They would be heavy to wear, and difficult to walk in. And if you need to run? Impossible. But there is a promise coupled with the shoes. Hear the promise:
Deuteronomy 33:25 25Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; And as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
What does it mean? On the surface it is a promise of military prowess, indicating that it would be needed. The neighbors were constantly endangering the tribe of Asher and their ability to hold out. God was promising strength equal to the need, that He would make them able to withstand these attacks.
Defense in proper footwear? Not a common connection, but footware is important. An essential piece of the spiritual armor God provides for us to put on.
Ephesians 6:13–15 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
What head piece goes with shoes that are “the preparation of the gospel of peace”?
Ephesians 6:16–17 16above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
In the hill country of Palestine, we are told, the people had to navigate steep hills with rough, craggy rocks and sharp stones. To do this they wore “greaves.” These were sandals to the soles of which were fastened plates of iron or brass. Shoes of this type provided a suitable defense against injured feet.
Did most people at that time wear shoes? The Israelites were wearing shoes when they left Egypt, and they were promised that these shoes would last all the way through the wilderness. It was another miracle in front of their eyes—and likely no more appreciated among the people than the other miracles they saw.
Deuteronomy 29:2–5 2Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land— 3the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. 4Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day. 5And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet.
Wouldn’t you expect Moses would have gotten an encore of applause in God’s behalf? Not at all. Their attitude was, Let God give us whatever He wants to. Their hearts were hard.
But clothes and sandals that did not wear out even after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness? Truly a great miracle!
What might iron shoes do for us? To be sure, we wouldn’t mind treading on thorns, and sharp jagged rocks would not cut our feet. Nor could anyone so much as irk us by stepping on our toes!
When we think of iron, we think of strength and a strong quality of endurance. What did Jesus say about the absolute need for endurance in the last days?
Matthew 24:11–13 11Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
Did you see that phrase, that “lawlessness will abound”? Don’t we see that all around us right now?
Jesus’ point is to endure, come what may. Hold on. No quitting. No giving up. Not even time-out.
What are the shoes that will help to provide us this strength? What will make us able to endure to the end?
Job 17:9 9Yet the righteous will hold to his way, And he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger.
Isn’t that amazing? CLEAN means STRONG. CleanER means strongER.
Do you remember what Haggai said to the people of his day about being strong?
Haggai 2:4–5 4Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. 5‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’
Notice how Haggai relays God’s message to every one: the leader, the high priest, and then to ALL the people of the land. They were to “be strong…and work” because God was promising to be with them.
Now back to commands for the feet. What does Ecclesiastes say about guarding our feet?
Ecclesiastes 5:1 1Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
The NKJV is slightly different, implying the importance of HOW we come into God’s presence.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 1Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
Walk prudently. Literally, “guard your feet” whenever you go to worship God. It simply means, be humble before God. It means to behave yourself. Don’t go telling Him what He should do. Seek, pray, repent. The phrase at the end of the passage is fitting here: Verses 6-7:
Ecclesiastes 5:6–7 6Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God [the angel] that it was an error [a mistake or inadvertent transgression] . Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? 7For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.
We should go into God’s presence with fear—reverence, honor—and a penitent heart, seeking God’s forgiveness, not making an excuse for our wrong. Can we even imagine how God is dishonored with the attitude, “It was just a mistake. No big deal.” Such irreverence is disgusting to the God of the universe!
The Psalmist had the right approach when he wrote, humbly and with reverence,
Psalm 119:101 101I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word.
That I may “keep your word.” The law of God was the law for his life. He could abide by it. Truly it is a “keeping” command for feet well shod. It is the path marked out by Wisdom. And notice the reward promised:
Proverbs 8:20–21 20I traverse the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice, 21That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, That I may fill their treasuries.
Wisdom will cause those who follow it to “inherit wealth,” and she will “fill their treasuries!
It is the end result of walking in these God-provided iron shoes—shoes of strength, shoes for defense against the sharp barbs of evil along the way. This is the promise of God: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as the days so shall thy strength be.”
Shoes equal to the road. Strength equal to the climb! What a glorious promise.
The way may be rocky, rough, and steep. But I know God’s provision is equal to my need, whatever it may be. So I can travel on in perfect confidence that it is the way that leads home, and I can keep walking in His strength, all the way into eternity!