Take off your sandals

Published 1:15 pm Sunday, September 10, 2023

“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 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 turn aside and see this great sign, why the bush does not burn.’ So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ — Exodus 3:1-5 (NKJV)


God using a miracle to get the attention of Moses is somewhat ironic. The man who would perform many notable miracles at God’s direction is called by God through the miracle of the burning bush. Perhaps showing Moses that all things are possible with God? Or that He has no beginning and no end? He always was and always will be.

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The heart of this encounter lies in what God tells Moses to do, and in the why. “Take your sandals off your feet” is more than a sign of respect, or an act of hospitality because of dirty sandals. God is telling Moses, because, “the place where you stand is holy ground.”

We must understand that this is Moses’ call by God to relationship and to service. The two are never more powerfully expressed than in the life of Moses. As God’s man to lead the Israelites, Moses would need to be fully surrendered to God, able to trust Him without doubt. A man who would have nothing between himself and God. Moses would indeed, take off his sandals, and stand on holy ground before the Lord. The seemingly trivial act of removing his sandals was a symbolic gesture that there must not be anything hindering our righteous relationship with Him.

All the filth of this world, the sin, worry, fear, doubt, all things not of God must be removed, so that we, like Moses, can stand in holiness before Him, on His holy ground.

Take off your sandals!


The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.