Let us look at Exodus 28:1-2 and 29:1, 4, 9-10. After reading these verses, we can see that consecration is a very special matter. The nation of Israel was a nation chosen by God (Exo. 19:5-6), but it did not become a consecrated nation. There were twelve tribes among the Israelites, but not all the twelve tribes received the holy service. The tribe of Levi was one of the twelve tribes. They were a tribe chosen by God (Num. 3:11-13), but they were not a consecrated tribe. Among the many Levites, only the household of Aaron received the holy service. Not all of the Israelites received the holy service, not even all of the Levites. Only the household of Aaron received the holy service. In order to be consecrated, one had to belong to this household. If one were not a member of this household, he could not consecrate himself. Only the members of this household—the household of Aaron—were qualified to be priests, and only they could consecrate themselves.
Thank God, today we are the members of this household. Those who believe in the Lord are the members of this household. All who have been saved by grace are priests (Rev. 1:5-6). God has chosen us to be the priests. Initially, only the members of Aaron’s household could consecrate themselves; if anyone else came near, he would have been put to death (Num. 18:7). We must remember that only those chosen by God to be priests can consecrate themselves. Thus, only the members of this household could consecrate themselves. Today God has chosen us to be the priests; therefore, we are the members of this household. Hence, we are qualified to consecrate ourselves.
Here we see that man does not consecrate himself because he has chosen God. Rather, God is the One who chooses and calls, and then man consecrates himself to Him. Those who consider that they are doing God a favor by forsaking all are but outsiders; they are not consecrated at all. We must realize that our service to God is not a favor or courtesy to God. It is not a matter of offering ourselves to God’s work, but a matter of God being gracious to us and giving us a portion of His work. It is God who has given us the glory and the beauty. The Bible tells us that the holy garment of the priest is for glory and beauty (Exo. 28:2). Consecration is God giving us glory and beauty; it is God calling us into His service. If we boast in anything at all, we must boast in our marvelous Lord. There is nothing marvelous for the Lord to have servants like us. The marvelous thing is for us to have such a Lord! We must see that consecration is the result of being chosen. Serving God is an honor to us. We are not uplifting God, as if we were sacrificing anything for Him or as if we had any glory in ourselves. Consecration is God giving us the glory. We should prostrate ourselves before Him and say, “Thank You that I can have a part in Your service. There are so many people in this world, yet I am chosen to have a part in it!” Consecration is our honor, not our sacrifice. It is true that we need to have the greatest sacrifice, but there is no sense of sacrifice in consecration. There is only the full sense of God’s glory.
The goal of consecration is not to become a preacher for God or to work for Him. The goal of consecration is to serve Him. The result of consecration is service. In the original language the word service means “to wait upon.” This means that a person is prepared to serve. We must remember that the goal of consecration is to wait upon God. Waiting upon someone may not be strenuous work. To wait upon God means that you stand when He wants you to stand. If He wants to shuffle you aside, you allow Him to shuffle you aside, and if He wants you to run, you run. This is what it means to wait on Him.
God requires that all Christians offer up their bodies to wait on Him. This does not necessarily mean that He wants you to stand at the pulpit or evangelize some remote land. It means to wait on God. If God sends someone to the pulpit, that person has no choice but to speak. If God sends someone to remote lands, he has no choice but to go. All our time is for God, but the work that we do is flexible. Everyone should wait on God, but the specific work that one should engage in is flexible. We must learn to wait on God. The presenting of one’s body is for serving God.
As long as we are Christians, we have to serve God all our lives. As soon as a person consecrates himself, he must realize that from that point on, the Lord’s requirement comes first. Service to God becomes one’s lifelong mission. May God be gracious to us and show us that our service to Him is our rightful duty. We should show every believer that henceforth we are those who serve the Lord. We must realize that as Christians, we can no longer be loose in anything. I am not saying that we should not be faithful and committed to our career or that we can be idle. This is not what I mean. We still need to be faithful and serious in our vocation. But before God we must see that our entire life is directed towards our service to God. We do everything for the purpose of obeying God’s will and pleasing Him. This is the reality of consecration.
Consecration is not how much we can give to God. It is being accepted by God and being granted the honor of serving Him. Consecration is reserved for Christians alone; it is not for everyone. Only the saved ones, those who belong to the Lord, can consecrate themselves. Consecration means that we say, “Lord, You have given me the opportunity and the right to come before You and to serve You.” It is saying, “Lord, I am Yours. My ears were purchased by the blood; they belong to You. My hands were purchased by the blood; they belong to You. My feet were purchased by the blood; they belong to You. From now on I can no longer use them for myself.”
We do not beg others to consecrate themselves. Instead, we tell them that a way is now available for them to consecrate themselves. There is a way to serve our God, the Lord of hosts. We must be clear that we are here to serve the Lord of hosts. It is grossly wrong to think that consecration is a matter of granting God a favor.
The revelation in the Old Testament is very clear. A man can only consecrate himself to God under His approval. The New Testament also exhorts us to consecrate ourselves through the compassions of God. God loves us so much; therefore, we have to consecrate ourselves. This is the most reasonable service. This is not a request for favor; this is the most reasonable thing, the most natural thing, to do. Consecration does not depend upon our willingness. It is because of God’s abounding grace that we can consecrate ourselves. We must see that having the right to be God’s servant is the greatest honor of our life. It is a joyful thing for a man to be saved. It is a far more joyful thing for a man to have a part in God’s service! Who do we think our God is? We have to see His greatness and His glory. Only then will we see the tremendous significance and honor of this service! What a tremendous thing it is for us to receive His grace and be counted worthy of serving Him!
From Messages for Building Up New Believers, pp. 45-54.
(Separated Unto the Lord, Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)