Leviticus Chapter 8 – John Karmelich
1. My title for this chapter is “preparation for service”. Let me prepare you for this topic. ☺
a) One of the issues I’ve stated is that there are several ways one can study Leviticus:
i) There is the historical aspect. There really was a long line of high priest during the history of Israel. One can read this book to understand their function and role.
ii) As a Christian, one can study Leviticus and understand Jesus as “our high priest”. The New Testament Book of Hebrews ties well to Leviticus and explains how all of these rituals and functions tie to Jesus and that role.
iii) The third way to look at this book is to understand Christian’s role as “priests”. A priest or a minister can be a formal occupation. It also refers to all Christians in that we are called to help one another and put each others needs above our own.
iv) The first two views of Leviticus (historical, word-pictures of Jesus) are important and essential. I discuss them in these lessons. The emphasis of these studies is on this third view: It is to show the “average” Christian what God demands and desires for us. Part of our role and function is to help other believers. How we help others is a complicated topic. That’s why Leviticus is a big book! ☺
b) This leads us to Chapter 8. Chapters 8 through 10 focus on how the high priest prepares to minister to God and to others.
i) Let’s define a “priest” as it used here. A priest is someone who intercedes for man to God. It is the opposite of a “prophet”. A prophet is someone who speaks on God’s behalf to man.
ii) When we pray with people, we are acting as priests. Those sacrificial word-pictures in Chapters 1-7 show us how we can effectively pray with others. For example, when someone first commits their life to Jesus, the “burnt offering” is a good model to study as that talks about giving one’s all to God. If there is a sin to be confessed, sometimes one needs someone else to pray with and “get it out” to God. With that, one can study the various sin offerings with the understanding of our role as priests in helping one other.
iii) This leads to Chapter 8: Preparation for service. How do we prepare for our role as priests? Do we have to go to seminary? Do we need a license? ☺ The answer may be yes in some denominations, but the answer is no for Christians in general. However, the bible does give us some word-pictures about “preparation”. They begin here in Chapter 8.
2. Let’s talk about the historical context of Leviticus for a moment: Chapter 8 actually ties to events in the latter chapters of the Book of Exodus. (The book right before Leviticus.)
a) The second half of the Book of Exodus (more or less) gives the instructions on how to build the tabernacle. Among those instructions were how to prepare the uniforms of the priest. Exodus Chapter 28 describes the high priest’s uniform. Exodus Chapters 29 describes how the priests were prepared for service.
b) Leviticus Chapters 8 is a “follow up” of Exodus 28-29. In Exodus, God gave instructions to Moses on how the high priest (Aaron) and his sons are to be dressed and the rituals the priests must go through in order to be “ready” for service. Leviticus Chapter 8 is Moses performing the instructions as given back in Exodus 28-29. It is as if Leviticus Chapter 8 is Moses saying, “God told me to do this, and now here I am, actually doing it.”
3. One of the things to notice about Chapter 8 is the priests don’t do much. It is all being done for them. What I mean by that is Moses himself dresses the first high priest (Aaron) in his uniform. Moses washes the priests (Aaron and his sons). Moses gives the sin sacrifices on their behalf. The priests pretty much just stand there and watch this happen to them.
a) Some of you can see where I’m going with this. ☺ As Christians, who “prepares” us to help other Christians? The answer is God, working through people. Who helps us mature as believers so we can help others? God, working through people.
b) The text shows that God has picked specific people to be His priests. God has picked a person (Moses) to help prepare the priest for service. God has picked you and me to follow Him and be obedient to Him. God picks other people to help us prepare in our role of service to others. This is a picture of group effort to help build up and mature “the body of Christ” (i.e., the greater family of Christian believers).
4. Now, let’s give an overview of Chapter 8: This chapter is about preparing the high priest for His ministry and service:
a) The first few verses summarize the materials needed for the ritual.
b) The next set of verses focus on dressing the high priest and his sons. Notice that Moses is the one washing and dressing these priests while they just “stand there”.
c) The next set of verses is back to animal sacrifices. These sacrifices are to say in effect, “Before you can help others with their sins, you have to remember to deal with your own sins”. Another aspect is, “Before you can help others with their commitments to God, first, we need to formally deal with your (the priests) commitment to God.” We can’t help others unless we first prepare (there’s that word again! ☺) ourselves.
d) The final set of verses emphasize that the priests are to stay in the tabernacle for seven days. The text implies the idea that these sin sacrifices and “commitment” sacrifices are repeated over again each of the seven days. Again, this is about preparation. In order to help others, we need a little experience via the repetition-of-learning. Often, preparation in order to help others requires us to get a little experience. More on this as we come to those verses. We’re now “prepared” for Verse 1.
