Priesthood: Exodus 29

Exodus 29  •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 5
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Exodus 29
There is a desire at all times in the people of God, whether in Jewish ignorance or Christian life, that they should always have God dwelling with them. Thus, in Exodus 15, as soon as Moses had come out of Egypt, he said, " He is my God; I will prepare him a habitation." So we are " builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
We do look to God's dwelling amongst us; yet we have much more thought of dwelling with Him. This was not the case with Israel. We have boldness to enter into the holiest, Christ having passed through the heavens for us, as Aaron passed through the tabernacle for them. Israel could not enter within the veil; but Christ has rent it, and opened new and living way, which He has consecrated for us. God having, in the cross of Christ, put sin away, we can stand in the light of His presence. Here we find the presence of God among them. This is not redemption, the object of which is that we should be with God. We could not meet God without redemption. Christ suffered, the " just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."
We learn in this chapter how we can thus be in the presence of God constantly and abidingly. We are really, in title, made " kings and priests to God and His Father "; our provision and character being this, provision is made in Christ for us, so that we can be continually in the presence of God. There was to be the harm-offering continually at the door of the tabernacle, the place where the Lord met with the people. We are consecrated to God to be priests. Christ has not yet taken upon Him His office as King; but He has taken the priesthood, and therefore we have got, even now, our priesthood. He exercises in heaven continually a perpetual priesthood, filling up in this respect the figure of Aaron, though the order be of Melchisedec.
We see here how we are put in me place of priests, and yet Christ is personally distinguished. Aaron goes first (v. 5-7) alone, to represent Christ; then the sons (v. 8) to represent the whole Church, the priests. In referring to the cleansing of the leper, we have the way a sinner is cleansed from the evil that is in him. It is the same ordinance as regards the leper and the priest; but the leper wants to get cleansed as a sinner, the priest that he may be consecrated to God. If not cleansed in every respect we could not stand before God at all. There was sprinkling of blood on the leper, on the right ear, the right hand, the right toe: his thoughts, his acts, his walk, must be all cleansed, by being brought under the " blood of sprinkling." So in this chapter we are consecrated in the same way. In verse 4, " Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle," etc. You do not find Aaron washed by himself, because Christ did not need it. They are washed together as a figure of the christian body. Christ as a man identifies Himself with the Church (1 Cor. 12:1212For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)). Aaron was anointed (v. 17). The Holy Ghost descended upon Christ when He had been baptized.
But before unction we need to be cleansed. The word of God applied to the heart and conscience with power by the Spirit is called washing with the word. " Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." This is not habitation but washing. Christ came not by water only, but by water and blood. The blood was for expiation, the water for washing, in order to meet God. In anything of Christ's work, it is not a question merely of atonement, but of meeting God. If I think of meeting God, it is what God requires. There must be perfect cleansing. It turns the eye on God Himself. I shall always know evil in myself; but if God is satisfied, so may I be. It is wholesome to look within and judge myself; but I shall not get the blessed peace that flows from faith, if I am looking for it into my own heart. When we see God is satisfied with Christ, then comes in peace; it gives the highest standard of right and wrong, but peace, because God is satisfied with Christ. Washing by water is repeated, not by blood.
Moses clothes him with the priest's robe, and there is no sacrifice here, because Christ required none. He was a perfect man in obedience and love. As man, Christ identifies Himself with His people. He comes into the same place as regards the walk of holiness. He was anointed with the Spirit and with power. All He did was in the power of the Spirit (v. 7, 20, 21; Acts 10: 38). Christ was anointed as man. When He ascended on high, there He received the promise of the Father, and sent down the Spirit to the saints, so constituting them the Church.
Next, we come to the sons of Aaron (v. 8, 9). We are going to get them introduced into the priesthood, and now comes the sacrifice. Aaron needed none (v. 10-13, 14). There is no sweet savor in the sin-offering or trespass-offering. It must be burnt without the camp. Here it is a sin-offering—sin must be totally put away before our consecration. It is the nature judged before God. Christ is made sin for us, that we may be made priests. We have these two aspects of the value of Christ's work. First, the sin is charged upon Him. In the Hebrew there is no difference between " sin " and " sin-offering." Here He is the sin-offering; He who " knew no sin, made sin for us," etc. Secondly, the other character was offering Himself up to God, all the devotedness of a life of obedience offered up; this was a sweet savor to God. " Therefore hath my Father loved me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again," John 10.
In verses 15-18 we find Aaron and his sons not merely having sin taken away, but accepted of God in all the perfection of Christ. If I am looked at as a sinner in myself, the sin is put away, but this is not all. Aaron and his sons put their hands upon the sin-offering; they also identified themselves with the burnt-offering. All the savor of everything that Christ has done, we are in: everything was consumed (v. 18), and put to the test; nothing failed; it is all gone up, and we are in it before God. Here we get our blessed position, previous to consecration as priests. For this, it is not a question of what I think of myself; but the measure of my acceptance is what Christ is in God's presence and estimate. We cannot measure grace by anything that is fitted for us, but by what is fitted for God.
