Then [God] said [to Moses], "Do not come near here;
remove your sandals from your feet,
for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."
He said also, "I am the God of your father,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
Only twice did God ever say to anyone: "Remove your sandals." He commanded it once to Moses, whereas another time, "the captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "'Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.'" (Joshua 5:15). I've heard several teachers suggest that the sandals represent the "world," filth, and the places we walk through in our daily life. The command to remove our shoes before the Lord when we come into His presence illustrates that we come humbled and purified before Him. This makes sense...but is there more?
The holy ground Moses stood upon was near Mount Horeb. God stopped Moses in his tracks, telling him not to come any closer as he investigated the burning bush. Moses hid his face because he feared looking at God. This moment came right before God commissioned Moses to return to Egypt after having fled from there decades earlier. The holy ground was a place in the wilderness.
For Joshua, under the mantel of Moses, the nation had just been circumcised at Gilgal, the Hebrew children observed the Passover on the desert plains of Jericho, and on that very day, manna from heaven ceased. For Joshua, the commandment came when he was standing by Jericho. He saw and approached a man holding a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua asked him if he was for the Hebrew people or against them. When this man proclaimed to be indeed for them as the captain of the Lord's host, Joshua fell facedown to the ground, bowing before him. It was then the captain asked Joshua to remove his sandals. The holy ground was a place in the promised land.
Moses was standing; Joshua had already fallen. I like to translate the word "standing" using another associated meaning: "enduring or taking a stand"* Moses was about to fulfill the role of his lifetime: Deliverer. Joshua was about to fulfill the role of his lifetime: Defeater. The act of taking off or removing the sandals carries with it a casting or driving off. Moses cast off Egypt. Joshua drove off the inhabitants of the land to be conquered. Check this out from Gesenius's Lexicon: "In transferring a domain, it was customary symbolically to deliver a shoe (as in the middle ages a glove); hence the casting down a shoe upon any country was a symbol of taking possession."**
So for you and for me, is the Lord calling us to do the same? Are you facing the challenge of your lifetime? Are you fighting principalities like there's no tomorrow? Take off your shoes. The place you are enduring is holy ground. Look to God. The place you are taking a stand belongs to Him. Whether you stand in the wilderness or in the promised land, stake His claim. Don't waiver. Stand strong. You are on a mission. Face God and get on with it!
* Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for `amad (Strong's 5975)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013. 17 Mar 2013. < http://ww.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5975&t=NIV >
**Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for na`al (Strong's 5275)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013. 17 Mar 2013. < http://:www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5275&t=NIV >
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