5. Verse 1: The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast, 3 and gather the entire assembly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting." 4 Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
a) Let me summarize these four verses and then I’ll discuss the meaning:
i) These verses are about “inventory”. Before one can take on a big project, the first step is to gather all of the materials needed. Verses 2 and 3 are the materials needed for this project.
ii) God is telling Moses how to prepare the high priest (his brother Aaron) and Aaron’s sons for service. In Verses 2-3, God gives Moses the inventory list.
iii) Further, God tells Moses to gather the entire assembly. It is estimated that there are 2-3 million Jews that came out of Egypt, now gathered in the desert.
a) How they “gather” is an interesting question. Did Moses find a big canyon where everyone could watch? Was it a matter of the elders in front looking on and everyone else in the background? The text doesn’t say.
iv) The specific “inventory” included Aaron, his sons, the clothes they are to wear, anointing oil, three animals to be sacrificed (one bull, two rams), and bread without yeast. We will discuss each of these items as we go through this chapter.
b) I can summarize these four verses in one word: obedience.
i) When you study your bible, you will find that the text goes out of its way to commend obedience. The word command or commanded is used 11 times in this chapter alone! This is God demanding obedience to His laws.
ii) Look at the first verse: “The LORD said to Moses”. In other words, this is God telling Moses to do something. Verses 2 and 3 are the specific instructions.
iii) Now look at Verse 4: Moses did as the LORD commanded him”. This is about Moses following through on God’s commands.
iv) If you get nothing else out of this lesson, learn that God demands obedience. God says to us in effect, “If you want salvation, it is on My terms, not yours. Further, if you want a relationship with Me, it’s on my terms, not yours. Studying one’s bible is to learn what God’s “terms” are all about.
v) Some Christians say, “I thought all I have to do is give my life to Jesus and then I’m done.” First of all, if you think that, you are partially right in that salvation is on God’s terms and you do believe in Jesus on His terms.
vi) Too many people treat Christianity like a life-insurance policy: They pay for it monthly, and then not think about it the rest of month. Christianity is not a make-a-commitment and then ignores that commitment most of the time. Giving one’s life to God is about full-time obedience. It is a full-time occupation. It is about giving one’s “all” to God, all the time. Does that mean I can’t sleep or go run errands? No. ☺ To use an illustration from the last lesson, a doctor is always a doctor when they are on and off duty. The same applies to our faith in God.
6. Verse 5: Moses said to the assembly, "This is what the LORD has commanded to be done." 6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. 7 He put the tunic on Aaron, tied the sash around him, clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him. He also tied the ephod to him by its skillfully woven waistband; so it was fastened on him. 8 He placed the breastpiece on him and put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece. 9 Then he placed the turban on Aaron's head and set the gold plate, the sacred diadem, on the front of it, as the LORD commanded Moses.
a) Let me set the scene: Here we have this big gathering of people. I’m assuming that it was set up somehow, where most of the people, if not all of the people could watch, like at the bottom of a large canyon. I wonder if anyone in the back had binoculars. ☺
b) Now “in the center ring”, here comes the action: I picture Aaron and his sons being brought into the tabernacle naked.
i) Moses then washed Aaron and his sons.
ii) Moses then dressed Aaron and his sons in their uniforms.
iii) By the way, this is not a young Aaron and some little kids. Remember that Moses was 80 years old when all of this occurred. (See Exodus 7:7) Aaron was his older brother! Aaron’s sons were also grown men.
c) Now let’s go back to the topic of “preparation”. In order to be used by God, we need to be “cleansed” first. Obviously, a hot shower or a cold bath is not going to clean sins. I believe everyone understood this washing was symbolic. For the Christian, preparing for service begins with examining ourselves for sins and confessing them.
i) Remember the “Christian’s bar of soap”: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9, NIV).
ii) In this ritual, Moses is the one doing the washing. God is the one “forgiving”.
