AFTER God had selected Aaron and his sons for the priesthood, it became necessary for them to pass through a period of preparation and training for their new duties, which culminated in their public installation in office. Every step in this process was outlined by God Himself and communicated to Moses, who faithfully executed God's command.
This consecration was a most solemn occasion, which occupied seven days. During this time the candidates were not permitted to leave the sanctuary grounds. (Leviticus 8:33) Sacrifices, purifying, and anointing were the order of each day.
The first ceremony was that of washing.
The Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread. And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses did as the' Lord commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done. And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. Verses 1-6.
As this washing was a symbolic act, a symbol of regeneration (Titus 3:5), the priests were not permitted to wash themselves. God was teaching them that the purity which He required was not something
they themselves could provide. Someone else must provide it for them.
It must have been a new experience for Aaron to be washed by Moses. It can easily be imagined that as the two brothers proceeded to the laver, their minds were occupied with the significance of that in which they were about to engage. Moses had his clear instructions from the Lord, and he informed Aaron of what must be done. It may be that Aaron mildly objected, thinking he was able to wash himself. This seems to be implied in Moses' rejoinder: This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done. Leviticus 8:5. From his intimate relationship with God he had a better understanding than Aaron of God's requirements. This was not an ordinary bath; it was a spiritual cleansing. Aaron could not cleanse himself from sin. Somebody must do that for him. Hence, the symbolic washing.
After the washing came the investiture of Aaron and his sons with the holy garments, the insignia of office. This also was a symbolic act; hence, they were not permitted to clothe themselves. Moses, as God's representative, put upon Aaron the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him and he girded him with .the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. And he put the breastplate upon, him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim. And he put the miter upon his head; also upon the miter, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the Lord commanded Moses. Verses 7-9. The same was done to Aaron's sons. Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the Lord commanded Moses. Verse 13.
By this time Aaron must have felt completely helpless. Was there nothing he could do for himself? Must everything be done for him? Would he not even be permitted to put on the miter himself? No, Aaron must submit himself to the command of God. He must be made to feel his own helplessness. He must learn that nothing he could do would be acceptable to God. He must learn the lesson of entire dependence. It is God who is fitting and preparing him. God is 'clothing him with His own righteousness. Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy saints shout for joy, says the psalmist. Psalm 132:9.
Aaron is now fully clothed. He has on the long blue robe, with the bells and the pomegranates. The ephod with the two beautiful onyx stones engraved with the names of the children of Israel; the breastplate with the twelve stones and Urim and Thurnmim, the miter and the golden crown with the inscription, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. He is washed; he is clean, he is clothed.
The next act was the anointing. The holy oil was poured upon Aaron's head by Moses. God's command was, Then shall thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him. Exodus 29:7. And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him. Leviticus 8:12. As the investing of Aaron with the priestly garments was a recognition before men of the official position he was henceforth to hold, so the anointing was God's acceptance of him for his sacred office and His testimony of Aaron's fitness for it. The crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him, and he is fully accepted by God and dedicated to Him. (Leviticus 1: 12)
God gives not the Spirit by measure is the conclusion to which John comes as he contemplates the work of Christ. John 3:34. Symbolic of this is the anointing of Aaron, which was a superabundant out pouring of the holy oil. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments. Psalm 133:2. This fullness of the out pouring of the anointing oil was doubtless indicative of the fullness of the Spirit that should rest upon Aaron as he ministered -before God. (1 Samuel 10:1, 6; 16:13; Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38)
The account of the consecration and anointing of Aaron is closely interwoven with that of the consecration and anointing of the tabernacle. When God gave directions to Moses, He told him to make a holy anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all his vessels, and the laver and is foot. And sanctify them, that they may be most holy. whatsoever touches them shall be holy. Exodus 30: 5-29. Pursuant to this command Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that as therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them. Leviticus 8:10, 11. It is of interest to note that both the holy and the most holy apartments were anointed at the time of the dedication before Aaron began his work of ministration in either apartment. This anointing included 'the ark of the testimony, and the table and all his vessels, and the candlestick and his vessels, and the altar of incense, and, in fact, the whole tabernacle and all that was therein. Exodus 30:26, 27; Leviticus 8:10.
