SANCTIFICATION BY THE WORD
Leslie M. John
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26)
Queen Esther was chosen by King Ahasuerus to be his queen not before she underwent cleansing process for a total period of twelve months; six months with oil of myrrh and six months with sweet odors.
It was after queen Vashti who was banned to appear before the King anymore because she refused to present herself at the feast hosted by the King and to show her beauty before the princes from Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces and servants who gathered at the feast hosted by him in his third year of reign. King Ahasuerus ruled from India even unto Ethiopia over one hundred seven and twenty provinces. (Ref. Esther 1:1)
When Queen Vashti, who was very beautiful, refused to present herself in the presence of the King and to show her beauty before the dignitaries the king banned her at the behest of Memucan who was one of the seven wise princes of Persia and Media.
King Ahasuerus said that fair young women be sent to him turn by turn to please him and if the king was pleased she would be his queen or else she would be his concubine. It was a great challenge for Esther to take up the risky task and accepted for cleansing as specified. She successfully passed the test from the King and became his queen. Esther was the daughter of Mordecai’s uncle. Mordecai was a Jew carried away as captive from Jerusalem and they both became very useful instruments in the hands of God to fulfill His desire to redeem the Jews.
This picture was indirectly referred to when Apostle Paul wrote about the Church that needs sanctification with the washing of water by the word. The husband desires that his wife be pure before he married her. The cleansing of Esther was an allusion to the cleansing of the Church. Paul writes that wives and husbands need to submit one to another in the fear or the Lord; wives to their husbands just as unto the Lord because husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church. Husbands are instructed to love their wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it.
Lord Jesus Christ is the savior and Church is the body and bride of Christ. He is the head of the Church and the Church is His body and each believer is a member of the said body. Lord Jesus gave His life unto the Church and He keeps sanctifying it and cleansing it with washing of water by the word in order that He may present unto Himself the Church as a glorious bride, without any wrinkle or any spot but as holy and without any blemish.
The sanctification was seen in the Old Testament period when Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet. It was the commandment of the LORD who spoke through Moses saying that he should make a “Laver” of brass and make its foot also of brass and fill it with water and place it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar. The high priest and the priests were commanded that when they enter the tabernacle of the congregation they shall wash with water and if they violated God’s commandment they died instantly (Ref. Exodus Ch. 30:17-21)
The sanctification is not by the good works of righteousness that we have done but according to His mercy. He saved us and washed us and filed us with the Holy Spirit (Ref. Titus 3:5)
Speaking to His disciples and referring to them as the branches even as it is applicable to us, Lord Jesus Christ said that He is the true vine and the Father is the husbandman. Every branch that does not bear fruit for Him will be removed from serving Him, but he purges every branch that bears fruit unto Him that it might bring forth more fruit; and then He declares that they are clean through the word that He spoke to them. Jesus warned them that without remaining in Him they can do nothing worth the blessings from Him.
“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3)
“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”. (John 3:5)