Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.” (Exodus 19:10-11)
The word “consecrate” is more or less the same idea conveyed by the word “sanctify” — it is to commit yourself to be morally pure and/or physically clean for a particular duty or event. In this case, the people of Israel had to prepare themselves to meet God. They were given two full days to make preparations for His appearance on the Third Day.
There are multiple concepts and prophecies hinted at in these verses but, today, we will focus on the principle of making one’s self ready to meet with God. Prior to this event, Jacob followed the same protocol after returning to Canaan from Syria. As he prepared to go to Bethel to keep the vow he had made before leaving his homeland, he told those who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments” (Genesis 35:2). Many years after the events at Sinai, through the prophet Zechariah, the High Priest, Joshua, was instructed to change his garments which had become dirty and unfit for service in the Sanctuary.
Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. (Zechariah 3:3-5)
In the Bible, to consecrate or sanctify something or someone typically referred to avoiding spiritual contamination as it related to the Sanctuary, the seat of God’s Presence. To wash one’s clothes — or to be immersed in a mikveh before going to the Sanctuary — was an outward expression of something intended to occur internally. In other words, those with clean hands a pure heart are those who are permitted to ascend the hill of the LORD and stand in His Holy Place (Psalm 24:3).
All of this serves to remind us that, in anticipation of meeting the King, as His bride we must make ourselves ready (Revelation 19:7-8). We are the ones charged with making the crooked paths straight and preparing the way of the LORD – not the other way around. Therefore, as it was with Joshua the High Priest and Jacob before him, the time has come for us to change out of the garments tainted and stained with the dirt of this world and put on clean robes — which is to say, let us purify our hearts and minds. Soon our King will appear, and so, let us not be found wearing the wrong garment just when it is time to be ushered into the Presence of our King.
Blessings and Shalom,