Devotional Thoughts for Today
The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.” 14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
Evidently, several professional athletes partake in elaborate pre-game rituals. For example, Rafael Nadal, the famed Spanish tennis-player, first walks onto the tennis court with just one racket in his hand. After the coin toss to decide who serves first, Rafael always sprints back to the base-line. During change-overs, he eats an energy gel in the exact same way each time, and he drinks his water and recovery drinks in a certain order, placing them in the exact same position and location each time. Nadal is not the only one with rituals; other athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretzky, and Cristiano Ronaldo all partake in their own pre-game rituals.
To an ordinary person, these rituals may seem superstitious and quirky. However, rituals are tools to help professional athletes to focus on preparing for the game by blocking out unnecessary distractions.
In this passage, the Lord tells Moses that, on the third day He will appear before the Israelites as a thick cloud, so that they may hear the Lord speak to Moses. I can imagine the Israelite camp feeling both nervous and excited. At this point, they had only received messages from the Lord through Moses, but now they were going to have the privilege of audibly hearing the voice of God.
Before appearing to them, the Lord commands the Israelites to consecrate themselves by washing their clothes (v.10), not touching the mountain (v. 12), and abstaining from sexual intercourse (v. 15).
Why does the Lord ask them to consecrate themselves? First, God is Holy and requiring the Israelites to consecrate themselves reveals that He is separate from them. In order for them to be in His presence, they must cleanse themselves of all sin through these rituals. Second, like the athletes mentioned above, God wanted them to be not only spiritually prepared, but also mentally prepared. The physical act of washing themselves, abstaining from women, and not touching the mountain reminds them that they are going to be in the presence of the creator of the universe.
Many Christians, especially me, have forgotten the importance of consecration. There is a lack of preparation when it comes to meeting with the creator of the universe on Sundays. Some of us treat our Sunday mornings like any other day—often scrambling to just make it on time. Yet, this passage reminds us of the importance of having rituals to help us focus on Sunday worship.
While I am not advocating for us to be like the Israelites, I am encouraging us to find certain activities that may prepare us for our meeting with the Lord. It may be sleeping earlier on Saturdays, so that we may wake up earlier for service. It may be playing a worship CD or Bible mp3 on the way to church. Or, as a family, pray together in the car. Whatever it may be, these actives will help shift our focus from all the distractions around us unto the Lord.
This morning, what are some ways that you may better prepare yourself for Sunday worship? After you have thought of certain ways, make a commitment to the Lord that you will better prepare yourself this year. Remember, it is a great privilege to be in the presence of God, and we must give Him our best.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that you are a God who has made a way for us to enter into your presence. Help me not to take this privilege lightly. If there are adjustments that I need to make to better prepare my heart, please remind me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Joshua 3:1-17: Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits[a] between you and the ark; do not go near it.” 5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” 6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them. 7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’”9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” 14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
Questions to consider
- Why did Joshua tell the Israelites to consecrate themselves?
- Through parting the Jordan River, what was God revealing to the Israelites about Joshua?
- How was the Lord going to guide Israel through the Promised Land?
- Joshua told the Israelites to consecrate themselves because the Lord was going to do amazing things among them, namely, parting the Jordan River. (v. 5 & 14-17)
- Through parting the Jordan River, the Lord wanted to reveal to the Israelites that Joshua was the chosen leader after Moses. Just as God parted the Red Sea during Moses’ time, God was going to part the Jordan River during Joshua’s time. (v. 7)
- The Lord gives Joshua strict commands that when the Ark of the Covenant begins to move, all of Israel must “move out from their positions and follow it.” The Promised Land was a new territory, and the Israelites had no idea which direction to go. Therefore, the Lord commanded the Israelites to follow the Ark of the Covenant.
Consecration is important because it prepares our heart, spirit, and mind to meet with the Lord. He is the creator of the universe, and He deserves our best. What are some reasons why you forget to prepare yourself before meeting the Lord? Take a moment to meditate on this question.