In a time of prayer last week, I felt God lead me to read Joshua 3-6. The story became so alive to me and Holy Spirit illuminated things to me I had never seen before. While there were many new things that stood out to me, there was one verse in particular that caught my eye:

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”

Joshua 3:5 ESV

In the previous post I wrote on Consecration and Boundaries, and how we must prepare ourselves and adhere to the boundaries God sets for us in His glory, especially His coming glory. This is mainly for our own benefit, as if we take His glory and His presence lightly we can face dire consequences.

When I read Joshua 3:5, it seemed to me like an invitation – “consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you!” Get ready, God is coming, and He is going to do marvelous things in our midst!

What an exciting thing to look forward to. God is coming! And He’s coming in glory! And He’s coming to do wonders in our midst! Our midst!

But we cannot be idle, especially now that we’ve been warned He’s coming. We must get ourselves ready to meet God.

Joshua gave this command to Israel as they were entering the promised land. The next day they had to cross the Jordan river, and God told Joshua to command the priests to go ahead of Israel carrying the ark of the covenant, and when the priests come to the Jordan river they are to stand still in the waters (Joshua 3:7-8). When the priests stand in the water, the Jordan river will be cut off and the waters will gather in a heap upstream (Joshua 3:13). And it happened in this way so that all Israel could cross the Jordan river on dry land (Joshua 3:24-17).

I find it interesting that once again Israel is crossing a body of water on dry ground. They did this once before at the Red Sea with Moses when they were leaving Egypt. Now they are doing it again at the Jordan river with Joshua. The first time they crossed they were going away from their past bondage, the second time they crossed they were going into their future freedom. Moses led them out of Egypt, Joshua led them into the promised land.

But back to the invitation: consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you. It’s all good and well that we’ve received the invitation and have God’s coming in glory to look forward to, but what does “consecrate” actually mean? What is it that we need to do to get ready?

My trusty Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance translates “consecrate” to the Hebrew word qadash (Strong’s 6942). It means

  • to be clean
  • sanctify, hallow, dedicate, holy, prepare, consecrate, appointed, bid, purified
  • being set apart for the work of God
  • to be holy

(This blog post breaks down the word “qadash” even further to bring out more meaning.)

To consecrate something means to set it apart for God. I understand it to mean that that thing is set aside for the exclusive use of and for God. It is not something for common use, neither is it something just for special use (though the argument certainly can be made that way); it is something that is set aside for holy use only for and by God.

I’m sure we all have at least one thing we keep for a special occasion; perhaps it’s an outfit, a certain dish, or food (like birthday cake, Easter eggs or Christmas pudding). These things have been set aside for that specific occasion. However, setting something aside for God involves a much deeper level of dedication. There is a reverence, a holiness, to it, because it is being set aside for a holy God.

With this in mind, Joshua’s call for Israel to consecrate themselves is a call for them to sanctify themselves, a call for them to be holy, to cleanse themselves of any sin and impurity so they can be ready and holy to meet with a holy God who wants to do wonders in their midst.

What does this mean for us today, as we prepare for God’s coming glory outpouring?

I believe it means a turning away from old ways and turning aside to God’s ways. Leaving Egypt behind and entering into His promised land and living according to His ways. In the last post I wrote of repenting; turning away from conscious and unconscious sins. This is key, but what is also key is what we are turning to. We make room in our lives when we turn from sin, and this is room we can give to God, room that we can consecrate to Him.

We can turn our eyes away from certain shows or writing, and thereby turn them to His Word.

We can turn our ears away from certain music and messages, and thereby turn them towards worship music and preaching of the Word.

We can turn our tongues from criticising and gossip, and thereby turn them towards praise and speaking life.

As we repent, let us consecrate.

Let us consecrate ourselves today, for tomorrow our God will do wonders among us.

Cover Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

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