Ever thought of yourself as a priest? (Yes, I’m speaking to women as well as men…)
Our perceptions of priests are too influenced by the Catholic Church. When we think of priests, we think of men in black robes and white collars.
I mentioned last week that Ray Steadman taught me something that changed my view of the Priests… allow me to explain…
In order to be a "priest" in the Old Testament, you had to be a descendant of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi. These were the only people allowed to be the priest.
Suppose you were of a different tribe. You loved God. You felt called to be a minister. You wanted to join the priesthood. Too bad, you had to be a descendant of Aaron.
Suppose you had business aspirations & you wanted to open a "used camel" lot. Unfortunately, you were also a descendant of Aaron. Too bad, you’re off to seminary! J
Bottom line, the priests were chosen by God, it is not our decision.
Now, let’s read what Peter says about Christians…
But you (that’s us!) are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, (why?) that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9 NIV)
Like the sons of Aaron, you (yes you!) were drafted into the priesthood.
Revelation 1:6 says God has made us into "kings AND priests". That does not mean some of us will be kings and others priests. It means EACH of us have roles as kings and priests.
So now, when you read about the duties of the "Sons of Aaron" in Exodus, Levitucs, etc., this is a model of Christian believers as priests (or ministers)!
Like I said last week, the principals of the New Testament
are pictures in the Old Testament.
So what about the Aaron himself, the first High Priest… Is that us too? Not exactly!
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. (Hebrews 3:1 NIV)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (Heb. 4:14 NIV)
Why do we need Jesus as an "intercessor"? Think of Jesus in this role as our "attorney". He knows the right-words to say to God on our behalf.
In Summary, Aaron, as his role as "The High Priest" is a type of Jesus as our intercessor between God and us. The "sons of Aaron" are a type of believers.
In today’s lesson, we’re still building a tabernacle. But instead of using a construction toolbox, we’re going to use sewing kits and engraver’s tools. We’re still building a model for the tabernacle, but the focus in on the clothing for the High Priest. With that, lets get going!
I’m going to run a little long tonight (12½ pages!). A lot of this may be tough to digest. Have patience and take it in pieces. Remember "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
And you, bring near to you your brother Aaron and his sons with him from among the Israelites, that they may minister to me as priests before me-Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
God specifically choose Aaron. Why him? Why not Moses?
For starters, God separates the power of religious leaders and civil leaders. He designed it this way so no single person has too much power. Only Jesus himself is going to fulfill that combined roll in the millenium.
Why not somebody else?
Part of the reason is the sovereignty of God. He’s in charge, and he will choose whom he will choose. (Remember my riddle: Where does an 800-pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere he wants too! God is in charge, not us!)
Second, I suspect God wanted to choose someone who is already a respected leader. Aaron was Moses’ spokesman before Pharaoh.
Aaron was by no means perfect. We’ll read later of his faults. Again we have a model of the sovereignty and the grace of God. (If God can justify Aaron, there is hope for the rest of us!)
Naming Aaron’s 4 sons as assistants, God was establishing the fact that only direct decedents were eligible to be the High Priest.
Throughout the Old Testament, you’ll read of "the priests and the Levites". The priests were direct descendants of Aaron. Aaron was a descendant of the Levite tribe. "The Levites" refer to any decedent of the tribe of Levi.
The descendants of Aaron became the leaders of the ministry team. All descendants of the tribe of Levi were required to be involved in the ministry.
In Leviticus 10, God killed the two oldest sons of Aaron for failing to be obedient to God’s commands. God used that incident as an example for the rest of the priests to take their role seriously.
And you are to make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and for beauty.
God wanted Aaron to be a "visual" (think picture/principal) example for everyone.
And you are to tell all who are specially skilled, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make the garments of Aaron to sanctify him so that he may minister to me as a priest.
When Christians think of "spiritual gifts", we tend to think of preaching, singing, "tongues", etc. Did you know sewing or jewelry cutting is a spiritual gift?
God imparts spiritual gifts to all believers. Part of the joy of being a Christian is discovering your gift. With that gift comes responsibility. God expects you to use that gift to glorify Him and to help build and support fellow Christians.
"But each man (believer) has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that." (1 Corinthians 7:7b NIV)
Now these are the garments which they are to make: a pouch, and an ephod, and a robe, and a woven tunic, and a turban, and a sash. They are to make holy garments for your brother Aaron and for his sons, that they may minister to me as priests. 28:5 And they are to take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.
