Joshua 3:5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”
Moses had died. The generation that fled from Egypt had passed. Now, after 40 years in the wilderness, the people of Israel had a new leader and a new promise from God. As they stood on the banks of the Jordan, ready to enter the promised land, Joshua commanded the people to “consecrate” themselves. They were to prepare themselves for what God would do in them and through them. God was about to stop up the Jordan river so that the people would walk across on dry ground – a reenactment of the miracle of the Red Sea and a reminder that the God that delivered them from slavery in Egypt is the same God who would now go with them to the promised land.
It was a moment of decision for the people of Israel. The people had a choice to make and Joshua called them to make it. More than a decision to follow a new leader, the people were to commit anew to following the Lord. Joshua instructed the people to consecrate themselves – to set themselves apart – in order to be ready for what the Lord would do among them.
God calls believers to consecrate ourselves to Him. So, what does it mean to consecrate yourself or for a church to consecrate ourselves to the Lord?
Set yourself apart to belong to the Lord. Years ago, I remember a pastor telling me that it doesn’t matter who you are, it matters WHOSE you are. God doesn’t move among great people. God is great and He moves among people who belong to Him. To consecrate ourselves means that each of us must commit ourselves to the Lord. For those in Christ, remember that “You are not your own, you were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:19-20). When we consecrate ourselves we are recognizing that our lives and our church belongs to him and we commit to live accordingly. We commit ourselves to seek his wisdom and direction and allow Him to lead us. We will live as His people.
Prepare yourself to meet with God. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus died for our sins and was raised. When we put our trust in Christ, all our sins are forgiven and we are given Christ’s perfect righteousness. Still, the New Testament instructs us to pursue holiness. To consecrate ourselves means a recommitment to live a holy life. Confess and repent of all known sin. To allow God to do a spiritual inventory of our life so that we leave no part of our lives untouched by him. Spiritual revival and the move of God among his people always includes repentance and a renewed pursuit of the holiness of God. If God is going to move among us, we must consecrate ourselves by pursuing Christ-likeness in every area of our lives. We will pursue holiness.
Dedicate yourself to follow Him. Consecration in the Old Testament was related to sacrifice. A sacrificial lamb was consecrated and set apart for the Lord. The New Testament calls us as believers to be a “living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1) – to be a people committed to living for Him. One of my favorite hymns is “Wherever he leads I’ll go.” To consecrate ourselves we must be willing to follow Christ where he leads. It means that His ways become our ways and His mission becomes our mission. Consecration means we not only prepare to listen to the Word of God, but commit to follow His Word and do what he calls us to do. We will follow Him.
God has great things in store for His people. Let us consecrate ourselves as a people ready and willing to follow Him!