Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments.
Moses then said to Aaron and his sons, “Cook the meat at the entrance to the tent of meeting and eat it there with the bread from the basket of ordination offerings, as I was commanded: ‘Aaron and his sons are to eat it.’ Then burn up the rest of the meat and the bread. Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for your ordination will last seven days. What has been done today was commanded by the LORD to make atonement for you. You must stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.”
So Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD commanded through Moses. – Leviticus 8:30-36
“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” – Exodus 19:6
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; – 1Peter 2:9
After the initial 7 chapters of Leviticus that discuss the sacrificial rituals for various purposes, chapters 8 and 9 tell us about the great ordination ceremony that took place for the new priests (Aaron and his sons). Chapter 10 describes the aftermath of that ordeal – and ordeal it was, for making a home for a Holy God in a world beset with sin is no easy or simple task. It was only God’s love and faithfulness to His promises to Abraham that prompted Him to give the Israelites the opportunity to worship Him and enjoy His presence at all. Amidst what can easily be read as a very gory depiction of a bloodthirsty God, we need to remember that. God could have left the Israelites in Egypt to work as slaves and to suffer eternally in bondage to sin in death. Likewise, the opportunity to assist Israel in worship of God was a gift and not to be taken lightly.
After an extended ceremony in which an two offerings were sacrificed (one for sins and one for consecrating the priests), the blood of the second sacrifice was dabbed upon the priests, specifically on their extremities, or vulnerable areas according to Ancient Middle Eastern ideas: their earlobes, their thumbs, and their toes. No other time do we see blood put on people in worship, for it is typically used to cleanse the altar. The reason is because the blood is for more than just forgiving sins – it is to claim the persons themselves as Holy unto the LORD. They are no longer just people… they are instruments of the sanctuary.
This does not happen immediately. After the anointing ceremony, these priests-in-the-making must stay in the outer courts of the temple for a week. They are not yet elevated enough to go into the inner chamber where the priests officiate, and certainly not the Holy of Holies, in which only the high priests ventures and only one day per year. There they sit in silence and humility – simply soaking up God’s presence. This is the first lesson of priesthood and perhaps the most important: learning to live in God’s presence. They are called to be holy, not just publicly, but with every ounce of their being. They are called to live with God.
Seven days marks a time of transition. It is the time Genesis accounts for the creation of the world from nothing. It is the time from birth to circumcision, and naming for male children. It is the time given newlyweds to transition from being two persons to being “one flesh”. It is also the time allotted for mourning the loss of loved ones. (All according to ancient Hebrew practices) What we see here is the process of new birth, where ordinary, sinful initiates are “born again” into priests, called to live in the realm of Holiness, and to lead the rest of their people into that same presence of God. What an awesome calling!
But what about those of us who live and work outside the temple, outside the church? What does this have to do with us? In Exodus, God told Israel that He was calling all of them to be priests for the world… a city on a hill… a lighthouse over dark waters. Each and every member of the nation was to be a priest for those outside of Israel, outside of God’s people. Peter reminded the church of that in his letters to the early Christians, letting them know that just because you are not an officially ordained pastor, preacher, teacher, evangelist, scholar, or any other servant of the Church, does not let you off the hook for being a priest to those who do not yet know God. We all must undergo our own cleansing by the blood of Christ, the perfect sacrifice, understanding that as His blood touches us, we not only are cleansed, but are marked and set aside for God’s use: to live in God’s presence now, and forevermore. We are instruments of His Holiness, His will, and His mission to bring the world to worship Him and walk with Him, and we do that by going first, and leading by example.