Dedication to God and Consecration
“Then said I, Lo, come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”—Ps. 40:7, 8.
1-3. Who are being marked today, and where, and in fulfillment of what prophecies?
YOU are being marked today in your forehead or in your right hand. No matter whether you are man or woman, boy or girl, white or colored, you are no exception. It is your mark of destiny, and your opportunity for life in a clean, righteous new world depends upon it. We are living in the days of the fulfillment of strange prophecies, and it is this fact that makes it appropriate to speak of a symbolic mark on the forehead or hand.
2 The aged exile on the prison isle of Patmos saw a gathering of 144,000 on top of Mount Zion around their King and they all had their Father’s name written in their foreheads. Due to this fact it is said: “They will rule as kings for ever and ever.” (Rev. 14:1, 3; 22:4, 5, NW) This same exile saw in his series of visions the formation of an “image of the wild beast” in these postwar years and the people everywhere being put under compulsion to worship it and thus to receive a “mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name”. Woe for such marked ones! They are destined to “drink of the wine of the anger of God that is poured out undiluted into the cup of his wrath”.—Rev. 13:15-17; 14:9, 10, NW.
3 Seven centuries earlier another exile, a Hebrew prophet at Babylon, saw the prototypes of the detestable things today being done in Christendom, dooming her and her worshipers to destruction. However, a man, a scribe clothed in linen, saved the day for some few men, women and children. He went on ahead and set a mark on their foreheads that they might be spared by the six executioners with slaughter weapons who closely followed him with divine orders to cut down every unmarked person, old man, young man, maid, little child and woman, in front of their temple or anywhere else in the city. (Ezek. 9:1-7) Today you, yes, you, come without fail within the purview of one or other of these prophecies. So, how are you being marked, for life or for death? See that it is for life.
4. Down to the present how are certain ones distinguished by literal markings, and which mark means doom, and which one life?
4 To this present time sectarian marks are put upon the foreheads, arms, or other parts of the body among the Hindus and other devotees in India. By this mark it is plainly shown who is a follower of the god Vishnu, who of Siva, who of Brahma, and who of some other of the multitude of gods. It is an old custom for the worshipers of particular idols to have their idol’s mark upon a part of the body plainly seen. In Bible times it was also customary to set marks on servants and slaves, to distinguish them from others. Now, you may not mark yourself or submit yourself to being marked with such a literal mark on your person, but, just the same, you cannot escape being marked in the Bible sense to a certain destiny. To God, the Judge of your destiny, this mark is just as plainly visible and decipherable as was the mark he set or prescribed for Cain lest anybody should take the law in his own hands and kill him as a murderer of Abel. (Gen. 4:15) Because it is popular and finds favor with the mighty ones in power in this world, you may be proud of the mark you now wear. It may win you approval, privileges and advancement in this world, but it may doom you to destruction in the eyes of the Supreme One who determines the fate of the nations and governments of this world. To be marked in the way that he approves means life for you. It opens up the way for you to survive through the coming world catastrophe of Armageddon into the new world which he creates.
5. How may we be marked to a destiny of life in the new world?
5 How can you and the rest of us be marked to a destiny of a prosperous life in the righteous new world? It is by being the slaves, the devoted servants, of the God of the new world. It is by having the identification mark which unmistakably shows everybody we meet that we belong to the Most High God, whose name alone is Jehovah. (Ps. 83:18) His great adversary is the “god of this system of things”, whose name is Satan the Devil, so that if you are serving the cause of this selfish, corrupt old world you are serving its god. (2 Cor. 4:4, NW; John 12:31) Our choice must be between these two opposing gods, the mighty god of this old world and the Almighty God of the everlasting new world. Whose service is bound to pay the best wages, to afford the worth-while reward? Why, of course, that of the living and true God, Jehovah, who will destroy the adversary god and his old world and permanently establish the new. Deciding to be marked for life in that new world, it is now urgent upon us to devote ourselves to Jehovah God and belong to him. How? By dedicating ourselves to him through his Son and High Priest, Jesus Christ. There is now no other way to approach God and be introduced into his service.