d) As to the uniform itself, this is a review of Exodus 28. I’m not going to go into great detail here, but know that there are things to learn from every detail of this uniform. Let me summarize a little just to give you a visual picture:
i) The “tunic” is the undergarment. It is roughly similar to a girdle. A “sash” is like a wide belt. A robe is self-explanatory. An “ephod” is similar to a barbeque apron that is tied in the back.
ii) The “breastpiece” is a rectangular object that had 12 precious jewels woven on them. It is worn over the breast. The jewels represent the 12 tribes of Israel. The idea is that the priest represent Israel and are “like jewels close to one’s heart” (i.e., it is placed on the breast, by the heart) in ministering from the Israelites to God.
iii) As to what is the “Urim and Thummim”, this is a classical debate. The text never describes it. There is a lot of commentary on what it could be, but it is not known.
a) The Urim and Thummim were probably some sort of small objects to determine God’s will. For example, if you rolled a pair of dice repeatedly, and it kept coming up “12” every time, you would either say the dice are not balanced or God is “controlling” the dice. These objects were used to discern God’s will. If the “dice” kept coming up with the same number say, repeatedly, you knew that God was somehow answering the question.
b) Again, are lots of theories as to what are the Urim and Thummim, but the main thing to know is that they were used to discern God’s will.
iv) The final piece was the headpiece. Aaron wore a turban. There was a gold plate placed on Aaron’s forehead that said “Holiness to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36). That is the reference to the “the sacred diadem” here in Verse 9 (Also see Exodus 39:30).
e) Everything worn by the priest is symbolic and has meanings. The focus here in Leviticus Chapter 8 is not so much on the details of the uniform, but on the fact it was placed on the High Priest Aaron and his sons. They were washed and dressed for service.
i) Before we as Christians can be of service to others, we have to be “washed and prepped”. That is the main idea of this chapter. To serve others is a special privilege that we can enjoy. Preparation of that privilege comes from God and done through others. That is the word-picture for us to learn from these verses.
7. Verse 10: Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of the oil on the altar seven times, anointing the altar and all its utensils and the basin with its stand, to consecrate them. 12 He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron's head and anointed him to consecrate him. 13 Then he brought Aaron's sons forward, put tunics on them, tied sashes around them and put headbands on them, as the LORD commanded Moses.
a) This paragraph focuses on oil. Moses sprinkled oil on every part of the tabernacle. Moses then poured oil on Aaron and his sons. The text specifies that Aaron’s sons also had oil poured on them. Aaron’s sons then had their own tunics (undergarments), sashes (belts) and headbands. You get the idea that Aaron’s sons had uniforms similar to Aaron’s, but distinctive enough to where you knew Aaron was the high priest.
b) Let’s talk a little about oil. The Old Testament implies, but never bluntly states that oil is symbolic of the Spirit of God working in our lives.
i) The best example of this is in 1st Samuel Chapter 10, Verses 1-10. The prophet Samuel poured oil on to-be King Saul’s head in Verse 1. By Verse 10, “all of a sudden” the Spirit of God came upon Saul and he could prophesy.
ii) One of the functions of the Spirit of God is to draw us closer to God. (See Galatians 4:6). It is a word-picture of “a lubricating oil of our internal engine” to help us function properly.
iii) One also had to remember this is a desert climate. Desert skin gets dry easily. Oil was commonly used as a soothing lotion. It is a word picture of “soothing”.
c) Tying this oil picture back to Leviticus, the idea is “without God, we can’t”. We can go through all of these washing and dressing rituals, but unless God is in the picture, it is a waste of time. Specifically, if the Spirit of God is not there working in the background “lubricating the machinery”, it is a waste of time.
i) Need a practical example? It would be like trying to help someone without invoking God in prayer for help. It would be like teaching God’s word without asking for God’s help. It is the danger of relying on our own strength as opposed to asking God to intercede on our behalf.
d) The other idea is that this tabernacle, along with Aaron and his sons now “belong to God”. This is no longer just a building; it is building for the sole purpose of helping man intercede to God. Aaron and His sons are no longer “just people”, but are “set aside” as people who are fully committed to dedicating their lives to interceding for man to God.
i) How is that different from the Christian believer? We too, are “set aside” our lives to help others. We too are “anointed” for the purpose of helping other Christians. You and I may not have had a bottle of oil poured on our heads, but the idea is there. We are set apart from “the world” (i.e., nonbelievers) for the purpose of helping other Christians grow and mature. God desires that Christians work as a team to help each other grow in our faith. God does not expect us to do this on our own. That is the function of the Holy Spirit to help us in this job. The “oil” as used here in Leviticus is a word-picture of that function.
ii) That is the idea of the word “consecrated”. It means to be set aside for a specific purpose. It is similar to the word “holy”. It is the idea that a person is set aside from “the world” to be used for God. A building can be “consecrated” in that the purpose of the building is now to be used only in service to God. A person can also be consecrated in that their whole lives are now set aside in service to God.
