Summary: Whether or not you have ever been to Israel, you can discover holy ground along the common pathways of everyday life.
Many Christians have experienced the exhilaration of touring the Holy Land. They have felt the exuberance of walking where Jesus walked and kneeling where He prayed. They have witnessed the wonder of life while standing at the empty tomb. These sacred experiences will linger for a long time in their memories.
I had this opportunity. While serving abroad, I had a chance to go to the Holy Land. It was just a short flight away from where I was stationed. Besides that, I had free transportation.
But I didn’t go. Instead, I went to a retreat for service personnel in Berchtesgaden, Germany. I missed the trip to Israel, but I have no regrets, for the living Christ preached at that retreat has clearly engraved the word “holy” in my memory of Berchtesgaden.
You see, it is not the location that is important. One may come upon holy ground in many paces along the pathway of everyday life.
Moses made such a discovery when traveling through the Sinai. He was not on a holy pilgrimage at the time. He was just being faithful to the menial task his father-in-law had given him; caring for his sheep.
But it was here in this common place, engaged in this ordinary job, that Moses received a most unusual revelation. When he departed from this desert place, he left with the keen conviction that he had walked on sacred soil.
As always, heaven’s sovereignty was most definitely at work in Moses’ encounter with God. But Moses also possessed certain attitudes and he exercised certain behaviors that hastened his experience to a glorious climax.
1.ALONE WITH GOD
If you examine the Biblical record, you learn that Moses discovered this holy place while he was alone with God.
He had been in livelier and more stately places. He had sat in majestic courts. He probably had marched in grand parades. And, he definitely stood on royal ground. But not until he was alone with God did he stand on holy ground.
In Pharaoh’s palace there were too many loud cries and too many beckoning hands. One of those voices may have been Jehovah’s. One of those hands may have been directed by the Lord. But it would have been difficult to discern which one.
In the silent wilderness there was one solitary voice. When it broke the stillness of the desert, there was no doubt. Clearly this was the voice of God. And his utterance transformed the wastelands of Sinai into a sanctuary.
2.ALERT TO GOD
Notice also that Moses detected his unique situation because he was alert to God. There is really nothing holy about a burning bush in and of itself. In the desert where it is arid and hot, I suspect it was not uncommon for shrubs to burst into flame. Moses could have passed this event off as just a common occurrence. But he was alert to every moment, looking for God to appear in any circumstance. His keen eyes fastened upon the burning bush and watched it long enough to see that it was not consumed. This careful observation brought him one step closer to the divine revelation.
3.ALIGNED WITH GOD
Observe further that Moses found holy ground because he aligned himself with God. Only when he turned aside did God speak to him. There were reasons why he should not have left his pathway. He was responsible for his sheep. He was probably tired. His family was undoubtedly waiting for him at home. Besides, had he not witnessed a burning bush that was not consumed. Was not that enough excitement for the day. If I were in his shoes, I would have been tempted to immediately rush home and tell my wife about this most unusual event.
But not Moses. He was ready to interrupt his routine. he was willing to redirect his path to examine more closely what God was showing him. When he turned aside, he found that God had something to say to him, and suddenly Moses realized he was standing on hallowed land.
4. ALLIED TO GOD
Consider also that Moses’ “holy land tour” continued beyond the burning bush because he allied himself with God. He said, “Here am I.” In essence Moses was saying that he was on the Lord’s side. His words were akin to the phrase Paul the apostle would later utter: ”Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Without that kind of dedication, there probably would not have been a Passover feast. The Jews probably would not have crossed the Red Sea. There probably would not have been a nation called Israel. If Moses had remained neutral to his encounter with God, it is likely that he would have settled for the memories of one holy land experience. Instead, he allied himself with Jehovah, and his entire life because one sacred pilgrimage. Each square inch of soil that he stepped upon for the next 40 years became holy ground.