These verses are the overview. We have listed here what is to be made and the materials needed. It often helps to give the big picture first, before going into details.
There is an interesting comment tucked away in verse 4. What’s the purpose of the priests? Verse 4 (near the end) "that they may minister to me as priests."
Here’s a good theological question: Why did God bother with us?
It’s easy to explain what we get out of being a Christian. But what does God get? Why did He save us? What’s in it for Him? If God knows everything, and God has everything, why do we minister to God?
The best clue I found is in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
"(so) in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:7 NIV)
God did this whole thing, just to show us the richness of his grace!
The whole "redemptive game plan" is so God can spend eternity showing us how much he loves us!
Which leads us back to the question… How do we minister to God?
By glorifying Him! Out of gratitude we show our obedience.
Study the Lord’s prayer sometime from the perspective of glorifying God. Look how many verses focus on Him. (E.g. "hallowed by thy name", "thy kingdom come!")
Time to start building: First, the "ephod". 28:6 And they are to make the ephod of gold, of blue, of purple, and of fine twined linen, the work of an artistic designer. 28:7 It is to have two shoulder pieces attached to two of its corners, so it can be joined together. 28:8 And the artistically woven waistband of the ephod that is on it is to be like it, of one piece with the ephod, of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and of fine twined linen.
When you read ephod, think "vest", like the vest of a 3-piece man’s suit.
Like a vest, there are string bands to connect it around the neck and waste.
We discussed the colors last week. To review, the gold represents "deity", the blue represents the heavens, and the purple represents royalty. This ephod is only worn by the High Priest, and the colors also speak of Jesus (again, see last week’s notes).
The ephod is worn over our heart!
And you are to take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 28:10 six of their names on one stone, and the six remaining names on the second stone, according to the order of their birth. 28:11 You are to engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel with the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a seal; you are to make them to be set in gold filigree settings 28:12 And you are to put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod, stones of memorial for the sons of Israel; and Aaron will bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for a memorial.
On the shoulder of the ephod are two onyx stones (an onyx is a jewel). The names of six tribes of Israel are to be engraved on one stone, and six on the other. The whole setting is in gold, again speaking of the deity of God.
Remember we are working with pictures here. The key word to underline is "shoulder" and "bear" in verse 12. When we think of shoulders, we think of carrying someone, like a father carrying his child on his shoulders. It is one of the strongest places on the upper body.
Let’s compare two verses in the Old & New Testament.
I (God) will place on his shoulderthe key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. (Isaiah 22:22 NIV)
Jesus speaking: ""To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him (Jesus) who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
(Revelation 3:7 NIV)
This visual picture is "God bearing the 12 tribes of Israel on his shoulder!
Each jewel is one of beauty. Each is an individual. It is a picture of how God cares for each of us individually.
And you are to make filigree settings of gold, 28:14 and two braided chains of pure gold, like a cord, and attach the chains to the settings.
The gold chain and clasps (filigree) that connect the shoulder pieces with the ephod.
"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 2:5 NIV)
And you are to make a pouch of decision, the work of an artistic designer; you are to make it after the manner of the ephod; you are to make it of gold, of blue, of purple, of scarlet, and of fine twined linen. 28:16 It is to be square when doubled, nine inches long and nine inches wide. 28:17 And you are to set in it a setting for stones, four rows of stones, a row of ruby, a topaz, and a beryl-the first row; 28:18 and the second row, a turquoise, a sapphire, and an emerald; 28:19 and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 28:20 and the fourth row, a chrysolite, an onyx, and a jasper. They are to be enclosed in gold in their filigree set
tings. 28:21 And the stones are to be for the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to the number of their names. Each name according to the twelve tribes is to be like the engravings of a seal.
The High priest was to wear this "pouch-like" device over his chest. In the center was a breastplate with 12 jewel stones, in a 3 x 4 setting.
The commentaries are filled with speculations about the meaning of each individual stone, but most of them seemed like just that, speculation.
I believe the reason there are 12 individual jewels of 12 different types expresses our high priest (Jesus) love of us as individuals. We are each a separate "jewel" that He wears over his heart. This is another wonderful picture.
What is interesting, is that these jewel stones are all of various colors. Now picture the High Priest walking in the tabernacle. The only light is the 7-branch candlestick. Can you picture the lights reflecting off the breastplate? Think of all beautiful colors and patterns reflected on the wall!
