Introduction

Our lesson this week kicks off the fall quarter of lessons for 2021.  The overarching title for this quarter of lessons is titled – Faith on Trial.  As always, there are three separate units of lessons that we will cover over the next three months.  The first unit of lessons that we will be taking a look at in September is titled, Learning God’s Holiness.  The second unit of lesson that we will be taking a look at in October is titled, Seeing God’s Faithfulness.  The final unit of lessons that we will be covering in November is titled, Taking God Seriously.

The opening lesson of this quarter is going to be taking a look at the ordination (or consecration) of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Leviticus 8:1-13.

Called By God

Before we jump into this lesson’s scripture, I do briefly want to touch on what it means to be ordained.  To be ordained means to be appointed.  For example, you can be ordained for a position in your place of work, though we would rarely look at such an appointment in a place of work as being ordained.  No, when we think of someone being ordained, we typically think within our faith.  

Within our faith, we believe that one can only be truly ordained for a task by the Lord.  Now, we certainly do set people aside for certain tasks within the church but, again, it is God who truly ordains us for His special assignments.  Being ordained by the Lord is truly a special calling which we should certainly treat as being a special calling.  What I mean by this is if you have been called and ordained by God for a special assignment, we should not mess around when it comes to this calling.  We should take our calling by the Lord very seriously.

God calls Aaron and his sons

So, our lesson opens with Moses being directed by the Lord to take Aaron and his sons and present them before the congregation of the children of Israel (vss. 1-3).  So, this ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons was to be a public ceremony which is much like our ordination ceremonies in the church.

Let us notice that it is God who is directing Moses with this ceremony, which testifies to it being the Lord who has called Aaron and his four sons.  This was not Moses’ calling but the Lord.  If you were to turn back to the book of Exodus, you will see where the Lord speaks of ordaining Aaron and his sons for the priesthood.  The Lord said in Exodus, “Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he (Aaron) may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons:  Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar (Ex. 28:1).

Now, we will notice in these opening verses that the Lord directs Moses to gather a few things for this ordination ceremony.  Moses is supposed to bring with him some garments (clothing), anointing oil, a bull for the sin offering, two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread.  We are going to see the purpose for Moses gathering and bringing these things with him in the following scripture for our lesson today.

We will see that the congregation gathers at the meeting spot which was at the door of the tabernacle (v. 4).  Moses, again, makes it very clear that God has commanded the ordaining of Aaron and his sons as priests to all the children of Israel (v. 5).  I believe that this was of great importance for Moses to let the people know.  Just imagine what this would look like when you see one family having such high positions – it would seem like nepotism.

Yet, Aaron had already been serving as a spokesperson to the people.  The Lord told Moses when he first commanded that he go to Egypt that Aaron, his brother, would be his “spokesman to the people” because Moses told God that he was not an eloquent speaker.  The Lord said to Moses, “He (Aaron) shall be your spokesman to the people.  And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God (Ex. 4:10, 14-16).  So, Moses would hear from the Lord, give those words to Aaron, and Aaron would then speak to the people.  

Now, there were several occasions where Moses did speak directly to the people, but Aaron did have a role in which he was essentially serving the people before this ordination ceremony.  So, we could consider that this ordination ceremony was making it more official as to what Aaron’s role was for the people.  The priests were meant to serve God on the people’s behalf.  Again, this was a very important role.

Cleansing for priesthood

This being a very important role is made even more clear when we see that Moses washed Aaron and his sons before the people with water (v. 6).  Now, what was the purpose of Moses washing Aaron and his sons?  Well, let us consider something that I have recently preached about when it comes to being a vessel of the Lord.  Let us remember that Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy that one would need to be cleansed in order to be a vessel of honor, sanctified, and useful for the Master’s good work (2 Tim. 2:21).

Paul was speaking of a spiritual cleansing of the soul which was required for anyone who wanted to be used as a vessel for the Lord.  The cleansing spoken of by Paul is done through the inner workings of the Holy Spirit that dwells in the hearts of all of those who turn to the Lord and genuinely believe in Him.

