Monday, January 10, 2005

The First Consecration

The first incidence of consecration appears in Exodus 19.

The Israelites have been out of Egypt and tramping through the desert for three months. They have traveled as far as Mount Sinai, where Moses there "went up to God." The consecration process begins with God’s invitation. He instructs Moses to say this to the people:

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will obey My voice in truth and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own peculiar possession and treaure from among and above all peoples; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation [consecrated, set apart to the worship of God]. These are the words you shall speak to the Israelites." (Exodus 19:4-6 - Amplified).

So Moses gathers the people together. And after telling them what God has asked, the decision is unanimous: "All that the Lord has spoken, we will do."

Next God gives the people some specific instructions for the consecration process to begin. They are to 1] wash their clothes; 2] observe the set boundaries around the mountain and not trespass onto it, and 3] refrain from customary sexual activity.

On the third day after these instructions were given, God’s presence descends on the mountain. There is thunder, lightning, a thick cloud and a trumpet blast so that the people in the camp shake with fear.

Then Moses brings the people from the camp to the foot of Mt. Sinai to meet with God. Imagine their terror as they watch the peak wrapped in fire, smoking like a furnace and the whole mountain trembling in an earthquake, while the trumpet blast grows ever louder. Finally Moses speaks and God answers, calling him up to the mountain for more intimate conversation.

Some things this story shows about consecration:

1. God’s reason for wanting a holy, consecrated, set-apart people is to form a "Kingdom of priests", a people who are set apart to worship God. Now, we may argue, this was for the Hebrews of the Old Testament. But no, this is for:

To you then who believe – who adhere to, trust in and rely on Him.... But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, [God’s] own purchased special people, that you may set forth the wonderful deeds and display the virtues and perfections of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9).
This is for us, today. God still wants a people, set apart, consecrated to worship God.

2. This setting apart of the people demanded preparation on their part.

  • They had to wash their clothes. Matthew Henry’s commentary explains it this way:
Not that God regards our clothes; but while they were washing their clothes, he would have them think of washing their souls by repentance. It becomes us to appear in clean clothes when we wait upon great men; so clean hearts are required in our attendance upon the great god who see them as plainly as men see our clothes.
  • They had to stay off the mountain, for it was going to be charged with Divine electricity. How awesome God appeared that day - how frightening and fierce - not at all like the milquetoast God of illustrations. If mountains quake under His feet - how much more should puny humans reverence Him. I love what Wes Campbell says in the introduction to" The Theophanies" section of Praying the Bible - the Book of Prayers (the theophanies are the God-sightings in the Bible):
When we pray the theophanies we begin to touch his power, to hear that loud voice like many waters, to tremble in the presence of the thunders and lightning bolts. Any person who does not at some time pray the theophanies will likely limit God. To them, God may become smaller than he really is, because the person will be praying to God as they understand him to be, not as he has revealed himself to be. After all, God is who he says he is – not who we think he is! So it is essential to begin all prayer by praying to the Person of God and praying the theophanies will keep us from praying to an extension of our own darkened mind.
  • Finally, the people were to break with routine "Sanctify the people...Be ready by day after tomorrow; do not go near a woman." (Exodus 19:10 & 15). Matthew Henry again:

    Call them off from their worldly business, and call them to religious exercises, meditation and prayer, that they may receive the law from God’s mouth...Wandering thoughts must be gathered in, impure affections abandoned, disquieting passions suppressed, nay, and all cares abut secular business for the present dismissed and laid by that our hearts may be engaged to approach unto God.

God, as I enter into this season of consecration, purify me from my sin: "Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt, and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!...Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:2,7). Help me to eliminate from my life for this time, things that would take my focus off You. Instead, help me to see and worship You as You really are. Amen


  1. Violet - just wanted you to know I'm praying for you as you go through this week. :)Marci

  2. Thank you, Marci - I appreciate you telling me this!


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