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Ralph's Daily Devotional - Thursday, May 31

Exodus 3:1-6 begins with Moses at the mountain called Horeb, which means "wasteland" in Hebrew.  Its location cannot be settled on with certainty.  Later in Exodus, it will play a greater role for Israel.

It's obvious that at first, Moses has no prior knowledge of who or what this strange sight represents.  He needs to be told by God that he is in His presence and must remove his sandals.  The removing of sandals is a sign of respect.  Muslims remove their sandals before entering a mosque.

The bush is likely the prickly Rubus sanctus that stands about 3 feet high with flowers resembling small roses.  The sandals of Moses would be needed for the sharp mountains where he shepherded his flocks.  These sandals were made of a single piece of leather secured to the leg by straps.  God described this place as "Holy Ground."

Here we find a radical break from paganism as well as Roman Catholicism, which attributes special reverence toward special religious icons, objects and places, inviting and invoking continued pilgrimages, supposed miraculous healings and other blessings intrinsic to the sites and objects. 

Here in Exodus, what makes the ground Holy is not the ground but the temporal divine presence.  The site where God dwells is not the issue, but rather the purpose.  Once the purpose is finished, the site becomes simply a spatial and natural element once again.  Neither Moses nor Israel return to this site to do homage.  It possesses no miracle in and of itself.

We must avoid, then, the inherent human religious temptations of making a place one of divine presence or special blessing.  The only place and only source of God is God Himself.  Jesus reminds us: "God is Spirit and they who worship Him must do so in Spirit and in truth."

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