Consecration – Consequences (Exodus 19:12, 22 and 24)
Hello guys, this is the fifth part of the Consecration Series. Sorry I kept you waiting for months. In this part of the series I take a look at the consequences of not following through with the terms of consecration. I feel it is important that we are realize that there are consequences when we don't obey God's specific instructions. Happy reading. - Eli Sabblah
Just as obeying the terms of consecration leads to tremendous benefits, disobeying the terms of consecration can lead to severe consequences. Throughout the scriptures, we are privy to the stories of people who followed through with the instructions God gave them in their consecration. On the other hand, there are stories of those who did not obey these instructions, and regardless of their background and affiliation to God, they still faced severe consequences for their actions. In the final part of this series, we will take a look at the consequences of not keeping to the terms of consecration.
Before we delve into this topic fully, I would like to talk briefly about “subjects of consecration”. This will answer the question, “what/who can be consecrated?”. Although I haven’t made the classification until this point in the series, allow me to state emphatically that human beings are not the only subjects of consecration mentioned in the bible. Especially in the Old Testament, we see the consecration of “things” as well. Which is very interesting because it makes one wonder why God will put so much value on objects. My initial response to this question is that God is uncommon (Holy) by nature therefore, any person affiliated to him and anything associated with Him must reflect his nature. This is why God often uses people or things that are consecrated unto him.
On the basis of what I have shared so far, I will be looking at the topic of the consequences of flouting the terms of consecration regarding,
- Consecrated people.
- Consecrated objects
Individuals can either disobey instructions given to them to keep or disobey instructions regarding the handling of things/people that are consecrated to God. In both cases, there are severe ramifications that we need to pay close attention to and learn from. We will take a close look at both instances throughout scripture in the following paragraphs of this piece.
Consequences of flouting the terms of personal or communal consecration
As has already been established throughout this series, God often gives specific instructions to individuals and groups of people that sets them apart from everyone else. This is what consecration is all about. Often, we are told the consequences that these individuals will face if they don’t obey the instructions God has given them. Some of the consequences are dire; in some instances it travels through generations.
In our anchor bible passage (Exodus 19:22 and 24), we see the emphasis that the LORD places on his children following the terms of their consecration to the letter. God gives specific instructions concerning the state the Priests should be in before they approach him. The Priests were an already consecrated group of people (Numbers 8:5-22) but for this particular event (in Exodus 19) the LORD was manifesting physically in their midst hence they needed to further consecrate themselves before they drew near to him.
What are the consequences for the Priests who flout this instruction?
God stated unequivocally that if any Priest draws near to him without being consecrated, he would break out against him. Basically, the instruction to the Priests was to consecrate themselves before they approach the LORD lest he passes a severe judgement that will lead to their destruction. The Priests did not face the consequences stated because they obeyed the terms of consecration. However, in the story of Samson, we see how he went against the terms of his consecration to divulge the source of his power to Delilah leading to his destruction. It is important for us to take the terms of our consecration very seriously. Sin is consequential. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and we cannot continue to sin that grace should abound. Aside from sin, we are told in the New Testament to walk worthy of the call upon our lives (Ephesians 4:1). This is incredibly important and needs to be given due attention. To walk worthy of your calling is to be in consistent remembrance of your calling and acting accordingly. Your calling determines your level of consecration, therefore if you are fully aware of it and never lose sight of it, you will be able to walk worthy of it.
Consequences of flouting the terms of handling or engagement with consecrated things.
In the Old Testament we are told of wars and the conquests of Israel’s enemies in Israel. Israel won some of its wars especially when they were living according to the will of God and they lost wars when they rebelled against God. One thing recurs often when Israel loses its wars: the enemies of Israel enter into the temple and carry away the vessels dedicated to God. Here are a two examples of the seizing of the articles in the House of the Lord by Israel’s enemies:
- Nebuchadnezzar seizing the vessels in the house of the Lord and carrying them away to Babylon – 2 Chronicles 36:18
- The Philistines carry away the Ark of the covenant and setting it before their god, Dagon – 1st Samuel 5
These vessels in the temple including the Ark of the Covenant are all sacred “items” dedicated to the God Israel. In fact, in 1st Kings 8:4 the vessels are referred to as “holy vessels”. Throughout this series, we have made the point that holiness is not necessarily sinlessness but being set apart for God or being “uncommon”. Therefore, it is safe to say the vessels were consecrated to God. Israel’s enemies who desecrated the vessels by making use of them like they would any ordinary vessel or in the case of the ark, placing it next to their god, faced some very terrible consequences. This is a typical example of what it means to desecrate a sacred or consecrated “article”. Treating a consecrated vessel as you would a regular one typifies desecration. Lets take for example King Belshazzar and his desecration of the vessels of the house of the God of Israel; in Daniel 5, he throws a party and requests for the vessels of the house of God so he, his lords, his wives and concubines could drink from them. The holy vessels of the house of God were reduced to ordinary party cups or wine glasses. They didn’t just drink from the vessels but also praised idols while at it. Almost immediately after this act, Belshazzar faced the consequences of his actions. He was killed that very night and another took his place. Again, in Exodus 19:12, the LORD orders Moses to set boundaries around Mount Sinai. This was to indicate uncommonness and separateness because the LORD would descend on the mountain to talk to His people. We can say that the mountain was consecrated unto the LORD in the brief moment that He descended on Mount Sinai. Hence, there were consequences for any person or animal that came close and touched the mountain. The penalty for flouting this rule was death by stoning. The man or animal that draws near to the mountain was not to be touched but stoned to death. Such a fatal punishment for touching a mere mountain it seems, right? However, the point is, when God attaches himself to anything it becomes consecrated and therefore there are terms of engagement that are set for everybody to follow, in this case, even for animals. This is what it means for a thing to be consecrated or set apart as holy to the LORD. This is what it means to flout the terms of consecration in handling consecrated items.
All I’ve been trying to say in this post is that, there are consequences when you desecrate or treat a consecrated person (including yourself) or article as ordinary. There are consequences that can be fatal and sometimes even affect generations after you. Therefore, we need to be intentional and circumspect in the way we carry ourselves about as consecrated individuals onto the LORD.