8. Verse 14: He then presented the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 15 Moses slaughtered the bull and took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on all the horns of the altar to purify the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. So he consecrated it to make atonement for it. 16 Moses also took all the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver, and both kidneys and their fat, and burned it on the altar. 17 But the bull with its hide and its flesh and its offal he burned up outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses.
a) OK, I promised in the last lesson, we were done with the barbeque pit. I lied. ☺
i) Actually, we’re done describing the offerings. That was Chapters 1-7. Chapters 8 through 10 describe the role and functions of the priests.
ii) In order to prepare (there’s that word again!) the priest for service, sacrifices must be performed. There are three animal sacrifices described here in Chapter 8. The purpose is not to teach us about the sacrifices themselves, but to show how they are necessary in the preparation of the priest for service.
b) Verses 14-17 describe a “sin offering”. This ritual was covered in Chapters 4-5.
i) The idea here is not so much a specific sin, but to teach the priests that they have to deal with their own sins before they can intercede to God for other’s sins.
c) Notice what Moses does here: everything. Notice what Aaron does: pretty much nothing.
i) If you read this paragraph, Aaron and his sons don’t do a whole lot. The only action on their part was to lay their hands on the bull.
a) Moses is the one who kills and cuts up the bull.
b) Moses is the one who puts blood on the altar to “set it apart”.
c) Moses is the one who burns up the fat.
d) Moses takes the hide and the flesh and burns it u outside the camp.
ii) Again, Aaron and his sons’ only job is to hold the bull heads as if to identify with the bull. It is to think or say, “This bull represents us in our sinful state. We are “bull-headed” in that we are sinful and don’t want to let go of that sin. We give ourselves to God. We are represented by this animal.” From there, Aaron and his sons pretty much just stand there and watch. The cleansing is done for them. (I could spend a paragraph on that last sentence. By now, you should get the idea!)
d) In Verse 15, it says Moses put blood on the horns of the altar to purify it.
i) The altar had animal horns on all four corners. It was used to tie down the animal. Animal horns represent their power. Blood was placed on these horns. The idea here is “the innocent blood purifies our sins” and the “power” to forgive sins!
e) Let’s recap a little on the symbolism behind this burnt offering before I move on:
i) The killing of the bull is a reminder that blood must be spilled in order to have forgiveness (See Hebrews 9:22). This is not bluntly stated anywhere in the Old Testament but is implied “everywhere”. The idea is God is perfect and the price for a relationship with God is our life. The death of an innocent one (hint hint ☺) is the payment for our sins.
ii) The other idea is that before we can minister to others, we need to deal with our own sins. This is not about being perfect all the time; it is about confessing one’s sins. Sin and guilt gets our focus off of God and unto the guilt. We need to be internally “cleansed” before we can help others.
9. Verse 18: He then presented the ram for the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 19 Then Moses slaughtered the ram and sprinkled the blood against the altar on all sides. 20 He cut the ram into pieces and burned the head, the pieces and the fat. 21 He washed the inner parts and the legs with water and burned the whole ram on the altar as a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire, as the LORD commanded Moses.
a) Moses is still preparing Aaron and his sons for service as priests. We’ve killed one animal so far and have two more to go.
b) In this paragraph, a ram is killed as a burnt offering. This type of offering was covered back in Chapter 1. The idea is one offers themselves “completely” to God. That is why the entire animal is burnt up on the altar.
c) We know that Aaron and his sons were “called” to be priests. The only “free-will” aspect involved is that they choose to accept the assignment. In the last paragraph, a bull was offered for their sins. So why is this ram now necessary for a burnt offering?
i) The idea has to do with commitment. Aaron and his sons, as priests, are now committing their lives “fully” to be intercessors between the Israelites and God. They are always on call for this job. They must give their “all” for this service. Thus, the word-picture of a burnt offering.
