Wednesday’s Word of the Day: Consecrate

30 11 2011

Today’s word is consecrate.  The adjective means solemnly dedicated to or set apart for a high purpose, and one verb meaning is to dedicate oneself to a deity by a vow.  This word has always confused me when I read it in scripture, especially the Old Testament.  As humans, we are sinful by nature; therefore we could not be perfect.  However, consecration does not mean perfection.  It means dedication, devotion, determination.

Mount Sinai

The roots of the word are Latin.  Con comes from com which means together, and secrate comes from secrare which means sacred.  Thus, the literal meaning is together sacred.  To me, the idea communicated by the literal meaning is reserved for something or someone.  When we follow the command of Leviticus 20:7 to “consecrate ourselves therefore and be holy,” we are setting ourselves apart for the LORD.

This idea, setting yourself apart for the LORD, takes on a powerful meaning when examining the Abrahamic covenant in its cultural context.  Ray Vander Laan, an American pastor who attended Rabbinic schools in Israel, explains the covenant described in Genesis 15.  As he begins, he explains that the covenant is practiced in the middle eastern culture today.  An animal (or animals in this story) is slaughtered, split in half, and arranged with the halves opposite of one another, and its blood pools in the middle.  In context, the greater party (Yahweh) walks through the pieces of the animal through the blood and declares “May the same thing be done to me if I break this covenant.”  Next, the lesser party (Abram) walks through the pieces and repeats the vow.  What is interesting in this story is that Abram fell asleep, was seized by terror and great darkness (fear), and witnessed a smoking oven and a flaming torch pass between the pieces.  Vander Laan continues to explain that God knew Abraham could not keep the covenant, so God the Father and Jesus the Son passed through the pieces as the smoking oven and the flaming torch respectively.  Abram could not do it, because God knew Abram could not keep his end of the deal.  Vander Laan concludes his explanation by saying that God signed Jesus’ death warrant in that moment.  The Father condemned His Son to death.

I can’t repeat , think about, or dwell on that glorious and tragic statement enough.  The cross, for Jesus, became reality in the covenant.  In other words, Jesus was consecrated for the cross.  He was set apart for a high purpose which He fulfilled.  In My Utmost for His Highest, (Nov. 27) Oswald Chambers explains that brooding on the cross leads to consecration and that by brooding on it we “become dominantly concentrated on Jesus Christ’s interests”.  He also explains, as Leviticus 20:7 does, “consecration is our part, sanctification is God’s part.”  He explains consecration as deliberately determining to be interested in only what God is interested.

What dominates you? Who or what holds your interest or spends your energy?  Do you focus on the Cross?

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