Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5)
Joshua and the battle of Jericho is a famous Bible story, where finally Jericho’s “walls came tumblin’ down”. Today’s verse is just before that battle. It raises two questions: What does it mean to consecrate ourselves? And what amazing things should we expect from God today?
The word “consecrate” means to be set apart, dedicated to God. Joshua’s fighters were not to charge into battle spiritually unprepared. Before they entered battle, they were told to consecrate themselves to God as per their Law.
We are called to be consecrated too. Since we do not live under the Old Testament regulations, we need to ask ourselves: What does consecration mean in the 21st century? Does it mean that we should totally separate ourselves from our society–perhaps by going to live in an underground Christian bunker in Montana or a Christian commune in the wilderness of Vermont?
No, consecration for us means something else. It does mean to be set apart, but, surprisingly, the setting apart can somehow occur even living in the middle of our crazed 21st century culture. Somehow, we are living in this 21st century world but we’re not of it.
Once we determine to be set apart for God where we are living, just what are the amazing things God will do among us? In the case of Joshua and Jericho, God acted in a spectacular and miraculous way — but let me suggest that amazing things happen when God works in us in an ordinary way. It’s everyday daily living — going to work, running errands, studying, playing — but filled with a special empowerment from our King Jesus to live for his purposes and to grow to be more like him.
Now, what happens when this kind of consecrated living starts to spread throughout the church? As we each grow in consecration— we become part of a wider move of God — which leads to revival. Here is J.I. Packer’s definition of revival:
“God’s quickening visitation of his people, touching their hearts and deepening his work of grace in their lives.”
And Matthew Henry tells us,
“When God intends great mercy for His people, the first thing He does is to set them a praying.”
As we hunger to see God’s grace expand and spread, let’s join in with Henry’s suggestion and pray “Lord have mercy, grant us revival.”