6. Whom did Psalm 40:7, 8 have in view, and whom did the law covenant make priests for the nation of Israel?
6 God’s Son and High Priest is the One whom the spirit of prophecy had in view when it caused the psalmist David to pen the words quoted at the head of this article. David, of the tribe of Judah and king of Jerusalem, was speaking there, not of his own coming to do God’s will, but of his descendant who would become High Priest as well as King and so be David’s Lord, namely, Jesus Christ. King David and all Israel needed to have such a High Priest come. They lived under the old covenant which Jehovah God had made with the nation of Israel through the prophet Moses. That covenant appointed the male members of the family of Aaron, Moses’ brother, to be the priests for the nation. The rest of the men in the tribe of Levi were officially called Levites and were appointed to serve the Aaronic priesthood. They regularly offered animal sacrifices and the blood of bulls and of goats for the sins of the nation of Israel so as to keep them in the law covenant with God.
7. Why were the Jewish priests unsatisfactory, and how was the suitable high priest raised up?
7 None of those Jewish high priests could offer to God a perfect human sacrifice able to cancel mankind’s debt to God, because all the Jewish priests were sinful and imperfect, being descendants from the original human sinners Adam and Eve. Only the one who offered such a perfect sacrifice could become God’s true High Priest. Only a miracle could bring about the humanly impossible. So God sent his Son in human form into this world. He did not come in the tribe of Levi and in the family of Aaron, but in David’s royal tribe of Judah. Since the old law covenant did not provide a satisfactory high priest in the family of Aaron the Levite, God raised up his acceptable High Priest in the royal line of David to present his own perfect human body as a sacrifice to God. By means of this suitable sacrifice his High Priest could act as mediator between God and men to establish a new covenant, using his own blood as the means by which to put the new covenant into force and give it the power to bring about true, permanent forgiveness of human sins. Explaining how the new High Priest Jesus Christ entered upon this life-saving work, the apostle Paul quotes from David’s psalm and goes on to say:
8. What does Hebrews 10:4-10 have to say about his coming?
8 “It is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away. Hence when he comes into the world he says: ‘“You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of whole burnt-offerings and sin offering.” Then I said, “Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.”’ After first saying, ‘You did not desire nor did you approve of sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt-offerings and sin offering’—sacrifices which are offered according to the Law—then he actually says, ‘Look! I am come to do your will.’ He does away with what is first that he may establish what is second. By the said ‘will’ we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.”—Heb. 10:4-10, NW; Ps. 40:6-8, LXX.
THE COURSE FOR US TO IMITATE
9. How was Jesus already holy at the time of such coming, and so what should we call his stepping out thus to do God’s will?
9 Now, what shall we call the step which Jesus there took in coming to do God’s will in the body which God had prepared for him to use on earth? Well, by birth as a Jew Jesus already belonged to a nation holy to God, being God’s chosen people, the descendants of his ancient friend Abraham. Also as a forty-day-old babe Jesus was presented to Jehovah God at his temple because he was Mary’s firstborn son. The record on this reads: “Also when the days for purifying them according to the law of Moses came to the full, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to Jehovah, just as it is written in Jehovah’s law, ‘Every male opening a womb must be called holy to Jehovah,’ and to offer sacrifice according to what is said in the law of Jehovah, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’” (Luke 2:22-24, NW) Regarding his very birth the angel who announced it to Mary said: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:35, NW) Jesus was holy and devoted to God by virtue of all these things. So what could we call his stepping out to do God’s will as written down in the roll of the book, the inspired Hebrew Scriptures? It was his presenting himself for divine service, and it required determination on his part. It was thus a dedication of himself to do whatever proved to be God’s will from then on.
10, 11. How did we use to speak of this step on Jesus’ part, and what place does that word or term occupy in the Christian Scriptures?
