PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 29; Servants in God’s Tent – The Priests – Consecration

4/22 Exodus 29 Servants in God’s Tent: The Priests (consecration)

Last time we looked at chapter 28, which detailed the official garments of the priests, particularly the high priest. We saw that his clothing was extravagant, designed to match the tabernacle itself, a uniform that would fit him for service in the courts of the King of kings. We saw that he was to serve as a representative who would bear the names of God’s people on his shoulders and bind their names over his heart and carry them symbolically into the presence of God. He had a weighty responsibility.

Today we come to Exodus chapter 29; instructions on the process by which the priests were to be set apart for service in the tabernacle. So far, chapters 25-31 have contained the instructions for what God is commanding his people to do, and the fulfillment, the record of God’s people obediently carrying out every detail of his instructions has been found in chapters 35-40. For the fulfillment of this chapter, we have to go to the next of the five books of Moses, Leviticus, chapter 8.

Today we will take a look at God’s instructions for how his servants were to be set apart, and as we go we will look at some of the ways this points to our service as priests of God, and then ultimately to our Great High Priest.

A Public Ceremony

Before we get into the details of Exodus 29, we should look for a minute at the Leviticus passage, which fills in some additional details.

Leviticus 8:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments and the anointing oil and the bull of the sin offering and the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread. 3 And assemble all the congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” 4 And Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

We find out in Leviticus 8 that this is a public ceremony. Moses is to gather the entire congregation at the entrance to the courtyard. Everyone in Israel is to be present to see this one who would go before God to make intercession for them installed into this holy office.

The Necessary Materials

Exodus 29:1 “Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish, 2 and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. 3 You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams.

These verses lay out what will be required for this ceremony. The first thing Moses is to do is to gather the appropriate materials that he will need. It will require the special priestly garments described in the last chapter, the special anointing oil described in the next chapter, and three animals; one bull and two rams, all without blemish.

Washed, Clothed, Anointed

Next, we see the actual ceremony begin.

4 You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 Then you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 6 And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. 7 You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. 8 Then you shall bring his sons and put coats on them, 9 and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

Moses is to do three things here. He is to wash, he is to clothe, and he is to anoint Aaron for service. Aaron needed to be washed because he was dirty. Remember, at this point Israel is camping in the desert. This was probably not a full bath, as it was public; we can assume that he was already wearing the linen undergarments; they are not mentioned as being put on here. This would be a washing of exposed flesh; the hands and feet. After he was washed, then he was clothed in the uniform of the high priest. Notice that all of these things are being done to Aaron. He is not doing them himself; he is passive. He is washed; he is clothed; and he is anointed. Anointing was a ceremony that was done to set someone apart for a particular office. Kings were anointed (1Sam.16:13); prophets were anointed (1Ki.19:16); and priests were anointed. The Hebrew word for anointing is where we get the word ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ’ – it means ‘the anointed one’. Anointing was a symbolic way to show that God’s blessing was being poured out on this individual. The anointing of God’s Messiah is pictured in Psalm 45

Psalm 45:7 you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions; 8 your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia…

In Psalm 133, the unity of believers is compared to this anointing oil.

Psalm 133:2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!

Aaron is washed, clothed, and anointed. This is useful for us, because we as believers in Jesus Christ are told in several places (Rev.1:5; 1Pet.2:5,9; Rom.15:16) that we are priests to God. We have been washed, clothed and anointed by God. We have been washed and set apart in baptism, where we publicly confess Jesus Christ as our Lord. Ephesians 5 describes how we believers are washed.

Ephesians 5:25 … as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

We are clothed.

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

We are anointed.

2 Corinthians 1:21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (cf. 1 Jn.2:20,27)

We as believers, being built into a holy priesthood, are cleansed by the washing of water with the word, are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, are anointed with God’s Holy Spirit.

Three Sacrifices

Next, we have the three animals offered; the sin offering, the whole burnt offering, and the ordination offering. The sin offering was a way for the worshiper to confess and find forgiveness for sins committed in ignorance. The whole burnt offering was the foundational offering that secured atonement for a person and turned God’s anger into favor. The ordination offering was a special kind of fellowship offering, where the worshiper enjoyed the communion of a restored relationship with God. The sequence here starts with the sin offering.

Bull for Sin Offering

10 “Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull. 11 Then you shall kill the bull before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting, 12 and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar. 13 And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. 14 But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.

Laying hands on the head of the sacrifice is common to all three of these sacrifices. It is a symbolic way to identify with the animal, to confess sins and recognize that sin deserves death, and this innocent animal will die in my place. In the sin offering, specific acts of sin are in view, specific known violations of God’s law are confessed and forgiven.

In Leviticus 8:15 we are told that this offering served to purify the altar and set it apart to make atonement for it. Even the altar itself, built by the hands of sinful men, needed to be purified, consecrated, set apart for service.

The majority of this sacrifice was not burned on the altar. The blood was smeared on the horns of the altar, and poured out at the base of the altar, the fat and some of the internal organs were burned on the alter, but the bulk of the animal, all the meat, was taken outside the camp and burned. This is as if to say, that’s what I deserve. That’s where I belong, outside the camp, separated from God’s people, cursed and cast out, unclean, excluded. My sins separate me from God, and my sins separate me from God’s people. This offering pictures that clearly. This animal is destroyed outside the camp so that my sin can be forgiven and I can be welcomed as part of the worshiping community.

