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Year 1, Week 13, Day 2

I have a brief observation for today’s reading of Leviticus 8-9.

Today’s reading pertains to Aaron and the Levitical Priesthood. Leviticus 8 records the actual ordination of Aaron and his sons as Levitical Priests. Exodus 28 detailed the garments that the priests were to wear, while Exodus 29 noted that Aaron and his sons were to be consecrated or set apart to serve as priests in the Tabernacle. Now, in light of the matters previously discussed, Aaron and his sons experience the ordination process at the Tabernacle. Leviticus 9 records the actual start of the Levitical Priests offering sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel. With the Tabernacle completed, the priestly garments finished, the types of required sacrifices listed out and described, the Tabernacle is now open for worship.

What struck me in today’s reading was all that the LORD required so that He would permit His people to draw near to Him for worship: “Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he! Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them. In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.” (Psalm 99:5-7). Moses oversaw all the preparations required for the LORD to be safely approached in worship: “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “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. And assemble all the congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” (Leviticus 8:1-3). The ordination of Aaron and his sons took place at the entrance to the Tabernacle.

The ordination ceremony is divided into seven sections with each section ending with the description, “And Moses did as the LORD commanded him” (Leviticus 8:4; see also Leviticus 8:9,13,17, 21,29,36). The ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons carefully followed the LORD prescribed instructions. First, Aaron and his sons were washed and clothed (Leviticus 8:6-9). Then, Aaron and his sons, along with the Tabernacle were anointed with oil (Leviticus 8:10-13). After that, a sacrifice was offered on behalf of Aaron and his sons: “Then he brought the bull of the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull of the sin offering. And he killed it, and Moses took the blood, and with his finger put it on the horns of the altar around it and purified the altar and poured out the blood at the base of the altar and consecrated it to make atonement for it.” (Leviticus 8:14-15). This sacrifice was followed by another: “Then he presented the ram of the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. And he killed it, and Moses threw the blood against the sides of the altar.” (Leviticus 8:18-19). Still another sacrifice was made: "Then he presented the other ram, the ram of ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. And he killed it, and Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron's right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.” (Leviticus 8:22-23). Things concluded with blood being placed on Aaron and his sons, along with some additional anointing oil. Altogether, this was a seven day process. Being both sinful and unclean, Aaron and his sons needed pardon and purification before they could qualify to fulfill their calling.

Now Aaron was ready to begin his work: “On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel, and he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.” (Leviticus 9:1-2). Leviticus 9 is full of anticipation: "for today the LORD will appear to you” (Leviticus 9:4); “This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you” (Leviticus 9:6); and fulfillment: “And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.” (Leviticus 9:23). But in between the anticipation and fulfillment, Leviticus 9 records no less than six sacrifices. Through these sacrifices, the LORD’s blessing was now to shine upon the people: “Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” (Leviticus 9:22). For the presence of the LORD himself would bless Israel.

The work of the priesthood was vital for there to be a mediator between the LORD and His people. What we learn from reading Leviticus helps us to better understand as well as appreciate the priestly work of Jesus. Unlike the Levitical Priest, Jesus did not need any sacrifices for Himself: “For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 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.” (Hebrews 9:26-27). Superior to the Levitical Priesthood, Jesus opens access to the blessing of God’s presence more fully: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

What struck you in today’s reading? What questions were prompted from today’s reading?

Pastor Joe