d) Let’s tie this a little to Jesus as our priest:
i) “Therefore he (Jesus) is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 NIV).
ii) I emphasize the word “always”. Jesus is open for business around the clock, every day of the year. He doesn’t get time off. ☺
iii) That’s the idea of the “burnt offering” here. It is a complete dedication to serving God. In Hebrews 7:25, Jesus is described as our High Priest, always interceding on our behalf with our prayer requests to God. Part of Jesus’ role for us is to act as our High Priest.
e) Now let’s tie this to Christians as “priests”.
i) We are to always be “on call” to help others in need. It doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to take vacations. It means we take Jesus with us when we do take vacations! It means we are always to be available to God and available to others as God calls us. God calls us to help others. We are to give our “all” in the sense of putting other’s needs as priority over our own. We give our all.
f) Why offer a ram? What is the significance of that animal?
i) This goes back to Genesis. The first time a ram was mentioned is when Abraham offered Isaac. When God rescinded the order for Abraham to kill Isaac, God provided a ram to kill instead. (Genesis 22).
ii) The ram is symbolic of an animal “destined” as a substitute as a requirement. The priests were required to give their all for God. The priests “belong” to God and He requires their life as fully dedicated to God. The ram, as it ties to Genesis, is a good word-picture of the “destined substitute” for the priest in dedicated service.
g) Let’s discuss this ritual itself before we move on. Let’s begin with “fat separation”.
i) Notice Moses cut up the fat parts of the animal and threw them separately on the altar. As I’ve stated in earlier lessons, “fat” represents the best of an animal that is given to God. Remember the whole animal is burnt up. The fat is burned separately as a reminder that the “best” is to be separated for God, even though “everything” is given to God.
ii) Let me give an illustration: We as Christians completely belong to God and we are always to be on-call for service. Yet, all of us are given specific talents and gifts to be used in service. That doesn’t mean we ignore other functions. For example, we can’t say, “My gift is singing in church, so I can’t help sweep up around here”.
iii) The picture here is that the “best we have to offer” (i.e., the specific talents and gifts) God gives us is to be separated for service, but still, everything we have, and everything we are is still fully-dedicated to God, as pictured by the fact that the entire animal is placed on this altar.
h) Also notice in Verse 20, “The inner parts and legs were washed with water” before they were burnt up on the altar.
i) If the whole animal is burnt up, why are these animal parts washed prior to being burnt up? I suspect the idea of washing the inward parts has to do with “cleaning up the inside” as we prepare for service. Washing the legs is a word-picture of “our walk” as we prepare for service. It is another picture of confession and cleansing of our sins before we can be of service to others.
10. Verse 22: He then presented the other ram, the ram for the ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 23 Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron's right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Moses also brought Aaron's sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. Then he sprinkled blood against the altar on all sides. 25 He took the fat, the fat tail, all the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver, both kidneys and their fat and the right thigh.
a) We are now down to our final animal killing: One more ram. The key word is in Verse 22, where it says this is for “ordination”.
b) To explain ordination, think of a ceremony where a new president is installed. Usually it is some sort of ceremony where hands are exchanged and the new leader takes over. That’s sort of the idea of this final offering. Let’s review a little and tie it to this offering:
i) The High Priest is called to duty. First, a sin offering is made to remind the priest that one must deal with their own sins prior to helping others (Offering #1).
ii) The next offering was about “commitment”. A ram was killed to remind the priest that they are completely dedicated to God. (Offering #2).
iii) Now we come to the third offering: This one says in effect, “You are now ready for service.”
c) So why kill a third animal? After all, if the priest is “ready and prepped”, why spill more blood to begin the service as high priest?
i) The idea is “Just because you’re ready for service, doesn’t mean you can forget the God you are interceding to”. In other words, you don’t approach God without the blood. God calls us to help interceded on the behalf of other Christians. We still must remember we are interceding to a most Holy God. Just because we are prepped for service, we still must remember that Jesus blood was shed on behalf of all believers as we approach Him.
d) Let me describe more details of this ritual. This might give a better picture of it’s purpose:
i) Moses took some of the blood of this second ram. He put some on the right ear, the right thumb and the right big toe of Aaron and his sons.
ii) The idea is again, “we don’t approach God without the blood on our hands”.
iii) The idea for Christians is “we use the blood of Jesus” to intercede for others.
e) OK, so why the right ear, the right thumb and the right big toe?
