God’s presence was with Moses and with Israel as they were brought out of slavery in Egypt.
As a kid, I didn’t mind going to church. I liked the hymns and doodling in the margins of the pew hymnals. The one issue I had with the Sunday morning ritual was the dress code. For me, pressed khakis, dress shoes, and a button-down shirt were too constricting and uncomfortable. But my parents insisted that we dress up. I’ll never forget coming up with this theological argument around the age of twelve:
“Hey mom,” I said. ”If God loves me unconditionally, doesn’t He still love me even if I don’t wear khakis?” I doubt I’m the only “rebellious” Christian kid to try this line of reasoning.
“That’s true,” she responded. “But He also said to honor your father and mother. And I’m telling you to wear them to church.”
(Maybe this is why I now attend a nondenominational church where jeans are considered acceptable attire.)
God never gets specific about church dress code in the Bible. But there are a few significant references to clothing in the scriptures. One of them shows up in the story of Moses’s interaction with a certain flambé shrubbery.
In Exodus chapter 3, Moses is watching his flocks when he sees an unusual sight. It’s hard to say how any of us would respond to a supernatural burning bush. But for his part, Moses is brave enough to investigate further. That’s when the bush speaks to him.
And what’s one of the first things spoken to him through the bush? “Hey, can you take off your shoes? This is holy ground you’re walking on here” (Exodus 3:5, my paraphrase).
There are plenty of theories as to why Moses is asked to discalceate (a fancy word meaning “to remove shoes or footwear”) in God’s presence. My guess is that it has something to do with humility and reverence. I doubt Moses owned many pairs of shoes, so I imagine this footwear was probably precious to him. And so removing his shoes was an act of submission before the Lord. The ground probably wasn’t paved or even. So walking around in bare feet was likely uncomfortable, maybe even painful. Still, this was a small, but significant, sacrifice on Moses’s part.
Moses kicks off those kicks without hesitation because he knows who’s speaking to him. He’s even (understandably) a little afraid. And it’s this submissive and willing attitude from Moses that God uses to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt.
The lesson here is that we’re sometimes called to do things for God that we don’t understand. Even if God asks us to do something small and unusual, it may be the first step to see if we’re prepared to obey something much bigger. We follow His instructions because obedience is required of us, and there is always purpose behind what He’s called us to do.
Written by Robert Carnes