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Holy Ground – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

Have you ever had a moment of knowing you were on Holy Ground?  I sure hope so because those do happen and they are often spiritual milestones in our life.  How did you respond? What did you do? What did you say? When you find yourself standing on holy ground, it is important that you respond to God appropriately.

This “burning bush” moment came in the 80th year of the life of Moses. He had spent 40 years in the house of Pharaoh and now he has spent 40 years caring for the flocks of Jethro in Midian. Here he finds himself in an isolated part of the ancient world. Busied with a very menial task, imagining what ever life might have been in Egypt is only a memory of the past. Then something happens that will change everything for this Hebrew. It was the moment of fresh encounter between Moses and the God of Abraham. There are lessons for us to learn about standing on holy ground from this incident. 

THE SURPRISE

Everything in the text would indicate that this whole incident caught Moses completely by surprise.  There was nothing going on in his life that would indicate he was about to step on holy ground. He was surprised!  It may come while you are occupied with the mundane. It is interesting how this whole incident is introduced in the Bible? “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Median and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.”Moses was doing on that day what he did every day. For forty long years he had been doing the same thing every day – tending the flock of Jethro. On this day while he was doing what he was responsible for doing for that day, he encountered the Angel of the Lord

burning like fire in an ordinary bush on the back side of the desert. Suddenly without any warning he finds himself standing on holy ground.

Moses had not been engaged, as far as we know, in any particular religious exercise. There is no indication that he had been seeking the presence of God or holy ground. Rather he was doing what shepherds do, tending the flock.  I have found this to be the way of the Lord with many of us. It was while we were pursuing the ordinary pursuits of life that we came upon a burning bush in our lives. Without anything to indicate to us that something momentous was about to happen, we are suddenly thrust into the presence of God.  Some of my most meaningful encounters with God caught me by surprise.  It will come at the time of God’s choosing.  God selected the time and place that He would manifest Himself to Moses. The reason for this time and this place is known only to God. It is a simple expression of divine sovereignty. God chooses when and where He will make himself known to man. He is not subject to our manipulations. There is a real need in our contemporary setting for us to realize just how sovereign God is in these

matters.

THE SANCTITY

What was it about the place that made it holy ground? Was there something in the physical make-up of the terrain? Obviously not! The record indicates that it was just an ordinary piece of the Sinai desert and an ordinary bush that was burning from the inside and was not consumed. The secret of the sanctity of this place is found in God and not in the place. It is the manifestation of the presence of God in this place that makes it a holy place. This is always the way it is. A place that is holy not because we have sprinkled holy water on it, but rather because holy God has stood on this place.
 
The place is made holy by the voice of God.  What Moses first saw was an ordinary desert bush that was burning brightly with fire. This may have not been unusual to find a bush burning with fire. But this bush was different for it was burning but was not consumed.

As he approached the bush, “God called to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!”It was this voice that he heard that made the place holy ground. The voice was calling him by his own name – “Moses, Moses!”Is this not a wonderful revelation into the nature of our God? Our God, the great and holy God of the ages, condescends to call us by name.

Have you heard the voice of God? God can speak the language of the heart so distinctly that you know you have heard God speak. Where were you when God called your name? He may have been calling you to salvation or to service or to separation. But He was calling you. Where were you? Wherever you were when you heard God speaking to you that is holy ground.

THE SHOES
 
What do you do when you find yourself standing on holy ground? The Lord God gave to Moses a rather specific word of instruction: “Do not come any closer; take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”Moses understood the significance of that moment because he did take off his shoes and covered his face in the fearsome presence of holy God. The removal of the shoes is an expression of reverence.

I remember entering the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Everyone who enters the mosque leaves their shoes outside. It is a physical way of expressing the awareness that you are entering a holy place.

Reverence is not something that our generation does well. We have become a frivolous people. I think we should teach our children that our sanctuaries and places of worship are not the same as the playground.  There is such a casual approach to worship today.  We can get so concerned with making the Word “relevant” that we water down what true worship is.  Let’s remember it is the Holy Spirit that makes the Word relevant to each person’s heart.  We seem to have lost the capacity to acknowledge the presence of God.  I don’t know what would be most appropriate for you in acknowledging the reverence of
 
God, but whatever is most appropriate you need to do it. If bowing your head is the appropriate thing to do, then do it. If kneeling on your knees is the appropriate thing to do, then do it. But when you are standing on holy ground, there needs to be a reverent response to the presence of God.
 
Do you remember standing on holy ground? Did you respond to God appropriately? Are you doing today what God told you to do when you were standing on holy ground? If not, you are living in serious disobedience to God. It is time to come back to the God who made himself known at that holy place and say to Him, “Lord, I will do what you want me to do right now.”