Acts 7:33

Some guy. Looks like Jefferson Davis. Austin Capitol.

Monday, 9 May 2022

‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.  Acts 7:33

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse is where the Lord revealed Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Stephen next says, “Then the Lord said to him.” Moses was terrified and would not look at the sight. Despite this, the Lord continues to speak to him. His words demand a state of humility in His presence, saying, “Take your sandals off your feet.”

There is much to be learned about shoes, their use, and their removal in the Bible. And this is true even though they are only mentioned about 35 times.

In this command, and it is a command, God is instructing Moses from One who is greater to one who is lesser. In essence, “Resign yourself to me.” He is the possessor of, and in authority over, the land. Moses’ shoes, whether made by him or by someone else, were the work of man’s hands. The footprints of Moses were created by God, implying God’s mastery over him.

There is then a uniting of the created foot with the dust from which it was created. Nothing of human origin would be considered acceptable in the presence of such a place of holiness. This is also seen later in Exodus 20, where it says –

“And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.” Exodus 20:25

God made the stones, not man. If man’s efforts are placed along with God’s holiness, only defilement can take place. God calls, God sanctifies, and God glorifies. The process of holiness is of and by God and God alone.

Only twice in the Bible is someone told to take off their shoes because the ground is holy. Here, and in Joshua. To understand this better, that account needs to also be given –

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, ‘Are You for us or for our adversaries?’
14 So He said, ‘No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’
And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’
15 Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”  Joshua 5:13-15

When two things, or two similar occurrences, are noted in the Bible, there is a reason for it. There will be a contrast between the two and yet they will confirm something. In the case of these two accounts, one is before Israel is delivered from bondage; one is after they have been safely led into the land of promise. He is the covenant-keeping Lord.

One is outside of Canaan; one is in Canaan. The Lord is God over the whole earth, over both Jew and Gentile. In one there is the Lord unseen and the voice of God from “over there.” In the other, there is the Lord visible, tangible, and in human form. The Lord is the incarnate Word of God; He is Jesus.

In one, He is the Lord who will give the Law – the Angel or Messenger of it; in the other, He is the Lord who defends the Law which is given – the Commander of the Lord’s army. He is the Lord of the Law, its herald and upholder. For these, and certainly other reasons, we are given these two accounts to compare and ponder. Stephen finishes the verse, saying, “for the place where you stand is holy ground.”

In the Old Testament, the word for “holy” is qodesh. This was the first time it was used in the Bible. Over 2500 years of human history had been recorded, and yet it was the first mention of anything connected to God’s holiness since the creation.

A parallel word to qodesh is qadash which means to sanctify. That was used just once in the Bible to this point, in the creation account in Genesis 2:3 where it said, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” From this point in Exodus, the two terms will cumulatively be used about six hundred and forty times in the Old Testament.

The holiness of God was being introduced at the burning bush because Moses will become the human giver of God’s law for His chosen people. Moses was being taught a lesson, right from the start, of God’s holiness. It is a lesson he would carry with him all the days of his life.

He would even see on many occasions what it means to step over the bounds of propriety concerning that state of holiness in his Creator and Lord. This will be seen in others, both within the covenant community and without, and it will be seen in himself as well when he failed to take it to heart during a brief moment of anger.

For now, Moses stands on ground that has been rendered holy by the presence of God. As a final note, Stephen has cited the words of this verse and the previous one in opposite order –

“Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’ Moreover 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 upon God.” Exodus 3:5, 6

This lends credence to the notion that it is truly the way Stephen presented it. Anyone simply copying the Exodus narrative would have done so in the order it was given there.

Life application: As noted above, Moses died outside of the Promised Land. The reason for this punishment is found in Numbers 20 –

“And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ 11 Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’
13 This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the Lord, and He was hallowed among them.” Numbers 20:10-13

Moses was to speak to the rock, not strike it. This was to reveal the pattern of justification before God based on faith. Moses did not provide the word of faith, and he ruined the typology of Christ. But this was used by the Lord to show us another truth. The law cannot bring anyone into a right standing before God.

One must come to Him in faith, and by faith alone. Works of the law are excluded. If one attempts to merit God’s favor by works, he is excluded. The credit for entry into the promise is solely through the merits of Christ. Be careful to remember this lesson. Stay away from those who would tell you that you must do something to be pleasing to God. Have faith in Jesus and in Him alone in order to be reconciled to Him!

Glorious God, thank You that You have done all that is necessary to reconcile us to Yourself. Thank You for the giving of Jesus our Lord and for all that means to us. We are reunited to You through a simple act of faith in what He has done. Help us to never diminish the glory of His work through our selfish attempts to “do better” through our own works. To Your glory alone! Amen.