i) With all respect to “lefties”, most people are right-handed. It is symbolic of the “dominant” side of our life. It represents leadership.
ii) Obviously, the ear represents what we hear, the thumb what we touch and the big toe our “walk”. It is the “leadership points” for these senses. The idea is as we interceded for others, these leadership-points must be blood covered.
iii) In other words, we don’t pray to God based on our own goodness, we intercede for others based on God’s goodness. We don’t help and support other Christians based on our terrific ability, but based on the fact God is working through us to help others. We don’t do anything without the shed blood!
iv) I’ve also been pondering this week, Why not blood on the lips? After all, what we say is important. Why not blood over the eyes? Why were our two abilities to speak and see not covered in blood? I don’t have a great answer. I just bring up the questions. ☺ All I can figure is that these three sensory inputs (walking, touching, and hearing) is what God wants us to emphasize as we intercede to others for Him. Remember all of these rituals are about “preparation” for being of service to God. Putting the blood where we walk, what we touch and what we hear is what God wants to emphasize. Who am I to argue? ☺
f) Meanwhile, back at altar, Moses also put some of the ram’s blood on all sides of the altar.
i) The altar where the ram’s blood is placed probably the same one where the ram was killed in the first place. The text specifies the blood was placed on all four sides of the altar. This is a picture of a “public witness”. Everyone watching can see that the blood was shed as part of the ordination process.
g) The text also has one more mention of the fat separation, but I’ve already beaten that point to death about “giving one’s best to God”, so we’ll move on.
11. Verse 26: Then from the basket of bread made without yeast, which was before the LORD, he took a cake of bread, and one made with oil, and a wafer; he put these on the fat portions and on the right thigh. 27 He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons and waved them before the LORD as a wave offering. 28 Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar on top of the burnt offering as an ordination offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire. 29 He also took the breast--Moses' share of the ordination ram--and waved it before the LORD as a wave offering, as the LORD commanded Moses.
a) This “ordination” word-picture is in two parts:
i) The previous paragraph covered “”part one” of this offering. It involved killing a ram and doing various things with its body parts and its blood.
ii) Part two of the ordination ritual is described in this paragraph. To summarize, Moses took some bread, combined it with some of the ram’s meat, put it in Aaron’s hands and his sons hands, and this “sandwich” was waved back and forth over the altar.
b) Let’s start with a reminder of the “wave offering”. This was first described in Chapter 7.
i) The idea is to take something, wave it back and forth between oneself and God. It is about identifying one’s self with the offering and with God.
ii) Remember that this is an ordination ritual. It is the last preparation step before the priest can begin to be of service. The final step was to take this ram and bread concoction, and wave it between the High Priest and “God” over the altar.
c) Now let’s talk about the ingredients of this bread and ram “sandwich”:
i) The bread is to be made without yeast. As stated earlier in this lesson, yeast represents sin. If we are to be of service to others, sin must be removed first.
ii) Another loaf of bread (as opposed to the first one which is unleavened bread) is to be made with oil. We’ve already discussed that topic, as oil represents the Spirit of God. We don’t approach God with the Spirit helping to intercede on our behalf.
iii) The “sandwich” then includes parts of the animal fat. The “fat” is about giving the best to God, and this is about giving our best to God.
iv) As to the word “thigh”, the exact meaning of the word is debated. If you recall from the last lesson, the same word is translated “shoulder” in the King James Version and other early translations. All the modern translations say “thigh.
a) “If” the word is correctly translated “shoulder”, then it is about “bearing the burden” of helping others, just as we have a word picture of carrying things on our shoulders. “If” the word is correctly translated “thigh”, it represents the strongest muscle in the body. That would be about giving our best to God.
12. Verse 30: Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments.
a) In verse 30, we are still on the ordination process. The next step was for Moses to take some oil and some blood and sprinkle it on their garments.
b) Picture these beautiful, hand-woven garments. They had jewelry on the breastplate, the shoulders and on the headband. They were beautiful tapestry.
i) Now Moses takes a bunch of blood and stains these garments. Moses also takes a bunch of (olive) oil and sprinkles it on the garments. The dry cleaners are going to complain about this one! ☺
ii) While I’m discussing it, this whole thing is a bloody mess. There is blood everywhere. It is on the altar. It is probably all over Moses. There is already some on the ear, toe and hand of the priests. Now it is all over the garments as well.
