Aaron and his sons were to be set apart for the priest’s office with great ceremony and solemnity. One author who has written much on this subject, C. W. Slemming, has pointed out that in the process of Aaron and his sons becoming priests, they were called, cleansed, clothed, and consecrated. And herein they were foreshadows of the Lord Jesus, our Great High Priest. Like Aaron, He was called by God to fill this office. Like Aaron, He was anointed – that is, anointed with the Holy Spirit, which is why He is called the Messiah (the “Anointed One”). Like Aaron, Jesus was clothed with glory and beauty; He was sanctified by His own blood, and He was perfected or consecrated through His sufferings (Heb. 2:10).
We should also remember that each child of God is a spiritual priest, who is called to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5). As believers, we have been washed in the blood of Jesus; and so we are made priests to our God (Rev. 1:5, 6). We are clothed with the beauty of holiness (Ps. 96:9), and we have received the anointing of God (1 John 2:27). This consecration admits the redeemed sinner into the spiritual priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus.
The consecration of Aaron and his sons was truly an elaborate and impressive ceremony. The process is outlined here in this chapter, but we will not read of its being carried out until we reach the eighth chapter of Leviticus. First, they were to wash themselves with water, showing the need for personal purity (Heb. 10:22). Then they were to don the official robes of their sacred office, for God’s priests must be arrayed in the beauty of holiness (Ps. 110:3). Next, they were anointed with oil, which was a picture of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon them.
After this, the consecration ceremony involved a time for the offering of sacrifices. These included the slaying of a young bullock for a sin offering, reminding us of the contrast between our perfect Lord Jesus and ourselves. He knew no sin, but we are in desperate need of the propitiation for sin. Then there was the sacrifice of a ram for a burnt-offering, which brings to mind the words of the Apostle in Romans 12:1, 2 – requiring total and absolute devotion and dedication to the Lord. We cannot have our hearts divided between Christ and the world. But there was another ram that was involved in this consecration ceremony. This second ram was also killed, and its blood was placed upon the ears and hands and feet of Aaron and his sons. Herein we are taught that our senses, actions, and movements must all be dedicated to the Lord.
We read in verse 21 that some of the blood was also to be sprinkled upon the holy garments of Aaron and his sons. These garments had just been put on, and they were perfectly new! And now they were they were to be sprinkled with blood and oil from head to foot? Yes! To our eyes, this would be a grievous disfigurement; but the Holy Spirit herein taught us that even beauty is subordinate to the necessity for God’s forgiveness and anointing. Whenever the priest beheld his holy garments, he would be reminded of his own unworthiness and the abundant grace of the Lord. Of course, when Jesus came to be our Great High Priest, He needed no such preparation; for He was perfectly holy, harmless, and separate from sinners.
Part of the flesh from the animal sacrifices was waved heavenward and burned, as if God Himself was feeding upon it; and part of it was eaten by the priests. It was as if God and they were feasting together in one holy sacrament. This consecration ceremony was repeated for a total of seven days.
After giving the details for the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, the Lord ordained that a lamb was to be offered upon the brass altar in the Tabernacle courtyard every morning, and another lamb every evening. This was to be a picture of the continual intercession which Christ is continually making for His Church. The morning and evening sacrifice also teaches us to offer to God the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise every day – both morning and evening. Our daily devotions are the most necessary activities of our day, and the most pleasant of our daily comforts. Prayer-time must be kept up as regularly as our meal-times. If we do not constantly and consistently come before the throne of grace, we shall starve our own souls. Let us not do such a disastrous thing!
O Lord, we bless You for enabling us to look through the shadows of the Tabernacle and the priesthood, so that we may clearly see our Savior! In Aaron, we behold a picture of our Great High Priest. As we see how Aaron was washed and clothed and anointed to the sacred service, we think of how Jesus was consecrated to His glorious work of redemption, when – in the infinite purity of His nature – He offered Himself up as a sacrifice, to make reconciliation for the sins of His people. Lord Jesus, be our morning and evening propitiation! We thank You for reconciling us to the Father by Your precious blood and perfect righteousness; and we beseech You to sanctify our souls with the continual pouring out of all the graces, gifts, and rich anointings of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
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