Consecration Empowers You to Experience God
The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” – Exodus 19:10-11 NASB
When we get to Exodus 19 we are arriving at a historical moment for Israel. We often interpret Israel’s interactions with God from our perspective of Israel’s history with God from beginning to end. It is one of the disadvantages of knowing how a story ends. It becomes harder to be a part of the story as it is unfolding and enjoy the journey alongside the characters as their story unfolds. At this point in Israel’s history they are about to have their first personal encounter with God. Wait a minute… What about the 10 plagues in Egypt? What about the parting of the Red Sea? What about the pillar of cloud that guided them by day and the pillar of fire that guided them by night? Don’t those qualify as personal encounters with God?
In a way, yes, but Israel still has not been formally introduced to their God. Keep in mind that they spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt. Then Moses shows up one day telling them the God of their forefathers sent him to set them free. They didn’t really know this God because they had not lived in relationship with Him for 400 years. All they knew about God was stories that had been handed down by word of mouth over the centuries. When Moses showed up to deliver them there was no formal introduction to God. No explanation of who He is, where He had been for the past 400 years, or why He had chosen to deliver them now. Just kind of, “Hey! What’s up? Let’s get out of here and go to the Promised Land.” They didn’t even know where they were going.
The 10 plagues, parting of the Red Sea, and pillar of cloud and fire were things that Israel witnessed in mostly a passive way. They were kind of like God’s way of showing off. We see consistently throughout Scriptures that God loves to show up and show out and put His awesomeness on display. That’s kind of what God was doing with Israel up until now. Now we get to this point in Exodus 19 when Israel arrives at Mt. Sinai three months into their journey through the wilderness.
Consecration empowers us to be partakers of God’s glory and not just observers of His glory
What we see here at Mt. Sinai is kind of like God going, “Okay, let me stop showing off. I didn’t bring you out of Egypt just to show you how awesome I am. I brought you here because I want to live in relationship with Me. So it’s time we get to really know each other. I’m going to meet you here on this mountain but first I need you to do something. You think you saw Me in the plagues I brought on Egypt. You think you saw Me in how I parted the Red Sea. You think you saw Me in the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire. But what you saw were just some really cool things I can do that show you My power far exceeds anything you’ve known and I am nothing like the fake gods you knew in Egypt. But now, I am going to personally descend on this mountain in the fullness of My glory and meet you here today. But first, you must consecrate yourselves.” God gave Israel a list of things they needed to do to “cleanse” themselves before He would meet them on Sinai. Those things didn’t actually make them “clean” before God. He just wanted to see them put forward the effort, be intentional and show Him that meeting Him was important to them.
In the same way, we cannot truly meet God until we consecrate ourselves. We can witness God’s mighty deeds and never have a personal encounter with Him. We can see His grace in our lives and give Him credit for how He has delivered us from Egypt and never know Him personally. We can religiously follow Him through our wilderness and not be living in intimate relationship with Him. It is not until we make a conscious decision, and put forth an intentional effort, to consecrate ourselves that we truly meet God and enter into a covenant relationship with Him.
Our obedience to God doesn’t actually “cleanse” us before God. We have no power within ourselves to purify ourselves before God. We have no power within ourselves to transform ourselves into the image of Christ. But the Holy Spirit who lives within us has all the power in creation to do what needs to be done within us. Our obedience simply shows Him that meeting God is important to us. If we are not intentional about our relationship with God He may still show up and show out in our lives. He is just that gracious. But without putting forth the effort to show God with our actions that He is important to us we will only be passive witnesses of His mighty deeds in our lives. When we are intentional is when we get to really meet God and become active participators enjoying life together with our Father.