SynopsisIn this chapter, Moses performs the ordination ritual for Aaron and his sons. The LORD has Moses bring them to the Tent of Meeting, along with all of the necessary items: the priestly garments, the oil, a bull for the sin offering, two rams, and some bread. The rest of the Israelite community also come, to witness the ceremony.
Moses then washes Aaron and his sons with water, and Aaron and his sons put on the priestly garments. Moses anoints the tabernacle—and everything in it—with the oil, to consecrate them. (Remember that the word “consecrate” means to dedicate something for a specific purpose, or to declare holy.) Special attention is paid to the altar, which he sprinkles with oil seven times. Once everything in the tabernacle is consecrated, Moses then pours some of the oil on Aaron’s head, to consecrate him.
At this point, Moses presents the bull for the sin offering, and, since it is being sacrificed for their sins, Aaron and his sons place their hands on its head. Moses then follows the ritual for the sin offering, slaughtering the bull, putting some of the blood on the horns of the altar, and pouring the rest out at the base. Moses then takes the fat from the bull, and burns it on the altar, and then burns the rest of the bull outside the camp.
Moses then presents one of the rams for the burnt offering, and again, Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head. It is then slaughtered, and again, its blood is sprinkled against all sides of the altar. The ram is then burned on the altar.
The other ram is now presented, for the ordination, and again, Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head. Moses slaughters it, and puts some of the blood on Aaron’s right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe; when this is done, he repeats the process with Aaron’s sons. He then sprinkles more of the blood on the sides of the altar, before burning the fat on the altar, along with the bread. (Aaron and his sons wave all of the fat and bread before the LORD, first, as a wave offering.)
Moses then takes the ram’s breast—which verse 29 says is Moses’ share of the animal—and waves it before the LORD as a wave offering.
Finally, Moses takes some more of the oil, and some of the blood from the altar, and sprinkles it on Aaron, his sons, and their clothes. He commands them to cook the meat—at this point, I’ve lost track of which meat, from which of the sacrifices, they’re supposed to be cooking—at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. They are to eat it there, along with the bread from the basket of “ordination offerings”, and then burn up any meat or bread that remains. They are not to leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting for seven days, “until the days of [their] ordination are completed” (verse 33).
The chapter ends with this:
“What has been done today was commanded by the LORD to make atonement for you. You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.” So Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD commanded through Moses. (verses 34–36)
ThoughtsI may be repeating myself, but for this chapter, personally, I’m not paying too much attention to the details of it all. The significance of the one ram vs. the other; the significance of the bread. I’m just looking at the big picture: Aaron and his sons are going to take up religious leadership of the Israelites, and offer up sacrifices, on their behalf, to the LORD. But they have their own sin to deal with, which is what this chapter is concerned with.
Nobody can read this chapter, and come away thinking that worshipping the LORD is a trivial thing; He is a Holy God, and must be approached carefully—approaching Him carelessly leads to death, as we’ll see in an upcoming chapter, and elsewhere in the Bible. Really, I shouldn’t be allowed to approach Him at all, else I be killed—but in this instance, Jesus has already been killed for me. Because of Jesus’ death, I can actually approach the LORD any time I want, in prayer, to thank Him for what He has done for me, or to ask of Him additional requests.
But we must never think that the “approachable New Testament God” and the “Holy Old Testament God” are different Gods; it’s the same God. He is just as Holy as He always was. 21st Century Christians sometimes take for granted the fact that we can approach the LORD any time we want, without having to offer sacrifices, or otherwise atone for the sin that Jesus has already paid for. We can approach Him like that because Jesus has paid the price.
The Bible is very clear that we can only approach God the way that we do through faith in Christ; if we were to approach Him any other way, we’d be dealing with the same Holy LORD we see in Leviticus 8, and in danger of being destroyed for our sins.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:10–12)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16)
It doesn’t mean that we need to change the way that we worship the LORD; Jesus Christ bought us a relationship with God that the Old Testament Israelites could never have dreamed of. But our relationship with Him will be much stronger if we remember who He is, and what He stands for. Loving, yet just; compassionate, yet holy.