A girlfriend in Colorado tagged me in a post on Instagram this morning. She was neck-deep in a quiet time and came up on a verse she had underlined in the past. It caught her attention, and piqued her curiosity. After looking into it a little bit, she took to social media for deeper insight.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5) Looking up the word “Consecrate” and not finding much. What do you know about it?
A conversation ensued, with each person giving a concise picture of what consecration looks like. (You can read it on Teresa’s post here.) But, as always happens, I wanted to dig a little bit deeper. So I started at the source, and followed the cross-reference noted in my Bible. Already, scripture was beginning to explain scripture:
“Get up, sanctify the people, and say, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow,
because thus says the LORD God of Israel: “There is an accursed thing
in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you
take away the accursed thing from among you.'”
The parsing of the Hebrew word for consecrate (translated sanctify in the KJV) indicates an imperative command. When God is telling His people to consecrate themselves, it’s not a suggestion. If you continue reading in Joshua 3, and then hop over to 2 Chronicles 5, you’ll see the overwhelming blessing that comes with the obedience to the imperative command of consecration. Encountering God dramatically. In a way that most people don’t get to see. Through miracles performed, or simply being invited into His very presence. Without sanctification, I cannot stand victoriously before my enemies. And I cannot stand at all before God.
But don’t you love how He provides an out? He warned Joshua that He was about to do something that the entire population of Israel would not want to miss, and gave them an entire day to go through the process of sacrifices and offerings. He gave the priests time to make the kind of offerings that were acceptable to Him as laid out in the 11th chapter everyone’s-favorite-Leviticus-book.
The Hebrew word consecrate or sanctify means to keep oneself apart or separate. And the Hebrew people could do that by making themselves clean by holy washings and lustrations after first separating themselves from everything unclean. It’s the same process that Hezekiah used when he cleansed the temple in 2 Chronicles 29. First, he stripped everything out of the temple that didn’t belong there. Anything that God had not designated to be part of His holy place. Any debris. Any lingering idols. Any piece of crumb that fell off the plate from an unauthorized feast. He found it. And removed it. And took it to the Brook Kidron. And if you’ve done the 7-Day Sample Study I recently released, you’ll know the significance of that.
Sanctification begins with a good old-fashioned deep clean. Cleaning house. Removing the clutter. And the distractions. And the toys strewn about. And the dust that’s settled on untouched corners. Sweeping away the things that we trip over on our way to meeting with God. The things that don’t belong in the presence of a holy God that wants to work miracles in us. And through us. And around us. And in our sight.
Jamieson, Fausset & Brown describes it as an outward cleansing preparatory to that serious and devout state of mind with which so great a manifestation should be witnessed. Ok.. that’s all well and good. But what does that look like today? Realistically? As a New Testament believer?
My first thought was Paul, when he exhorts husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the church:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and
gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the
washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself
a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Using that verse in Ephesians as a springboard, we can define the how behind it all.
three steps to santification
Step 1: A sacrificial offering.
Holiness always begins with a sacrifice. When Jesus came to this earth, His death on the cross immediately eradicated the requirements of the Old Testament law. He was the once-for-all-sacrifice. His blood spilled. Our sins covered. In order to be consecrated, we must believe these words:
…that if you confess with your mouth the LORD Jesus and believe in
your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Step 2: Wash yourself.
Exodus 19:10-15 talks about Moses sanctifying the people and then, after their sanctification, they washed their clothes. We need to wash ourselves daily. Physically and spiritually. We need a dedicated time every single day to be washed in the water of God’s Word. So that we are able to do the next step:
Step 3: Conduct yourself with holiness.
Peter gives step-by-step instructions on what holy living looks like in 1 Peter 1:13-16. Get ready. Roll up your sleeves and engage your mind because holy living is not accidental. It’s intentional. And requires obedience. And diligence. And daily check-ins at the waterfall of His Word. Let’s iron out the imperfections. The habitual pieces of our personalities that will always be wrinkled. Let’s starch them. And press them. Until they’re wrinkle-free.
The process of sanctification means cleansing ourselves as a way to get back to the purity we started with before Adam and Eve had their afternoon snack. It’s getting back to holiness. Actively chasing after holiness. And trusting His grace to cover the gaps. Not as an excuse to sin (Romans 6:15). Rather, in a desperate recognition of my unholiness, to pray in the most humblest of ways: that His light would shine brilliantly through the cracks. Despite the cracks. Then, and only then, can we step onto the dry ground of the Red Sea as the Israelites did. After they consecrated themselves. And then, we can set up our own memorial stones to retell the story of God’s miraculous power to our children and the generations after us of what God did. Because He still does miracles. Despite our imperfect faith. And inherently sinful ways. He still comes. And shows powerful displays of His miracle-working nature.
So. Therefore. Let us consecrate ourselves today. And expect Him to come and do wonders among us tomorrow.