Holy Ground – Lack of Shoes Required

While doing some reading I came upon the phrase “holy ground” and of course my ADD brain went several different directions at once. Aside from being a great name for a coffee shop (get it?) it’s an image from Exodus where Moses is summoned by the Lord to Mt. Sinai and He commissions Moses to go back and set His people free. God, in the form of a burning bush, tells Moses to remove his shoes because he is standing on holy ground. This got me thinking. Why would God want Moses to do that?

This may sound obvious (I have a knack for that), but when you take your shoes off you are barefoot. This assumes no socks of course, which would have been the case with Moses. Why does God want bare feet on His holy ground, right there in His presence? The answer I got while praying about this surprised me and I hope it does something for you too.

At first I was thinking that having our bare feet on God’s holy ground sounded like a bad thing. After all, it’s our flesh in direct contact with where the Lord is. We are unclean. Feet are unclean. We cannot, on our own, have direct contact with a holy God. So why not have some kind of covering on our feet, on our flesh? I mean, that sounds like a Biblical picture to me, having our sin covered and all.

But think about it. Shoes, sandals, are man-made things. We make them and use them to protect our feet, which is fine. But when we are in God’s presence, when we are on His holy ground, we cannot stand on anything that we have made. We cannot stand on our own works in His presence. Our works don’t bring us closer to God, they actually separate us from Him. They must be removed.

Since God is the one who calls us into His presence, we are holy. He makes us holy. His calling upon us transforms us, it isn’t something we do. He commands us in Deuteronomy and Peter repeats the command to “be holy, for I am holy”. In God’s presence, because He has called us, we can stand barefoot. We do not and cannot stand on our own works, because we have been made holy. The two can’t coexist.

What about the shoes? I’ll bet you that Moses put them back on when he left that mountain. What do shoes do? They provide protection and make it so we can move around easier. Out in the world we need protection from the world. We are to walk in it and on it, but separate from it. As Paul puts it, our feet are shod “with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). Actually, we wear new shoes. These aren’t the old shoes of our old works or of our own design, these shoes also come from Him. It’s like when Adam and Eve traded in their fig leaf suits for God’s sheep skin suits. Instead of being covered by their own works, they are covered by God’s grace, the Lamb that was slain.

Are you standing on your own shoes on holy ground? Are you expecting God to be impressed with all that you are doing for Him? God gives grace. God gives mercy. You don’t get more grace or more mercy for doing stuff for God because they aren’t used as a reward. They are used as a gift. Take off your shoes. Feel God’s grace and mercy squish between your toes. When it’s time, put on your gospel shoes, walk into the world, and be used of God to lead people back to that holy ground. Show them how to untie, unbuckle, and unvelcro their shoes and stand in the presence of the living God.


  1. Corby~ Funny,I had read this devotion by David Wilkerson, and was going to post it on my FB. I was looking for a picture to go with it, and came upon your blog. I wanted to share this different perspcetive with you. Enjoy, and thanks for yours.

    HOLY GROUND

    Moses was tending sheep when God called to him from the burning bush, commanding him: “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

    Holy ground is not a physical place, but a spiritual one. When God commanded Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground, he was not referring to a two-by-four piece of real estate—he was talking about a spiritual state.
    A holy God must have a holy man on holy ground; in fact, God can’t use a man until he gets him on holy ground.

    The place was holy! What place? The place was the spiritual condition Moses had finally come to, a place in his growth where God could get through to him. He was finally at the place of reception, ready to listen, mature enough to be willing to respond to the dealing of a holy God.

    Please don’t think for a moment that Moses alone was on holy ground. So was all of Israel, even though they were at the end of their hope. I have never believed God would keep an entire nation under slavery just to give Moses time to mature into a gracious leader. Our Lord is no respecter of persons. God, in those forty trying years, was preparing Israel as well as Moses. By way of loving judgment, the Lord was driving Israel back to holy ground—back to a hunger for Jehovah.

    While Moses was on the mountain being stripped of all his rights—because that is what was meant by the removal of his shoes—Israel was in the valley being stripped of all human strength. Moses would have no rights; Israel would have no strength. God could prove himself strong on their behalf in no other way.
    The great I AM was being revealed!

    We will have to go the same route to usefulness. That is, stripping of all self-pride and self-confidence.

  2. It is indeed very interesting. I dont understand why God told him to remove his sandal/shoe. why pick out shoe and not coat or tell him to take a shower/bath??

    why sandal/shoe??? any idea

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