Christian Churches of God
21-Day Sanctification Period
(Edition 1.0 20090216-20090216)
Jesus Christ cleansed the Temple at Jerusalem prior to the Passover as a warning and a sign to us that we too have to cleanse the Temple to be worthy to take the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.
21-Day Sanctification Period
God’s Calendar outlines the annual days of worship given to us in detail in Leviticus 23 and Deuteronomy 16. The first day of the New Year sets the entire calendar for a one-year period. This first day is important because it is a New Moon, but also because it is the beginning of the annual period of sanctification. This annual sanctification period lasts twenty-one days and it ends on the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The twenty-one days during the first month mirror the twenty-one day period of the Seventh month that begins with the New Moon of Trumpets and ends with the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. We will develop this concept more in the paper Atonement and Reconciliation (No. CB140).
Each year, during the Lord’s Supper, baptised adults renew their baptismal commitment. They renew their commitment to put God first and to follow His way of life outlined in the Law. It is a period of time that we look at our past and present behaviour and try to put sin out of our thoughts and actions. However, God does not expect this process to take only one day. Nor does He expect this process will only focus on the individual. This process of sanctification begins on the first day of the New Year and ends on the last day of Unleavened Bread. It is a total of Twenty-one days, or three seven-day periods and involves much more than just individual sanctification.
What does sanctify or sanctification mean? Sanctify is qadash (SHD 6942) and hagiazo (SGD 37). The definitions include consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate. In other words, it means to be set apart or separated from wicked things, or made holy. It also means to be dedicated, pure or clean in a spiritual sense.
Sanctification is the result of the presence of God in something or someone. God sanctified the Tabernacle by His presence (Ex. 29:43); our children are sanctified by God because of the believing parent (1Cor. 7:14). Our part in the sanctification process is to prepare ourselves for the presence of God by the removal of sin. God’s part is to dwell in us through His Holy Spirit making us the temple of God.
1Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? (RSV)
He cannot place us in the temple until we are properly prepared and, if at some point we are found to be unfit for the temple, we must be removed and refashioned away from the temple then brought back to our proper place (1Kgs. 6:7).
God sanctified the seventh day of the week and made it holy.
Genesis 2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed [qadash] it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. (RSV)
God sanctified the nation of Israel.
Exodus 31:12-13 And the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, 'You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify [qadash] you. (RSV)
The night before Jesus was crucified he prayed to God the Father. In his prayer, he prayed that God would sanctify, in the truth, those people that knew God and believed in Jesus Christ.
John 17:14-19 I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify [hagiazo] them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate [hagiazo] myself, that they also may be consecrated [hagiazo] in truth. (RSV)
We are sanctified by God through our faith in Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:15-18 And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles--to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified [hagiazo] by faith in me.' (RSV)
The presence of God, through the Holy Spirit, is the thing that sanctifies the temple and makes it holy. This applies to both the physical temples and spiritual temples, which we are.
The sanctification process begins with the first New Moon of the year. The beginning of the New Year was significant in many ways. The earth was restored under Noah on the First Day of the First Month.
Genesis 8:13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. (RSV)
Moses was instructed to set up the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month.
Exodus 40:1-2 The LORD said to Moses, “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” (RSV)
The restoration under Hezekiah began on the first day of the New Year.
2Chronicles 29:12-17 Then the Levites arose, Mahath the son of Ama'sai, and Jo'el the son of Azari'ah, of the sons of the Ko'hathites; and of the sons of Merar'i, Kish the son of Abdi, and Azari'ah the son of Jehal'lelel; and of the Gershonites, Jo'ah the son of Zimmah, and Eden the son of Jo'ah; and of the sons of Eli-za'phan, Shimri and Jeu'el; and of the sons of Asaph, Zechari'ah and Mattani'ah; and of the sons of Heman, Jehu'el and Shim'e-i; and of the sons of Jedu'thun, Shemai'ah and Uz'ziel. They gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and went in as the king had commanded, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD. The priests went into the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and they brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the LORD into the court of the house of the LORD; and the Levites took it and carried it out to the brook Kidron. They began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD; then for eight days they sanctified the house of the LORD, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished. (RSV)
We are also given the example of Jesus Christ cleansing the Temple in Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion. We know from the timing of his arrival in Jerusalem on the 8th day of the first month that Jesus was cleansing the Temple during the Twenty-one days of Sanctification. (See the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159).)
