Saturday, February 21, 2009

Leviticus 8 - 10: Consecration of the Priests

Read Leviticus 8-10.

Leviticus 8: Key phrase (7 times): "as the Lord commanded". Now that the tabernacle was built it was time to perform the ceremony. This chapter takes up from the last part of Exodus where Moses finishes the tabernacle (see Exodus 40:33). It describes the anointing of Aaron as the first High Priest of Israel, to oversee the tabernacle. Exodus 29 records the command God gave to Moses to carry out this consecration ceremony with Aaron and his sons.

Exodus 29:42-46: “These burnt offerings are to be made each day from generation to generation. Offer them in the Lord’s presence at the Tabernacle entrance; there I will meet with you and speak with you. I will meet the people of Israel there, in the place made holy by my glorious presence. Yes, I will consecrate the Tabernacle and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will live among the people of Israel and be their God, and they will know that I am the Lord their God. I am the one who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I could live among them. I am the Lord their God.

God chose Aaron's family to serve as the priesthood. He didn't call for volunteers -- God did the choosing.

Consecration or ordination is an act by which a person or thing is dedicated to the service and worship of God. The word "ordination" is a Hebrew phrase literally meaning "to fill the hands".

Leviticus 8:1-6: The washing of the priests:

Moses' first action with Aaron and his sons was to wash them with water. This was a ceremonial washing and indicated the preliminary removal from Aaron and his sons of the taint of earthiness. They were coming into the presence of the Holy One, the One Who was not of this earth. Nothing earthy must cling to them. This great cleansing was a one-time thing.

Does this explain why it was necessary for John the Baptist to baptize (wash) Jesus - to prepare him as the true high priest? Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:29-34.

From then on they just needed to cleanse their hands and their feet (sound familiar?).

John 13:4-10: So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”

The chosen priests were washed prior to their ordination or consecration, symbolizing the "washing of water with the word," the cleansing of the word of God in our lives. Ephesians 5:25-26: For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word (Greek washed by water with the word.)

Titus 3:5: Greek: He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.

Leviticus 8:7-9: Clothing Aaron in the High Priest's Garments:

Girded with the sash . . . the ephod . . . the breastplate . . . the turban: Each of these specific articles of clothing were made for the high priest, garments to show the glory and for beauty of the priesthood (Exodus 28:2).

Aaron is a picture of Jesus Christ, our High Priest:

Hebrews 7:26-28: He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest place of honor in heaven. Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins. The law appointed high priests who were limited by human weakness. But after the law was given, God appointed his Son with an oath, and his Son has been made the perfect High Priest forever.

Leviticus 8:10-12: The anointing of the tabernacle and instruments and Aaron with oil:

The oil (a picture of the Holy Spirit) was poured over Aaron's head. Every believer has an anointing (1 John 2:20) that they may receive and walk in by faith.

1 John 2:20 Greek: But you have an anointing from the Holy One.

Moses anointed with oil the tabernacle, the altar and all its utensils, the laver and its base and Aaron to consecrate them (set them apart). While the tribe of Levi were dedicated for service to God, only Aaron's descendants could be priests - they alone had the honor and responsibility of performing sacrifices. These priests had to cleanse and dedicate themselves before they could help the people do the same.

There were only three groups of people who were commonly anointed in the Old Testament: Priests, Prophets and Kings. Jesus filled each of these positions. And because He did, He is HaMeshiah - the "anointed One."

1 Samuel 16:13: So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah. And what happed when Jesus came up out of the water?

Matthew 3:16-17: After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

Psalm 133:2: For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.

Leviticus 8:13: Clothing Aaron's sons in the priestly garments.

While Aaron is a picture of our great high priest, his sons represent every believer in Jesus Christ, assembled with Christ and serving also as priests. In other words, everyone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is constituted a priest to the other members of the human family, both to the world at large and to the rest of the body of Christ.

Leviticus 8:14-17: The sacrifice of the sin offering:

Aaron and his sons placed their hands on the animal, they lean their weight on the animal that is going to be slaughtered. Through this action they identify themselves with the animal to be killed. This identification is twofold: they are indicating their willingness to die to self, and they are acknowledging their own sinfulness, their need for a substitutionary death. The altar was sanctified with the blood of the sin offering, and the best of the animal was burnt before the Lord - the rest was destroyed outside the camp.

