The Lost Art of Consecrating

Exodus 19 is a preamble to one of the most significant interactions with God that Israel has ever had.  God is about to give Moses the ten commandments.  And before the people draw near to God, they must consecrated themselves.  How do you consecrate yourself?

1 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai.

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

13 Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”  16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.

19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. 20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up…
Exodus 19:1, 3-6, 10-11, 13-16, 19-20

And as God and Moses interacted, God told Moses that he would come in dense cloud and speak with Moses in a manner which would give the people great respect for Moses in his role.  God knew that it would be difficult for the people to follow and so he wanted to help Moses in his prominence.

In this way, God was preparing Moses and the people for what was coming next.

Then God instructed Moses further on how the people should consecrate themselves.  Again, this is more preparedness for the provision of God’s law.  In order to hear the word of God clearly and receive God’s message, they needed to be consecrated.

Moses told the people to wash their clothes.  He told them to abstain from sexual relations.  There were physical and ceremonial steps to take to become ready.

Therefore, as Sunday is coming tomorrow, perhaps we ought to do likewise…

Isn’t it interesting that the physical / material processes relating to faith are no longer central to our practice today?  Add circumcision to the list, because it is was instituted to be a physical representation of covenant between God and his people.

Yet we don’t get ready in those ways as much anymore do we?  Sunday best is more of a heart idea than it is consecration.  The New Testament ideas are to have circumcised hearts and consecrated or set apart lives.

The Holy Spirit is present within us to make us different.  Ceremony might confirm his presence, yet ceremony can be a white wash if the heart isn’t in the right place.

The danger, though, is that we lose a sense of reverence and awe when we stop practicing some of the consecrational ideas of Moses’ time.  There is a danger that we’ll just go to Sunday and not be ready for Sunday.

And I guess that’s it.

It’s time for some pre-thought.  It’s time for some meditation on our relationship with God prior to entering the congregational meeting with God.

What does preparing yourself look like in your life?


Marc Kinna


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