iii) The ever-so-visual and gory word picture is the reminder that we don’t do anything without the reminder that the shed blood of Jesus is “everywhere”. We don’t intercede for others without Jesus paying the price for sins. We don’t approach God without Jesus interceding for us. The blood is “everywhere” in our role as priests.
c) Speaking of “everywhere”, don’t forget the oil too! We don’t do anything without the Spirit interceding in our work. God “gets involved” in our daily Christian life and we pray to God for help in all that we do.
i) Remember the purpose of this chapter: It is about the preparation of our lives as “priests” so we can be God’s witnesses to others. It is about our fulfilling command given to Christians to love one another. It is about our role as Christians to help one another be better Christians. It is about our role to minister to one another. Before we begin, we have to “prepare”. All of these historical events are word-pictures for us to learn how to be better servants of God.
ii) We don’t function as priests without the Holy Spirit working in our lives. That is the picture of “oil being everywhere” as part of this ritual.
d) Last, let’s talk about the garments: The idea is not just that blood and oil was put on Aaron and his sons, but specifically on the garments. Think of garments as one’s uniform. For example, if we see a policeman in his uniform, we know he is a policeman. We associate that person as being “on duty” for his job. The same with the high priest. It is the priest himself who does the work, but the “uniform” represents the fact he is on duty for his service.
13. Verse 31: Moses then said to Aaron and his sons, "Cook the meat at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and eat it there with the bread from the basket of ordination offerings, as I commanded, saying, `Aaron and his sons are to eat it.' 32 Then burn up the rest of the meat and the bread.
a) Now it’s time for guys to do what they do best: Barbeque and eat meat! ☺
b) Moses is about to tell Aaron and his sons to stay there for seven days. Their food substance for these seven days is this second ram along with some bread. Coming up, we’ll read this whole ritual is repeated every day for seven days.
c) Now lets’ talk about the word-picture: We as Christians are to be of service to God. That is our role as priests. We rely upon the power of God in order to help others. Still, we need food to survive. As priests, others support us to survive just as we support others.
d) Finally, what is not eaten is to be burnt up. The idea is this food is “holy” and fully dedicated to God. It is not to be thrown away. Nothing belonging to God is to be wasted.
14. Verse 33: Do not leave the entrance to the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for your ordination will last seven days.
a) For seven days and seven nights, Aaron and his sons were not to leave this place. I hate to admit this, but I wondered where and when did they go the bathroom? Did they put an outhouse in the place? (Sorry ☺)
b) What is implied in the text, and stated in Jewish tradition, is that this ram killing ritual was repeated every day for seven days. It is possible that all three animal killings (the one bull and two rams) were repeated every day for seven days.
c) Imagine going through all of this: Not only did you have to watch animals being killed and slaughtered, but then blood has to get all over you and your clothing every day for seven days! After repeating this ritual for seven days (or having seven days to just sit there and think about this), all of the details and word-pictures start to sink in.
i) That’s the point. God wants us to “think about these things”. He wants us to understand the implications of “blood for sin” and being completely dedicated to service on His behalf. That is what the word “meditate” means in the bible. To stop and think about what is written and its implications.
d) The point is God wanted these rituals to “sink in” to their minds. A time frame of seven days is a time of “completion” as in, “On the 7th day, God rested” (Genesis 2:2). It refers to one complete week’s cycle. God was calling Aaron and his sons to dedicate the rest of their lives in service to others. It requires a visual picture of “completeness” in preparation for this service.
15. Verse 34: What has been done today was commanded by the LORD to make atonement for you.
a) Here is the purpose of the whole chapter in one sentence: “To make atonement for you”.
b) The word “atonement” is often described as “at-one-with” God. The idea is our sins are forgiven and now we can approach God for service. God is perfect. God’s standards for us are perfection. We can only approach God being “perfectly forgiven”. We can’t function as priests unless we properly prepare ourselves for this service. That is the idea of the rituals and word-pictures as laid out in this chapter.