The anointing being ended, a bullock was brought for a sin offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering. And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it. Leviticus 8:14, 15.
The blood of the bullock was not carried into the' sanctuary, as was this blood ordinarily, but was put upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and the rest poured out at its foot. This act purified and sanctified the altar, to make reconciliation upon it. Verse 15. It needs to be emphasized that this offering was not for Aaron or for his sons. It was for the altar. Up to this time there had been no sacrifice made on it. Yet it needed purification and sanctification that reconciliation might be made on it. This sin offering did not transfer sin to the altar, as was done on other occasions. It cleansed the altar-not of any specific sin, but of sin in general.
Customarily a burnt offering was accompanied by a sin offering, and so it was here. Aaron 'and his sons laid their hands upon the ram for a burnt offering, it was slain, and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. (Verses 18, 19) The ram was then burned on the altar for a sweet savor, in contrast to the bullock, which was taken without the camp and burned. (Verses 21, 17)
Both the priesthood and the tabernacle were consecrated and anointed in preparation for service. Aaron and his sons were subjected to a ceremonial washing; then they were clothed, and Aaron received a special anointing. The tabernacle was also anointed, both the holy and the most holy place, with all the articles of furniture, including the ark itself. For the altar of burnt offering a special sin offering was made, to purify and sanctify it, that reconciliation might be made upon it.
The ceremony of the ram of consecration was the last act in the consecration and dedication of Aaron and his sons and the tabernacle. With it the dedication was completed, and Aaron and his sons were empowered to perform the mediatorial services connected with their priesthood.
In the account given by Moses, the ram of consecration is called the other ram, as one ram had already been used in the burnt offering. (Leviticus 8:22, 18) Aaron and his sons placed their hands upon the ram. 'Which was then killed. Moses then took of the blood and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. He did the same to the sons of Aaron, and then sprinkled the blood upon the altar of burnt Offering round about. (Verses 23, 24)
The application of the blood to the ear of Aaron, doubtless signified the consecration of this member to the service of God. Henceforth Aaron must hearken diligently to God's commandments, and must close his ears to evil. This lesson is for all and for all time-is profitable for ministers and laymen alike. Well would it be if it were heeded. To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22.
. This placing of the blood on the thumb of the right hand of Aaron signified that he should
henceforth do righteousness. Just as hearing has to do with the mind, so the hand has to do with bodily activity. It stands for the life forces, the outward act, the doing ,of righteousness. Of Christ it is written, Lo, I come . . . to do Thy will, 0 God. Hebrews 10:7. My meat, Christ said, is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work. John 4:34. Touching the hand with the blood means the consecration of the life and service to God-entire dedication.
Placing the blood on the toe has a similar meaning. It signifies walking in the right way, running God's errands, standing for truth and uprightness. It, signifies treading the path of obedience, having one's steps ordered by the Lord. Every faculty of the being is to be dedicated to God and consecrated to His service.
Having thus applied the blood to Aaron and his sons, Moses sprinkled the altar of burnt offering with the blood of the ram of consecration. The altar had already been anointed with oil; and the blood of the sin offering and the blood of the burnt offering had also been applied to it. (Leviticus 8:10, 15, 19, 24) Now it was sprinkled with the blood of the ram of consecration.
Having finished this part of the service, Moses took the right shoulder of the ram, together with the fat and other parts of the animal, added to this one unleavened cake, a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put these things upon the hands of Aaron and upon the hands of his sons, who waved them for a wave offering before the Lord. After this, they were burned upon the altar for a sweet savor. Moses then took the breast of the ram the part given to him- and waved it before the Lord. (Verses 25-29)
After this Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him. Leviticus 8:30.