David wrote: "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 NIV)
And you are to make for the pouch braided chains like cords of pure gold. 28:23 And you are to make for the pouch two gold rings, and you are to attach the two rings to the upper two ends of the pouch. 28:24 And you are to attach the two gold chains to the two rings at the ends of the pouch; 28:25 and the other two ends of the two chains you will attach to the two settings, and you are to attach them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front of it. 28:26 And you are to make two rings of gold, and put them on the other two ends of the pouch, on its edge that is on the inner side of the ephod. 28:27 And you are to make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the two shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the juncture above the waistband of the ephod. 28:28 And they are to tie the pouch by its rings to the rings of the ephod by blue cord, so that it may be above the waistband of the ephod, and so that the pouch will not be loose from the ephod.
Most of this is technical construction details that are necessary to making the ephod.
Behind the 3x4 jewelry setting is a pouch. Inside goes the "Urim & Thummim, which we’ll get to later.
This is mostly about "rings". The rings are pure gold and connect the pouch & breastplate to the shoulder piece.
We read a lot about the rings on all the furniture. They were all designed for the purpose of making the tabernacle transportable. ("Transportable" speaks of God going where we go. He is not limited to one location.) The rings are for carrying (bearing) the breastplate on the shoulder. The breastplate represents the 12 tribes of Israel, or the individual believers. They are being "bared" on the shoulder of the high priest.
And Aaron will bear the names of the sons of Israel in the pouch of decision on his heart, when he goes into the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.
The purpose for all this breast-gear is stated in Verse 29: When Aaron goes in the Holy Place, he "bears" the names of the tribes of Israel.
What we have here is the picture of Jesus the "mediator". A mediator (or an attorney) is one who acts on behalf of another. The "another" can be plural.
This of course- leads us back to Hebrews, discussing Jesus as our High Priest:
"But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. (Hebrews 8:6 NIV)
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. (Hebrews 9:11 NIV)
For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
(Hebrews 9:15 NIV)
And you are to put into the pouch of decision the Urim and the Thummim; and they are to be on Aaron's heart when he goes in before the Lord. And Aaron is to bear the judgment of the Israelites on his heart before the Lord continually.
Here is one of the biggest controversies in the Old Testament: The Urim and the Thummim. No one knows for sure what they are. Most likely, they were some dice-like stones used to determine God’s will.
The 2 words "Urim and Thummim" mean "Lights and Perfections"
"God has kept the details obscure for a very good reason - some nut would try to produce a Urim and Thummin today would claim that it would use all the answers.".
J. Vernon McGee.
Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon cult, claimed he "discovered" the Urim and Thummin and they are a "pair of glasses", that enabled him to see the Scriptures more clearly. (Dr. McGee said it best: "some nut…J")
Dr. H. A. Ironside told a story of a layman-Bible teacher regarding the Urim and the Thummim: "We do know these words mean 'Lights' and 'Perfections'. By these the high priest could determine the mind of God…Beyond that I don't know…But I've found that if you change just one letter in these words you have the way I can know the mind and will of God for me, in my life."…If you change the 'r' in Urim to an 's', you'll make it 'Usim and Thummim.' When I want to know the mind of God, I just take the pages of my Bible and I "us’im and thumm’im" (use them & thumb them)."
And you are to make the robe of the ephod completely blue. 28:32 And there is to be an opening in its top in the center of it. There is to be an edge all around the opening of it, the work of a weaver, like the opening of a collar, so that it cannot be torn.
This is an all-blue, seamless robe
A seamless robe is a special garment. It requires fine workmanship. Joseph had one in Genesis. Jesus wore one (probably a gift). When Jesus was arrested they "gambled" for this robe, as to not tear it up. (See John 19:24)
And you are to make pomegranates of blue and of purple and of scarlet all around its hem; and bells of gold between them all around.
In this culture the "hem" is where one puts his place of authority. In our culture, generals put their stars (showing their rank) on their shoulders. This is a similar idea.
When David was being pursued by Saul, David caught Saul unaware. Instead of killing him, David cut the hem of his garment (1 Samuel 24:4). It was symbolic. The hem is where one has the rank of authority.
So on this hem we have pomegranates. What does that mean?
Simple really, pomegranate is a fruit. This is a term common in the New Testament. It speaks of our works before God. Jesus used the term "bear fruit".
Pomegranates are very sweet and have lots of seeds. One can think of the Christian doctrines of "spreading seeds" and "bearing fruit".
