Take Your Shoes Off
Exodus 3:4-5 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
Have you ever wondered why God asked Moses to take his shoes off? Well, the surface level answer is already given to us when God explains that the place where Moses was standing was holy ground. I guess a better question would be: What is it about Moses' shoes and God's holy ground that make them incompatible with one another?
Let's start by thinking about what shoes represent. Consider your own shoes. Your shoes go with you every place you travel. Taking it step further, your shoes have endured the grimiest aspects of your travels. They have to travail through all types of the weather, dirt, germs, gum, poop, and no telling what else. Shoes are worn for mountain climbing, working out, construction work, and pretty much any activity in life. Shoes represent the things we have been through. They represent the territory that we've covered and the bridges that we've crossed. Ultimately, our shoes represents our past and everything leading up to where we are today.
Now, let's consider Moses' shoes. These days, some people have entire closets and walls full of shoes. Some people have brand new shoes that they've never worn. However, during the time of Moses, I highly doubt that people had dozens of shoes like the average person today. It's very plausible that the shoes Moses wore had been with him throughout much of his journey. There's no telling what Moses' shoes had been through, both literally and symbolically. What type of story would Moses' shoes tell if they could talk? What do Moses' shoes say about him?
At this point of Moses' life, he hadn't started his prophetic assignment from God. However, he had already been through a lot. Barely three chapters into Exodus and the story of Moses, he has already endured persecution, slavery, abandonment, racial injustice murder, and isolation. Moses was born during a time where his people were enslaved and Pharaoh issued a mandate to kill all Hebrew baby boys. His mother bundled him up and floated him across the river with hopes that wherever he landed would be better than where he was.
Ironically, Pharaoh's daughter found Moses in the river and he was basically raised as an Egyptian. Imagine what Moses could have been dealing with internally. He didn't grow up with his biological parents, and the family did have was the same family that was enslaving and oppressing his kindred. This frustration culminates when Moses returns to his homeland and sees an Egyptian beating up one of his Hebrew kindred. Moses defends his Hebrew brother by killing the Egyptian and when word gets out, he essentially becomes a fugitive and starts a new life in Midian.
After all this, Moses then finds himself as a shepherd for his father-in-law on the Mount Horeb. It's there where he sees a sight that he can't take his eyes off. God speaks to Moses through a burning bush that is not consumed, but in order to proceed closer, there's one simple condition: Take your shoes off.
God knew everything that Moses had been through. On the surface, it may seem like contamination of the holiness of God was His primary concern. But the fact of the matter is that even with shoes off, Moses was still not holy enough to be in God's presence. In fact, If Moses had walked on rose petals his whole life and never suffered any hardships, he still would not have been worthy of being in the presence of God. There's really nothing that we, as humans, can bring before God that can qualify or disqualify us from Him. Here's why God had Moses take his shoes off and why God wants all of us to take our shoes off.
God desires nothing more than to draw us to Him. He wants to commune with us. He even wants to use us for His glory like He used Moses. The question is: Are we willing to leave behind our past in order to walk in the newness of God. God understood the hardships that Moses had been through. He knew the places Moses had traveled. But that did not disqualify Moses from being used by God. In order for us to have everything that God desires of us, we have to surrender our past that tries to hold us back.
God had a new purpose and identity in store for Moses, but he had to let the old one go. Moses could have looked at his shoes and easily defined himself by his rejection, his isolation, or even his moment as a murderer. However, God chose to bring Him closer, at the expense of his past. He gave Moses a new walk. Are we willing to let God heal us of our past and give us a new identity in Christ? We'll never know all that God has in store until we decide to take our shoes off and come a little closer.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.