Verses 19, 21. We come now to the proper character of those persons that are cleansed and accepted. Now it is to consecrate, and, as in cleansing the leper, the blood is put on the right ear, right hand, and right foot-the acts, thoughts, and walks. We are now consecrated to God in all these. We have to render unto the Lord our bodies as well as our spirits; for we are not our own, but bought with a price. Every act that Christ did was as perfect as His sacrifice, but every step made it increasingly difficult. So we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Christ's conduct and Christ's devotedness are the measure of our walk before God. There is not so much as to set one's foot on left for self-will. Christ did not come to do His own will. Even to death He went, the death of the cross. So with us, if the eye is single, the whole body is full of light. If the heart is right, it makes the aim right. The apostle says, " Not that I have already attained... but this one thing I do," etc. He exercised himself day and night " to have a conscience void of offense." Then it is real liberty. If the heart be right, it will be joy; if not, it will be terrible, because there is not the smallest liberty given to self-will. In many things we fail; but if we feel what sin is and the claim God has on us, it will be our privilege to do His will. It is not a pretense that we are set up as something wonderful. No, it is faith in the blood of Christ that has cleansed us as to purpose and thought according to the perfectness of Christ; and now we are consecrated to serve God. It is simple Christianity.
Verse 21 shows them consecrated by the blood put upon their persons; but not only so, for there is the anointing with the Spirit of God to give power and energy for action. It was put on the " sons' garments with him." I have got the power of Christ in heaven, and the power of the Spirit that comes down from Christ for garments (that is, for all that I appear in before the world). It is " with Him," a thorough, complete association by the power of the Spirit with a crucified Christ who is now in heaven. Thus we get real thorough joy and gladness of heart. The first fruits are with God, the result are in what we show to men. If peace and joy are in my heart, let me go in that, and it produces joy and gladness in my ways. The beginning of all practical fruits is from what we have with God, and then there is a testimony to men. What we really are with God shows itself out. It is, or should be, the effect of the consciousness of union with Christ.
This anointing of the Spirit can be put on us, because the blood is on us. Aaron had no blood put on him. The Spirit is the seal. The least relic of sin would prevent Him from sealing; but when the blood has cleansed from sin, then the seal is applied. The presence of the Spirit is the witness of the blood-shedding; the fruits are the witness of the Spirit. We thus get a wonderful power, stamp, and measure of holiness. If we believe in Christ, we are so cleansed that the Spirit can come and dwell in us. The Spirit is the seal to the value of Christ's work, not to what He is going to produce. Now He can fill Aaron's hands (v. 23, 24). What is produced by the Spirit is Christ's after all. I can come with an object now that I know God delights in it. Suppose I praise Christ's name, I know God's delight rests on it; it may be imperfectly done, but I know what the thing is to God, not the manner of my presenting it. It is the sweet savor of Christ to God.
We feed on Christ (v. 31, 32), now that He has given us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. We gather strength and grace, and comfort, the perfectness of Christ Himself, as our souls' food. " He that eateth me, even he shall live by me." We come so to think of Christ, so to realize in our hearts and spirits what He is, that we live Christ. What a man thinks is what he is, more than what he does. A man may think of sin, and love it, and desire to do it, but will not because of his character; he may be a hypocrite. If I realize Christ in my heart, I am a Christian.
Verse 42 shows a continual burnt-offering at the place where God meets the people. Christ is before God day by day continually, a sweet savor. I cannot go to God without finding the savor of Christ there, in the perfect sweetness of His offering.
The reason (we hear in Gen. 8) God gave for not cursing is that He looks to Noah's sacrifice, not to the sin. God deals with us in virtue of what the Mediator is, instead of what we are. It ought to be always in our hearts, but it is always before God. When the daily sacrifice was taken away, the Jew could not go to God; there was no savor; see Dan. 8: I 1.
In verses 42, 43, it is " I will meet you to speak there to thee." It is through Christ we gain everything. Finally, God says (v. 45, 46), " I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God." It is by the Spirit He does so now. The whole Church is His dwelling-place. He is not merely a Redeemer, but a constant dweller with the people; as verse 46 shows, it was not to do an act and then leave them. So it is with the Church in a still more blessed way.
But let us never forget that sin is put away first; then there is the continual savor where God meets us; and we are consecrated to His service. It supposes that the heart is right; for I cannot wish to be consecrated to God and have my own will. The death of Christ will never find its intelligent value in our hearts, if we want to escape the consequences of consecration. If we are consecrated, the motive of every action should be that Christ may be glorified. You cannot be happy unless Christ be everything. We may have to condemn ourselves daily; but when we think what a savor is before God, we go on with confidence.