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." (John 15:16 NIV)
Next we have bells. Rings bells call attention to one’s work. Again, here’s Jesus’ words: "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NIV)
Therefore, both the pomegranates and the bells speak of our witness.
The pattern is to be a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe. 28:35 And the robe is to be on Aaron as he ministers, and his sound will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he leaves, so that he does not die.
The bells served another purpose two, a scary one at that "so when he leaves, so that he does not die."
Apparently if the priest ministered in a way God did not approve of, God took his life. Let’s suppose you were just outside the temple. If the bells stopped, you knew the High Priest was in trouble! You would have to drag his dead body out of there if there was no sound!
Jesus himself speaks of "cutting off" those who don’t bear fruit.
Jesus said "He (the Father) cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2 NIV)
This type of extreme occurrence is rare, but God keeps the possibility there as a reminder for us to be obedient.
Back to Aaron’s outfit, the headpiece: 28:36 And you are to make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it after the fashion of the engravings of a seal: "Holiness to the Lord." 28:37 And you are to attach to it a blue cord so that it may be on the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 28:38 And it is to be on Aaron's forehead; and Aaron will bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the Israelites are to sanctify by all their holy gifts; and it will always be on his forehead, for their acceptance before the Lord. 28:39 And you are to embroider the tunic of fine linen, and you are to make the turban of fine linen, and you are to make the sash, the work of the variegator.
This turban probably stood out more than anything else, with the possible exception of the 12 jewels.
When I think of something on my forehead, the picture created here is to have God on your mind. What is to be foremost on Aaron’s forehead (mind) when he enters the tabernacle? Holiness to the Lord. (Verse 36).
This is the focus of our worship, on God’s holiness. Again, Jesus words in the Lord’s prayer "Hallowed by thy name!". One of the 10 commandments is not to take God’s name in vain, because it is Holy! It is a call to take worship of God seriously.
And for Aaron's sons you are to make tunics; and you are to make sashes for them, and you are to make headbands for them, for glory and for beauty.
The assistants to the High Priests, and the High Priests-in-training (Aaron’s sons) were also to have turbans. But Aaron’s was to be distinct.
Remember, typologically, the "Sons of Aaron" speak of us. We are to be ministers to God and to others. Does this mean we are to wear headpieces to church? Of course not! It is a call to get our "minds" on God.
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'" This is the first and greatest commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38 NIV)
"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV)
And you are to clothe them, your brother Aaron and his sons with him. You are to anoint them and consecrate them, and sanctify them so that they may minister to me as priests.
The High Priest is anointed, consecrated and sanctified.
The Living Bible paraphrase of this verse helps explain it: "Clothe Aaron and his sons with these garments, and then dedicate these men to their ministry (consecration) by anointing their heads with olive oil (anointing), thus sanctifying them (setting them apart) as the priests, my ministers." (Exodus 28:41, The Living Bible)
Our High Priest, Jesus Christ, had all three. He was dedicated to his ministry by God the Father (Matthew 3:17), anointed by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16) and set apart by God (sanctified) for our benefit (1 Peter 1:20).
"Such a high priest (Jesus) meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26 NIV)
We too have all three. We are anointed, consecrated and sanctified.
1. We are anointed. This speaks of the Holy Spirit. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you" (Acts 1:8a)
2. We are dedicated "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." (Ephesians 1:4 NIV)
3. We are sanctified. "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-- (Romans 1:1 NIV)
Last, the undergarments
And make for them linen undergarments to cover the body; they must cover from the loins to the thighs. 28:43 And they must be on Aaron and his sons when they go in to the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they bear no iniquity and die. It is to be a perpetual ordinance for him and for his descendants after him.
The underwear was included so that the nakedness might not be exposed while the priests minister.
Symbolically "flesh" is a bad thing. It is associated with all our works that are not ordained by God.
""All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever." (1 Peter 1:24b-25a NKJV)
We now move now to Chapter 29. This is about the anointing of Aaron and his sons. This is a set of rituals to prepare Aaron to minister to God.
The most important to thing to notice about Chapter 29 (write this in your Bible margins!) is that Aaron does nothing. Everything in this Chapter is done by Moses to Aaron and his sons!
God prepares us for ministry. All we have to do is be willing to receive!