The tabernacle had already been anointed with the holy oil, as had also Aaron. (Verses 10-12) Now blood and oil are sprinkled upon Aaron and his sons, 'and also upon their garments. This sprinkling sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
As the final act in this ceremony of consecration, Moses told Aaron and his sons to take the flesh which remained of the wave offering and prepare it for eating. Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, God commanded, and there cat it 'with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it. And that which remains of the flesh and of the I read shall you burn with fire. Verses 31, 32. This was in harmony with the command recorded in Exodus 29:33: They shall cat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not cat thereof, because they are holy.
This eating of, the flesh of the ram of consecration Is to be noted in contrast with the eating of the flesh 'of the sin offering. The eating of the flesh of the ram of consecration was to consecrate and to sanctify them, whereas the eating of the flesh of the goat of the sin offering was for the purpose of bearing sin, to "bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord. Leviticus 10:17. These two ceremonies with these two distinct purposes should not be confused.
During the seven days of consecration neither Aaron nor his sons performed any priestly service connected with the ministration of the blood, nor did they enter the sanctuary. The anointing of the tabernacle and the vessels, the sprinkling of Aaron and his sons with the blood and with the oil, the ministration of the blood of the sin offering, the burnt offering, the ram of consecration-all were done by Moses. It was he who entered the most holy and sprinkled the ark; it was he who sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. Hebrews 9:21.
Not until the end of the seven-day period of consecration and dedication could Aaron and his sons begin their service as priests.
It came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel: and he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. And unto the children of Israel thou shall speak, saying, Take you a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering. Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord; and a meat offering mingled with oil: for to day the Lord will appear unto you. Leviticus 9:14.
Aaron was now to begin the service to and for which he had been dedicated. He offered his own sin and burnt offering; then he offered the sin offering with the burnt and meal offering for the people; and lastly he offered the bullock and the ram for the peace offering. All this he did according to the manner, that is, according to the directions and instructions given by the Lord through Moses. (Verse 16) The blood of the sin offering was put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and the blood of the burnt offering was sprinkled upon the altar rounding, (Verses 9, 12.) The blood of the peace offering as disposed of in the same manner as the blood of the burnt offering. (Verse I8.)
Of all this, Moses was an interested observer. He as the one to whom the Lord communicated His will. He was the one who had instructed Aaron and s sons, and he was now watching to see that everything was done according to the manner!' It would, for example, be a serious mistake for Aaron to sprinkle blood of the sin offering upon the altar round out. That must never be done. The blood of the offering must be put on the horns of the altar. Again, it would be a serious mistake to put the blood the burnt offering upon the horns of the altar. That must never be done. It must be sprinkled upon the altar round about. The symbolism demanded that be done exactly the way God commanded Moses.
In so far Aaron made no mistake. It was all done as Moses commanded!' (Verse 2l.)
While Aaron still stood on the elevation of the altar burnt offering, after having finished his work there, lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. Verse 22. So far he had officiated only at the altar of burnt offering in the court, and had not entered the tabernacle. As Moses hitherto had instructed him in what he was to do, so now Moses went with Aaron into the first apartment of the sanctuary for the purpose of instruction. Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, ordinarily called the holy place. Verse 23. What took place there we are not informed, but we shall not be far wrong in assuming that Moses instructed Aaron with reference to the lighting of the lamps, the placing of the show bread. The offering of incense, and the placing of blood upon the horns of the altar of incense.
As stated, it was the first time that Aaron had ever been inside the tabernacle. What must have been his feelings as he stood face to face with the altar, the candlestick, the table of show bread, and most of all, that mysterious veil, behind which was the very presence of God! What responsibility was thenceforth to) be his!
Moses and Aaron came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. Verses 23, 24. God had fulfilled His promise: To day the Lord will appear unto you. Verse 4.
God had accepted man's work. The sanctuary was now consecrated and dedicated. So were the priests. All was now ready to begin the service for Israel.
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