Priesthood: 3. Consecration of the Priests

Leviticus 8:13‑21  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Consecration of the Priests
We read in ver. 6 that Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. The true High Priest was the Holy One of God. The Holy thing born of the Virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit knew no sin; for in Him was none. The sinner needs to be born anew, the Savior did not, being thus born holy as was none other. He therefore is as pure in His humanity as of course in His Deity; we require to be purified by grace. Hence to mark the result, however distinct the way of it, all were washed in the type together, He the sanctifier, and they the sanctified. But He was the life, and gave them His life to be theirs.
Now we are to see the sons of Aaron clothed as their father had been, according to Jehovah's command. Not only was man not left in his nakedness, but grace invests, as it pleased Jehovah, for His presence in the sanctuary.
“And Moses brought near Aaron's sons, and clothed them with the coats, and girded them with the girdles, and bound the bonnets (or, high caps) on them; as Jehovah commanded Moses. And he brought near the bullock of the sin-offering; and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bullock for the sin-offering; and one slaughtered [it]; and Moses took the blood and put [it] on the horns of the altar, round about with his finger and cleansed the altar from sin, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar and sanctified it, making atonement for it. And he took all the fat that was on the inwards, and the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat; and Moses burned [them] on the altar. And the bullock and its skin and its flesh and its dung, he burned with fire outside the camp as Jehovah commanded Moses. And he brought near the ram of the burnt-offering; and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, And one slaughtered [it]; and Moses sprinkled the blood on the altar round about. And he cut up the ram into its pieces; and Moses burned the head, and the pieces, and the fat; and the inwards and the legs he washed with water; and Moses burned the whole ram on the altar: it [was] a burnt-offering for a sweet odor, a fire-offering to Jehovah; as Jehovah commanded Moses” (vers. 13-21).
What a blessed privilege to have Christ as life and righteousness and propitiation! But God makes Him much more to us even now, as well as in the glory to come. As the night is far spent and the day is at hand, we are exhorted to cast away the works of darkness, and to put on the armor of light. But in drawing near to God, it is not armor we want, as in conflict with the enemy. Still it is Christ we have to put on; and Christ we put on, as many as were baptized to Him. What have we any more to do, if we have Him, with what we were in the flesh or in the world? Is not Christ incomparably better than all? He is the one thing that we all are in Him. Here it is shown in the priests clothed according as Jehovah commanded Moses. They received their appropriate vests, and their girdles, and their sacerdotal headgear. Without doubt great stress was laid on the dress of the high priest. His were holy garments, for glory and for beauty.
This accordingly is intimated here when Aaron's sons were brought near and clothed with their priestly attire (13). Immediately follows the bullock of the Sin-offering also brought near, on which Aaron and they laid their hands (14). Christ, though He needed nothing of the sort for Himself (Heb. 6:2020Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Hebrews 6:20)), was made sin for them, and once for all. For every notion of either continuous or repeated offering Himself up is rigidly excluded by God's word, as indeed it would disparage and annul the revealed efficacy of His death. The blood here however was put, not within the holiest (as on Atonement-day), but on the altar's horns, and the rest poured out at its base, to sanctify that which had to do with sin and reconciliation thereby (15). But all the inward fat was burned on the altar, the unfailing and eloquent witness of the intrinsic excellence of the offering for sin, as Christ alone and fully made evident (16). For Him, Who did not even know sin, God made sin for us; and this was the more manifested here in the burning of the bullock and its skin, &c., outside the camp, as Jehovah commanded Moses (17).
But Christ secures personal acceptance with God, no less than the doing away with sin and its consequences; and so we have in ver. 18 the ram for a Burnt-offering. For in consecrating the priests no alternative was permitted as in ordinary holocausts. The ram for that or other special cases was required, as we have already remarked in its place; and so on its head also Aaron and his sons laid their hands, not for the removal of human evil but for the transfer of Christ's sweet savor. So here the blood of the slain ram was sprinkled all about on the altar (19); and its body was cut into its pieces and burnt, fat and all, with its washed inwards; for every animal thus needed washing to figure His purity (20, 21).
But the priest and his sons were clothed suitably to the sanctuary by no less a command of Jehovah. Essential purity was in Christ; in us who believe all is conferred through His grace. Not only are we in Him, but He was made to us from God all that we want for His holy presence. Of His fullness we all received, and grace for grace.
Yet type as he was, Aaron needed offering for sin and sacrifice no less than his sons: no sinful man could stand on other ground before Jehovah. So in ver. 14 we have Aaron and his sons laying their hands on the head of the bullock for the Sin-offering, which was slaughtered and its blood applied by Moses, who here represents Christ. The priests indeed more than any ordinary Israelite must be atoned for: how else could they approach Jehovah without defiling His sanctuary?
But this righteous necessity only the more brings into relief the anointing disclosed in ver. 12. Not only was the anointing oil applied to the tabernacle and all that was in it, and the altar sprinkled with it seven times, the altar with all its utensils anointed, and the laver and its base, to hallow them, but Moses poured of it on Aaron's head and anointed him, to hallow him. Thus Christ is here unmistakably before us, as far as a type could intimate, in the anointing of Aaron alone, apart from his sons, but with the tabernacle, altar, and laver. Jehovah could not, we may say with reverence, withhold this the highest witness of His satisfaction and delight; for is it not in the energy of the Holy Ghost thus given? It was accomplished literally in our Lord without His blood-shedding, indispensable for every other. For on Him did the Holy Spirit descend in a bodily form as a dove, while the Father's voice came out of heaven, Thou art my beloved Son: in Thee I found my delight. This was at the precise moment of His life here below, when men might have been tempted to conceive unhallowed thoughts. For it was when He was baptized as others were, and was praying. It expressed really perfect moral beauty.
As the tabernacle, altar, and laver too typified offices that He fills as to creation, and had nothing in themselves of moral evil, like Israel or mankind, we see that they were in the type associated with Him in the power of the Holy Ghost. All belonged to Him on every ground, and He was personally entitled to fill all, with the power of divine blessing. When the priests are in question, blood must be shed.