Now this is the ritual that you are to do to them to sanctify them so that they may minister to me as priests. Take a young bull and two rams without blemish; 29:2 and unleavened bread, and perforated unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil-you are to make them using fine wheat flour. 29:3 And you are to put them in one basket, and present them in the basket, along with the bull and the two rams.
This is the overview section. The "supply list" for the consecration.
And you are to bring Aaron and his sons near to the entrance of the tent of meeting; and you are to wash them with water.
Before we can approach God, we need to be washed. Again, this is more symbolic than actual cleanliness. Remember there is no floor in the tabernacle.
How are we "washed"? By studying/learning the Word of God (See Ephesians 5:26).
And you are to take the garments and clothe Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the pouch; you are to fasten the ephod on him by using the skillfully woven waistband. 29:6 And put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban.
After cleansing, Aaron is clothed with all the materials described in Chapter 28.
And you are to take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.
Being "clothed" is not enough. Next comes the "oil". We spoke about this earlier and last week. The "oil" is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
And you are to bring his sons near and clothe them with tunics
The sons also get dressed, but the outfit is not as fancy as the High Priest.
Remember that the "sons of Aaron" is a type of believers. We are to be near our High Priest to be of use to our God!
and wrap the sashes around them, Aaron and his sons, and put headbands on them; and so the ministry of priesthood will belong to them by a perpetual ordinance. Thus you are to consecrate Aaron and his sons.
The ministry of the "Sons of Aaron" is to be perpetual.
One can not choose to be in the ministry. If you remember my joke last week, in order to be a priest you have to have "Levi genes". We are all priests as appointed by God.
Three animals are sacrificed in this preparation. Each speaks of a different aspect of Christ’s ministry. The first is a bull. 29:10 And you are to bring the bull in front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons are to put their hands on the head of the bull; 29:11 and you are to kill the bull before the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 29:12 And you are to take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and all the rest of the blood you are to pour out at the base of the altar. 29:13 And you are to take all the fat that covers the inward parts, and the lobe that is above the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. 29:14 But the meat of the bull, its skin, and its offal you are to burn with fire outside the camp. It is the purification offering.
First lets talk about the Aaron and his sons placing their hands on the bull.
Placing ones hands does not symbolize any sort of transfer. Many churches lay their hands on people as part of ordination. Nothing "magical" is passed on. It is simply a type of identification. The priests are identifying themselves with the animals (we’ll explain further later). Just as when a church lays hands on say, a new member, it simply means they identify with that person as being part of the Body of Christ.
Now imagine doing this on a live bull, right before it was killed!
With what are they identifying here?
The answer is in Verse 14: It is the purification offering.
Many translations say "sin offering".
A sin offering is just that. An offering for one’s sins.
The bull (or ox) was a substitute for their sins. It is the strongest of all the domesticated service-animals in that culture.
By laying hands on that bull, the priests were identifying that an innocent animal was paying the price for their sins.
If you remember a few weeks ago, I talked about how the cherubim was composed of 4 creatures: A man, an eagle, a lion and a bull (or ox). Each represented a different aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Each of the four gospels focuses on one of those four ministries. The bull or ox is represented by the Gospel of Mark. It focuses on Jesus, our servant. (For example, it is the only Gospel without a genealogy. Servants in that culture don’t have genealogies that were important enough to mention.)
The bull was to be killed outside the camp, and not on any of the alters.
Jesus was crucified outside of the gates of the city.
Sin has to be dealt with before we can approach God, outside of the tabernacle.
The fat of the bull was removed. Why? "Fat", then, and today, speaks of waste. Nothing of waste can be used in service. Only the "non-fat" parts of the bull were then sacrificed on our behalf. The rest were "literally and typologically" burned up! They were no good for service.
Again, we are dealing with pictures. The "pictures" of the Old Testament are the "principals" of the New Testament. God was teaching the Israelites by pictures.
Animal offering #2. The first of two rams. 29:15 And you are to take one ram, and Aaron and his sons are to lay their hands on its head, 29:16 and you are to kill the ram and take its blood and dash it against the altar all around. 29:17 Then you are to cut the ram into pieces, and wash the inward parts and its legs, and put them on its pieces and on its head. 29:18 And you are to burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a soothing aroma; it is an offering made by fire to the Lord.
Like the bull, Aaron and his sons are identifying themselves with this animal.