10 For many years it has been customary to speak of this as Jesus’ consecration of himself to God. According to the broad general sense in which the words “consecration” and “consecrate” are used in English today, this expression might pass. But it confuses matters in the Bible, as the Bible does not speak of it this way. It hides and takes away from what the Bible more specifically speaks of as consecrating or consecration. In the Christian Greek Scriptures of the Bible, according to the English King James Version, the word “consecrate” is a rare word, occurring only twice, as follows: “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.” (Heb. 7:28) “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.”—Heb. 10:20.
11 The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures does not contain the word “consecrate” at all in its main text, and hence the word is not used to describe anything that Jesus or any of his disciples did. In the above verses it reads: “For the Law appoints men high priests having weakness, but the word of the sworn oath that came after the Law appoints a Son, who is perfected forever.” (Heb. 7:28, NW) “Which he inaugurated for us as a new and living way through the curtain, that is, his flesh.” (Heb. 10:20, NW) Even the Catholic Douay Version does not use the word “consecrate” in translating the Christian Greek Scriptures; and the American Standard Version uses it only in the marginal readings at John 10:36 and Joh 17:17, 19, as follows: “Say ye of him, whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” “Consecrate them in the truth: thy word is truth. And for their sakes I consecrate myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” So now the Revised Standard Version of 1946 says “consecrate” and “consecration” where the former American Standard Version said “sanctify” and “sanctification”. However, both these modern versions still use the word “saints” instead of “consecrated ones”. From all this we can see that in all Bible versions the word “consecrate” is kept for something else than our initial step toward doing God’s will.
12. Did Jesus make himself high priest, and why would he not exercise presumption in this matter?
12 In proof of this we now ask, Did Jesus make himself God’s High Priest to offer sacrifice as Aaron did and to rule as the ancient priest Melchizedek the king of Salem did? The Scriptures themselves answer No. That was not Jesus’ privilege, even though he was God’s holy Son. Hebrews 5:1-6 (NW) declares: “Every high priest taken from among men is appointed in behalf of men over the things pertaining to God, that he may offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. . . . Also a man takes this honor, not of his own accord, but only when he is called by God, just as Aaron also was. So, too, the Christ did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but was glorified by him who spoke with reference to him: ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ Just as he says also in another place: ‘You are a priest forever after the likeness of Melchizedek.’” Before Jesus’ time men who tried to consecrate themselves or appoint themselves to the priesthood of Israel received due punishment from God for their presumption. Call to mind the cases of the Levite Korah and King Saul and King Uzziah. (Num. 16:1-35; 1 Sam. 13:1-14; 2 Chron. 26:16-21) Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi nor of the priestly family of Aaron. So he did not presume to install himself in the royal priesthood like that of Melchizedek and thus dictate to God what his will for Jesus should be to satisfy some personal ambitions.
13. According to the Scriptures how did Aaron and his sons come into the priesthood, and who consecrated them?
13 Let us examine the record about Aaron and his sons and let us determine whether they chose themselves for the priesthood or installed themselves in that office. When Jehovah sent Moses in before Pharaoh of Egypt, “Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” Later Jehovah let Aaron accompany Moses up into the forbidden mountain of Sinai, and just before inaugurating the law covenant with Israel he let Aaron and two of his sons and seventy elders enter the mountain’s sacred premises. (Ex. 7:1; 19:23, 24; 24:1, 2, 9-14, AS) Then when he was in private conference with Moses atop Sinai Jehovah specifically designated Aaron to be Israel’s high priest and his four sons to be underpriests, and he commanded priestly garments to be made for them: “And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and upon his sons with him, and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” (Ex. 27:21 to 28:41, AS) From this we see that these men were not authorized to take over the priesthood of God’s law covenant on their own accord. No, but first they had to be called and chosen, and then it was God who consecrated them to their office by means of his visible agent or servant, Moses.