We know that today God considers each of the elect as part of the spiritual temple (1Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19). Even if we have not yet been baptized, we still need to take part in the sanctification process so that we are learning to obey God’s ways and given understanding.
The Body of Jesus Christ, as the combined Temple of God, must be sanctified prior to taking the Passover. As discussed earlier, the presence of God sanctifies the temple and makes it holy. However, there are many biblical examples where God also asks humans to sanctify things.
God, through the Angel of the Presence, asked Moses to sanctify Israel.
Exodus 19:10-11 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate [SHD 6942 qadash] them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready by the third day; for on the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. (RSV)
He also told Moses to anoint Aaron and sanctify him.
Exodus 40:12-13 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tent of meeting, and shall wash them with water, and put upon Aaron the holy garments, and you shall anoint him and consecrate [qadash] him, that he may serve me as priest. (RSV)
Hezekiah intervened to sanctify Israel.
2Chronicles 30:17-20 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had to kill the passover lamb for every one who was not clean, to make it holy to the LORD. For a multitude of the people, many of them from E'phraim, Manas'seh, Is'sachar, and Zeb'ulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezeki'ah had prayed for them, saying, "The good LORD pardon every one who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." And the LORD heard Hezeki'ah, and healed the people. (RSV)
We sanctify ourselves when we follow God’s Laws and obey them.
Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am the LORD your God; consecrate [sanctify] yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls upon the earth. For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (RSV)
The tribes and the nations are sanctified by our actions just as we were sanctified by Christ and his actions (Heb 10:10).
Job also acted to sanctify his family when he made offerings of intercession for the simple and erroneous.
Job 1:4-5 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each on his day; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually. (RSV)
When we sanctify others or ourselves, we are preparing for the presence of God.
Three Seven-Day Periods:
The annual 21-day period of sanctification can be broken down into three seven-day periods.
The primary phase begins with the first New Moon and ends on the 7th day of the first month, which is a day of fasting. This first period is when we begin to cleanse the temple (our own selves), but we are also considering the nations of the world and their need to be sanctified. Formerly, the process of sanctifying the nation rested with the sons of Levi (the priests), and then in the physical sense with the sons of Zadok. This function now rests with the Church as the priesthood of Melchisedek. In Joel, the Bible shows us that fasting is a way of sanctifying and reconciling Israel to God.
Joel 1:14 Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God; and cry to the LORD. (RSV)
On this Seventh Day of the First Month we go before our Father to appeal for the simple or ignorant among our people who have not known God’s ways and cannot sanctify themselves (Ezek. 45:18-20; Heb. 5:1-2).
Ezekiel 45:17-20 "Thus says the Lord GOD: In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish, and cleanse the sanctuary. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering and put it on the doorposts of the temple, the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and the posts of the gate of the inner court. You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for any one who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple. (RSV)
Hebrews 5:1-2 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. (RSV)
Sanctification in the Church is the process of becoming consecrated to God by prayer and fasting in the study of His word. Scripture tell us to loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke, so that our people may be reconciled to our God and Father (cf. Isa. 58:6-12).
We can fast and pray on behalf of those unbaptised and those who don’t know God and His way of life. We are fasting for those that cannot be relied upon to sanctify themselves. (For more information, see the paper Sanctification of the Simple and Erroneous (No. 291).) We are figuratively laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters in fasting and prayer to bring all people into the knowledge of God so He can be all in all.
