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Study More Bible

Tuesday, 23 November 2010 04:33

Removing Shoes

The “Requirement” of Taking Off Shoes

There are two instances in Scripture where a person is instructed to remove his sandals or shoes in the presence of the angel of the LORD.  The first was Moses at the burning bush (Ex. 3:2-5).  In this context, we see first that Moses stood in the presence of the “angel of the LORD” in the burning bush (Ex. 3:2).  The angel of the LORD instructed him to remove his shoes for the place where he stood was “holy ground” (3:5).  The second time we see the “captain of the host of the LORD” (Josh. 5:14) telling Joshua to loose his shoes from his feet, for the place where he stood was “holy” (Josh. 5:15).  It is interesting to note what made these places “holy.”  Solomon told his wife that he would not allow her to live in the house of David because the “places are holy whereunto the ark of the LORD hath come” (2 Chr. 8:11).  Ezekiel prophesied to Judah concerning when they came out of Babylonian captivity how they were to divide the land they would inherit.  He said a portion of the land would be a “holy portion of the land” and it would “be holy in all the borders thereof roundabout” (Ez. 45:1).  On this holy portion of land they were to build the sanctuary (45:2) and the houses of the priests (45:4).  God told Aaron He would “appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat” (Lev. 16:2) which was built “upon the ark” (Ex. 25:21).  He said, “I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony” (Ex. 25:22).  So, it was the presence of God, whether through His ark or His Messenger, that made the ground to be called “holy.”

Today, Paul has described the church as the “temple of God,” and He “dwells in them, and walks in them” (2 Cor. 6:16).  Peter describes Christians as being part of a “holy priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5) or a “holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9).  Yet, the church is not the building where Christians meet, for God “dwelleth not in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24).  And so, if Christians are required to not wear shoes everywhere that God dwells and everywhere that is “holy,” they could never wear shoes since anywhere they go they are still part of the holy temple of God.  Most people who bind such commands insist that shoes must only be removed prior to entering their place of worship, and once again, this is to misunderstand the nature of the church versus the nature of the building where the church meets (Acts 17:24).  More often than not, the church of the first-century met in people’s homes (Rom. 16:5, 1 Cor. 16:19), and yet those physical houses were not holy.  It is the people of God that are to be holy today.

However, to further prove this point, let us look at more Scripture.  Though they always followed the ark of the covenant throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, Scripture tells us the Israelites wore shoes during their wanderings (Deut. 29:5).  Even more noteworthy, the Israelites were instructed to wear shoes while partaking of the first Passover, perhaps the most holy of Israelite meals instituted by God (Ex. 12:11).  When you get to the New Testament, you do not see God instructing anyone to remove their shoes in like fashion as Moses or Joshua.  Paul, in a very similar situation as what we read with Moses, was not instructed to remove his sandals while speaking with God (Acts 9:3-7).  Jesus, who was always in the presence of God for He was God, wore sandals (Matt. 3:11, Mk. 1:7, Lk. 3:16, Acts 13:25).  Even more noteworthy, on one account, Peter is instructed by the angel of the Lord to put his shoes on before they continued together (Acts 12:8-9).

Christians are not required to remove their physical shoes in any particular building of worship, though it is not wrong to do so.  However, Christians are required to always have their feet covered in one sense; they ought to always have their “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).