“Do not come any closer, the Lord warned. Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.” (Exodus 3:5-6, NLT)
Moses was born a Hebrew but was raised by Pharoah’s daughter as her own child. As an adult Moses was aware of his heritage and he killed an Egyptian to rescue a Hebrew slave and had to flee from Egypt. Moses escaped to the southern Sinai peninsula in an area occupied by nomadic shepherds and he became a shepherd also.
About forty years later God revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush and commissioned Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery. When Moses saw the burning bush, he was amazed not that the bush was burning, but that it wasn’t consumed by the fire. So he came closer to inspect the bush and when he did, God spoke the words in these verses to Moses.
God informed Moses that the soil around the bush through which He was speaking was holy ground because it contained His presence while the soil on the bottom of Moses’ sandals was common or unclean.
The common or unclean cannot touch the holy without being transformed into being holy or else being destroyed. From this point on, holiness becomes the primary descriptor of God in the Old Testament.
Holy means “set apart” and God made it clear that He was absolutely “other” than his creation.
Moral perfection is also a central idea of the term “holy.”
The one true God is the only One Who truly stands apart from this world and is worthy of being called “holy” in this general sense.
God stands apart from His creation and He is perfectly consistent and moral in his character.
So, here, at the burning bush, God revealed to Moses his otherness. Later at Mt. Sinai when God gave the law to Moses He revealed his moral character.
God’s holiness means God’s moral otherness.
What’s significant about God’s holiness is that God calls us to be like Him. God calls us to holiness. God calls us to moral otherness. God calls us to live distinct from the world, but live righteously in the world.
And there’s a good reason why!
God wants us to be holy so He can enter into a relationship with us…because the common or unclean cannot touch what is holy.
Only what is holy can enter into God’s presence
The Holy One can only be approached by one who is holy!
To receive and live out God’s moral otherness, His holiness, in our lives, we must let our Holy God transform us by the power of the cleansing blood of Christ and the purifying indwelling of the Holy Spirit from unclean and common into people who are holy!
“So also Jesus suffered and died…to make his people holy by means of his own blood.” (Hebrews 13:12, NLT)