Ever since the first time I heard the story of Moses and the Burning Bush as a small child, it has been one of my favorite Biblical events. Just think about it: Moses is minding his own business watching his sheep when he looks up and sees a bush covered with flames, but not being consumed by those flames. I have often said how impressed I was with Moses having the nerve to walk towards the bush. I am sure I would have turned and run at the sight of something so clearly extraordinary. But, Moses walks towards the bush and it is then that G-D reveals one of the most important lessons we find in the entire Bible.
Remember at this moment in Moses’ life, he is a fugitive from Egyptian justice, having murdered an Egyptian soldier. So, we see he is a murderer. When we look a little deeper in Exodus chapter 4, we find that he not only had committed murder, but he also has not circumcised at least one of his sons. So, Moses is a murderer who has also violated the Abrahamic covenant. Moses has some real spiritual issues in his life and yet, while Moses is in this clear state of sin, G-D meets with him in a supernatural way and calls out to him from the center of the burning bush. But, that is not the end of what G-D does. He doesn’t just speak to Moses; He says in Exodus 3:5:
5 Then He said, “Come no closer. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
G-D didn’t require Moses to repent of all of his sins before He spoke to him. G-D didn’t ask Moses to go home and get his life right and then come back after he spent sufficient time being discipled. He didn’t even ask Moses to go to go to all of those whom he had sinned against and make things right and then come back. No, G-D didn’t require Moses to do any of those things.
G-D simply asked Moses to take his sandals off of his feet because the place on which he was standing was holy ground. In our world, when something is holy or extremely valuable, we require people to put on special apparel, shoes, and gloves so that they will not defile the object in any way. Yet, when we read this narrative, we see that G-D does completely contrary to what we do. G-D tells Moses to remove his sandals from his feet – removing the one thing that separated Moses’ feet from the holy ground.
“Why?” you may ask. Because the truth is that G-D calls every one of us, just as He called Moses, while we are sinners. When we turn towards G-D or repent (to turn), G-D makes us holy at that moment in time, just as G-D told Moses to remove his sandals, which separated Moses’ feet from G-D’s holy ground. We find this concept reiterated in the Book of Acts 3:19-20:
19 Repent, therefore, and return—so your sins might be blotted out, 20 so times of relief might come from the presence of Adonai and He might send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you.
Notice that it says repent so that your sins may be blotted out. But, it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to say, “that relief might come from the presence of G-D.” This concept is unbelievably important for us to understand today because too many people, both believers and non-believers, are bound up in guilt because they don’t understand that G-D doesn’t wait for us to be perfect before He welcomes us into His holy presence. The result of this false belief is that they never experience the relief and beauty that comes from being in G-D’s presence on holy ground.
This article was published originally on RabbiEricT.com and reposted with permission.