The Consecration Of The Priests - Part I

“And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread.” —Leviticus 8:1-2

Even though Aaron had been chosen by the Lord as the great high priest, he and his sons, who were priests, as well, had to undergo the same sacrificial offerings as the worst sinner in Israel. All of this was a reminder that even though Aaron was called, anointed, and directed by God, still, he was flawed flesh and needed a redeemer.

The anointing oil was a type of the Holy Spirit.
The bullock for the sin offering and two rams, as well as the unleavened bread, stood for sacrifice and cleansing, with the unleavened bread standing for the perfection demanded by God that could never be obtained except by sacrifice.
All of the congregation of Israel was commanded to observe these rituals that they may know and understand that Aaron, even though the great high priest, was still a poor mortal exactly as they were. Verse 4 speaks of commands. Note that these were not suggestions; they were commands. Moses had to carry them out to the letter.
The washing with water spoke of cleansing and was a type of that accomplished by the blood and the Word. The coat spoke of Christ’s deity.
The girdle spoke of the service of Christ to humanity.
The robe spoke of His righteousness.
The ephod was that which had the names of the children of Israel on each shoulder—six to a side. The Lord would carry His people on His shoulders.
The breastplate of verse 8 contained the 12 precious stones listing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. It was over the heart of the great high priest, referring to the fact that the Lord carries His people on His heart as well as His shoulders.
In a pouch under the breastplate were the Urim and the Thummim. The two words mean “lights” and “perfection.” They concerned the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The mitre of verse 9 spoke of authority. Jesus is the Head of the church.

A Sacrifice, A Priest, and a Place of Worship

As we study this part of Leviticus, we will find that its major subject includes a sacrifice, a priest, and a place of worship. Chapters 8, 9, and 10 pertain to priesthood, but sacrifice is the foundation of it all. This speaks of the Cross of Christ. The sinner needs a sacrifice; the worshipper needs a priest. Christ is both. The place of worship consummates in the heavens, even as it originates in the heavens. According to Williams, these three chapters make prominent the following:
  • The authority of the Bible.
  • The preciousness of the blood.
  • The power of the Holy Spirit.
Even though all of this is very intricate, very detailed, and very complicated, yet, all of it in every detail points to Christ and what He would do to redeem humanity, which refers to the Cross. There is no way that any serious Bible student could study Leviticus and not see this of which we speak. The book drips with blood, with it all speaking of the blood that Christ would shed at the Cross. In some way, every single thing points to His perfection, His sacrifice of Himself, and His high priestly ministry, which continues unto this hour.
Mackintosh said, “As a sacrifice, and only as a sacrifice, He introduces His people into a settled relationship with God; and as a priest, our Great High Priest, He maintains us therein, according to the perfection of what He is.”
He continued, “As sinners, by nature and by practice, we are ‘brought near to God by the blood of the Cross’; we are brought into an established relationship with Him; we stand before Him as the fruit of His own work. He has put away our sins in such a manner as suits Himself, so that we might be before Him to the praise of His name, as the exhibition of what He can accomplish through the power of death and resurrection.”

Our Great High Priest

As this chapter portrays the anointing of Aaron as the great high priest - the type of Christ — we are made to know and realize our need for the services and, in fact, the continued services of our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have been totally and completely delivered from all sin by our faith in Christ and what He has done for us at the Cross, thereby, perfectly accepted in the beloved. Though complete in Christ and highly exalted (Eph. 2:6), yet, within ourselves, we are still poor, feeble creatures - ever prone to wander, ready to stumble, and exposed to manifold temptations, trials, and snares.
As such, as any honest believer will have to admit, we need - in fact, we must have — the ceaseless ministry of our Great High Priest. His very presence in the sanctuary above maintains us in the full integrity of that place and relationship in which, through grace, we stand. Paul beautifully, but even bluntly, wrote, “He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
The truth is, we could not stand for a moment down here if He were not living for us up there. “Because I live, you shall live also” (Jn. 14:19).

What Is Intercession?

As it pertains to Christ, it is simply His presence at the throne of God, all on our behalf (Heb. 1:3). This means that God has accepted Him - has accepted His sacrifice of Himself, has accepted its finished work - and His very presence before God guarantees intercession on our behalf. If He had to do anything else, that would mean that the work at Calvary was incomplete, which we know is not the case (Heb. 1:3). Some Christians have the erroneous idea that Jesus has to pray for us; plead our case before the Father. While the spirit of that is definitely present because He most surely is our Advocate (I Jn. 2:1–2), still, He is that by His presence and His presence alone. The Scripture says: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true (referring to the Old Testament tabernacle and temple); but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24).
If it is to be noticed, the word appear is used here, meaning that His presence before God guarantees intercession.

