White tendrils of smoke filled the air as the fires burned; the smell of blood would soon be thick in the camp. The sacrifices would be made and placed on the altar to burn for sin. Flasks of oil and baskets of flatbread carried along dusty roads to the center of camp as the bull lowed and the rams bleated, the entire assembly gathered to witness the ordination of the priests.
“This is what the LORD has commanded to be done,” Moses announced. (Leviticus 8:5)
Five men came forward, Aaron and his sons, and were cleansed in water. Moses placed priestly vestments in linen and embroidery topped with a jewel-encrusted breastpiece and woven wasitband on Aaron. The turban was placed upon his head along with the CORBAN plate. (Click HERE and HERE to read more.)
Moses “poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him” and then brought his sons forward to do the same. (Leviticus 8:12-13)
The bull and two rams are sacrificed and burnt as a pleasing aroma offering made to the LORD by fire. Pouring the oil on the sacred altar and splattering blood everywhere, the men are anointed and marked as well. The basket of bread without yeast is finally presented and offered. The men are told to stay for seven days and nights in the place where they would become priests, from that time on to serve before the LORD and the people.
In Leviticus 8, it describes the Ordination of the Priesthood of Aaron and his sons for the Israelites in the desert when God is establishing them as his very own nation and people. This is what God tells Moses to say to his people:
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
They were to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. Six times from Leviticus 11 through 21 God commands the Israelites, “Be holy because I am holy.” Apparently, he was trying to tell them something really important: BE HOLY. The One you’re serving is HOLY.
In the New Testament, Peter writes
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
(1 Peter 2:9)
If the ordination and consecration that was commanded for Aaron and his sons as the Old Testament priesthood are overlayed on us in light of being God’s royal priesthood, what does that look like for us as Christ followers?
Consecration: to make or declare something sacred; dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose.
Ordination: the action of ordaining or conferring holy orders on someone.
We are consecrated, or “set apart”, for service to God. There are echoes of what Moses wrote from Leviticus as Peter writes to the new believers in Jesus Christ:
“Be holy, because I am holy.”
(1 Peter 1:16)
(For extra credit, click HERE to read more about what it looks to be holy according to Scripture.)
What could this look like for each of us?
Going back to Leviticus, we see the priests were first cleansed and washed in water. They were given new clothes to wear. Blood marked this family; oil was later poured over them. They stepped over the threshold and were kept in the entrance to the tent of meeting for a period of time. There were also offerings for sin.
How does the watching world know that we are God’s holy people? By our compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12) This is the character of the priesthood of Christ today. May we humbly accept the gift of being chosen and dearly loved so that we “may declare the praises of him who brought us out of this dark world into his wonderful light.”
Written in honor of staff members being ordained last weekend. Please celebrate by saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the call to a lifetime of Christian service.
Questions for my consideration:
- Have I confessed Christ and been baptized? This is the beginning, our “washing”.
- What do I “put on” once we believe – garments of faith or doubt? Do I don robes of righteousness and faithfulness, or do we maintain shrouds of darkness and deceit? Better yet, what do I still carry around – remnants from the past that haunt my future? What things need to be taken off, left behind, and never seen again?
- Have I stepped over the threshold and closed the door of the old life, having fully entered into the new? The old life is gone; my sin slate has been scrubbed clean. The new has come and the board is bright and white with plenty of room for the Spirit to enter.
- How have I been marked for service? When people look at me, is it obvious to see I follow Jesus?
- How quick am I to confess and repent? What kind of confession record do I keep and offer the Lord?