14 In Exodus, chapter 29, as well as in Leviticus, chapter 8, Moses recorded the ceremony of consecration by which Aaron and his sons were to be installed in office. One of the rams that was then to be sacrificed was called the “ram of consecration”, not meaning it was a consecrated ram but that it was a ram used for consecrating Aaron and his sons. The basket that held the bread which was used together with this ram was called the “basket of consecration”. So, after robing Aaron in his glorious priestly garments and then anointing him as high priest and then after clothing Aaron’s sons with priestly garments, Moses had to proceed with the installation ceremony: “And thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.” Concerning Aaron’s successors God told Moses: “And the holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, to be anointed in them, and to be consecrated in them. Seven days shall the son that is priest in his stead put them on, when he cometh into the tent of meeting to minister in the holy place.” (Ex. 29:9, 22, 34, 29, 30; Lev. 8:22, 28-31, AS) According to this the word “consecrate” had a meaning restricted to installing men into the priesthood; and Jehovah God did the installing of his priests in his way.*
15. What is the original Hebrew expression here, how is it translated by various ones, and what does it mean?
15 Our English word “consecrate” really translates a group of Hebrew words which literally mean “fill the hand”, that is to say, put full power in the hand of those who are to serve in office. In picture of this the ram of consecration was killed and cut up and parts of it together with certain baked goods from the basket of consecration were put by Moses upon the hands of Aaron and his sons and were waved before Jehovah. After that the things waved were burned “on the altar upon the burnt-offering: they were a consecration [an installation-offering, AT] for a sweet savor: it was an offering made by fire unto Jehovah”. (Ex. 29:19-25; Lev. 8:22-28, AS) The Greek Septuagint translation literally renders the Hebrew expression, “fill (or complete) the hand”; but modern translators or translations like Moffatt, An American Translation, Crampon and Byington are inclined to render it “install”. The Latin Vulgate, the Catholic Douay Version, and Young render it “consecrate the hand”. When God chooses and calls us for his service and then fills our willing hands and puts power in their possession, so empowering us, we have authority indeed from the right source and we can act with confidence, for God backs us up.
16. How long did the typical installation ceremony last?
16 The typical installation ceremony back there lasted seven days. Moses was told: “Thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them. And every day shalt thou offer the bullock of sin-offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou makest atonement for it; and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days thou shalt make atonement for the altar, and sanctify it: and the altar shall be most holy; whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.”—Ex. 29:35-37, AS.
17. When and how was the installation ceremony carried out, and what evidence was given of divine acceptance of the priesthood?
17 The installing of Aaron and his sons took place on the first seven days of the next year after the Israelites left Egypt. On the first day of the ceremony Moses said to the priestly candidates there in the courtyard around the sacred tabernacle or tent: “Ye shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting seven days, until the days of your consecration be fulfilled: for he shall consecrate you seven days. As hath been done this day, so Jehovah hath commanded to do, to make atonement for you. And at the door of the tent of meeting shall ye abide day and night seven days, and keep the charge of Jehovah, that ye die not: so I am commanded.” They met this requirement, so that it took seven days complete to install them. On the eighth day these priests themselves could offer sacrifices without Moses’ assistance. After Aaron had then finished offering the sacrifices and blessing the people, then, we read, “Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of Jehovah appeared unto all the people. And there came forth fire from before Jehovah, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat: and when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Lev. 8:33 to 9:24, AS) This miraculous demonstration from heaven was visible proof that the installing or consecrating of the Aaronic priesthood had been successfully completed and that Jehovah God had accepted them and their services.
FORMER LOOSE USE OF WORDS
18. Of what was that entire occasion prophetic?
18 That entire occasion was prophetic of the consecrating of God’s true priesthood during this Christian era which some still incline to call “the Gospel Age”. The anointed Jesus is the Head or Chief One of that priesthood. His anointed followers are his underpriests, and to these it is written: “Consequently, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess—Jesus.”—Heb. 3:1, NW.
19. How did Zion’s Watch Tower in its first year of publication speak of this consecrating Israel’s priests for seven days?
