Consecration Series: Set apart to set boundaries (Exodus 19:23)
Hello guys, this is the second part of the consecration series. This part focuses on 'being set apart for special use'. I am confident that you will learn a thing or two from it. Do read, comment and share as well. Happy reading. - Eli Sabblah
In the bible, consecration is revealed as the setting apart of an individual, an artifact, or anything at the LORD’s request or command. Setting apart means to separate something and make it special or distinct. It can also mean being distant or separated from the crowd. When God commands that a person be set apart for him, it means he has a special assignment for them. Therefore, he will require the individual to operate with a different mindset from that which is common among men and to be unique in values, conduct, and deeds. Not all men enjoy the privilege of receiving assignments from God hence the one who has been set apart for a specific assignment should know that he will journey on a road not common to the ordinary man. Anybody who is destined to journey on a road less traveled must be prepared to be different from the average person.
The concept of “setting apart for special use” is present in the everyday life of the average person. For example, people often reserve nice, costly, or flamboyant clothes for special occasions. These clothes could hang in the wardrobe for days, months, or even years until there is a special occasion that befits the wearing of such clothes. This very much typifies how God sets people apart for special use. He first chooses them, then separates them from the lot and prepares them, often behind the scenes, to be used for special assignments. It is one of God’s observable ways of dealing with his children both in the Old and New Testaments of the bible as shown below:
|Old Testament reference – Numbers 8:14||New Testament reference – Acts 13:2|
|“Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine.||While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.|
In the first verse, God commands Moses to separate or set apart the entire tribe of Levi from among the people of Israel for the LORD. Before God made this statement, he instructed Moses to perform some purification rituals to cleanse the Levites. God, after he struck down the firstborns of the Egyptians, consecrated for himself all the firstborns of Israel. In effect, every firstborn Israelite belonged to the LORD. But on the occasion of commanding the consecration of the Levites, God replaced the firstborns of Israel with the tribe of Levi (v 18). The Levites, on this day, were set apart from their brethren, to belong to the LORD and to perform the special assignment of doing “the service for the people of Israel, at the tent of meeting…”. From that day forward, the Levites were tasked to take care of the tent of meeting and also to make atonement for the people of Israel that there may be no plague among them (v. 19). In this story we can see the theme of “setting apart for special use” clearly illustrated.
In the second verse, we see Paul and Barnabas being set apart for a special assignment. According to the story, there was a group of Teachers and Prophets who were fasting and worshipping God in the church at Antioch. While doing this, the Holy Spirit instructed them to separate Paul and Barnabas for the work which he had called them to do. This is quite similar to the instruction given to Moses about the Levites. In this case, the special “ritual” that was done afterward was the laying of the brethren’s hands on Saul and Barnabas, after which they were sent off to go and execute the task the Lord intended for them to do. Right after this, they went to Cyprus to preach the word of God and perform miracles.
In the anchor verse for this article (Exodus 19:23), we are made to understand that in consecration, boundaries are set around the consecrated thing and little or no access is given to it. I will explain. God scheduled a meeting with the children of Israel. As you would know, the characteristics of all physical meetings include the venue, date, time, and the individuals involved. In this case, the venue was the camp of Israel, the date was three days after the meeting was scheduled, and the attendees were God and the entire congregation of Israel. God, being the “chairperson” of this meeting told Moses that he would “…come down on Mount Sinai”. This means that during this meeting, God would be “seated” or “stationed” on Mount Sinai. God is holy, hence, anywhere he dwells must be treated as such. “Anywhere” here includes the hearts of men. He gave Moses clear instructions as to how his “seat”, Mount Sinai, should be treated during the meeting. God expected his “seat” to be consecrated and the attendees of the meeting to be consecrated as well. He commanded Moses to consecrate the children of Israel for two days by washing their garments (v 10) and by staying away from sex (v.15). About the mountain, he said in Exodus 19:12:
And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death.
One interesting fact about this instruction is that even animals would be put to death if they touched the mountain. Having direct access to the mountain was such a grievous act that the person or animal that did it would not be touched but stoned to death.
In verses 21 and 22, the LORD elaborates on this instruction by telling Moses to warn the people not to penetrate the limits Moses had set around the mountain. He also instructed the priests to consecrate themselves before they came near the mountain lest the LORD breaks out against them. In this passage, we understand that the mountain had been consecrated unto the LORD therefore he permitted little or no access to it. Why? Because he was going to be stationed on Mount Sinai. It is very important that as a consecrated individual you set boundaries around you. Not everybody should have access to you nor should you be influenced by any thought, philosophy, idea, or way of life. You must learn to set boundaries around you. Imagine how Samson’s life would have turned out if he had a strong principle against going near Philistine women or allowing them to have access to him. Who or what has access to you is very important in your consecration. The following are a few thoughts I noted down on this sub-theme:
- Access is very important in consecration. The level of access that people have to you and the level of influence and control material things and worldly ideas have over you has a bearing on how well you will keep the terms of your consecration.
- There must be a cap on who and what has access to you when you are consecrated. Everybody should not have access to your time and everything shouldn’t have your attention. Especially when it comes to people or things that can have a negative influence on your life.
- You must set boundaries all around you for this purpose. Implement strict measures to keep things out and be intentional about who and what gets in.
- Boundaries are set to keep things within a specific area and/or to keep things from entering that area. Setting boundaries around you as a consecrated person means you are consciously taking steps to prevent yourself from indulging in unholy activities and from overindulging in the mundane. It also signifies that you will be content to indulge in that which God has sanctioned for you personally.
- Your heart could morph into a wild beast if not put on a leash. For the sake of the occupant of your heart, learn to set boundaries around his place of abode. Be strict about it and don’t compromise your standards.
In conclusion, as a person who is undergoing consecration, you must learn to keep the terms of your consecration. Carry yourself with dignity and respect. Just as Moses treated Mount Sinai, do the same with yourself. For the Holy Spirit of God is domiciled in you (1 Corinthians 3:16). Walk in this consciousness and do not indulge in unholy things and overindulge in the mundane. Set boundaries all around you. Not everybody is supposed to have access to you nor are you supposed to be influenced by any and every person. You are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, act like it.
Feature image: @frankfmx on IG