“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
The Israelites were once again camped near the Jordan River and were preparing to enter the Promised Land. It had been centuries since they had occupied the land God promised to Abraham. After four hundred years of being in Egypt, they were delivered from their bondage under the leadership of Moses. But the lack of faith when the spies gave their evil report at Kadesh resulted in another forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Joshua was commanding the congergation. Tomorrow would be the memorable day. Their world would change forever. God would dry up the waters of the Jordan as they passed over. What bit of advice did the great leader give his people? He told them to “Sanctify yourselves.” In preparation for what God was about to do in them and for them, they were to sanctify themselves.
The word “sanctify” means “to set apart, to separate, to consecrate, or to purify.” Implied in the word “sanctify” is the confession and separation from sin, and the dedication and consecration of self to God. Joshua knew the best way these people could ready themselves for the unknown challenges that lay ahead was for them to give themselves totally to God. This is good counsel for us as well. As we begin a New Year, we close a chapter of our lives and look forward to what God has for us in the future. No doubt, there will be special blessings and perhaps unforeseen struggles. How can we be prepared for whatever the New Year holds? Are we sufficient for the demands or the opportunities? Not in ourselves, but God is certainly capable. We should apply Joshua’s command to “Sanctify yourselves.”
This time of the year affords us an opportunity for personal evaluation and spiritual adjustments. We need not carry unresolved conflicts into the New Year. We should confess and forsake any known sin and claim God’s forgiveness, going into the New Year with a clear conscience. Our past failures do not diminish the future’s promises. If we have been hurt or disappointed in the past, we need to release those feelings and completely forgive others that have wronged us. If reconciliation or restitution needs to be made, now is the time to do it. Let’s go into the New Year with a pure heart and great anticipation.