The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

Exodus 29:1‑37  •  22 min. read  •  grade level: 8
First of all the materials necessary for consecration are enumerated. There were one young bullock, two rams without blemish, unleavened bread, cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil. All these speak of Christ in one way or another. It is because of what Christ is and what He has done, that the believer is what he is. All depends on Christ.
Aaron and His Sons Washed with Water
What is the significance of being washed by water? As we shall see in a later Chapter the priests continually washed their hands and feet at the Brazen Laver, but this was a case of the hath, washing all over ceremonially. This was done at their consecration, never to be repeated.. Evidently Hebrews 10:2222Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22) refers to the consecration of the priests, telling us how the type applies to Christians of this dispensation. " Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience [typically, the blood of the Sin Offering], and our bodies washed with pure water [typically, Aaron and his sons washed all over ceremonially]."
That both blood and water are cleansing agencies, and both connected with the death of Christ, is evident from John 19.34; " One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." Whilst actual blood and water flowed from the side of the dead Christ, it is evident they have a symbolic meaning, for we read in 1 John 5:66This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. (1 John 5:6), " This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood." And again, " There are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood " (1 John 5:88And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (1 John 5:8)).
We know that the blood of Christ is for cleansing for we have the Scripture, " The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin " (1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)). To keep things clearly in our minds, we may call this judicial cleansing, clearing the believer from the penalty of sin once and for all; whereas cleansing by water is for moral cleansing, the believer being freed from the defilement of sin, and it answers to the new birth by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
The blood is for judicial cleansing.
The water is for moral cleansing.
The blood cleanses from the penalty of sin.
The water cleanses from the defilement of sin.
The blood is connected with righteousness and our standing before God.
The water is connected with holiness and state.
The blood is connected with Christ's atoning death alone. The water is connected with the Holy Spirit's operation. Let these statements be well considered.
Now to prove our statement that water has to do with new birth, without which none of us can enter the kingdom of Heaven, we read, " Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit " (John 3:5, 65Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:5‑6)).
But says some reader, Does this not mean the rite of baptism? Most assuredly not, and we will give our reasons for this answer. (1) It could not be Christian baptism for the simple reason that when our Lord spoke, Christian baptism was not known. The only baptism then was that of John, the Baptist. Christian baptism was not known till after Christ had died, for believers are baptized unto the death of Christ. John's baptism was " the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel " (Acts 13:2424When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. (Acts 13:24)). (2) Our Lord spoke of being " born of water and of the Spirit." Christian baptism speaks of death. " Buried with Him by baptism into death " (Rom. 6:44Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)). Birth is life at the beginning of existence; death means burial at the end of life. Our Lord spoke of being born again. He said to Nicodemus, " Ye must be born again " (John 3:77Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:7)). Baptism speaks of death. Get it clear in your mind that " being born of water and of the Spirit," does not remotely allude to Christian baptism. It is a frightful travesty of the truth to mistake the water of regeneration (life) for the water of baptism (death and burial). To make out that the rite of baptism makes unconscious infants children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of God, is a popish figment, designed to put tremendous power into the hands of an arrogant priesthood. Baptism as a mere rite never did anything vital for anyone. If it did, then all baptized infants would grow up to be true born-again Christians, and alas! we know this is not the case. Infants become Christians, when, coming to years of responsibility, they repent of their sins, and trust the Lord Jesus as their Savior, and in no other way.
Eph. 5:25, 2625Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (Ephesians 5:25‑26) throws great light on the meaning of water as a cleansing agent. We read, " Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify it, and cleanse it with the washing of water BY THE WORD." Though the simile is changed from " water " to " seed," we find the same thought in connection with 1 Peter 1:2323Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23), " Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, BY THE WORD OF GOD." " Of His own will begat He us with THE WORD OF TRUTH " (James 1:1818Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (James 1:18)). A seed has life in it, and produces life.
But you may ask how can water mean the new birth? Do you not remember the very pregnant statement of our Lord, we have just quoted, ” That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit " (John 3:66That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6))? This means that the flesh, the evil nature that pertains to all of Adam's race, cannot produce anything but flesh, that which is entirely obnoxious to God. How then can there be anything pleasing to God? There must be a birth of the Holy Spirit, " that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." This means that for moral cleansing there must be a new nature. Think this over, and you will be convinced of the truth of it.
