Chapter 29:1-18 (ESV) - “Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams. You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put coats on them, and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.
“Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull. Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar. And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
“Then you shall take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, and you shall kill the ram and shall take its blood and throw it against the sides of the altar. Then you shall cut the ram into pieces, and wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and its head, and burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord. It is a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord.
Question to consider: Why were the priests cleansed with water before the bloody work of sacrifice?
So far, the LORD has given instructions for consecrating the furnishings of the tabernacle, the tabernacle itself and the clothing that is to be worn by the priests when they perform their duties. In today’s passage the LORD provided instructions on consecrating Aaron and his sons to be able to perform their priestly duties. This instruction was to be done for every priest who would ever serve in the tabernacle or temple. The “sons” of Aaron would include all of his descendants.
It is interesting that they were to be cleansed with water before performing the bloody sacrifices. We think of dirt or blood as making us unclean, but God declared that the only things unclean in this scenario were the priests. As I mentioned yesterday, Joshua the high priest was clothed in clean garments by the angels in Zechariah’s vision after he stood before God in his own filthy garments and was accused by Satan. Joshua could not intercede for Israel without being consecrated, and there was no altar yet in which to consecrate him so he depended upon the mercy of the LORD. The anointing of oil was a type and shadow pointing to Jesus who was the Anointed One of God (the meaning of the Hebrew word Messiah and Greek word Christ). If you went through my study in Luke, you may remember that Mary the sister of Lazarus (also known as Simon the Pharisee and Simon the Leper), physically anointed Jesus at the beginning of His ministry (after she had been forgiven and freed from demons) and at the end of His ministry for burial (during a dinner for Jesus before His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and after her brother, Lazarus, was raised from the dead).
After anointing the priests with oil, those who ordained them put their hands on a bull before killing it and spreading its blood on the horns of the altar. The pressing of their hands on the bull was to transfer the sin of the priests to the bull. The best parts of the bull were burned up on the altar as a covering for sin, and the rest was put outside the camp and burned.
Aaron and his sons then confessed their sins and laid them on one of the rams which would also be sacrificed. Thus, they were cleansed of both the sins they had done knowingly and in ignorance. The undefiled flesh of these animals were given as a substitute for the defiled flesh of the priests. This must have been a terribly graphic and costly thing to experience.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for allowing a substitute for our sin and for the willingness of Jesus to provide Himself as the perfect substitute for all time. May our gratitude overflow into a desire for holiness in a world full of sin and temptation. We look forward to the day when sin and death will be no more. Amen.