“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow
the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
Moses had died and Joshua takes over the leadership of the children of Israel. They had been wandering in the Wilderness for forty years and now the time had come to claim the promise and possess the land.
In Joshua 1 the Lord meets with Joshua and affirms and encourages him for the task ahead. It is time to move forward. He calls on Joshua to be strong and very courageous. (Josh 1:6-9).
In Chapter 2, Joshua sends out two spies and they return saying that the land is theirs for the taking. Plans were in place, the provisions secured and it was time to go. They muster the people at the Jordan and in no time, everyone is ready to move, but there is one more vital thing to do.
Anticipating a miracle
In Chapter 3:5 Joshua addresses the people and tells them that they have a part to play in the miracle that God will perform. The Lord was about to do ‘amazing things’. But, they were not to rush ahead nor act presumptuously.
They had to take the time to make a fresh commitment. They were to make sure that they would not be a stumbling block or a barrier to what the Lord was intending. So Joshua calls on them to ‘consecrate themselves’.
You have a role to play
The Bible tells us over and over that God wants to bless His people and do ‘amazing things’ amongst us. We all long to see God, unmistakably at work, changing lives and bringing hope and healing to the nations. While some of that will only be fully realised when Jesus comes again, there is the promise in Scripture that we can “call on Him and He will do great things” in our day (Jeremiah 33:3). While that is ultimately the Work of God by His Spirit, this call by Joshua reminds us that we have a role to play.
There is our part and there is God’s part.
1) Our part: we must commit
Our Heavenly Father never works in a vacuum. As we read the Scriptures and study the history of God at work, we discover that God always enlists people to work with Him. It was John Wesley who said “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer.” He always makes people a part of what He does.
The great Revivals can be traced back to a faithful few who prayed, sometime for years for God to bring revival. In every significant movement of God, faithful men and women have played a role in facilitating what God initiates and decides to do. In every church and ministry God uses people. We have a role to play in preparing the way for God to work. Our part usually starts with what the Bible calls ‘an act of consecration’.
This is the starting place. The journey towards knowing a special work of God in us and amongst us always starts here. It starts with an act of commitment. With the Lord’s people getting to the place where they say “Here am I Lord, use me!”
Consecration means ‘setting ourselves aside for God’s use’. It is a common theme and a common requirement in Scripture. This is such an important issue that the words ‘consecrate’, ‘holy’, ‘set apart’ occurs 260 times. At times it refers to objects being set apart but most of the time it refers to people being separated for God’s use.
Presenting yourself to God
In the beginning of God’s dealing with sinful man we read: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.” Lev 20:7.
This is essentially what Paul is saying in Romans 12:1: “Present yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.”
This is not reserved for the super spiritual or some special elite group, but all God’s people are called to be ‘set apart for His use’.
What does this require?
We need not overcomplicate this or make this some strange ritual or spiritual practice that is reserved for certain people. It is very practical and not beyond any of us.
Commit to live for Jesus
The Lord Jesus must be first in our lives. Always remember that commitment wanes, meaning that last year or even last week’s commitment may have been life-changing at the time, but Jesus tells us “to take up our crosses daily to follow Him” Luke 9:23.
For all who are believers, there was a defining moment when we surrendered to Christ. Nothing can take that away, but there needs to be a regular commitment that keeps that fresh and relevant. So ‘consecration’ or ‘setting ourselves apart’ needs to be a part of our lives.
This is not to say we are being saved again. But like in a marriage, where we tell each other that we love one another and that we are committed to each other, so our relationship with Christ needs to be something fresh.
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in My presence, but now much more in My absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose.” Phil 2:12-13.
“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.” 2 Peter 1:10.
Deal with and keep a short account of sin
Nothing blocks the work of God like sin. We all know that. We all also know that none of us are exempt. We are all subject to, and vulnerable to, areas of temptation. This also needs to be dealt with regularly.
Before Joshua sets out into the Land of Promise, he wants to ensure that the people, who have to take the land, have dealt with sin. Because if they don’t, it will entangle and complicate and restrict the Work of God. Many a Christian life, of great promise, has gone nowhere because of not dealing with sin.
“I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” Ps 38:18.
“Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” Ps 32:5.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.
Live a life filled with His Word and His Spirit
Consecration is not so much an event as it is a process. It is a process of learning to depend on God’s Spirit to equip and enable us. And the Spirit’s usual instrument is His Word. The Lord instructs Joshua to:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the Law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Josh 1:7.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Josh 1:8
“So He said to me, “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” Zech 4:6
2) God’s part:He will do amazing things
A hardworking farmer does all he can. He plants, waters, fertilises, weeds and then he waits and lets nature take its course. We do our part, a part that God has initiated, and then we look expectantly for God, by His Spirit, to do His great work.
God’s work is not always about the spectacular. The Lord is not into putting on a show. He is wonderfully at work, in His own way, and when we recognise His work, it is always amazing. A person coming to Christ is amazing. Where people find hope and freedom and are set free from sin, it is amazing.
When the Lord brings healing and when He moves amongst us by His Spirit, it is amazing. When God restores marriages and families, it is amazing. When purpose is given to empty lives and when He provides for our needs and bring ‘life abundant’ it is amazing.
This is all God’s amazing part!
Called to make a difference
Joshua’s call challenges us as we live in a broken world. We have been called to make a difference and to be instruments the Lord can use. He only uses instruments that are ‘consecrated’ or ‘set apart’ for His use.