Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:1-6 ESV)
When God wants to get our attention He does something unusual in our lives. For Moses, now a shepherd of sheep in charge of another’s flock, the sight of bushes catching fire in the wilderness might not have been that uncommon, but when this bush would not stop burning, was not consumed by the flames, his curiosity was aroused and he altered his normal path.
It says that the Angel or Messenger of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame and then says God called to Moses out of the bush. And so the Messenger of Yahweh and Yahweh are identical, leading us to realize that this is the pre-incarnate (before he took on human nature or flesh) Son of God serving at the Father’s behest to communicate to Moses. His holy presence demands special honor from Moses. It has made the very ground on which Moses is standing, holy. Removing his shoes is a powerful symbol of respect.
Moses believes, as have so many to whom God appeared, that if he sees God he will die, so he averts his eyes. There is truth to this in that God’s unmitigated or veiled appearance would kill us simply because our bodies cannot take that kind of stimulation without shutting down. But God would not purposely appear to us in a way we couldn’t handle, and here, appearing as a flame, He is veiled enough to not hurt Moses.
How is God seeking to get your attention? Is He waking you earlier than you need to get up so you’ll spend some time with Him? Is there conflict in your life that He wants you to come to Him about? Has He sent someone to you to alter your normal way of life? And in that situation are you acknowledging His holiness and “taking off your shoes?”
Russian Proverb; “It is the same with men as with donkeys; whoever would hold them fast must get a very good grip on their ears!”