19 In its very first year of publication Zion’s Watch Tower discussed the meaning of this installation ceremony and its lasting for seven days. In its issue of March, 1880, page 1 (¶3), it said: “The consecrating of the priesthood includes all the members of his body [Christ’s body or congregation of 144,000], and requires all of the Gospel Age to complete it.” A month previous, in the issue of February, 1880, Zion’s Watch Tower discussed Leviticus, chapter 8; and in the last two paragraphs under the subheading “Consecrating the Priests” (page 2) it said: “The seven days of consecration . . . shows again that we are consecrated to God’s service, not part of our time only, but all of it, for seven is the complete number in scripture and signifies all or the whole of whatever it is applied to. . . . Le 8 Verse 36 shows completion of the work of consecration. . . . And if we fail to be among the priests now during the time of consecration, we cannot expect to be one with them when they begin their service for the people in the ‘ages to come’—when these same Priests (now despised of men but a ‘sweet savor to God’) shall have the title of King added, and with their head—Jesus, rule and bless all nations. . . . If so, be fully consecrated now, for ‘If we suffer with him we shall also reign with him.’—2 Tim. ii. 12.”
20. How did the practice grow up of speaking of consecrating ourselves? What instance of this did Zion’s Watch Tower give in 1882?
20 However, due to failing to keep in mind that it is God who consecrates, installs or empowers us, the practice grew up and still persists of speaking of consecrating ourselves to God through Jesus Christ. For example, take this statement published seventy years ago: “God’s word is, that whosoever [consecrates] cometh unto God by Jesus is accepted. (Heb. 7:25) Then, the first question to ask yourself is, Did I ever fully consecrate myself to God—my life, my time, talents, influence, all? If you can candidly answer before God—Yes, I gave myself wholly to him; then I assure you on the authority, not of your feelings, but of God’s Word, which, unlike your feelings, is unchangeable, that you then and there instantly became a child of God—a member, a branch of the true vine. (John 15:1) This is an evidence that you have joined the true church, which is Christ’s body. . . . Afflictions and troubles come upon the world as well as upon the Lord’s saints, but are not marks of sonship except to those who have fully consecrated to his service. . . . To be of this class, requires a full consecration; and these are the overcomers deemed worthy of being joint heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord, whose footsteps they thus follow.”—Zion’s Watch Tower of July, 1882, page 6, ¶¶ 3, 4.
21. How did Zion’s Watch Tower define “consecrate” in 1888?
21 Another example reads: “So then we see that only those who after believing in the only name, Saviour, followed on and consecrated themselves, took up the cross and sufferings of Christ and shared them,—only such were accepting of the liberty to become Sons. . . . But are not all believers under Christ’s robes? even those who do not consecrate themselves? No; only the consecrated. . . . Many have consecrated (that is, resolved on complete submission to the will of Christ at any cost) who do not fulfill their consecration, . . . ”—Zion’s Watch Tower of February, 1888, page 5, under the subheading “Only the Consecrated Are Sons”.
22. How does Exodus 32:29 not conflict with the fact that it is God who consecrates persons to his special service?
22 Since it is the Lord God that empowers or consecrates a person for his special service, what shall we do with such a text as that at Exodus 32:29? It reads: “Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves to day to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.” Note, please, that this was said to the sons of Levi or Levites after all Israel had been brought into the law covenant at Mount Sinai and after Jehovah God had designated the Levite Aaron and his sons to be consecrated to the priesthood. The rest of the tribe of Levi were therefore to be the temple servants of those Aaronic priests. So when Moses called out, ‘Who is on Jehovah’s side?’ and the sons of Levi took their stand alongside Moses, then Moses told them to use the swords in their hands and give an expression of their being consecrated to Jehovah God by slaughtering the apostate Israelites who had turned to the worship of the golden calf. Hence Moffatt renders Exodus 32:29: “Then said Moses, ‘Be installed as priests to the Eternal this day, for every man’s hand has been against his own son and his own kinsman—that the Eternal may bestow the blessing of the priesthood on you this day.’” Months later, during the first week of the following year, the Aaronic priesthood was consecrated and installed.
