“Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’” -Exodus 3:5
Imagine the following scene.
It’s another day with sheep in the desert. You’ve been shepherding for many, many years. Every day is a lot like the other ones– hot and dry. The days blend in to weeks, the weeks blend in to years, and as you are thinking back, it’s hard for you to separate events out because nothing has really changed.
As you walk, you recall your early years…how you grew up in luxury, surrounded by the smartest people in the kingdom because you had been adopted by the princess. Then, you cringe as you remember that fateful day when you fled the the kingdom because people learned that you had murdered an Egyptian who had been fighting one of your fellow countrymen.
While once filled with hope, you’ve come to conclude that you will probably stay as a lowly shepherd for the foreseeable future.
But then, something catches your eye. It’s a bush…on fire…in the desert. “Yet,” you think to yourself, “it’s not burning up.” Though you stare at it for several minutes, the bush is not consumed by the fire. “Finally, something interesting!“As you move in for a closer look, you hear a voice like thunder calling to you from the midst of the bush: “Moses, Moses!”
“Here I am,” you nervously reply.
The voice responds: “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”
Do you recognize this account? It is God calling Moses from the burning bush. If you’re familiar with the Old Testament, you know how the account continues– God called Moses to be His representative before Pharaoh and the Israelites.
How are we like Moses, and how does this account apply to us? The similarity is this: we are called, like Moses, to say something about God. We are His witnesses in all the earth.
Most, if not all, of us “know” this. And yet, we talk about our God casually. Or, we don’t know how to encourage others spiritually because we haven’t spent time studying God and His Word. Even worse, perhaps we spread incorrect theology because of our spiritual laziness.
Karl Barth (who said some good things, yet also some not-so-good things), a German theologian, tied our witness into the burning bush account in this way:
Unless we know how to walk warily around the burning bush, it puts us at risk because it demands we say something of God.
We must be familiar with God and His Word in order to know how to share it with others. The task of “theology,” or studying God, is responding to and speaking rightly about God. We must tremble every time we open our mouth to speak about God, knowing that we are talking about the omnipotent Creator. We must walk carefully around the study of God, knowing that we are taking a weighty responsibility upon ourselves when we teach others about the Lord. And yet, it must be done.
We must get to work and study God’s Word. Next time you write or speak about the Lord, recall the Lord’s instruction to Moses as he drew near to the burning bush. We must tremble with a righteous fear and respect, for we are verbally treading on holy ground.