“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5 NIV)
“The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Joshua 5:15 NIV)
Several weeks ago I went to visit a church family that lives some distance from our community. There was no easy way to get to their home and you had to go up and down the hills, follow some curvy roads and make more than a few turns before you ended up at their house.
Knowing I was unfamiliar with the area, my administrative assistant took mercy on me and printed off careful instructions how to ge to my destination. She said she wasn’t sure what the cell service would be like and that I might lose my signal if I used my phone’s GPS. So just to be on the safe side, she had a hard copy of directions printed for me.
I did use my GPS, but just to be on the safe side, I kept those directions within reach. As I made the drive I thought about how thankful I was to have an amazing convenience like GPS and turn by turn voice instructions. I was also thankful for printed directions that made it that much more difficult to get lost.
Station to station voice direction, maps on our phones or tablets, even a (gasp) maps are wonderful things aren’t they? They keep us from getting lost. They help us to find our way. And they help us not only reach our destination, but to be able to find our way home again. I like the security of knowing where I am going and how I’ll get home. I imagine you do as well.
If you are like me, you’ve often longed for same sort of directions from God. wouldn’t it be great if God gave us step by step directions on what he wants us to do in life? Clear paths so that we could fulfill God’s plans for our lives? How often have I preached on the “burning bush” passage out of Exodus there and have someone come up to me afterward as say I just wish God would give me a sign like that and show me what he wants me to do with my life.
But I’m not so sure that he hasn’t. Maybe it’s not that God hasn’t genus directions for our lives, but that we refuse to follow them. What if the problem is that we and God have different views of our destination?
The two Scriptures at the top of the page hold some remarkable similarities. Moses and Joshua are both contemplating what God wants them to do. Moses with his life and Joshua with the assault on Jericho. God comes to both at their moment of crises. And in both scriptures we see an admonition to “takeoff your shows you are standing on Holy Ground.
Before God gives Moses his plan for the Exodus he invites Moses to enter into his holy presence. Before God gives Joshua a plan for defeating Joshua He does the same thing. He invites Joshua to be in the midst of His holiness. They are told to take off their shoes and they draw close to God. This is a reminder of God’s purity. We are not to take the dirt of life with us when we come before God. drawing close to God, in fact destroys the dirt within us. God is pure and without sin. But I also see a desire for intimacy here. You are standing on holy ground, so don’t let here be any barriers between us. take off your sandals. Allow your feet to sink into my holy presence. Don’t just see me or hear me. Feel me from the very bottoms of your feet.
Can you see the pattern? Draw close to God’s Holy presence. Leve ones impurity and sin behind, Become intimate with God. And become holy yourself. Before God ever tells Moses His plan, he invites Moses to first be transformed. Before God tells Joshua what to do about Jericho, God invites him to be transformed.
Transformation. This is God’s plan for us. God’s destination for us is that we be transformed by his holy presence and become holy ourselves. Everything else is secondary. We ask, and very earnestly I might add, “God what do you want to do with my life?” ANd what we mean is , What are your plans for me? What job should I take, where should I go to college. Will I ever be married, will I have kids? God answers what I want is for you to come into my presence. Take off your shoes step away from your sin and stand on holy ground. Transformation. But because he doesn’t give us the answers we are looking for, we feel as if he hasn’t answered us at all. We don’t want to hear about being transformed. I don’t want to hear about my sin, or what I have to let go of. I don’t want to hear about becoming intimate with Jesus’ Holy presence. I want to know what to do to get a promotion. God speaks, we just don’t listen.
What God says to Moses and Joshua is what he says to us. “Look I have plans for you. But what good are the plans if you aren’t transformed?” What benefit is there to be used by God, but never transformed by him? There are far to many of us who are willing to be used by God but don’t want to be transformed by him. God gives us his plan and directions for us all the time. We just don’t want to hear them.
Do you really want to know God’s plan for you? Then let me encourage you to follow His direction. Draw close to Jesus. Take off your shoes leave your sinful lives behind and step into his holy presence. Transformation is our destination.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><