23. What, now, about 1 Chronicles 29:5 as regards consecration?
23 But what about 1 Chronicles 29:5? Here King David asked: “Who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?” Or: “Who then offereth willingly to consecrate himself this day unto Jehovah?” (AS) Or: “Who now is willing to consecrate his hand this day unto the LORD?” (Le) This was said, not to uncircumcised heathen, but to an assembly of Israelites who were already God’s chosen people under his law covenant through Moses. They were then faced with making contributions toward the building of a gorgeous temple to their God at Jerusalem. So here was merely a call to circumcised people of God to fill their hand with a contribution for his cause and to offer it in expression of devotion to him.
24. Also, how about a 2 Chronicles 29:31? And so, to what conclusion do we come from our examination?
24 Centuries later that temple built by Solomon became defiled with a lot of rubbish and King Hezekiah had the Aaronic priests and Levites cleanse that sacred building and sanctify it. Then the people gathered there to offer the proper sacrifices and praises to God in his purified temple. “Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now [that] ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.” (2 Chron. 29:31) So this consecrating of themselves was not done by uncircumcised foreigners who were not in the law covenant. It was the putting of Jewish hands to the work of keeping Jehovah’s house clean and of renewing the sacrifices and worship there according to their covenant obligations. In Ezekiel’s vision of the restored temple we read: “Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.” (Ezek. 43:26) But modern translation reads: “Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and purify it; so shall they consecrate it.” (AS; Le; Mo; AT; Ro) From all this examination we see that consecration is not Scripturally applied to a person’s taking his first step to become God’s servant, giving himself to God through Christ.
NOT A “COVENANT BY SACRIFICE”
25. Among the Israelites was there an individual covenant by which a person consecrated himself, and what kind of covenant was theirs?
25 All the consecrations considered in the preceding paragraphs were of persons who were under the law covenant. Moses the mediator had inaugurated this covenant at Mount Sinai between Jehovah God and the Israelites, over the blood of animal sacrifices. Concerning this we read: “Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.” Or, to quote the New World Translation: “Consequently neither was the former covenant inaugurated without blood.” (Heb. 9:18; Ex. 24:1-8) According to this covenant inaugurated at Sinai certain consecrations took place, God himself consecrating or installing his priesthood. There was no individual covenant with God by which a person consecrated himself, but the covenant was made with the entire nation of Israel through an individual mediator, Moses. It was God’s covenant, proposed and offered by him, and he speaks of it as “the covenant which I made with their forefathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt”. So he speaks of the entire nation as being his wife and he their husband by virtue of this law covenant.—Heb. 8:8, 9, NW; Jer. 31:32.
26. Besides “consecration”, what was the step of giving oneself to God also called, and how was this spoken of?
26 We already noted that the step of giving oneself to God used to be spoken of as a consecrating of oneself. Correspondingly, at least till 1946*, it used to be called making a covenant with God by sacrifice, because it was taken for granted that the one giving himself to God was due to be sacrificed with Jesus; so he was sacrificing all earthly things by his so-called “self-consecration”. He would apply to himself in a personal way Psalm 50:5: “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” The sacrifice here was understood to mean the sacrifice of each one thus making a self-consecration. This covenant by sacrifice was taken to mean an individual’s act, something distinct from the ancient law covenant and from the new covenant which God promised to make through Jesus Christ as Mediator. For instance, away back in the issue of November, 1880, there was an article entitled “Beyond the Vail”, discussing the tabernacle and its veils or curtains. And in paragraph 5 it said: “Those who pass through this first ‘vail’ into the ‘holy place’ are the ones who fulfill their ‘covenant by sacrifice’ called saints. All believers coming through the ‘curtain’ are ‘called to be saints,’ but only those who obey the call and yield themselves sacrifices ‘make their calling and election sure’.” So it came about that each believer spoke about making a covenant with God at the time of consecrating himself. This has caused confusion of mind.*
