Consecration and Anointing: an Old Testament Case Study

This is an excerpt from our current series of articles in The Enrichment Journal; the series runs for one year, starting with this quarter’s issue. For the full article, you can click here:

Zooming in on charismatically endowed individuals can be inspiring — but it can also get ugly. From Moses to Samson to David, bittersweet moments of personal victory and failure demonstrate this simple truth: Personal consecration can affect the duration of such an endowment.

Moses’ tantrum at Meribah-Kadesh reveals that the residue of his previous murderous anger and tablet-smashing outbursts still lingered. Striking the rock brought a premature and geographically limiting end to his leadership. Disobedience can be costly, decreasing the time span of Spirit-empowered effectiveness.

The Gideon narrative is an example of a Spirit-empowered leader missing God, therefore missing God’s best. This incident immediately followed a great victory. His penchant for Ishmaelite earrings snared him and all Israel into idolatrous worship (Judges 8:23–27). Gideon’s story had a great first half, but holiness issues changed his biography to have a flavorless — even sour — conclusion.

And then there’s Samson — half-Spirit empowered leader, half-unconsecrated pleasure addict. His story reminds us of God’s grace despite human weakness. Samson’s contradictory end of both victory and defeat leaves the reader wondering what could have been if only he had a deeper level of consecration.

God selected Saul as king at the insistence of Israel — even though a monarchy was apparently not yet the divine plan. Saul’s commissioning includes both astoundingly precise prophetic interaction with Samuel and unique personal interaction with the Spirit of prophecy. Shortly after his coronation, he blatantly disobeyed God by sparing the Amalekite king, Agag. This began a cycle of God mercifully reaching out to a disobedient Saul, who seems to become more and more bent on his own destruction. Once again, a lack of consecration lowers the ceiling of what could have been.

King David is the clearest Old Testament prototype for the Messiah — a soft heart — but a vulnerable Achilles tendon. Note his fear of the Holy Spirit’s possible departing following his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba: “Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11, NASB). This man after God’s own heart knew there were consequences to sinful decisions.

At this point you may wonder, How can any of us make it? Certainly if Moses, who received both the original and duplicate copies of the Law — hand delivered on granite stationery — cannot finish the course, how can we? The new covenant demonstrates that Spirit-enabled moral change is more than possible; it is expected. Paul tells us, “If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live” (Romans 8:13, NASB).

The new covenant provisions of the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration and sanctification make what was once impossible now possible — even for leaders. Comingle that with an unfolding level of New Testament grace and mercy, and suddenly we have an opportunity to break the cycle and experience the fullest duration of our individual anointing.

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