An illustration may help. A traveler in Italy got belated one evening, and had to find a lodging for the night up among the mountains. He got accommodation in a humble cottage. The room assigned to him had a very filthy floor. The traveler was about to ask the woman of the house to clean the floor, when he noticed it was a mud floor. Hot water, soap and scrubbing applied to the mud floor would only have made more mud. " That which is born of the flesh is flesh." You cannot alter the nature of anything by outside means.
What then was the alternative? How could the traveler get a clean floor? The only way to accomplish this would be to get a NEW floor, made of materials capable of being kept clean. So the flesh cannot be improved, not even in Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. A NEW floor is necessary, in other words a NEW life is necessary, and that is brought about by the word of God acting on the individual in the power of the Spirit of God, producing NEW birth. " BORN of water and of the Spirit," predicates a NEW life by the agency of water (the word of God) and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Augustus Toplady wrote long ago:
" Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee,
Let the
WATER and the BLOOD
From Thy riven side which flowed
Be of sin the
DOUBLE cure,
Cleanse me from its
GUILT and POWER."
Evidently the poet had grasped the meaning of judicial cleansing by blood, and moral cleansing by the impartation of a new life.
There is a well-known Scripture, which clearly shows the difference of the hath, being washed all over, and the daily washing of hands and feet, as the priests did at the Brazen Laver. Our Lord in washing the feet of His disciples as a symbolic act, said, " He that is washed [Greek louo, to wash the WHOLE body] needeth not save to wash his feet [Greek, nipto, to wash A PART of the body], but is clean every whit " (John 13. 10). The first washing answers to the ceremonial washing of the priests all over, never to be repeated; the second, to the washing of the hands and feet in the Brazen Laver repeatedly.
It is interesting and helpful to see how truths dovetail in such an exact way in Scripture. When we remember that the writers were separated by centuries from each other, and that the earlier writers could not know what the later writers would say, it is a wonderful mark of inspiration to see this, and how there is only one Mind behind the whole Bible, the mind of God. We see blood and water flowing from the side of a dead Christ, and that sets forth that which is the fountain spring of everything. We find blood and water in the Tabernacle, blood upon the Mercy Seat, water in the Brazen Laver. We find water and blood in the consecration of Aaron and his sons; water, the washing all over; blood, the Sin Offering necessary for their approach to God. We find water necessary for new birth in John 3, and in the same Chapter the necessity that the Son of Man should be lifted up on the cross, must die, must shed His precious blood. In John 13:1010Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. (John 13:10), we have seen how there are two Greek words for wash, one to wash all over, the other to wash a part, answering to the washing all over of the priests on the day of their consecration, and then washing a part answering to the Brazen Laver. Finally we saw in Heb. 10. 22, " Our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience [the blood], and our bodies washed with pure water." We find Scripture giving clear testimony as to this.
The washing ceremonially of Aaron and his sons brings out the truth of the vital necessity for all, who approach God, of being born again, having a nature suitable to Him and His holiness. We can sum up the matter. There are two grand results of the death of Christ, one to do with man's guilt (the blood); the other to do with his state (Divine life). We read, In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live [involving the impartation of the Divine life in the New Birth] through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [cleansing by blood] for our sins " (1 John 4:9, 109In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9‑10)).
Aaron Clothed and Anointed
Aaron is first clothed in the garments of glory and beauty, surely typical of Christ as Representative of His people, in their relation as priests to Him, who is the High Priest. The anointing oil was poured upon His head, typical of Christ " having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost " (Acts 2:3333Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:33)), and thus taking up His office before God.
Then Aaron's sons were clothed with linen coats, girdles and bonnets, thus set in relation to Aaron as the High Priest, typical of how all believers to-day are priests in relation to-Christ the High Priest.
The Sin Offering
A bullock was then brought to the Door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of the bullock. This was symbolic of their accepting the sacrifice as necessary for the question of meeting their guilt. All the sinfulness of Aaron and his sons was thereby in figure transferred to the sacrifice. The bullock was then slain. They would mark its death as the fatal blow fell upon it. They would see its quivering death agonies, and learn therein feebly, and in picture, what a serious thing sin is, and how only death can meet it. Part of the blood was put upon the horns of the Altar, and the rest poured out at the bottom of the Altar. The life is in the blood, and this act testifies that death alone can meet the penalty of sin, only death and that an atoning death, and none could furnish that but the Son of God.
