Reproclaiming the Everlasting Gospel
The following first appeared on Reddit at https://www.reddit.com/r/Quakers/comments/ettifg/the_bush_is_still_.... I am slightly revising the original post and incorporating some of the comments. To see the original, follow the link above.
One of the enduring Bible stories of my youth is the story of Moses and the burning bush. That story came to me again as Dan Davenport and I sat "together" in worship via conference phone call. You may recall how Moses was herding sheep when he saw a bush burning but not being consumed. When he came near, God spoke to him out of the bush saying, "Moses, put off your shoes. The ground you are standing on is holy ground." The story goes on with God sending Moses back to Egypt to bring about the liberation of the Israelite slaves and their subsequent journey to the land of Caanan. Because most of the Israelites refused to go into Caanan when they got there (basicly saying, "There are giants in the land. Why did God send us here to perish at the hands of giants?"), Moses led them in the wilderness for 40 years until that generation had perished. The remarkable statement that during that 40 years their shoes did not wear out, has been something that has stayed in my mind for as long as I can remember.
Now that statement has a different significance looked at in the light of the burning bush and God commanding Moses, "Take off your shoes..." For 40 years this people's shoes protected them from standing barefoot on God's holy ground. When you stand barefoot on God's holy ground there is no insulation, no barrier, between you and the effects of meeting God on his turf. Moses is looked at as one of the great men of history because of all that he did. But what he really did was to take off his shoes. The rest is the work of God through him.
The bush is still burning. Are your shoes on or off?
Question: What do you think represents the shoes in today's society, in everyday life? Sin?
Answer: "Shoes" are whatever it is that keeps us from being willing to listen for and follow the light of Christ within. Taking off our shoes is equivalent to saying "not my will but yours be done." Living without shoes is a life of dynamic consultation with Christ. When Moses left the burning bush, he did not leave the holy ground behind him. Having removed our shoes, the holy ground now comes to be within.
Question: What do you think can be done to 'take of your shoes'?
The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. (Psalms 110:1-3, KJV)
"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power..." The day of the Lord's power comes in the light of Christ within us that would teach us the right way to live and reproves us when we ignore it. When George Fox began preaching this message, that the light of Christ is indeed the power of God, the priests and people scoffed saying the light was insignificant, natural, weak, etc. (read the opening paragraph of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which most of modern Christendom considers foundational). However, those who accepted what Fox had to say and followed the dictates of Christ's light were thereby made into the people of God against which the gates of Hell could not stand.
The key to "taking off your shoes" is not a matter of gritting your teeth, resolving "I am going to do this right." Rather it begins in the encounter with the light that leads to the life that is in the Word who was in the beginning (see John 1:1). Saying "yes" to those promptings and reproofs brings us out of acting in our own strength and our own wisdom, which I have found to be insufficient. Saying "yes" to the light enables us to stand when our own legs would collapse, because then we are acting under the power of the Lord. This, also, I have found to be true.
This is the "short answer". Look at Fox's To All That Would Know the Way to the Kingdom and Edward Burrough's introduction to Vol. III of Fox's Works for further insights.
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