When Samuel arrived in Bethlehem, he told his guests to consecrate themselves. The word ‘consecrate’ means that they should make themselves holy. In other words, they should prepare themselves for God to work among them. They should separate themselves from all that is not holy.
Really, no physical action can make a person holy. It can only happen by means of God’s work in a person’s spirit. However, people can choose whether or not they will allow God to work in their lives. We cannot control God, but we can obey him. We cannot force God to make us holy, but we can be humble towards him. In other words, we must not be proud and we must accept his authority over our lives.
In order to consecrate themselves, people dealt with their inner attitudes and they carried out certain physical actions. The purpose of those actions was to express the attitude of their hearts.
So, for example, they washed themselves and their clothes (Mark 7:3-4; Exodus 19:10). That expressed the idea that they wanted God to make them clean (Psalm 51:7). In fact, God would consider them clean when he forgave their sins (evil deeds) - Isaiah 1:18. So they also confessed their sins to God.
Samuel’s guests prepared in that special manner because Samuel’s meal had a sacred purpose. The guests would be eating meat that Samuel had offered to God as a sacrifice (a gift to God). God allowed his people to eat that meat so that they could express their friendship with God and with each other. So it was important that each guest’s relationship with God was both strong and sincere.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.