The people of Israel stood before the mountain as it burned with the glory of God. From that mountain they had just heard God recite the terms of His covenant with them as a nation.
All that had happened since that awesome night when, surrounded by death, God had led them forth from Egypt to a new life, had reached an overwhelming climax. Now they were actually hearing the voice of the God whom they had scarcely even considered until just a few short months ago. Emotion ran through the throng like an electric current.
Did they even think, as with one voice they proclaimed their decision for God: “Everything the Lord has said we will do!”?
Such a grand, life changing decision – but how long did it last? Even before Moses came down from the mountain, they had all but forgotten the Lord, giving instead their finest jewelery (which the Lord had provided for them by the hands of the Egyptians) to make idols which they then proclaimed as “the gods which led us out of Egypt”!
So many times in the ensuing years their “decision” was shown to be virtually worthless. They had said they would follow and obey the Lord, but at times it seems they did just about everything but follow and obey Him. Through their decision they had entered a covenant relationship with the living God, but they failed abysmally to live in that covenant relationship.
How many Christians are in the same position? They have made a “decision” for Christ. Perhaps they “got carried away” in the excitement of an evangelistic campaign, or perhaps some Christian witness with more enthusiasm than wisdom pressured them. They prayed some quick-and-easy sinner’s prayer which included no mention of repentance, and possibly not even a request for forgiveness, and were told they were now Christians.
But their lives never changed! No-one had ever told them that they were supposed to! It wasn’t long before they were back, living exactly as they had before they made that momentous “decision”.
Of course, if you asked them now, they would probably still say they were Christians – just as the people of Israel would have said they were followers of the Lord – but the devil need exert very little effort to see them desert the Christian life at any point!
They have entered a covenant relationship with God through the blood of Jesus Christ, but have not the slightest idea of how to even begin to live under the terms of that covenant – or even that such a life is required of them.
It is tragic, but true, that for many who bear the name “Christian” their “decision” for Christ means very little.
Among the laws which God gave His people through Moses there at Mt Sinai, was a provision by which they could dedicate persons or things to the Lord’s use (Lev. 27:1-27). In a sense, these persons or things were merely lent to the Lord, since in every case provision was made for their return upon payment of a redemption price set according to their value. They were the Lord’s to use for a time, but the original owner always had a claim on them.
Again, there are some Christians like this. Yes, their decision for Christ did mean something to them. They did clearly see the vileness of their former life, they did truly repent. They accepted Jesus as their Lord, not just as “fire insurance”, and as they walked on with Him there grew in their hearts a desire to serve Him more fully.
So, they dedicated themselves to Him. “I want to serve You, Lord,” they cried with all sincerity. “Let me go here or there, let me do this or that – let me serve You!” They were God’s to use – yet, like those dedicated things under the Old Covenant, they still retained some right of ownership, some claim of direction over their lives. They belonged to God, yet hanging somewhere in the back of their minds, perhaps not even consciously, was the safety net: “If it doesn’t work, I can always go back to something else.” Like Peter, who returned to his fishing nets after Jesus’ death, there was always the possibility that their lives could become once more their own.
Our wonderful God always accepts us “where we’re at.” He delights to see His children offer themselves for His service, even with “strings attached.” Yet, oh, how He longs to see us go further…
At the end of a whole chapter on things dedicated to the Lord, jut two short verses open the door to something more: “But if a man devotes something to the Lord – whether man or animal or family land – it may not be sold or redeemed; everything thus devoted is most holy to the Lord. No person devoted to destruction may be redeemed: he must be put to death.” (Lev. 27:28-29) Here is a level at which all ownership, all right of direction, is abandoned. Here is a level with no safety net, no back door, no strings attached. That which is devoted, from the moment of its devotion, belongs to the Lord, exclusively and forever. It can never be taken back by the one who devoted it.
It is to this level that God desires His people to come, forsaking all claim on our lives, our time, our money, our very selves. The devotion of living creatures in the Old Testament was normally a devotion to death: so must ours be. All our own desires, our own will, our own lifestyle must die, till we are “most holy to the Lord.” The banner of devotion must fly above our lives, declaring to the world, “For God’s use only!”
Such a devotion of ourselves is not something which we dare enter lightly, any more than Jesus went lightly to the Cross. It is a serious business: the end of all claims on our own lives. Are we really prepared to give God everything to use – or not use! – just exactly as He pleases? We have trusted God, but dare we trust Him this much? If we surrender our lives totally into His hands, will He really run them to our greatest good?
We know that He will. What’s more, we know, in our heart of hearts, that nothing less will ever really satisfy us. Yes, we can enjoy some measure of the Christian life at the lesser levels. God will bless us, if we only make a decision for Him. He will use us, if we just dedicate ourselves to His service. But it is only when we fully devote ourselves to Him that He can truly manifest His glory through us.
Which level do you really want?