Excellent questions! The most well-known passage relating to this subject is Exodus 3:1-6, which I will now quote in full: “Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD. And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, THE BUSH WAS BURNING WITH FIRE, BUT THE BUSH WAS NOT CONSUMED. Then 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 and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not draw near THIS PLACE, TAKE YOUR SANDALS OFF YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE WHERE YOU STAND IS HOLY GROUND.’ Moreover He said, ‘I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (NKJV).

It is obvious that it was GOD’S PRESENCE on the mountain that made it “Holy Ground.” Moses, by the Spirit of God, called it “the mountain of God” (see also 4:27; 18:5; 24:13).  Some have suggested that Moses, who wrote the book of Exodus (in the Third Person), called it this because of what he experienced in this passage. But Mount Horeb was also another name for “Mount Sinai” where Moses would once again approach God to receive the Ten Commandments (compare Exodus 19:10-11 with Deuteronomy 4:10). This means that this was indeed a “special mountain” that God had chosen to dwell at times in order to communicate His Word to His servant Moses. The fact that the BUSH on the mountain was BURNING, yet NOT CONSUMED, would speak of the “HOLINESS of God.” In Hebrews 12:29 we read, “For our God is a consuming fire.” The context that verse is found in speaks of God’s “holy judgment” in the removal of the present earth and heavens. It was quite natural for Moses to be awed by such a sight and to have the desire to examine it closer.

Yet God had to command Moses to approach Him with “unshod feet.” Why? For one thing it was a custom in that land and at that time to take one’s sandals off as an act of showing respect for a host when entering their house, so it was more than fitting that Moses would show the utmost respect for the “holiness of God” by removing his shoes. Later, when the Law introduced a holy priesthood that would serve in the Lord’s house (Tabernacle or Temple), they were not to wear shoes on their feet. Though there was no direct scripture forbidding them to wear something on their feet, when God told them specifically what to wear there was no mention whatsoever of any footwear (see Exodus 28:1-43 and 39:1-31). Surely, they were on “Holy Ground” in God’s house, for God was dwelling there.

In closing, we have one other incident where Joshua came face-to-face with the Lord God and he too was given the same command: “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand….And Joshua FELL ON HIS FACE TO THE EARTH AND WORSHIPED, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the LORD’S army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so” (John 5:13-15). Believers today are not called upon to literally remove our shoes when we come into God’s presence, but when the Lord Jesus is in our midst (see Matthew 18:20) there should be the utmost reverence for Him for we too are “on Holy Ground.”  (484.5)  (DO)