Moses was all alone on Mount Horeb herding his father-in-law's sheep when a strange sight grabbed his attention — a bush was on fire. As he stepped forward to get a closer look, God called to him out of the bush.
"Moses said, I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn. So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush" (Exodus 3:3–4).
God was present in the bush and that’s why it was burning, yet was not consumed. It was a visual representation of God's holiness.
The Lord told Moses, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground" (Exodus 3:5). Most of us skip over this verse without understanding its tremendous depth of meaning. And it has everything to do with how to be holy.
You see, Moses was about to be called into God's eternal purpose for his life — to deliver Israel out of bondage. But first God had to show Moses the ground upon which he, the Lord, is to be approached. It has to be holy ground. In short, Moses was being called to a face-to-face communion with a holy God, and he had to be properly prepared for it.
Moses was afraid as God spoke to him: "Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" (Exodus 3:6). Why did he fear? Because he received a revelation of the awesome holy ground on which God must be approached!
The New Testament contains a corresponding verse: "No flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:29).
This verse from Paul isn't just a New Testament truth. It was also true in Moses' day. Moses had to know for himself that God's work isn't accomplished through human ability but by total trust and dependence on the Lord. Holiness is not something we can attain or work up. Rather, it is something we believe by faith and trust in Jesus' work.