture he had lived in and become a part of? Was he being reminded of his place as an Israelite? Reminded that he serves a Holy God, but had been living with the uncircumcised (even to the point that it effected his own children)?
OK, so that may be reading wwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy in to the text a bit. :P I'm just kinda thinking out loud here.
Blessings.
Must say I like the symbolism of sin in your first analogy.
Sort of fits nicely into Christs teaching to leave your offering at the altar and going to be reconsiled with your brother then coming back to make offering. In other words do not approach the altar with sin on your heart.

Peace
James

Crazy (JB) said:
Here's just another bit of speculation. More on the spiritual side. I'm reminded of when the disciples were sent out by Jesus to evangelize. They were told that if no one in a town accepted them (or took them in), they were to shake the dust off their sandals when leaving that town. Like the burning bush incident, this again was symbolism. Seems like that junk on your sandals is symbolism for where you have been spiritually, i.e. what sin have you been walking in lately? Thus the disciples were to free themselves of the sinful town they had just left. To disassociate themselves with the place where not even one person would accept the gospel. Likewise Moses, when coming into the presence of the Most High had to symbolically put away the sin he had been walking in. Although his sins are washed away by his faith in the Lord and Christs cleansing work, maybe this was a symbolic reminder of his sinful humanity. I don't think it had anything to do with the ground or the sandals. It had far more to do with the Holiness of God's presence, and the filth that is fallen humanity.

And here's just another thought (ok, so let's stretch symbolism as far as we can take it here (-: ). I don't recall Moses being asked to do that most of the other times he met with God; like the Sinai encounters and being in the tabernacle with the Lord daily. So how about this one: Moses was a Hebrew, a member of God's people. He had fled to a foreign land and lived there a long, long time. Now as God was calling him back to His people, He had to remind Moses of how Holy the God of the Hebrews was. Could the taking off of sandals be symbolism for removing himself from the culture he had lived in and become a part of? Was he being reminded of his place as an Israelite? Reminded that he serves a Holy God, but had been living with the uncircumcised (even to the point that it effected his own children)?
OK, so that may be reading wwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy in to the text a bit. :P I'm just kinda thinking out loud here.
Blessings.
"V.5. And He said, Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. The places where the Lord deigns to appear to sinful men are ever afterward set apart in their eyes and may not be desecrated by irreverent behavior, for man owes to God the highest degree of veneration. Throughout the Orient, the custom of removing the shoes before entering into a place dedicated to divine service, whether true or false, is still observed." Kretzmann Commentary Exodus 3:5.
I found some more interesting commentary on the removal of shoes and holy ground:

"The Lesson for Us

The shoes, then, represent the act of treading upon the land and the subsequent possession of that land. Moses was to particularly consider the land at the burning bush as God’s land; as was Joshua when recognizing the captain of the Lord’s host.

For the Christian, too, to stand in the presence of God is to relinquish all claims to human possessions, including his portion in anticipated future restitution blessings here on the earth. Earth must be given up for heaven to be attained. The Lord is saying to us, in effect, 'For heaven’s sake, take your shoes off—and keep them off.'"

http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/chliv_28.htm

Another page to consider: http://biblecommenter.com/exodus/3-5.htm

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