March 6, 2015

Consecration is more about heart and ears than outward appearance

Numbers 6:1–27
John 13:21–38
Psalm 7:1–17

If someone says a person is godly, I want to know what that looks like. Are they always talking about spiritual things? Carrying a Bible? Praying continually? In church five times a week? These questions came to mind today when I read these verses from the Old Testament . . .

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins. All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. All the days that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body.’” (Numbers 6:1–6)

A Nazirite vow was a vow of consecration to God. In those days, it meant no wine, not even grape juice, grapes, or raisins. It meant letting your hair grow, and it meant not going near a dead body. A person who consecrated themselves would be obvious to others. That is fine, but how does it look today?

Jesus was totally consecrated to God. Obviously He was different than other people, but I’m not sure about these three characteristics. He did drink wine and He did touch a coffin and raise a dead boy to life. Scripture says nothing about His hair, but today’s reading from the New Testament tells me a little more about Him . . .

“After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.’ So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. (John 13:21–28)

Jesus is different here in that He knew who would betray Him, and He even urged Judas to get at it. The others were clueless. From this, I perceive that total dedication to God enables deep insight into God’s plans, even a deep commitment to see His will done, regardless of the cost.

The third reading adds more. The psalmist, in this case, David, talks to God. He is consecrated to the Lord with a submissive attitude that reveals his deep trust . . .  

“O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah . . . The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day . . . If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts . . . I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” (Psalm 7: 3–5, 8–11, 12–13, 17)

In these words I see humility, a willingness to be corrected if wrong, ready to be judged and tested. I also see that David’s consecration to God gives him insight into God’s righteousness. Because he draws near to God in total commitment, he understands the heart of God better that he otherwise might.

Consecration could be about wearing black and driving a horse and buggy. It could be about going to the mission field, or standing on a street corner handing out tracts. It could also be about saying no to booze and haircuts, or staying away from the deadness of my old life. But whatever it is, if I do it with an outward show in mind, then I’ve got it wrong. The person who gives themselves totally to the will of God is not going to be making the plans or calling the shots, but instead will be listening and doing whatever God says . . . no matter what it is, and because in the consecration, that person has ears to hear. 

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