The ram was the animal that God provided when Abraham was about to offer his Son Issac. By the way, Abraham knew he was acting out prophecy when he was performing this act. When Issac was questioning where is the animal for the sacrifice, Abraham answered "God will provide Himself" the lamb for the offering. The Hebrew does not say, "God will providefor Himself", but literally "God will provide Himself!"
Therefore, the "ram" speaks of God providing a substitute for our sins.
As verse 17 states, this is a "burnt" offering".
The burnt offering is the highest voluntary offering. It speaks of ones full commitment to God. The key word is whole ram in Verse 18.
Sometimes I get "burnt offering" and "sin offering" mixed up. Think of "sin" when you think of "sin offering". This is to atone for sins.
When you think of "burnt", thing of "everything". One is giving their all to God in service.
Now comes the second ram 29:19 And you are to take the second ram; and Aaron and his sons are to lay their hands on the head of the ram. 29:20 Then you are to kill the ram and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the big toe of their right foot, and then dash the blood against the altar all around. 29:21 And you are to take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments and on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him, so that he may be holy, he and his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him.
Here is another ritual identifying with a ram. This time the focus is on the blood.
Imagine this visual picture. Imagine having an innocent animal slaughtered, then the blood itself is put on your right ear, your right hand and your big toe.
More blood is then sprinkled all over your clothing.
More blood is sprinkled all over this golden altar.
In Verse 21, God says we become "holy" by this blood?
Blood is associated with the life of a creature.
"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. (Levitcus 17:11 NIV)
The picture here, is one innocent life is being killed for the sake of the guilty (us!). The blood "everywhere" is for our constant reminder.
And you are to take from the ram the fat, and the fat tail, and the fat that covers the inner parts, the lobe above the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and the right thigh-for it is the ram for ordination;
Again, all the fat-parts are removed. A picture of the elimination of "wasteful" service.
Next comes another offering, the "wave" offering: 29:23 and one round flat cake of bread, and one perforated cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, from the basket of unleavened bread that is before the Lord. 29:24 And you are to put all these in Aaron's hands and in his sons' hands, and you are to wave them as a wave offering before the Lord.
When we wave our hands, it is usually from side to side. Waving here is from the tabernacle, back to us, back to the tabernacle, back to us.
It is a picture of "communion". We are offering ourselves as service to God.
The meal offering is a type of the human response which says, "Here I am, Lord, my humanity is at your disposal. I'm ready to be used of you." Ray Steadman.
The round flat cake is probably a reminder of the "manna". The life sustaining bread.
The "perforated" cake means it is pierced with holes! Think of the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet, and you have a prophetic picture. The "oil" speaks of the Holy Spirit.
The unleavened bread, as stated weeks ago, this is a symbol of "no sin".
Then you are to take them from their hands and burn them on the altar for a burnt offering, for a soothing aroma before the Lord. It is an offering made by fire to the Lord.
Again, we have the ritual of the burnt offering, the highest form of voluntary sacrifice.
And you are to take the breast of the ram of Aaron's ordination, and you are to wave it as a wave offering before the Lord; and it is to be your share.
The breast is where the heart is located. This speaks of peace with God.
Again, these are all visual pictures to teach the priests the principals of worship.
And you are to sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the thigh of the contribution, which were waved and lifted up as a contribution from the ram of ordination, from what belongs to Aaron and to his sons.
The thigh speaks of strength. It is one of the strongest muscles in the body. So the breast and thigh together speak of "peace and strength".
I stand behind a lot of commentators on these word-pictures. Some are more obvious to see than others are. I always encourage people to do their own word-studies of any of these pictures and test them for yourselves.
And it is to be the share for Aaron and for his sons from the Israelites, by a perpetual ordinance; for it is a contribution; and it is to be a contribution from the Israelites from their peace offerings, their contribution to the Lord.
Aaron and his sons were to eat part of this offering.
Part of this was out of practicality. The priests were too busy ministering to God to go make a living doing something else.
The other was for the priests to "connect" with God. Eating a meal with someone in this culture is to become "one" with them. Meals were shared, and so were germs. A shared meal is to become "one" with the person you are eating with.
And the holy garments that belong to Aaron are to belong to his sons after him, so that they may be anointed in them and ordained in them.
Here is a good verse about passing on lessons to your children. The garments are to be passed on, partly out of symbolism that the priestly line stays in Aaron’s family.
I can just picture priests telling their children how they will wear these garments someday, and passing on the important lessons from father to son.
Just as God calls men to be the spiritual leaders of the household, and pass on the Bible lessons to our children.