27. What did Jehovah mean by a “covenant with me by sacrifice”?
27 The “covenant with me by sacrifice” is not a personal covenant each believer makes, but is an organizational covenant. By this expression Jehovah meant his new covenant with his new nation of spiritual Israel and for which Jesus Christ is the Mediator, the Greater Moses. To quote Rotherham’s translation of Psalm 50:5: “Gather yourselves unto me—ye my men of loving-kindness, who have solemnised my covenant over sacrifice.” It is not over the sacrifice of each saint or person of loving-kindness that this covenant is solemnized, but it is over the one sacrifice of the Mediator Jesus Christ, and the covenant is a national covenant. It is the new covenant made with the new theocratic organization, the Christian congregation. At Ps 50 verse 16 of the psalm God speaks of it as his covenant, saying to the wicked hypocrites and apostates: “What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?”
28. How does a person get into this covenant with God by sacrifice?
28 But those who have set themselves apart to God he begets with his spirit and so makes them his spiritual sons and a people for his name. These saints or holy ones, these people of loving-kindness, Jehovah God brings into the new covenant through the Mediator Jesus. He forgives them their sins through Jesus’ sacrifice, and he consecrates them or installs them into his service as priests, underpriests whose High Priest is Christ Jesus. He anoints them with his spirit to be such consecrated priests.* From then on they are obligated to offer the sacrifices of praise and obedient service to God all their days in the flesh on earth, “seven days,” so to speak.
29. What, then, should we call Jesus’ coming to do God’s will, and why?
29 Returning, now, to the question raised in paragraph 9 above, as to what we should call the step Jesus took when he came to do God’s will, Zion’s Watch Tower once stated: “In being born of a virgin, Jesus had taken ‘the seed of Abraham’ and so continued until he was 30 years of age when, in baptism, he consecrated his being to God a living sacrifice. He was accepted, and from that moment, being begotten of the spirit and sealed as a new creature, he is a partaker of the divine nature, the human nature (Abrahamic seed) being the thing sacrificed.” (May, 1881, page 2, under “Some Better Thing for Us”, ¶ 2) But now we appreciate more clearly that Jesus, at the time he presented himself to John to be baptized in Jordan river, did not consecrate himself to the priesthood and install himself in the sacrificial office. It was God who glorified him by making him a royal High Priest. God did this by the sworn oath which he had prophetically given at Psalm 110:4: “Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.” (AS, marginal reading; Heb. 5:4-6; 7:15-17, 20-22) Since Jesus was miraculously born one of God’s chosen people and was then presented to God in babyhood by Mary as her first-born son, we can avoid confusion by calling Jesus’ coming to do God’s will his dedication of himself to God.
30. What evidence did Jesus receive of the acceptance of his dedication and of his being consecrated to God’s special will?
30 Immediately after he symbolized this dedication by being baptized in Jordan’s stream, Jesus received the evidence that God had accepted his dedication and was now consecrating him to his spiritual service as High Priest. In what way? Just as Moses on the first day of the consecration ceremony decked his brother Aaron in glorious priestly robes and anointed him with the holy anointing oil to be the high priest, so God anointed Jesus with the holy spirit (symbolized by a dove descending upon him) and he let his voice be heard from heaven saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matt. 3:13-17, NW) By dedicating himself it was not something which Mary had done for him in his infancy before he had knowledge and understanding to appreciate it. No, but now at thirty years of age it was something which Jesus willingly did for himself. By it he placed himself at God’s disposal, whatever God might reveal according to what was written in the roll of the book.—Luke 3:21-23; 4:14-21.
