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Christian Biblical Studies





The Consecration of the Priests

Second in an occasional series


The Anointing

At the establishment of the Tabernacle the High Priest chosen was Aaron, the brother of Moses. His sons were appointed as under-priests. But before they were allowed to serve they had to be anointed. It is this anointing which comprises the focus of this short study. We will comment on the symbols associated with the service. The text is that of the New International Version (UK edition).


Leviticus 8: 14-30

14 [Aaron] then presented the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head.


Laying their hands on the head of the bull seems to signify, ‘this represents us’ the ‘us’ in the antitype being the humanity of Jesus and the Church. The animal was to be the best of the herd. This seems to denote the actual perfection of Jesus, the man, and the reckoned perfection of His Church, who derive their justification by faith in Him, their sins being covered.


15 Moses slaughtered the bull and took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on all the horns of the altar to purify the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. So he consecrated it to make atonement for it. 16. Moses also took all the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver, and both kidneys and their fat, and burned it on the altar.


Moses was the embodiment of the Law, being its mediator and representative (Galatians 3: 19). Over the generations the name ‘Moses’ became synonymous with ‘the Law’ (Acts 15: 21). By and through the Law Covenant sacrifices, especially those offered on the Day of Atonement, Jehovah made provision for the temporary, annual, justification of the nation, predictive of the ‘once for all’ sacrifice of Christ which would come later. The blood sprinkled around the base of the altar may suggest that the sacrifice of Christ is so comprehensive as to cover the cursed earth itself (Genesis 3: 17-19).


17 But the bull with its hide   and its flesh and its offal he burned up outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses.


From the standpoint of an unregenerate world the ministry and sacrifice of Jesus and His Church is as vile refuse, dung, something to be despised. They are, figuratively, hounded out of secular civilisation, persecuted to death.


18. He then presented the ram for the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. 19. Then Moses slaughtered the ram and sprinkled the blood against the altar on all sides.


There is a shift in viewpoint here. Now we see the Church herself as a sin-offering, again signified by the pantomime of the laying on of the hands. (For an elementary explanation of the Church’s sin-offering, see the article ‘Dying for the Dead’ on this site.) Needless to say, the sin-offering of the Church does not equal or compete with the ransom-offering of Jesus, which is unique and all-inclusive. For only Jesus could tender the purchase price for the whole race (which includes the Church). However, the Church has the honour of suffering with Him, thereby contributing to the effectiveness of the Christian ministry and amplifying the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice. The Church’s ministry is beneficial for all, shown by the blood being sprinkled around the altar.

20 He cut the ram into pieces and burned the head, the pieces and the fat. 21. He washed the inner parts and the legs with water and burned the whole ram on the altar as a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire, as the LORD commanded Moses.

This description portrays the consuming of the sacrifice offered by Jesus (the Head) and the Church (the Body). Though despised by the world, the conjoined sacrifice was very pleasing to God.

To be continued


Copyright July 2009

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