(This is #6 of the presentations for the series “Fashion Statements: Lessons from Garments in the Bible.”)
Filipinos are known to love shoes. We might have gotten that notoriety when our former First Lady, Imelda Marcos left behind 3,000 pairs of shoes. These includes famous brands like Gucci, Charles Jourdan, Christian Dior, Ferragamo, Chanel and Prada.
One famous shoe maker who is still sought after today is Manolo Blahnik. He is a Spanish fashion designer best known for his signature line of high-end women’s footwear. His shoes are worn by celebrities from Michele Obama to Beyonce. His shoe creation range in price from $1000 to $14000 (almost P700,000).
For my male audience who really don’t care about fashion shoes, maybe you will be interested to know that the basketball shoes that Michael Jordan wore in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, when he was suffering from a flu, but still made 38 points, was sold for $104,000 (almost P5 M).
Before shoes became fashion statements or before it became important gear in sports, sandals or shoes of some kind were worn by humans from very early times to protect the feet. From Bible research and from ancient art and artifacts found in archeological diggings, it was discovered that the ancient sandals were made from flat sole of leather, wood or other fibrous material strapped to the foot by laces usually made from natural leather thongs passing between the big toe and second toe, around the heel and over the top of the foot.
There are many references in the Bible that mention about shoes or sandals. Here are some:
“How beautiful your feet are in your sandals” (Song of Solomon 7:1)
Even in Biblical times, a good footwear can make you look sexy.
“While I kept guiding you for 40 years in the wilderness, your garments did not wear out on you and your sandals did not wear out on your feet” (Deuteronomy 29:5)
Can you imagine that? The Israelites’ sandals did not wear out even after walking for 40 years in the wilderness. That must be really sturdy sandals! But then again, that’s probably more of God’s miracle.
“I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance, but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not worthy to take off. That one will baptize you with holy spirit and with fire” (Matt 3:11)
In the East, it is customary that shoes were taken off on entering a house, just like in the Philippines. Water was also provided for guests to bathe their feet. To unloose the shoe was often the work of a slave, who might also carry the shoes to an appropriate place. So when John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to take off Jesus’ sandals, he was saying that he was not even worthy to be Jesus’ slave.
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5)
This was a story in the life of Moses, when he saw a bush that was on fire but not burning, he went up near to it to investigate. He then was told to remove his sandals because the ground he was standing on is holy. It is in keeping to show reverence and submission. Some scholars consider that removing the shoes signifies putting off the earthly or profane upon approaching the holy. In fact the service of the Tabernacle and Temple was performed barefoot.
It was not only Moses that was told to remove his sandals. Joshua, in Joshua 5, was also instructed to remove his sandals when the Lord appeared to him.
So when Moses took off his sandals, he was forfeiting his comforts and his rights; he was willing to surrender his past, present, and future to God. Taking off his sandals and being barefooted and vulnerable, Moses is acknowledging that it is God who will equip him. It seems that the best thing about shoes, is when we take it off.
With his bare feet, Moses was touching the very ground where God stood. No barriers.
Today, God would still like to commune with us with no barriers. Let’s take off our shoes.
(*photo from pinterest.com)