In Revelation, there are a number of references of how believers are clothed in "white robes". From a Jewish-perspective, this is the clothes of priests. The white symbolizes purity. We are "given" these robes by our High Priest, Jesus Christ. Like the sons of Aaron, they did nothing to earn them or deserve them. They are a gift from God.
The priest who succeeds him from his sons, when he first comes to the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place, is to wear them for seven days.
When the son puts on the garment, he is to wear them for seven days before he begins service. Seven is the number of "completion" in the Bible, as God rested on the 7th day from all his work. This gave time for the priest to mediate and think about his role.
You are to take the ram of the ordination and cook its flesh in a holy place. 29:32 And Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread that was in the basket at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 29:33 And they are to eat those things by which atonement was made, to ordain and to sanctify them; but no one else may eat them, for they are holy. 29:34 And if any of the meat of the ordination offerings or any of the bread is left over until morning, then you are to burn what is left over with fire. It must not be eaten, because it is holy.
Here we have Aaron & his sons eating the bread and meat. A time of communion between the priests and God. The sacrifice for their sins has been made and accepted. They have given the burnt sacrifice, which is the voluntary offering of themselves out of gratitude of what God has done for them. Now it is time to have communion with God, and with fellow believers.
Verse 34 says nothing is to be left over until morning. What is that all about?
If God didn’t include this, people would procrastinate.
God wants us for service now.
Jesus himself responded to this same type of situation:
Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."
Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:61-62 NIV)
(I know I’m running long, bare with me!) 29:35 And thus you are to do to Aaron and his sons, according to all that I have commanded you; you are to ordain them for seven days. 29:36 And every day you are to prepare a bull for a sin offering for atonement. You are to purge the altar by making atonement for it, and you are to anoint it to sanctify it. 29:37 For seven days you are to make atonement for the altar and sanctify it. Then the altar will be most holy. Anything that touches the altar will be holy.
God wants us to take worship seriously. For 7 days, Aaron and his sons were to lay hands on bulls and watch them get slaughtered. They knew that they were being identified with the slaughtered bulls.
If it were me, I’d be a little nervous watching those bulls being slaughtered, thinking, "is my fate like those bulls if I mess up?" The picture is God takes sin seriously and substitute price paid for our sins was costly to God.
This had to teach them the importance and seriousness of obedience to God’s commands.
Now this is what you are to prepare on the altar every day continually: two lambs a year old. 29:39 The one lamb you are to prepare in the morning, and the second lamb you are to prepare between the evenings.
The priests had to associate the lambs with the Passover event. The lambs were slaughtered as death passed over them. The 2nd lamb was to be killed at the same time as Passover, i.e. "between the evenings". The other was first thing in the morning.
All of this is a reminder to focus on God day and night. The importance of morning and evening prayer time.
This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Bible memory verses:
"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
And with the first lamb offer a tenth of fine flour mixed with a fourth of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. 29:41 And the second lamb you are to offer between the evenings; you are to prepare it like the meal offering of the morning and like its drink offering, for a soothing aroma, an offering made by fire to the Lord.
We’ve spoken of all the ingredients except the wine. Wine speaks of "celebration". Jesus changed the water into wine at a wedding festival.
The animals have been sacrificed. It is time for communion with God. It has its serious aspect, but it also a time of joyous celebration.
This will be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you to speak to you there. 29:43 And there I will meet with the Israelites, and it will be sanctified by my glory.
Again, the burnt offering is the voluntary offering of ourselves to God. It gets us back to God’s purpose for all of this, so that he can glorify himself through us!
That is God’s benefit. His desire is to show his glory. Since he is perfect, he requires perfection of us. Since we’re incapable of that, a perfect sacrifice had to be made on our behalf. Then, and only then, can God be glorified through us!
So I will sanctify the tent of meeting and the altar; and I will sanctify Aaron and his sons, that they may minister as priests to me. 29:45 And I will reside among the Israelites, and I will be their God. 29:46 And they will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt, so that I may reside among them. I am the Lord their God.
We are set apart (sanctified) for God’s service. We are called as priests to minister to others, and glorify God through the process.
Thanks for bearing with me through this long lesson.
I promise to ease up next time! J
Let’s pray: Father, we thank you for these wonderful picture lessons. You have saved us to glorify you. You have given us wonderful blessings, and joy beyond comprehension. Help us, through prayer, through time with other believers, through time in the Word, to glorify you in our lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen!