We have covered Gods revelation to us of what humanity is like and of his provision to meet our needs. Now we look at the performance God expects from us on the basis of the provision he has made. God never mentions performance without first having talked to us about provision.
First prayerfully we realize that we need a sacrifice, a substitute. No man can handle his own problems by himself. . God makes very clear that we need a substitute. And that substitute will meet the basic needs of our human life for love, for joy, for peace, for forgiveness before God, and for restoration of relationship with our fellow man. That is what the five sacrifices of Leviticus 1-7 have taught us.
The second thing God stresses is that we need a priest. We cannot solve our problems even though the sacrifice is provided; there is still need for further help.
Then, third, we need the revelation of a standard, a measuring stick for life. We need to know what is right and what is wrong, what things are helpful and what are harmful, what will advance us and what will impede us.
Finally, we need an opportunity to act
No Israelite could offer a sacrifice by himself. He had to have a priest because he needed instruction, he needed somebody to explain the meaning of the sacrifice to him. Even after it was explained and its value made clear, he needed to have it applied to himself FIRST! Wow, an inward look before looking outwards. God knew that often we dont understand ourselves, so he has supplied us with a priesthood.
We see each other better than we see ourselves.
Priests were the ones to whom people came when they had emotional problems — hangups. They were taught by God himself! Priests were skilled at handling problems of guilt and fear and anxiety and hostility, and all the traumas which can arise.
Verses 1-4 give us an introduction to Priesthood by describing the essentials for a priesthood, the ingredients which make it possible:
The LORD said to Moses, “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 door of the tent of meeting.” And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the congregation was assembled at the door of the tent of meeting. (Leviticus 8:1-4 RSV)
There God lists for us all the necessary elements for a priesthood: You may have missed the first item on the list. It is the very first few words of the passage: “The LORD said to Moses…”
You see, first comes the word of God. A true priesthood comes from God’s word, God’s thoughts. God knows us and he has designed this for us. It doesn’t come from a pope, nor a council, nor a convention, or human committee. It began with the word of God.
The second element is Aaron and his sons with him. Aaron was the brother of Moses. He had a family of boys and these sons were to be associated with him in the priesthood. He and his descendants were the only family in the entire Old Testament authorized to serve as priests. And in this family Aaron himself was to be the chief priest, the high priest.
All of this is designed by God to teach us truth about ourselves. Th book of Hebrews tells us, we too have a high priest, Jesus Christ our Lord!!. And his priesthood is as necessary to us as Aaron’s was to the Israelites. When we read about Aaron by himself, serving as high priest, we are looking at a picture of Jesus and of what he can be to us.
Some people miss all that! They have so much struggle and weakness because they don’t understand the resources which are available to them to meet them in their need and to alleviate their emotional depression.
While Aaron is a picture of our great high priest, his sons represent every believer in Jesus Christ, assembled with Christ and serving also as priests. In other words, everyone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is constituted a priest to the other members of the human family, both to the world at large and to the rest of the body of Christ.
What does it mean to be a priest. Leviticus teaches us how to serve effectively as priests to one another and to God.
The third ingredient of the priesthood is the garments. Moses describes the garments for us. He is God’s representative, and is acting here on God’s behalf. He is told to take with him the priests’ garments in preparation for the consecration of the priesthood. In the symbolism of Scripture, garments are always a revelation of the character of the individual who wears them.
The fourth ingredient of the priesthood is the anointing oil, which, in Scripture, always speaks of the Holy Spirit. This means that a priest, to be effective, always must be walking in the Spirit. You will never be an effective priest unless you learn the ministry of the Holy Spirit, learn how he works in you and through you, imparting the life of Christ to others through you!
The next ingredient is the sacrifices. Moses is told to take the bull and the two rams. These always speak of redemption, of the need for dealing with the problem of sin and guilt. Since Aaron and his sons were but men, they too needed sacrifices. But the sacrifices were also food. They were what the priests were to eat, what they were to feed on, what they were to live by. .
The sixth element of the priesthood was the fact that God told Moses to bring all the congregation together. God insisted on that. He wanted all the adults there, and all the children as well. He wanted the humblest and the greatest in Israel to be present. So Moses had to assemble the whole congregation — more than a million people.
Finally, the seventh element was that they were to assemble in front of the tent of meeting, the tabernacle. As we have already seen, the tabernacle is a picture of man. It was built on the pattern upon which we are built. It was a three-fold entity; just as we have body, soul, and spirit, so the tabernacle had a three-fold layout. This is God’s way of telling us that he himself will teach us what all this means and that he will do so from within ourselves, once again from the place where God meets man.
There is a step by step account of how God called us into Priesthood. See yourself in this! You have a great high priest, of whom Aaron is always the picture. And, in fact, you are a priest and you have the ministry!
The first step is found in Verses 5-6:
And Moses said to the congregation, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded to be done.” And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. (Leviticus 8:5-6 RSV)
Look at this carefully….
Moses said, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded to be done.” That is, “This is the word of God.” And then he washed Aaron and his sons with water. Thus the word and water are linked together…..MY GOD!
In the New Testament, in John, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the wind, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” John 3:5). What did he mean? Well, water stands for the Word, and wind stands for the Spirit. And except a man be born by believing the Word, thus releasing the operation of the Spirit of God into his life, he can never enter into the kingdom of God. So the word, in its capacity to cleanse and to purify, is pictured for us by water! Jesus uses the same symbol in the fifteenth chapter of John. He says to his disciples, “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you…” (John 15:3).
Here Aaron, as his picture, or type, is consecrated with water by Moses. Then the sons are similarly washed. It is by the proclamation of the word that the priesthood operates, and only by that. What does that say to us as priests?
The second step is the dressing of the high priest in his garments. Verse 7:
And he put on him[not on the sons but only on Aaron himself] the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and girded him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod, binding it to him therewith. And he placed the breastpiece on him, and in the breastpiece he put the Urim and the Thummim. And he set the turban upon his head, and on the turban, in front, he set the golden plate, the holy crown, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Leviticus 8:7-9 RSV)
This whole ensemble is God’s idea.
Wow, look at these garments!!..When Moses begin dress Aaron, he didnt have anything on. He had just been washed with water and he was naked. Then, at the command of God, Moses put an inner garment upon him, a white linen coat of sorts, which fit closely around Aaron’s body and served as his undergarment. He bound it around him with an inner girdle. After Aaron was fully dressed these two items were invisible. And yet each has its own significance.
In Scripture a coat is always a picture of the righteousness of an individual. This inner coat is a picture of that inner, hidden righteousness of the Lord Jesus which only God could see.
A girdle, in Scripture, always symbolizes a servant. This inner girdle represents that inner spirit of servitude, that willingness to be a servant which our Lord reflects, and again which man could not see but which God the Father saw. Do you remember how Paul puts it in Philippians? He says that Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross,” (Philippians 2:6-8 RSV). God will meet us at our lowest level, which is a true characteristic of the life of our great high priest.
Over these garments Moses put the outer robe. This is described in Exodus (28:31-34, 39:22-26) as an exquisite robe of finely woven cloth, all of one piece and colored a brilliant and beautiful blue. Again this robe speaks of righteousness, but, in this case, the VISIBLE righteousness which men could see.
Over the robe was put the ephod. This was a kind of vestment, a surplice, or tunic, which hung from the shoulders of the priest down to his knees. It was always the mark of the high priest’s authority because it hung from his shoulders, which in Scripture are the symbol of authority and power. In promising the coming of Jesus, Isaiah says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder,” (Isaiah 9:6a RSV). By this ephod we are reminded of Jesus’ words just before he ascended into the heavens. He said to his disciples, “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth,” (Matthew 28:18b KJV)
Around the ephod was bound the golden girdle, a very beautiful band of cleverly woven cloth intertwined with gold. Again, the girdle is a picture of the servitude of Jesus, but in this case his outward servant character, i.e., his obvious willingness to stoop to meet our need, whatever it is. This means that our great high priest, with all his power and authority, is willing to meet us right where we are.
So here is this high priest, bound with a girdle to remind us that Jesus is willing to be our servant and to meet us at the place of our need. Then, in the middle of Aaron’s breast, Moses hung the breastpiece. This was a square of gold on which were written the names of all twelve tribes of Israel. Thus Israel was reminded that the high priest held closest to his heart, in affectionate concern, every one of the people of Israel!
HE LOVES US, OH HOW HE LOVES US! Our Lord Jesus always holds us close to his heart!. He is deeply involved with each of us. He knows where you are and what you are going through. He is greatly concerned about it. .
In the midst of the breastpiece, Moses put the two instruments called the Urim and Thummim.
To be honest, I have no clue what these are, no one really describes what they are in the Bible. Even the ancient rabbis lost any description of what these looked like. Their names mean “Lights” and “Perfections.” And, though we don’t know what they looked like, we know what they were for. Clearly they were used by the priests to determine the mind and the will of God concerning specific events. Through the Urim and the Thummim, the priest was able to help him. It was the way to find direction in life.
We are getting very close to the true meaning of these when we translate the words Insights and Outworkings. You see, “lights” are insights. And “perfections” are the outworkings of circumstances to accomplish the goal God has in mind. When a problem arose, an individual brought it to the priest who would use these instruments to gain insight from God into the nature of the problem. Then he also received assurance from God that the way God was moving would work the problem out to perfection. This is similiar to to what the Spirit of God does in our hearts through the Word of God and through the counsel of other members of the priesthood of God. He helps us to gain an understanding of the problem and to have reassurance that he is working out his perfect purposes in our lives.
On the head of the priest Moses set a turban, a beautiful cloth bound around his head. This is a symbolic picture of the mind under control, the intelligence of the priest to workings of God. It represents what Paul describes in Second Corinthians as “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV). God embodies all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and works intelligently on our behalf under the control of the mind and will and purpose of God the Father in our lives. And that is what we also are to do, as priests, as we begin to understand the things of God.
Finally, squarely in the middle of the turban Moses set the golden plate which is called the crown of the high priest. Only the high priest wore it. Inscribed on it were the words, “Holiness to the LORD.” As we have already learned from the book of Leviticus the word holiness really means “wholeness.” God’s purpose among men is to make us into whole people again.
The book of Hebrews tells us “We have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews 4:15 KJV).
He has known discouragement and the way it feels. He has known hostility, he was wept with those who wept. He was angry when he saw injustice stalking the earth unopposed. He got indignant with those who were oppressing others. He spoke scorching words to those who stood in the way of people who were seeking help. He understands how men feel. He knows how you feel. He knows where you are!
Whatever your problem may be at this moment, he has been where you are. He has all power and he has a servant heart, ready to meet you at your place of need. And he knows how to work your problems out.
Sometimes we lose sight of the God who is capable of meeting our every need!
Some info is used from Ray Steadman’s book on Leviticus Living Wholey