16. Verse 35: You must stay at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded."
a) Notice the phrase, “So you will not die”. Do you want some motivation for your role as a priest? How about, “So you will not die”? If nothing else will get you to be motivated as a priest, that’s a pretty good job incentive! ☺ Imagine saying, “Hey God, why do I have to be a priest? God answers, “So you don’t die”. I would probably say at that point, “OK, how’s that ram ritual go again?” ☺
b) Coming up in Chapter 10, two of Aaron’s sons will die as they failed to be God’s priests exactly as described here in this chapter. God says what he means.
c) By the way, the “not die” reference is not about eternal salvation. That is a separate issue. This is about our time on earth and our being representative of God to others. Failure to do so properly has some stiff penalties! We’ll get to this more in Chapter 10 when we read about the death of two of Aaron’s sons.
i) So why isn’t God going around today “zapping” those who are bad witnesses to Him? The answer is “He does”. Ever notice how those Christians who have prominent roles and then sin badly get caught? God doesn’t let His followers “get away with anything” as we are His representatives. Further, God leaves us bible examples in both the Old and New Testament of people being “zapped” as a reminder to take our roles seriously.
17. Verse 36: So Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD commanded through Moses.
a) Like I said, once I heard the “so you don’t die” part I would be motivated. Here we read of Aaron and his sons being obedient to everything God commanded of them.
b) I want to point out again that the bible seems to go out of its way to commend obedience. Here Aaron and his sons were indirectly commended for their obedience. There are many places here in Leviticus, including this chapter, were the text states that Moses did exactly as he was commanded to do. Even though the word “commended” is not used, I believe that is the idea. Over and over again, it states how Moses was obedient to God’s commands. The fact that the text emphasizes that point is God’s way of commending them for their obedience.
18. Let’s wrap up this discussion of our role as “priests”:
a) We as Christians are “chosen” by God to spend eternity with Him. The “free-will” aspect is we responded to that calling, just like Aaron and His sons.
b) With that “choosing” comes responsibility. We must respond to God His way and no other way.
c) God provides, through the blood of Jesus our eternal salvation. What God desires for us in response to that is a lifetime of gratitude. We show that gratitude by giving praise to God himself. We show that gratitude by being obedient to His commandments. Among those commandments is to show love to other Christians.
i) In many ways, this chapter is a commentary on how to “love one another”. To love someone is to put his or her needs above our own. That is our role as “priests”. It is to show love to one another by helping each other.
d) Chapter 8 of Leviticus focuses on “preparation for service”:
i) We as believers must deal with our sins before we can deal with others. It is not about being perfect all the time, just perfectly forgiven. It is about confessing what is on our hearts at any one moment, before we can be of service to God and through Him, service to others.
a) Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? “ (Matthew 7:3 NIV) He is saying we have to deal with our sins before we can minister to others.
b) That was the “sin offering” word picture early in the chapter.
ii) Next was the burnt offering. This is the preparation step where we make the willful decision to fully dedicate ourselves to God. Once we commit ourselves to follow Jesus, we must obey His commands. Those commands include loving one another. Therefore, we must dedicate our lives for service. This is symbolized here in this burnt offering.
iii) The final offering was for the ordination ritual. Even here, blood is “everywhere” to remind us that without the shed blood of Jesus we can do “nothing” of service to Him. Oil is also “everywhere”, a symbol of the Holy Spirit, to remind us that God is in the process of helping us minister to others.
iv) Finally, we are to “eat” of the offering itself. This also is a picture of “Without God, we can’t”. In order to minister to others, we have to take of God himself in our lives. We can’t function unless we eat properly. The same applies to spiritual food as well as physical food. That’s the word-picture here.
e) Does all of this mean I have to kill a few animals and eat a ram sandwich before I can be priest? No. The idea is if we have committed our lives to Jesus, then we must obey the only “new” command Jesus ever gave His disciples: “Love one another” (John 13:34).
i) Loving one another is about helping others in their needs. It is about putting others needs as a priority over our own. This lesson gives word pictures in preparation for that service. It is about dealing with our own sins so we can be of service to others. It is about being willing to make that “round the clock” commitment to be willing to love others. It is the reminder that “blood and oil” are everywhere, in that without the intercession of Jesus as our High Priest, and without the intercession of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we can’t be of service to God and successfully minister as “priests” as God calls us to do.
19. Let’s pray: Father, We incorrectly have this image in our head of “priests” as special people in a full time profession. Help us to remember that as followers of Jesus, we are all called into a full-time ministry. Help us to prepare ourselves so we can be of help to others. Put opportunities in our path where we can be of help to others. Give us the discernment to know how to respond in those situations. Give us the faith, and joy as we minister through these situations. We ask this in Jesus name, Amen.