We’ve all heard the story. Moses, a former prince turned fugitive is hiding out in Midian tending his father-in-law’s sheep when he sees something unusual. It probably wasn’t strange to see a bush on fire, but this was different. The fire wasn’t consuming. It was just burning. So Moses drew nearer for a closer look. And that’s when it happened. The voice of God came to Moses from the bush: “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:1-5).
Holy ground. That’s not something you see every day. In fact, the ground is usually regarded as dirty, unholy, filthy, unclean. In another Bible story a man named Uzzah was so mortified that the holy Ark of the Covenant was about to touch the unclean ground that he committed the unthinkable and reached out to stop it from falling. The ground is not holy.
Most of us think the same way still today. How many parents applaud their children when they eat food off the ground? How many wannabe grill masters season their hot dogs with a quick roll in the dirt? That’s ludicrous. The ground isn’t clean, it’s unclean. So unclean, in fact, that it makes clean things unclean.
Except when it doesn’t. Except when a holy God is near. In the presence of God, unclean things don’t contaminate the clean. In the presence of God, the unclean becomes clean, the dirty becomes holy. When God invaded Mount Horeb everything near Him became holy, set apart for His service.
A few thousand years later, not far from that mountain, a Galilean carpenter did something similar. In those days the unclean had the same power to pollute the clean. No self-respecting, God-fearing Jew would think of touching a filthy leper, or a corpse lest he become unclean. Everyone knew in those days that touching an unclean things made clean people dirty.
Except when it didn’t. Except when a holy God came near. In the presence of Jesus, unclean things don’t contaminate the clean. In the presence of Jesus, the unclean becomes clean, the dirty becomes holy. Christian, when God invades your soul you become holy, set apart for His service. So become who you are.
© M. Hopson Boutot, 2018
Image Credit: http://www.ucg.ca/bible-study-tools/gods-church/why-remove-sandals