Choosing to be Chosen
The People Consecrated
When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’ ” The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Jesus Heals a Paralytic1
And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
Consecration is a church word that goes back thousands of years to the time of Moses, and perhaps even earlier. It is the ritualistic separation of people or things for the purpose of spiritual and/or religious work. It is something archeologists would appreciate as they study the ancient objects of worship. Nowadays, we have a bit less appreciation for religious anything in our increasingly secular world.
I think perhaps a better analogy would be for autographed items. If you have a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, you are not going to use it to play a pickup game in your backyard. If you have a guitar autographed by Eric Clapton, you are not going to play around the fire on a camping trip. An autograph changes both the value and purpose of such items.
To be consecrated is like being signed by God. While God did consecrate certain religious items in the Old Testament, His focus has always been on consecrating people. He doesn’t sign bibles, He signs His name on us. When God signs us, our value goes up drastically. Not only are we a human being, we become a child of God. Our purpose changes too. We are no longer made to live common lives. We are “set apart” for the special works that God has for us. The way we live everyday takes on more meaning.
But this new life doesn’t automatically happen. We can choose to live ordinary lives, or even less dignified lives if we want, just as we can take those priceless, autographed items and toss them around like cracker-jack prizes. Doing so is incredibly foolish, but part of the gift God gives us by choosing us, is in giving us the choice to choose how we will live. We can live up to our new worth in His name, or we can go on living as though we were never chosen by Him at all. God give us the gift of new, abundant life… but we have to choose to stand up and walk with it.
What do you think your value is?
How has God changed your value?
What difference does that make in the choices you have to make today?
- (Mk 2:1–12; Lk 5:17–26) ↩