The fat parts of the bullock, viz. the fact covering the inwards, the caul above the liver, the two kidneys, and the fat upon them, were burned upon the Altar of Burnt Offering. These went up as " a sweet savor unto the Lord," for nothing was burned upon the Brazen Altar, but what went up as entirely acceptable unto the Lord.
The fat parts being burned upon the Altar typified, that, even in this most serious type of the death of Christ, there was in the most inward springs of Christ's devotedness to the will of God, that which was most delightful to the heart of God. Indeed the burning of the fat parts comes first, as if this aspect of Christ's death is ever before God. Never could this have been manifested in its fullness and depth as., at the cross of Calvary.
The rest of the bullock-his flesh, his skin, his dung-was burned outside the camp. It was a Sin Offering, which was always burned outside the camp. Outside the camp was a place of reproach. We read, " The bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the Sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate " (Heb. 13. 11, 12). The camp was a large place. Some three million souls surrounded the Tabernacle. According to the Jewish historian, the camp had a circuit of twelve miles. It must have been a solemn and awe-inspiring spectacle to see the Sin Offering being carried outside the camp, there to be burned as symbolizing God's utter detestation of sin, and the death of our Lord as alone meeting the judgment of God.
" There is a green hill far away
Without a city wall,
Where the dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all."
The flesh of the Sin Offering was burned, setting forth that which is general. The flesh is altogether bad. The dung too was burned. The dung, the excreta of the animal, represents what is recognized as bad even among men, the excesses of sin, such as drunkenness, dishonesty, blasphemy, uncleanness and the like. All can understand the dung being burned.
But the skin, the beauty of the animal, was likewise burned. Here we have a very different lesson. Not only does man's worst come under God's judgment at the cross, but his best. This is a hard lesson to learn, but a very necessary one.
Job, as it were, had a handsome skin. Honest, upright, benevolent, generous, kind-hearted, yet he had to learn that his best was but vileness in God's sight. To his three friends he stoutly maintained his own righteousness. But when he found himself in God's presence, he exclaimed, " I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes " (Job 42:5, 65I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5‑6)). The skin of the bullock was burned.
Saul of Tarsus had a handsome skin metaphorically. He could boast, " If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more.... concerning.... righteousness, which is in the law [I was] blameless " (Phil. 3:44Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (Philippians 3:4) to 6). In the light of that which was above the brightness of the sun he learned the humbling truth as to himself. The proud Pharisee was brought to confess what he truly was in God's holy presence. He wrote, " This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief " (1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)). In him God showed forth His whole longsuffering. The skin of the bullock was burned.
It is well to learn the lesson of the skin being burned as well as the dung. The best the flesh can offer to God is no more acceptable than the worst. " That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:1515And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15)), is a hard lesson to learn.
In connection with the sacrifices, it is noticeable that there are two words in the Hebrew language for burning. The word used in connection with the Brazen Altar for burning is gatar, a word used for the burning of incense, that which is a sweet smelling odor, rising UP to God to His delight. The word used in connection with the Sin Offering burned outside the camp is saraph, which means to consume with intense heat. It is a word of dire significance, speaking only of condign punishment, a terrible word, signifying the wrath of a thrice-holy God, coming DOWN in unsparing judgment. God would teach us by this latter word the awful heinousness of sin, and thus the meaning of Calvary.
On similar lines it is a striking fact that there is only one word in the Hebrew (chattath) for sin and Sin Offering. So we read of our Lord being so identified with the sins He atoned for on the cross, that it could be said, " He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him " (2 Cor. 5. 21). Could the awful meaning of the cross be more powerfully portrayed than by the fact that our Lord, who knew no sin, was made the sin He abhorred, as He only could abhor it? Surely the believer is bound by the tenderest ties of Divine Love to our Lord, who entered upon such a path, and did such a work at such a cost to Himself. Words entirely fail us here.
The Two Rams and Their Typical Meaning
Two rams were scarified in connection with the consecration of Aaron and his sons. The first ram was a Burnt Offering. The second was " a Ram of Consecration."
Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of the first ram. It was slain, its blood sprinkled round about the Altar, cut in pieces, and the whole burned upon the Altar, as a Burnt Offering.
This presents us with an aspect of the death of Christ different from the Sin Offering which we have just considered. The distinction between the two should be grasped.
The Sin Offering spoke of God's unsparing judgment upon sin. The judgment comes DOWN upon the sacrifice.
The Burnt Offering emphasized Christ's devotedness to the will of God, leading Him to lay down His life at the cross as an atonement for sin. The sweet savor of the burning goes UP as incense to God.
