His sermon for the day is taken from Joshua 3:1-17. I am usually captured by passages from the Old Testament because I don't study them enough and thus I am not very familiar with them. This passage is about bringing the people of Israel to cross over the Jordan River. God is also establishing Joshua's position in the sight of the Israelites that Joshua is indeed chosen by God and will lead them as Moses did. God really takes care of everything from every angle.
Pastor emphasised on 3:5, Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you."
We too need to consecrate ourselves before the Lord and allow him to use us. Like Joshua, we need to hear and listen to God. We must then obey. It only when we are clean and set apart for him, are we able to hear, and when we hear, we must have faith. We then must obey and we will see God work.
However, I was also thinking about the act of consecration:
- What is consecration?
- Who does the consecration?
- How are we consecrated?
- How does consecration relate to justification and sanctification?
- Who needs to be consecrated in the Old Testament?
- Are there consecration performed in the New Testament?
This is a big topic. A bit too big for me to delve in now, not in just one night. The requirement for consecration or holiness is seen throughout the Old Testament, where the people of God is expected to ritually consecrate themselves in the presence of God. It is serious business. In Josh 3:5, "it is purification for battle, in accord with the law of Deut 23:15. When God leads his people into the land of the enemy, her camp must be purified." (Butler, 46)
In the New Testament, holiness is definitely still a requirement in God's presence. This requirement is however fulfilled in Christ our Lord, on the cross. We are justified by faith to be holy and presentable before God.
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
But having being justified through Christ, even though we can now approach God with confidence because of Christ, there is still our part to play, that is to work out our salvation with fear and trembling: the process of sanctification. We need to be sanctified by the truth, the Word of God is truth, and through the Spirit of God.
The New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words summarises it very clearly:
The idea of holiness in both Testaments is one of consecration to God. In the OT, holiness involves keeping both cultic (ritual) and moral commandments. Places and things and even persons were set aside as sacred, to have no contact with the common or ordinary. But the OT consistently reminds us that the key to understanding holiness is found in the character of God. Holiness is expressed in his power and his own moral character. So true holiness in his people will necessarily have a strong moral component.
In the NT the cult of the OT is set aside. The emphasis in NT teaching about holiness is squarely on the moral. There is another shift in emphasis as well. The OT maintained strict separation between the holy and the profane. In the NT, holiness is true goodness woven through the lifestyle of the believer and expressed in every daily activity and in every relationship.
In the OT, God's people consecrated persons, places, and things solely for God's use. In the NT, God's Spirit himself acts in salvation to set us apart to God. In addition, the Holy Spirit continues to act in our lives to infuse us with Christ's own likeness and to enable us by his power to express Christlikeness in our daily lives. It is here that we find the true holiness of the NT: joyous commitment to God and to the truly good, expressed in everything we say and do. (Richards, 341)
I was also to start the youth on bible study today. I had prepared introductory materials on the bible, its character, formal structure and divine inspiration. I was initially told that the number of people I will be teaching will be in the 20s. However, I got more than I bargained for - the Trinity Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, which is the "English-speaking conference" of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, has its youth discipleship camp for youth called the Jeremiah School attending our church service today and most of them stayed back for youth fellowship. With more than 40 people, I had to improvise. Nevertheless, it was a good time of learning.
I thank God for his leading and guidance - I never could have done it without God's grace and loving kindness, and I thank God for allowing me to serve him this way.
Soli deo gloria.
Trent C. Butler, vol. 7, Word Biblical Commentary : Joshua, Word Biblical Commentary, (Dallas: Word, 2002): 46.
Lawrence O. Richards, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985, 1991): 341.