Priesthood: 2. The Priesthood Consecrated

Leviticus 8:1‑12  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Having had the offerings and sacrifices with their laws fully laid down in the preceding chapters, it was meet that the priesthood should be shown us and duly established. We shall see that in these shadows, as in those, the Lord Jesus was contemplated by the inspiring Spirit of God. There is divine order and nothing desultory, save in that judging according to sight, which in scripture especially is not righteous judgment. Jehovah regulates all things here also; and it is blessed for us if we learn of Him. “And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments and the anointing oil, and the bullock of the sin-offering, and the two rams, and the basket of unleavened [bread]; and gather thou all the assembly together at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Moses did as Jehovah had commanded him; and the assembly was gathered at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Moses said to the assembly, This [is] the thing which Jehovah hath commanded to be done. And Moses brought Aaron near, and his sons, and bathed them with water. And he put on him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him, and girded him with the curiously wrought girdle of the ephod, and fastened the ephod on him. And he placed the breast-plate on him; and in the breastplate he put the Urim and the Thummim. And he set the miter on his head, and on the miter in front did he set the golden plate, the holy diadem; as Jehovah commanded Moses. And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. “And he sprinkled thereof on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, and the laver and its base, to sanctify them. “And he poured of the anointing oil on Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him” (vers. 1-12).
The immense and personal importance of the priesthood was marked by the gathering of all Israel to witness their inauguration. For they effected the intercourse of the Israelite with Jehovah in the sanctuary, as the high priest its most solemn part in the holiest. When Moses was enjoined to take Aaron and his sons with him, the garments, the oil, the victims, and the unleavened bread, all the assembly must gather together at the entrance of the tent of meeting to behold the great sight (1-5). It concerned deeply both Jehovah and His people, every one.
The first thing done was to bathe Aaron and his sons (6). For mortal and sinful man purifying is indispensable, what the apostle calls “the washing of the water by word,” not by a rite however impressive and requisite in its place; but as the Lord said of the eleven, “Already are ye clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you.” They were begotten by the word of truth. It was the gift of life eternal; and thus no type of Aaron or any other could express the truth of Christ, Who was that life eternally. But seeing that His own receive it in receiving Him, even here we see that Aaron and his sons were alike bathed with water; Christ only is the life which we have in having Him. Hence says the Lord in John xiii. 10, “He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet.” There is no repetition of that first and absolute cleansing of the person. If the feet get defiled in walking through a miry world, this defilement must be removed; for it hinders our communion with Him. And this He sees to, being Advocate with the Father (1 John ii. 1), if one sin. He is the propitiation, as He is the Righteous One. The firm foundation of God stands, and our standing abides; but He deals with us, if we defile our feet, by His word and Spirit, and thus restores the communion that had been interrupted. For if He wash me not when defiled, I have no part with Him: to this need is His advocacy applied now that He is on high.
The garments, whether coat and its girdle, or robe and ephod with its skilfully woven girdle to fasten both firmly, the breast-plate with the Urim and the Thummim, and the turban or miter with the golden plate, were not those of the atonement day-of linen only, but “for glory and beauty.” They express what Christ is and does for us as the great High priest before God. Thus does He represent His own. The ephod was pre-eminently sacerdotal; and on its shoulder-pieces were the two onyx or beryl stones on which were graven the names of the children of Israel, six on each: all borne up before Jehovah for a memorial, as we are told in Exod. 28. The breast-plate of judgment was on his heart for a memorial continually, with the still more precious token of twelve stones of rare value, upon each a name of Israel's sons; and therein Moses put the Urim and the Thummim, the lights and the perfections, for Aaron's approach to Jehovah, that he might bear their judgment on his heart before Jehovah continually.
Very striking is the testimony to Christ in this preliminary scene in the twofold fact, that thus far we have no shedding or sprinkling of blood, as we see where the type of sinfulness comes before us in the leper's cleansing (chap. 14); and in this further, that we have the anointing oil freely used in verses 10-12. When Aaron's sons are brought near, as they are next, the Sin-offering is brought near too, and the hands of all were laid on the bullock's head; and when slaughtered, its blood is brought into a conspicuous use. But the absence of this in the verses before us is the witness to Christ's excellency. The tabernacle and all that was in it are anointed with the unction that bespeaks the Holy One. The altar was sprinkled seven times to anoint it and all its utensils, with the laver and its base; and, what confirms this exceptional aim, the anointing was poured on Aaron's head. It was not the purifying action of the Holy Spirit, but His energy, in witness of Christ's title to have and fill all with the power of God. But again this was not all. If He was the sinless One, and this could not be forgotten, He came to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; and this also must be attested in its place.