Chapter 29:35-46 (ESV) - “Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Through seven days shall you ordain them, and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall purify the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it to consecrate it. Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.
“Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
Question to consider: What was the purpose of making the tabernacle a most holy place?
The ordination process took seven days and required seven bulls, seven sacrificial rams, and seven rams of ordination to complete. The result was that the altar became not just holy but most holy. That which was most holy was contagiously holy meaning that things which came into contact with it became holy. We can all relate to the corrupting nature of sin. When someone comes into contact with something that is unclean, they become defiled. For example, if someone had leprosy, they were cast out of society for fear that in coming in contact with them, the disease would spread.
This altar was a type for Jesus. When He reached out and touched a leper, the leper became clean, for Jesus was most holy. We are also being made most holy in Christ. At the moment, we are citizens of Christ’s kingdom living in the world sowing seeds of the gospel and gathering a harvest of righteousness. One day, we will dwell with Christ eternally without sin and death.
This was the purpose for all of the work and sacrifices in the tabernacle – so that the LORD would dwell among the people of Israel. He would be their God, and they would be His people. This was the reason He had brought them out of Egypt. This was the unique promise that the false gods of the pagans could never offer.
The nations served their gods to appease them and hope for earthly comforts and healthy crops. It was not their desire to dwell with their gods but to avoid their judgment. Their hope was to arouse Baal to join with Asherah so they could enjoy a successful harvest, not to seek Baal’s attention for themselves.
The Westminster catechism provides a wonderful response to the question, “What is the purpose of man?” It states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Earthly comforts and healthy crops have value to the world, but they are temporary. Eighty years may seem like a long time, but it is a mere breath in light of the promise of dwelling with God.
The older I get, the more I realize how quickly it all goes. I can relate to Paul’s words of thanksgiving for the church at Philippi, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13) In Christ, all of our struggles and joys find purpose and contentment. All of them serve to glorify God, and all of them result in our enjoyment of Him forever.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for Your Holy Spirit who dwells in us and provides joy and contentment in the midst of our struggles here on earth. Thank You for the promise of eternal life with You through Christ. The riches of this world pale in comparison to being able to dwell with You in peace. Amen.