Aaron and his son’s cleansing, we see, is being done outwardly for the public to see.  In a way, this actually reminds me of water baptism which is done outwardly to represent one being cleansed of their sins.  For us, the true cleansing of our sins is done in our soul.  The cleansing of Aaron and his sons was being done for the purpose of cleansing their sins, though again, I feel I must mention that this was being done outwardly.  That being said, this cleansing was very important because it was signifying that the Lord was not going to use a sinful person for the role of serving both Him and the people.

Priestly clothing

We will then see in the next few verses for our lesson that there were special garments, which we saw Moses gather earlier, for the priests and the high priest (vss. 7-9).  Aaron was dressed in a tunic with a robe that then essentially had a belt around the waist and the ephod.  Then a breastplate was put on Aaron with some precious stones – Urim and Thummim – along with a crown and turban.

Again, if we turn back to Exodus, we will see even greater details about Aaron’s clothing.  For example, Aaron’s clothing was made by very skilled people who God had filled with the wisdom to be able to make Aaron’s clothes (Ex. 28:3).  The colors of the ephod and extra details are mentioned also in Exodus.  For example, there were two onyx stones that were engraved with the name of the sons of Israel that were part of the ephod.  They were meant to serve as a memorial to the sons of Israel (Ex. 28:5-14).

The breastplate that Aaron would wear also had a great amount of significance as well.  The breastplate was given a title and was called the “breastplate of judgment”.  On the breastplate, Aaron would wear 12 stones that were, again, a memorial to the sons of Israel.  When Aaron would go into the holy place, he would bear their names and the Urim and Thummim were meant to cover Aaron’s heart when he would go before the Lord.  By wearing the breastplate, scripture tells us that Aaron would “bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually (Ex. 28:15-30).”

So, Aaron would certainly stand out in a crowd as the people would be able to easily identify him in a crowd.  I think this was very important as he served in a role where he served both the Lord and the people.  He was essentially a crown jewel in the sea of the children of Israel which also reminds me of the image of the church as the bride of Christ as recorded in the book of Revelation (Rev. 21:2, 9-11).  The church will be the crown jewel of the Lord’s eternal kingdom.

Now, Aaron’s attire was only meant for the high priest.  The dress for Aaron’s sons was a lot more simple.  They wore tunics with the sash around the waist and hats on their head (v. 13, Ex. 28:40).  So, while a lot more simpler, the priests would still be easily recognizable to the people in their service to God and to the people.

Aaron anointed

After being cleansed and clothed, we now move to the last part of the ordination ceremony.  We are told that Moses anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it (v. 10).  He did this by taking the anointing oil and sprinkling some of the oil on the altar, seven times, and all of its utensils, the laver (a large basin) and its base (v. 11).

Now, when it came to Aaron, we see that when Moses anointed him, he poured some of the oil on his head (v. 12).  I once preached about our anointing a couple years ago.  Our anointing by the Lord through the Holy Spirit is a sign that the Lord is with us and that He is both our keeper and provider – He is our shepherd.  Shepherds anoint the heads of their sheep to protect them from themselves when they ram into each other, and to also protect them from insects and other things.

Aaron’s anointing was a sacred anointing.  His anointing signifies that he was now set aside for the holy work which the Lord had ordained for him to do.  Our anointing by the Lord is also a sacred anointing and we should certainly treat it with such.  Our anointing signifies that we belong to the Lord and that He belongs to us.  Our anointing signifies that we have been sanctified in our hearts (our spirit) for the Lord.  This anointing separates us from those who have not been cleansed nor have they been sanctified in their hearts.  

So, let us treat our anointing and our calling as a child of God with great value because it is both sacred and significant.  Like Paul wrote to the Romans, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).”  Being sanctified through Christ is what leads to us one day taking on the image of Christ at His coming for the church.