Calvary Paid It All

In our understanding of the Scriptures, we must always comprehend the fact that Calvary paid it all. There is nothing left owing and nothing left to be done; it has all been done. In fact, religion says, “Do,” while the true Gospel says, “Done!”
As well, it’s heaven and not earth that is the sphere of Christ’s priestly ministry, although the effects of that ministry are definitely felt and experienced by all believers. Christ is our Great High Priest.
In fact, there is no such thing now, and I speak of time since the Cross, that God recognizes any priest upon this earth. To be a priest, one would have to show his descent from Aaron, and unless he can trace his pedigree to that ancient source, he has no right to exercise the priestly office. Even the sons of Aaron have no right since Jesus has fulfilled all of the Old Testament types and shadows which were designed to point to Him anyway, and which He settled by His work at the Cross. Christ is our Mediator and our Mediator alone.

Christ Is Our Mediator

Let us say it again: Christ is our Mediator and our Mediator alone, and there is no need for another. So, whether he realizes it or not, for a man to say that he is a priest, he is, in effect, saying that Christ didn’t finish His work and that He still needs the help of poor mortals because a priest actually served as a mediator. As well, the only ones who were ever recognized as priests were those under the Mosaic covenant. This refers to a go-between between God and man. Since Jesus went to the Cross, He forever did away with the need for earthly priests. The Scripture plainly says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). Notice that the Scripture says one - not 1,000, not 500, not 10, not even two, just one - and that one is the Lord Jesus Christ. So, the priesthood of the Catholic Church, or any other religion for that matter, is an abomination in the eyes of God. It is the highest insult that can be tendered toward Christ and His finished work. Incidentally, Chapter 8 of Leviticus goes back to Chapter 29 of Exodus, which provides far more detail.

The Anointing Oil

The oil was a type of the Holy Spirit, which was on Christ as it had never been on another man. However, while Aaron, even though a type of Christ, had the Holy Spirit to help him regarding his office, still, he only had His help in a very limited way.
Before the Cross, while the Holy Spirit was definitely present in the world and has been from the very beginning, His activities were very limited because the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb. 10:4). This means that the terrible sin debt, and we speak of original sin, still hung over the head of every believer, so to speak, even the greatest ones of the Old Testament. In fact, this is the very reason that Jesus said of John the Baptist, who was the last great prophet before Christ: “Verily I say unto you, among them who are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Mat. 11:11). What did Jesus mean by that statement?
He wasn’t meaning that we are better morally or character-wise than John the Baptist, but rather, since the Cross, we have far better privileges than those under the old covenant. The Cross, incidentally, paid the total sin debt - past, present, and future - at least for those who will believe. Since the Cross, the Holy Spirit can now come into the heart and life of the believer, which He does at conversion, to abide forever (Jn. 14:16). The Cross, and the Cross alone, has made everything possible.

The Bullock, The Two Rams, and The Basket of Unleavened Bread

As we enter into the consecration of the priesthood, we find that even though Aaron was to be the great high priest - the closest type to Christ of any human being under the old economy - he and his sons, who were also priests, had to undergo the same sacrificial offerings as the worst sinner in Israel.
As we look at these sacrifices, we must be made to realize that even though a righteous sovereign may feel for and pity those whom He has created, still, He dare not have fellowship with them except on the basis of judgment satisfied, hence, the necessity of the sacrifices. The sacrifices would point to the one who was to come, who would be the sacrifice, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Great Chasm

There is a great chasm between man and his God. The fallen one goes on sinning, and the wronged sovereign must go on maintaining His righteous administration. Man cannot of himself come to God and is terrified when he thinks of His presence. God cannot sacrifice His sovereignty or tarnish His throne by advancing favors to those who continue to trample everything sacred under their feet. In fact, the whole bent and drift of man’s natural affections are against God. It is not in man to turn or change himself, and God cannot reverse His own immutability, or retire from His eternal constitution of righteousness and holiness. The simple fact is, “They that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8). Then Jesus said, “No man comes unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6).
Nothing can recover a man from sin - not the powers and workings of nature, not good works, not money, and not education - nothing but Christ. In fact, faith in Christ and what Christ has done for us at the Cross is the only thing that will recover a man from sin. Christ without the Cross could not have saved anyone!

Knowledge of God

Even when men had a right knowledge of God, all of these things we have mentioned were not competent within themselves to keep that knowledge alive in them.
The Scripture plainly says: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Rom. 1:21–25).
This is Scripture, and it is also history. Seiss said: “Nor is it difficult to trace the philosophy of it. It requires only a little attention and analysis of our most common and most inward impressions and experiences under the workings of nature.”
So, we see from Aaron and his sons that all men must have a sacrifice. Incidentally, Aaron and his sons were chosen by God, anointed by God, and directed by God.
They were to offer up a bullock for the sin offering because they were sinful men, as are all men. They were then to offer two rams - one for a whole burnt offering and the other for a consecration offering. The latter was to be done with unleavened bread. In effect, four great offerings were sacrificed, but in this order: the sin offering first, followed by the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering.

This article is an excerpt for the book 'The Sacrificial System' by Jimmy Swaggart.

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