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Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground

 – Exodus 3: 5 (King James Version)

REVERENCE is of first-order importance in any approach to God. It is a solemn and holy awe, and often rendered ‘fear’ in the King James Bible (KJV), because at its root it shares something in common with that emotion. A respectful tremble in the presence of the Almighty is entirely appropriate.


Scripture tells us that Reverence stands at the head of Wisdom. Without it no one can approach the Throne. It readies the mind for Divine knowledge, adjusts the attitude, and ratchets down the scale of self-importance.


But even Moses had to be told to remove his sandals. Whether he would have done so without prompting we cannot know. The phenomenon which had attracted him to the spot had evidently excited his curiosity. In former times, when the rising and setting of the sun and the moon governed the daily span, and scents of the earth and the fireside hearth rooted man in the grubby realities of life, a bush that burned of its own accord would naturally have attracted more than a passing glance.


And it even spoke.


Bushes Burning Brightly

In the limitless vastness of Space and in the tiniest hidden nooks and crannies of Earth there are phenomena which beggar description and explanation, jaw-dropping displays of colour and complexity. Bushes burn everywhere. And they still attract attention.


So Man turns aside to have a look.


But nowadays the shoes stay on. And the jaded eyes look but don’t see, the mind attempts to penetrate the mystery, but is not prepared to listen. Data tumble from the skies and well up from the ground below, but the Voice is not heard amid the cacophony of self-praise and promotion and the back-slapping which occurs when the newest discovery comes in and the science awards are handed out.


The bush still burns. But God is no longer in it. For now it bursts into flame unbidden, spontaneously, accidentally, a quirk of ‘nature’. There is no invisible Hand, no Voice, no sacred place, no tentative approach, head down, shuffling feet, the humble petition for understanding no thankful acknowledgement of the Designer Mind.


No holy ground.


Looking and Listening

For the Christian, the Bible is the bush. A wayfarer without a Way, the Sinner is drawn from the beaten path to a hallowed spot, where Faith and Forgiveness illuminate the shadows and God speaks of comfort and consolation and courage and a Saviour. Confronted with Omnipotence we learn just how little we really are. For anyone that comes to God ‘must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him’ (Hebrews 11: 6, KJV).


To the believer, things celestial and terrestrial are potent proclamations of the purposes of God. To the unseeing eye they are but the mute testimony of blind chance, majesty without meaning, awe devoid of gratitude, a metaphysical cul-de-sac. Wishing to be unburdened with the responsibility of acknowledging the Maker of these marvellous things, the secular mind takes refuge in self-congratulation, persuading itself that to describe the process is to own it.


Reverence puts mankind in perspective, relative to the Almighty. It informs civic behaviour and is the only valid foundation for relationships between people and nations. Without it, a general despising of authority is bound to follow and, with it, the noisy collapse of society.


The trend is already under way.



Copyright February 2009,

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