The sin offering be offered for them because they were sinners just like everybody else. And so before they could really serve the Lord and act as God's representatives to the people, there had to first of all be a sin offering offered for them. And this, of course, yearly when the high priest would on Yom Kippur go into the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the whole congregation. The first sacrifice that he would make on Yom Kippur was his own sin offering. He had to take care of himself first, and his own sin offering would be first. He would have to offer for himself before he could ever offer for the people. And so the first offering in this whole tabernacle, new tabernacle set up, was the sin offering for Aaron and his sons that they might then be sanctified for the ministry unto the Lord.

Leviticus 8:18-21: The sacrifice of the ram as a burnt offering:

Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, and Moses killed it. Then he sprinkled the blood all around on the altar. Moses burned the whole ram on the altar.

Leviticus 8:22-29: The sacrifice of the ram of priestly consecration (ordination):

Then Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram of consecration, and Moses killed it in a ceremony much like a peace offering. Also he took some of its blood and put it on the tip of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. Then, Moses put some of the blood on the tips of Aaron's sons' right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. And Moses sprinkled the blood all around on the altar. These consecrated priests were stained with the blood of sacrifice. They should hear differently because the blood was on their ear. They should work differently because the blood was on their thumb. They should walk differently because the blood was on their toe.

Moses takes the fat and the kidneys and burns them before the Lord. Recall that fat has positive connotations for the Israelites, not negative as in our culture. The fat represents all that is best in life. In offering that up to God, Moses and the priests are acknowledging that God is the source of all that is good, of all the richness of this life.

The blood symbolized both death to self and atonement through the death of another. So when the priests see the blood of the sacrifice placed on their bodies, they are to recall their need to die to self daily, hourly, and the cleansing that they have received through the sacrifice for sins.

Leviticus 8:30: The anointing of Aaron and his sons and their garments with blood and oil:

The blood alone wasn't enough. God wanted blood mixed with oil, and to have the mixture sprinkled on the priests. There was to be a combination of both the sacrifice and the spirit (represented by the anointing oil). This symbolized that the priests were holy and consecrated as was the tabernacle and everything in it.

Leviticus 8:31-32: A fellowship meal with God:

The remaining meat portions of this ram were given to Aaron and the other priests, after those portions were presented to God as a wave offering. It was then cooked and eaten by the priests at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with the bread during the days of their consecration ceremony.

Leviticus 8:33-35: Seven days of consecration:

The priests are separated from the assembly for seven days prior to the beginning of their ministry. They must stay at the doorway of the tabernacle. Once again, this pictures their holiness, their separation to God, their call to belong to God in a special way. During these seven days they are to eat the consecrated bread.

Leviticus 8:36: Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord had commanded through Moses.

Leviticus 9: The first tabernacle service; God's approval:

We left Aaron and his sons isolated in the tabernacle for seven days.

On the 8th day, Moses, Aaron, Aaron's sons and the leaders of Israel come together and Aaron is instructed to take a young bull for a sin offering and a ram without blemish for a whole burnt offering and the Israelites are told to take a male goat for a sin offering, a year old calf and a year old lamb for whole burnt offering, a bull and ram for a piece offering because the Lord will appear to them on that day! God has described all these sacrifices and the ordination in detail -- and now, at long last, God's people are able to witness these wonderful pictures of God's provisions for meeting their needs.

Ironically the first sacrifice Aaron had to offer was a calf, as if to atone for making the golden calf (Exodus 32).

The eighth day is highly significant! Eight is the number of a new beginning – a resurrection, in other words. So the eighth day is a symbol of resurrection life.

Read the last three verses of chapter 9: Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

God proved His presence by sending the fire. The priests were there, the offering was there, the Tabernacle was there, and the nation was there, but it was all incomplete without the fire from God.

The Bible gives us seven examples of where God showed acceptance of a sacrifice with fire from heaven:

  • Abel (Genesis 4:4)

  • Aaron (Leviticus 9:24)

  • Gideon (Judges 6:21)

  • Manoah (Judges 13:19-23)

  • David (1 Chronicles 21:28)

  • Solomon (2 Chronicles 7:1)

  • Elijah (1 Kings 18:38)

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