When Moses stood by Israel and lifted up his arms, he also needed help. Aaron and Hur stood by and held his arms up over his head and helped save Israel by their supplication (Ex. 17:8-13). (See the paper Moses and the Israelites Move on to Sinai (No. CB40) for the detailed story.) So too, are we given to Christ to help save Israel and to bring it to righteousness. God uses humans to accomplish His work as a lesson for growth and development.
A few of the many things to pray for during this fast are that: many are given the gift of the calling of God and the power of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them; we have the opportunity to properly educate people in God's Way and have people restored to the true Faith; we are able to repair the breach of understanding and restore the path of righteousness; the work of restoration is not frustrated by competing false prophecy and doctrines; encouragement is given to members and leaders of all the Churches of God; there will be peace and freedom among all men; and that all will be kept from the Evil One (cf. Lk. 11:1-4). (Taken from Passover Calendar 2000 (A_P2009).)
We are reminded that: "the prayer of a righteous person has great power in its effect" (Jas. 5:16; 2Chr. 30:18-20).
Second Seven-Day Period (8th day to 14th day)
From the Eighth Day to the Fourteenth Day of the First Month we should be continuing to focus on our personal commitment to God. It is a period of reflection and a time to remember what our priorities are and it culminates with the Lord’s Supper on the Fourteenth. We should put God first, family second, and work/school/play third. We can review in our minds how we did the past year, and what we can do differently for the upcoming year. For instance, we can think about our prayer and study habits and ways we can improve them over the next year.
This second seven-day period includes the 10th day of the month. This is the day that God asked Israel to pick out their Passover lamb and set it aside. It had to be a perfect male lamb of the first year (Ex. 12:3-5). This Passover lamb was a physical representation of Jesus Christ who was set aside as our Passover Lamb. The lamb that was sacrificed on the night of Passover was an example of how Jesus Christ would come and be our sacrificial lamb.
1Peter 1:18-21 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (RSV)
The Tenth Day of the First Month is a good time for us to focus on our relationship with Jesus Christ. He is our High Priest (Heb 4:14), our brother (Rom 8:16-17) and our soon coming king (Jer. 23:5).
We need to remember that we are sanctified through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is his sacrifice that has given us the opportunity of eternal life.
The last day of the second seven-day period is the Fourteenth Day of the First Month. On the beginning of the Fourteenth Day of the month is the Lord’s Supper. This is a service where baptised adults focus on their calling, baptism, and commitment to the One True God. It is the time when the adult baptised members of the Church take part in the yearly foot-washing service (Jn. 13:1-5) and partake of the bread and wine (symbolizing or representing the body and blood of Christ). The service is only for baptized members because it is a time for renewing the baptismal covenant. (See the paper The Lord’s Supper (No. CB135)). It is important that baptized members participate in the annual sanctification process as they ready themselves for the Lord’s Supper service.
Final Seven-Day Period (15th day – 21st day)
The process of sanctification does not end with the Lord’s Supper services. The twenty-one days of sanctification continue on through the Feast of Unleavened Bread and ends on the last day of the Feast. This Feast pictures the salvation of the nation of Israel and the entire planet. God showed us that by taking Israel out of Egypt, He was also going to take us out of sin. In the future, God will take everyone on the planet out of sin.
The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15th) is a holy day and the last day of Unleavened Bread (21st) is also a holy day. This is the third period of seven days in the period of sanctification. It is a time for the Church to be together, and work with each other on our continued commitment to God and each other. We travel away from our homes to remind ourselves that we are to come out of spiritual Egypt (sin) and commit ourselves to God’s way of life. The reason that the sanctification period continues through the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that it is an opportunity for the Church to prepare for the renewal of the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The twenty-one Days of Sanctification begin with a New Moon and end with a holy day, and its significance is mirrored by the activities of the Seventh month. It includes three seven-day periods that progress from the sanctification of the nations (fast for the simple and erroneous on the 7th) to the sanctification of the individual (partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the 14th) and finally a seven-day period of group sanctification called the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This annual period of sanctification is our obligation to show love for our neighbour, love for our relationship to God/ourselves, and love for the Body of Jesus Christ.