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August 17, 2020 12:01 am
Why did Moses have to take his shoes off as he approached the burning bush? Today, R.C. Sproul explains that, in the presence of God, Moses was standing on holy ground.
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When Moses approached the burning bush, he declared it holy ground.
Was there something in the composition of the soil there in the midnight wilderness that was different from any other plot of real estate in this world?
Nothing intrinsically that could be found in the dirt. What made that ground holy was the presence of God.
Moses had passed a threshold from the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon, from the profane to the holy, the natural earth was touched by God's supernatural presence. Welcome to the Monday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and I'm glad you could be with us today. The story of Moses and the burning bush is our focus today as RC sprawl helps us discover the character of God through this amazing encounter.
In this session, we're going to continue our study of the implications that we draw from the narrative history of Moses encounter with God at the burning bush in the midnight wilderness. We've seen already that this was not only a watershed moment in Moses life, but a watershed moment for the whole of human history.
And in this session, I want to look more carefully at a small portion of the text beginning in verse three of chapter three, after Moses had seen the burning Bush, the bush that was burning and was not consumed. We read then Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great site, why the Bush does not burn.
And so when the Lord saw that, he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here I am. And then God 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 hit his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
Let me begin by referring to the work of the French existential philosopher Hirschorn Paul Sarte, who is perhaps most famous work was the play that he wrote entitled No Exit. And in that play, the last act ended with a group of people sitting in a room without doors, and they were gazing at each other, reducing each other to objects and beneath this stare that these people were experiencing, Saaz said in conclusion to the play. Hell is other people. And of course, in the whole of his work, in the body of work, of philosophy and drama, he as an atheist, continue to say that not only is there no exit for people from Hellishness, but that is because there is no access to God.
There is no access to the sacred. There is no access to transcendent reality.
Human beings whom he described as useless passions and for whom his final description of our human condition was found in the word nausea. He said, that's because we are chained. We are trapped in the here and now in this secular. And there is no escape from the trap. There is no door. There is no window by which we can reach anything of eternal significance in the 20th century. The two greatest sociologists of religion in the world were Heinrich Kramer and Mirzaei Ely, a day and early a day responded to this description of the human predicament by saying that yes, indeed, human beings are in a profane state, which in fact in our fallen condition we choose not because there is no access to the holy. No way in which we can encounter that which is sacred, but rather we choose an existence that is profane. And I think if you're aware of your culture at all, you can see that profanity that marks our culture in every medium is a profound. Entity that continues to escalate. One year after another. Ah. Speech of profanity is merely an expression of our sense of living in the realm of the profane. But hardly a day went on to say that as much as we seek to live in profanity, as much as we choose the profane over the sacred human life simply cannot live in total profanity. Because for Ailee, a day in his study of all the cultures of the world, there is all of lay not no access to God, not no accent from profanity, but rather there is no escape from the sacred, because everywhere we go, the sacred intrudes upon us. And I say at Chapter six, when he was having his vision on the occasion of his call to be a prophet, we recall the song of the Angels and the presence of God in which they sang Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts. And what else did the song contain?
For the whole earth. Is full of his glory.
So do you see the antithesis? You see the collision between the radical secularism of people like John Paul Sarte and the teaching of the scripture? The teaching of the scripture is not that the holy and the sacred is in some hidden realm, some esoteric sphere where only the most brilliant elite thinkers can penetrate to find a slight glimpse of the holy.
On the contrary, the whole earth is filled with the glory of God.
So why then do we have this sense of the profane? Well, Calvin answered that question this way. He said, the whole of creation is a glorious theater, screaming, as it were, manifesting so clearly the holiness of God. But we are blind to it.
But that blindness is a willful blindness. We are like human beings walking in this glorious theater wearing blindfolds, blindfolds that we have put on our own eyes lest we see the holy.
And this sacred because there is nothing more terrifying to sinful creatures. Then to be exposed to the holy. And that's what we see here in this story.
Moses saves the bush that's burning and is not concerned. And we are told in the narrative that he turns aside to look at.
And as he turns aside, looking in the direction that Bush he's not satisfied to observe it from a distance. He begins to walk towards the bush. He begins to approach it. And as he's approaching it, suddenly the voice comes out of the bush, calling to him by name, saying, Moses.
Moses. Stop right there. Don't come any closer. Don't draw near.
Instead, take your shoes off, take the sandals from off your feet.
Because the ground were on, you were standing.
Is holy ground.
Let's ask a couple of questions about that. What made it? Holy ground.
Was there something in the composition of the soil there in the midnight wilderness that was different from any other plot of real estate in this world? Was there anything particularly consecrated or sacred about the dirt under his feet?
Nothing intrinsically that could be found in the dirt.
What made that ground wholly? Was the presence of God.
Anything that God touches.
Receives, as it were, an injection of radiation from his own transcendant majesty.
What makes that ground holy and different from any other ordinary piece of land was that it was here that there was an intersection. It was here that there was a divine visitation.
It was here that the natural earth was touched by the supernatural. Presence.
What we see here is a concept of what we call a threshold.
A threshold that marks a spot that marks a place of transition, a border, as it were, between the natural and the supernatural.
And that border was crossed when Moses came near. And God said that far, no further. Moses.
Every Sunday morning, we've published a bulletin, An Earth St. Andrews, and on the front of the bulletin we have these words.
We cross the threshold of the secular. To the sacred. From the common to the uncommon.
From the profane. To the holy.
I have to admit that I wrote that and I did it for a reason.
