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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Consecration - Part 2

In Consecration – Part 1 we learned that consecration is an act of worship whereby we are set apart for God’s use to serve Him wherever and however He sees fit. Now we will turn to Leviticus 8 as we dig a bit deeper into the meaning of consecration. What do we learn about consecrated preparation as priests in Leviticus 8?

Consecration involves God’s Selection

Leviticus 8:1-5 - And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, the anointing oil, a bull as the sin offering, two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; 3 and gather all the congregation together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” 4 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. And the congregation was gathered together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 5 And Moses said to the congregation, “This is what the Lord commanded to be done.”

God told Moses to set Aaron and his sons aside for this holy purpose. This was a sovereign decision of God to set Aaron and his sons apart for His service. Notice this selection was for service not salvation. God selected or elected Aaron and his sons to serve the Lord.

In the same way the priesthood of believers is elected by God to serve Him (Eph. 1:3-4; 2:10). Jesus chose the disciples (John 15:16). Disciples are only as effective as they realize that they are dependent upon Jesus (John 15:1), cleansed by His word (John 15:2), and that they can do nothing of eternal significance or lasting worth apart from Jesus (John 15:3-8). The disciple of Jesus is in the blessed state of a deep abiding love relationship with Jesus (John 15:9-17). That love is a product of the regeneration and sanctification of the Spirit in their lives (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22-24).

Consecration involves Washing

Leviticus 8:6 - 6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water.

Just as Aaron and his sons were ceremonially washed before the congregation of God, the priesthood of believers and especially those serving the Lord need to be washed from their sins by the regeneration of the Spirit (Titus 3:5). This speaks of baptism (Rom. 6:1-4). Washing speaks of our being born again (1 Peter 1:22-25). When people try to serve the Lord without first being saved, it is a mere religious endeavor that will be filled with frustration and futility and ultimately will fail.

Those who are saved and seeking to serve the Lord need to be washed continually with the word of God (Eph. 5:26). The Spirit of God cleanses or sanctifies believers with the word of God. We need to regularly take a shower or bathe in the word of God so that we don’t accumulate muck and mire from the fallen world in which we serve.

The priest of God needs to have their hearts washed and purified of anything that would challenge the Lordship of Christ in their hearts (Acts 15:8-9). This is an aspect of the baptism or empowerment of the Spirit. When a person is empowered by the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:8) it isn’t that they receive more of the Holy Spirit, it’s that the Holy Spirit receives more of them. When Peter described the empowerment of the gentiles by the Spirit he did so using the words, “purifying their hearts by faith.” The priest of God and anyone seeking to serve the Lord will be effective in proportion to how much their heart is purified from distractions and alternatives to God and His word.

Consecration involves Special Clothing

Leviticus 8:7-9 - 7 And he put the tunic on him, girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him; and he girded him with the intricately woven band of the ephod, and with it tied the ephod on him. 8 Then he put the breastplate on him, and he put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastplate. 9 And he put the turban on his head. Also on the turban, on its front, he put the golden plate, the holy crown, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

God prescribed suitable clothing for the priests. The clothing of the priests set them apart from that which was common. They had different clothes to symbolize their different position and task in life.

Similarly, the priesthood of believers needs to put on the robes of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ (Is. 61:10; Rom. 13:14). This clothing distinguishes the believer priest because it is characterized by certain things. Paul described such clothing in the following way to the Colossians:

· Colossians 3:12-14 - 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

The person who wears that clothing is distinguishably holy in a contrasting sinful world.

Consecration involves the Spirit Empowerment

Leviticus 8:10-12 - 10 Also Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the laver and its base, to consecrate them. 12 And he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.

Oil in scripture is a symbol of the Spirit (cf. Zechariah 4:1-10). The priests being anointed with oil typified the need for the priest to be empowered by the Spirit. Serving as God’s priests was not something that could be done in one’s own strength. The priest of God needed to rely on The Spirit of God for staying power.

Similarly, Jesus instructed the early apostles and disciples to wait until they were empowered by the Spirit before they attempted to serve the Lord (Acts 1:4-5, 8). When they obeyed the Lord, those who had previously deserted the Lord in fear became bold proclaimers of the gospel in the power of the Spirit (Acts 2). It’s futile and will be very frustrating to serve or attempt to serve the Lord apart from the empowerment of the Spirit. Seek His empowerment and don’t lunge ahead in your own strength without it.

Consecration involves Girding and Discipleship

Leviticus 8:13 - 13 Then Moses brought Aaron’s sons and put tunics on them, girded them with sashes, and put hats on them, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Moses had dressed Aaron (8:7-9), now he brought Aaron’s sons and put their tunics on and tied them in place with sashes. He put their hats on and followed the instructions of God. First Moses dressed Aaron, then his sons. There is an element of passing on instruction here. First Aaron was dressed and then his sons. This is a picture of discipleship. The sons of Aaron were to learn and follow what Moses had first done to Aaron.

Jesus’ gave the Great Commission which involves discipleship. Disciples are learners. They watch their Master and follow in His steps (Luke 11:1 ff.; 1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn. 2:6). Paul instructed others to follow his example (Phil. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:10). This is discipleship.

Furthermore, just as Aaron and his sons were to put on and tie together their clothes, New Testament believer priests of God need to put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). We tie all of our armor battlement together with the belt buckle of truth. God’s word is the truth that helps us to keep everything in place and tie it all together (John 17:17).

By now you’ve come to realize the deep work God desires to do in your life through consecration. Consecration is working out your salvation as well as God working in us. It’s the perfect balance involved with serving the Lord. Like a diamond in the rough that needs to be shaped for its ring, consecration readies us to serve the Lord.

How about you? Are you ready to present yourself to God? Do you understand a bit better what consecration is all about? I hope so. God is calling us to a consecrated life. He has chosen us to serve Him. He wants to wash us and dress us up for the task ahead. In the final part of this study we’ll look at some very practical aspects of consecration. Until then, I ask you, are you willing to come before Holy God to have Him do His holy work in you? I pray you are.

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