In the Sin Offering all the demerit of the offerer in the laying on of hands was transferred typically to the offering, and the offering was charged with all the guilt of the offerer. " Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree " (1 Peter 2:2424Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)).
In the Burnt Offering all the merit of the sacrifice was transferred in the laying on of hands to the offerer, who thereby stands in all the acceptance of the offering. " Accepted in the Beloved " (Eph. 1:66To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)). If never a sinner were blest through it, that offering of Christ through the eternal Spirit would still be altogether pleasing to God. The laying on of hands speaks of full and complete identification.
" A Ram of Consecration."
Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of " the other ram." It was slain, and the blood put " upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot " (Ex. 29:2020Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about. (Exodus 29:20)).
This second ram was called " a ram of consecration." By this significant ritual we learn in type that God calls upon believers to be consecrated to Him. He claims their ears, that they receive His communications and instructions. He claims their hands for willing service to Him. He claims their feet, that their walk before Him should be fully to Him. Our lives were forfeited because of sin, and we receive life and pardon through the death of our Lord, and this gives God a claim in full measure upon all that we are and have.
" Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so Divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all."
" The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him, which died for them and rose again " (2 Cor. 5:14, 1514For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Corinthians 5:14‑15)).
The Sprinkling with Blood and Oil
Moses was then instructed to take of the Blood that was upon the Altar, and of the Anointing Oil, and sprinkle Aaron and his sons, and their garments, therewith. Thus were the priests and their garments hallowed.
It is by the efficacy of Christ's atoning death (blood), and the action of the Holy Spirit (oil) that believers are constituted priests. The believer is thus brought into association with Christ, who has won by His death our place of nearness and approach to God, the Holy Spirit being the power whereby we appropriate this favored place. From the One, who died at Calvary, was given the Holy Spirit from Heaven to link believers up with Himself in glory.
The Wave and Heave Offerings
The fat parts of the Ram of Consecration were taken by Moses with the right shoulder, a loaf of bread, a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer of unleavened bread, and put into the hands of Aaron and his sons, and they were to wave them before the LORD. Moses was then to burn them upon the Altar as a Burnt Offering, a sweet savor before the LORD. The Hebrew words for consecration, mata yad, mean to fill the hands.
What answers to this in Christianity is the heart filled with Christ, the overflowing of a heart occupied with Christ, rising up to God in worship. The fat parts of the ram speak of the strength of our Lord's devotedness to the will of His Father, even unto death.
The right shoulder only strengthens the idea of our Lord's devotedness to the will of God, even to death. The shoulder is emblematic of strength. The loaf of bread speaks generally of the perfection of our Lord's life. The cake of oiled bread sets forth that just as the cake was permeated with oil, so " God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him " (John 3. 34). Our Lord was filled with the Holy Spirit of God from His birth as a Man in this world. The one wafer was evidently anointed with oil, for in other Scriptures it is so, and would typify how our Lord was anointed for service at His baptism, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove upon Him. The right shoulder would point to the atoning sacrifice of the cross, all that He was in life contributing to what He was in death, the perfect willing Sacrifice, bringing such glory to God and blessing to us.
We have seen how the right shoulder was waved before the LORD, now we find the breast of the wave offering united with the shoulder of the heave offering being sanctified as the portion for Aaron and his sons to eat. This stands for the believer entering into the strength (shoulder) and efficacy of the atoning death of Christ, and the Divine affection (breast) of the Lord that carried Him through the dread ordeal of the cross.
The wave and heave offerings took the character of peace or communion offerings. How sweet it is for saints to have thoughts in common with God about Christ, and to feed upon the wondrous. thoughts of His love, which spring from the sacrifice of Himself.
Aaron and his sons were to seethe the flesh of the Ram of consecration in the Holy Place, and eat of it with the bread of consecration. Two provisos were made.
Only the consecrated priests were to eat of it.
They had to eat it in one day, nothing was to remain over to the next day.
This teaches us that only believers are entitled to be in God's presence as worshippers, and that it must be in the power of present communion that these wondrous spiritual things can be enjoyed.
Finally the ceremony of consecration was to be repeated, and the Altar cleansed, daily for seven days, indicating the perfection (seven) that must ever mark that with which God has to do. Surely the priests would never forget the lessons of sacrifice and holiness all their earthly days. May we Christians learn these lessons more and more deeply as we enter into the truth of them.