This part of the sin offering is highlighted by the author of Hebrews.

Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Jesus was led outside the city to his place of execution. He was excluded. We go to Jesus, we honor Jesus, we worship Jesus, we gladly accept being excluded because our King was cursed and put outside.

First Ram for Whole Burnt Offering

15 “Then you shall take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, 16 and you shall kill the ram and shall take its blood and throw it against the sides of the altar. 17 Then you shall cut the ram into pieces, and wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and its head, 18 and burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD. It is a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD.

The whole burnt offering was the core of the sacrificial system. The entire animal was butchered, prepared, and placed on the altar, and the whole thing went up in smoke to God. This was the offering that dealt, not with specific sins, but with my sinful condition; my sin nature. There is no part of me that has any merit before God. I am sinful through and through. All of me deserves the holy wrath of God. Instead, he offers a substitute. I lay my hands on the head of the animal, confessing that I deserve this punishment, transferring my guilt to it, and the whole thing goes up as a satisfying aroma to God.

Remember, this is a public ceremony. All Israel is looking on. They are seeing this man, the high priest, the one who is to mediate between God and them, lay his hands on the head of this animal. They would recognize in that action a confession of sin, an acknowledgment of guilt deserving death, a need for a substitute. These religious leaders were publicly and openly owning up to the fact that they were no better than the people they were representing before God. They too were sinners that needed forgiveness.

Second Ram For Ordination

19 “You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, 20 and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar. 21 Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him. 22 “You shall also take the fat from the ram and the fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, and the right thigh (for it is a ram of ordination), 23 and one loaf of bread and one cake of bread made with oil, and one wafer out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before the LORD. 24 You shall put all these on the palms of Aaron and on the palms of his sons, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD. 25 Then you shall take them from their hands and burn them on the altar on top of the burnt offering, as a pleasing aroma before the LORD. It is a food offering to the LORD. 26 “You shall take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s ordination and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD, and it shall be your portion. 27 And you shall consecrate the breast of the wave offering that is waved and the thigh of the priests’ portion that is contributed from the ram of ordination, from what was Aaron’s and his sons. 28 It shall be for Aaron and his sons as a perpetual due from the people of Israel, for it is a contribution. It shall be a contribution from the people of Israel from their peace offerings, their contribution to the LORD. 29 “The holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him; they shall be anointed in them and ordained in them. 30 The son who succeeds him as priest, who comes into the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place, shall wear them seven days. 31 “You shall take the ram of ordination and boil its flesh in a holy place. 32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 33 They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. 34 And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

This final sacrifice was a special fellowship offering. The fellowship offering always followed the whole burnt offering, and part of this animal was laid on top of the burnt offering, also offered to the Lord. Part of this offering was eaten by the worshiper in God’s presence, enjoying the result of the offering for atonement, enjoying forgiveness and reconciliation with a holy God. A unique part of this ordination offering is that the blood was smeared on Aaron and his sons. Just as the altar was set apart and purified by applying the blood to it, so the people who serve in God’s tent are purified and set apart by sacrificial blood being smeared on them. It was smeared on the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe. The right side was the place of honor and privilege. This would be a symbolic way of setting apart the whole person, from top to bottom. A priest was one who represented the people before God, and taught God’s word to the people. As such, he needed to be attentive himself to God’s word. He needed his ears sanctified. The thumb and big toe of a conquered enemy were sometimes cut off as a way to incapacitate them and render them helpless. The priest’s hands must be set apart for service, to do the things that please his Master. His feet must be set apart for service, to walk in paths of righteousness.

Seven Days of Ordination

35 “Thus you shall do to Aaron and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Through seven days shall you ordain them, 36 and every day you shall offer a bull as a sin offering for atonement. Also you shall purify the altar, when you make atonement for it, and shall anoint it to consecrate it. 37 Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.

This ordination ceremony was to last seven days. It seems that these three offerings were repeated every day for seven days, a complete cycle, a full week. This was a big deal. God took six days to create the world and everything in it, and here it takes seven days of bloody sacrifices to set apart these sinful people who are to serve him as priests.

Contrast Jesus

This highlights a contrast with Jesus, our Great High Priest. Last time we saw that Jesus was not part of this earthly priesthood. He didn’t have the right genealogy. He was from the wrong tribe, the royal tribe. He is a different kind of priest altogether. One problem with these priests was that they had to be replaced. They were mortal. Jesus, because he is eternal God, holds his priesthood permanently. The author of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

Jesus is different, better, a more excellent high priest, because he didn’t need any of these sacrifices to deal with his own sins. He is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He had no sins of his own to confess. He had no guilt that needed to be atoned. Jesus could stand before his Father on his own merits, accepted. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus had no need to be forgiven. He always perfectly obeyed the will of his Father. Jesus is our final once-for-all greater high priest, who offered the once-for-all sacrifice, his own perfect eternal sinless self as a sin-bearing substitute to once-for-all permanently take away sin.

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

April 22, 2012 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , ,

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