I wanted people to understand that when they come into the church on Sunday morning that they're coming into a place that is different from a movie theater, a civic meeting or from any other place that they visit in this world, that as soon as they open the door and walk in, they've made a transition, they've crossed a threshold, they're entering in to holy space because this is holy ground.
The very architecture of our church was designed to communicate that idea to people that when they come in this building, they're crossing a threshold that this is not a place that experiences the triumph of the secular. A lot has been said about secularism and secularization and all that means that the term secular originally in the ancient world meant this world in terms of this particular time. And secularism teaches this, that there is the here. There is the now. And that's all there is.
There is no heaven.
There is no realm of the eternal, no realm of the transcendent. And secularism means a commitment that you only go around once and that this world is all there is. There is no more.
But why don't we walk in the door? We step across the threshold from the secular. And in to the realm of the sacred.
And that which is sacred. Is that which is different? That which is sacred is that which has been set apart. And it's set apart divinely.
By God, the sacred space is where God steps and where God asks and gardeners. And we come here on the Sabbath day because God calls us to be here. He says this is the place where I will meet with my people on Sunday morning.
That's why the New Testament tells us never to neglect the assembling together of the Saints because we need it as human beings every week to visit holy ground.
They get away from the secular step across the border into the sacred. It's a place where we move from the ordinary.
To the extraordinary. From the common. To the uncommon.
From the profane. To the whole my.
So what we experience in our lives here is exactly what Moses experienced there in the wilderness and in the desert. He came near. He stepped across the threshold. And God spoke to him and stopped him and said that far. No further, Moses. Take off your shoes.
This is holy ground.
Remember in the Book of Genesis, the story of the experience that Jacob had at Bethel? I'll read a quick recapitulation of it where he went to sleep on his journey and he had this dream and this vision of a ladder going up to heaven and the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
And then this dream, he said, and behold, the Lord God stood above it and God said, I am the Lord God to babe Maham, your father and the God of Isaac, the same way in which God speaks to Moses later in Exodus, and he promises the Covenant promised to him.
And then we read Jacob awoke from his sleep.
And he said, surely the Lord. Is in this place.
And I know it not. He was here.
Right here, while I was sleeping with my head on a rock, God was here.
And I miss that. I miss that. And then what do you say?
How awesome is this place? This is the gateway to heaven.
And he took that stone that he had used as a pillow. And he took out oil and he poured the oil on the stone. What a strange thing. Why would he do something like that?
He was consecrating his pillow. He was consecrating that piece of rock. He was making it sacred marking.
And he said this is holy ground. This is sacred space, because here the Lord God.
Appear to me. In my dream.
I read a story of a. Family that went on vacation to St. Louis. Don't ask me why anybody would go on vacation in St. Louis, but they did. And one of the things that they wanted to do was to visit the St. Louis Cathedral.
And the story goes that before they entered then to this church of Gothic architecture, the teenage girl was being somewhat silly and frivolous in the parking lot and making jokes about what they were doing on this trip. And then.
They went in the front door. And as soon as they got into the sanctuary. The girl became. Completely silent.
And the parents were watching her and they couldn't get over the transformation that came over for her countenance as she'd look up at the vaulted ceilings and.
Looked at the Gothic arches.
Saw the mosaic tiles depicting the history of redemption.
And she was very tentative and taking steps, and she saw something across the room in the cathedral that she wanted to look more closely upon, and she turned to her parents and she said.
Is it OK for me to walk in here?
So she was overall whelmed. By a sense of the presence. Of the holiness of God.
That should be our experience every time we walk into a church.
We travel across the border. We make the transition. We cross over the threshold.
As Moses did, and finally, in this narrative of Moses, we read that God said to him, I am the God of your father. The God of Abraham, the god of Isaac. And the God of Jacob.
And here's the sentence I want you to ponder.
And Moses hit his face.
He was afraid. To look at God. First, he wanted to lock. He walked over to get closer.
But when he realized where he was going, when he realized where he was standing, when he realized who was there.
I can't look.
It was too much to take. But that's not the end of the story. It's just the beginning. As we will see.
And we hope you'll be with us all week. That's Dr. RSX brawl with the message from his series Moses and the Burning Bush. Our focus all week here on Renewing Your Mind is discovering the character of God through Moses encounter with him there on holy ground, where God's power and majesty were on full display. There are 10 messages in this series and we'll be happy to send them to you on to DVD for your donation of any amount to ligate air ministries. There are a couple of ways you can make your request. You can call us at 800 four three five, 43 forty three. Or you can go online to Renewing Your Mind dot org. How can Moses encounter with God help us today? Well, throughout this series, Arcy reminds us of God's sovereignty over all that he created. And we can rest that God is still sovereign over our circumstances when we understand and embrace that God is in control. The pain and difficulty we face is brought into proper perspective. So again, we invite you to call us and request Moses and the Burning Bush by Dr. Arcy sprawl. Our number is 800 four three five 43 43. And the Web address is Renewing Your Mind, dawg. We had the great privilege of sharing the life changing truth of historic Christianity with you and millions of people around the world each day. And there are many ways you can listen that you may not have known about. Just go to Renewing Your Mind, dot org. Scroll down a bit and you'll see ways to listen. You can click on any one of those icons for more information.
Well, here's a preview of what we'll hear tomorrow. So Moses has this momentary encounter with the holy. And the closer he gets, the more afraid he becomes when he hears the voice of God and the voice of God sends him on a mission. Wait a minute. Who am I that I should go on this mission? Please join us Tuesday for Renewing Your Mind with our sprawl.