31. To what, finally, did Jesus’ dedication lead, and so what kind of way is a dedication of ourselves to God?
31 For three and a half years Jesus served on earth in the role of High Priest to which God had consecrated him. Then he laid down his human sacrifice in death. But that was not the full end to which Jesus’ dedication to God led. That he might continue to serve as High Priest in heaven God resurrected him from death to heavenly life as an immortal spirit creature. As such this glorified High Priest entered into the holy place, heaven itself, into God’s presence, presented the redeeming value of his human sacrifice and proceeded to mediate the new covenant for his faithful followers on earth. To them it is written: “Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness for the way of entry into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, which he inaugurated for us as a new and living way through the curtain, that is, his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with sincere hearts in the full assurance of faith.” (Heb. 10:19-22, NW) So it is now through this High Priest that we can imitate him and dedicate ourselves to God sincerely and with faith. As in Jesus’ case, so in ours it is a living way, a way to gain life.
32. To what life is it a way for those consecrated as underpriests, and to what life for those of the “great crowd” today coming to God?
32 Those dedicated ones whom God chooses to consecrate and make underpriests to serve with Jesus and reign a thousand years with him, God marks in their forehead with his name. That means they belong to him as a “people for his name” and that he has “purchased [them] from among mankind as a firstfruits to God and to the Lamb”. (Rev. 14:1-5; 22:3-5, NW) This marks them for life in heaven by a spiritual resurrection. But today, besides these 144,000 consecrated underpriests, there are hundreds of thousands who see the privilege of dedicating themselves to God through his High Priest, placing themselves at God’s disposal to do with as he wills. For these this way of dedication to God is a living way, too, but not to life immortal in heaven. God does not will to consecrate them and anoint them to priesthood with Christ according to the new covenant. He assigns them to live on earth in the new world. So they will remain on earth, to which paradise will be restored. In view of this God will even carry an unnumbered “great crowd” of them safely through the coming universal war of Armageddon, in order that humanity may continue on earth with an unbroken existence from the start and forever. To enjoy any possibility of surviving Armageddon into the endless new world, it is necessary that each one take the initial step of dedicating himself to God through Christ. You will get the mark for life that way.
Consequently, I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and complete will of God.—Rom. 12:1, 2, NW.
Note, too, that others consecrated their priests. At Judges 17:5, 12 we read of where the apostate Micah consecrated first a son and then an unfaithful Levite to be a priest at the idol house he built. And at 1 Kings 13:33 and; 2 Chronicles 13:9 we read of where apostate King Jeroboam set up the golden calves for idolatrous worship and “whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places”.
See The Watchtower of July 1, 1946, presenting “Vindicated on the Covenant by Sacrifice”.
Because most of our readers do not have the early issues of Zion’s Watch Tower we publish here the excerpt from the issue of July and August, 1885, page 11 (¶¶ 2, 3), on “The ‘Little Flock’ and the ‘Great Company’”, as follows:
“All these start on the same narrow way, and being fully consecrated to God are begotten of the Spirit through the word of truth. Hence all are ‘new creatures’—spiritual—their old nature (the human) being doomed to certain destruction by their own free will and covenant. . . . Only a minority of all who in good faith make the consecration, run with patience to the end—in all only a ‘little flock’. With many, courage begins to fall, and they need to be spurred onward by the chastening rod of him who has become our surety (Heb. 7:22) to guarantee that we fulfill our covenant, though our own efforts should fail; otherwise, the end of such must be death. In love, therefore, special afflictions are sent upon the consecrated, when needed, to wean the affections from earthly things, and to draw the heart again into closer sympathy and communion with God in fulfillment of its covenant of sacrifice. A few only run patiently in the way of sacrifice, rejoicing at the privilege of winning so great a prize at such small comparative cost.”
Besides translating the Hebrew expression “fill the hand” by the word “consecrate”, the King James Version also renders another Hebrew word, qahdásh, by the word “consecrate”, at Exodus 30:30; 28:3; 2 Chronicles 26:18; 31:6; and Ezra 3:5. In most other verses the Hebrew word is translated “sanctify”, and Young’s translation renders the word as “sanctify” at these verses here cited.
The King James Version renders still another Hebrew word, nahzár, by the word “consecrate”, at Numbers 6:11, 12. But again Young’s translation shows a distinction and renders nahzár by “separate”.