The Barefoot Man
5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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 3:5-6
There are few passages that rattle my imaginative brain more than Moses at the burning bush. I am an avid proponent of walking around barefoot or at least in flip flops. It is an element of my life that people remember and bring up regularly. In short, I understand what dirty feet really are.
Picture it with me, a dirty shepherd is walking near the mountain of Horeb. His feet completely covered in dirt and mud. His feet are probably the definition of dirty. His beard overgrown and covered in sweat and dust. The definition of dirty humanity. Not "dirty" as a pejorative. But created. His is living. The first man came up from the dirt. The psalmist says God is gracious to remember that we are just dust. It is in man's very nature to become dirty through vocation.
It is in the midst of Moses' vocation that the Son of God appears in a bush. The presence of the Eternal Logos making the bush a source of radiant glory. The Logos is the mediator between God and men. So, the bush is not consumed. It is temporarily made infinite. This in itself points to the incarnation. More still, out of this bush God speaks. Moses is drawn to the bush. The Revelation of God often does that. But before entering completely Moses is told to take off his shoes because the ground is holy.
Let's stop right there. There is no way that Moses' dirty feet are more holy than his shoes. Said another way, the sandals were not a deterrent to Moses' holiness. The holy ground is not more welcoming to the feet of Moses. Taking off the sandals is not some holy work. There is no movement from man to God in this experience.
No. The command to take off sandals is much more intimate than that. God is speaking to a sanctification of monumental importance. He is saying, "Moses, take off your sandals. I will sanctify your feet." The command is not one of Moses making himself worthy. The command is one of God making Moses worthy. But not making worthy through some covering. That occurred in the Garden as God pushed Adam and Eve out. He clothed them as He sent them out. But in the garden they were naked and not ashamed. As God calls Moses in He demands less cover not more.
This might seem a discomforting thought. We are prone to look at Christ's work as covering. But this passage in particular, points forward to a greater foot baring. The incarnation of Christ.
In some sense, the incarnation is a covering. God put on human flesh. But in a grander scheme human flesh is exposed to the fullness of God. Both of these statements indwell the incarnation of Jesus Christ. And the full beauty of it is seen upon investigation of God's action in the OT to make man holy. The incarnation does not say, "man you are worthy of my son." It says the exact opposite. It says, "man you are chosen." God says, "take off your sandals. I sanctify dirty." God says, "I will send you the holy ground of my Son that you may walk upon Him."
Jesus Christ is the burning bush. He is the Eternal Logos made man but not consuming His manly form. He is the holy temple of God. The walking temple of God. He is the holy ground made man. He is the barefoot man approaching the holy places of God on our behalf. He is both our sanctified feet while also sanctifying our feet. He makes the holy ground accepting of our dirty feet because He became dirty feet. Though the death, burial, and resurrection are essential for the formal justification of the sinner, the incarnation is necessary for the restoration (aka exaltation) of humanity to God. For Christ, the putting on of human flesh led to the full exposing of humanity on the cross before God. Similarly for the Christian, putting on Christ is the full exposing of ourselves to our Heavenly Father.