James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,Exodus 29:1-46
CONSECRATION OF THE PRIESTS
THE CEREMONY IN OUTLINE (Exodus 29:1-9)
What animals were required for sacrifice, and what qualification must they have (Exodus 29:1)? What offerings accompanied them (Exodus 29:2)? Where was the place of ceremony (Exodus 29:4)? What was the preliminary act?
This washing of the bodies of the priests typified the cleanness of the whole man in a moral and spiritual sense, which, while it was true of Aaron only ceremonially, was true absolutely of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he set forth and prefigured.
What followed the washing (Exodus 29:5-6)? What followed the investure of the clothing (Exodus 29:7)?
This holy anointing oil, for which (as we shall see) God Himself gave the prescription, was the emblem of the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit communicated to the priesthood for their service. At the same time it should be borne in mind that the service accomplished by them in a symbolical sense was accomplished actually by Christ for His people, who was anointed of the Holy Spirit to that end (Luke 4:16; Luke 4:21; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38).
For how long was the office to remain in Aaron’s family (Exodus 29:9)? This means of course to the end of the Levitical economy (Hebrews 7:11-19).
“Consecrate” in Exodus 29:9 means “to fill the hands,” and signifies “the placing of the sacrifices in their hands, in the offering of which they are not only sanctified but instituted into their office.”
THE SIN OFFERING (Exodus 29:10-14)
What was the nature of this offering (Exodus 29:10)? Where presented? How were Aaron and his sons to identify themselves with it? What was to be done to it (Exodus 29:11)? How was its blood to be used (Exodus 29:12)? Which of its parts should be burned on the altar (Exodus 29:13)? Which without the camp, and why (Exodus 29:14)?
The presentation of this offering was to remove the legal disqualifications from Aaron and his sons on account of sin. The life which is in the blood of the animal makes atonement for their lives, which like the lives of all of us
was forfeited through sin. There was no intrinsic virtue in the blood of a bull, but as we shall be told later it is symbolic of the blood of the Son of God, which is efficacious in the cleansing from all sin (1 John 1:7).
The details of these offerings come before us in Leviticus, where they are commanded for the people as they are here for the priests.
THE BURNT OFFERING (Exodus 29:15-18)
The nature of this offering (Exodus 29:15)? Observe the same act of identification as before. What distinction do you see in the use of the blood (Exodus 29:16)? What was to be done with the flesh of this offering as distinguished from the other (Exodus 29:18)? And before it was burnt, what (Exodus 29:17)? What did it then become (Exodus 29:18)?
Sin is not named in connection with this offering as in the other case. There God’s judgment is executed on the victim as charged with the sin of the offense, but here God’s satisfaction with the offerer is expressed as based on the previous putting away of his sin and the presentation of himself for acceptance and worship.
THE PEACE OFFERING (Exodus 29:19-28)
These two rams bear a close relation to one another, and are to be considered theoretically as one. What is done with the blood here (Exodus 29:20)? Touching the person with the blood symbolizes the purging of that person from his guilt.
What further ceremony follows (Exodus 29:21)? This symbolizes “the outward and legal and the inward and moral purification essential to the priestly office.”
What is this ram called (Exodus 29:22)? How is the idea of consecration expressed in Exodus 29:24? Here Aaron and his sons “take the first step in offering and are at the same time initiated into the priestly office.”
Moses, who initiates them, is to wave these offerings, doubtless by taking hold of their hands thus filled, and moving them back and forth. The significance of this is difficult to determine. The forward movement toward the altar might indicate the dedication of the offering to the Lord, and the backward movement a transference of it again to the priest as his share, only that in this case the offerings are not afterward consumed by the priests but are burned on the altar (Exodus 29:25). We await more light.
What parts of this ram are assigned as the portion of the priest (Exodus 29:27)? Observe that a “wave” and a “heave” offering are both mentioned here, the motion of one being horizontal and the other vertical. It is “heaved” in token of being offered unto God, and then accepted by Him, it is assigned to His representative on earth, the priest (Exodus 29:28). To what class of offering does this heave offering belong?
“Peace offering” in this verse is translated in the Septuagint, “a sacrifice of salvation” and is an acknowledgment of salvation already received as expressed through the sin and burnt offering previously presented and accepted, and which invariably preceded it in the Levitical ceremonial (compare Romans 5). As indicative of this it was essentially a communion feast. God’s portion was burned on the altar, but of the remainder the priest and the offerer (as we shall see later) each had a part.
THE DAILY BURNT OFFERING (Exodus 29:38-46)
What was its nature (Exodus 29:38)? How many times a day? What offering accompanied it (v. 40-41)? How would God show His reconciliation and communion with them on the ground of this offering (Exodus 29:42)? His intercourse promised to the people would come, through the high priest. How should the Tabernacle be hallowed? In what other language is the same idea expressed (Exodus 29:45)? Of what should this be to them an assurance (Exodus 29:46)? This manifestation of His presence was the shekinah glory, successor in a sense to the pillar of cloud.
Aaron a Type of Christ
This is an appropriate place for a further word concerning the typical relation of the Aaronic priesthood to Jesus Christ.
That priesthood is set before us in two sections. Aaron, the high priest, the true type of Christ, and his sons, consecrated to the office in virtue of their relation to him. These latter who ministered at the altar of sacrifice and in the Holy Place, but never in the Most Holy, do not so much typify Christ as believers on Christ, who with Him constitute the royal and priestly family of which He is the head.
Aaron is a type of Christ in his person, since what he was ceremonially and symbolically the Lord Jesus is intrinsically and divinely. Although as to His humanity He descended from a long line of impure ancestors, yet He brought no stain of sin into the world with him, nor contracted any while here (Hebrews 7:26).
The high priest, however, was a type of Christ not only in his person but in his office and functions. The Epistle to the Hebrews will amply assure us of this. It will be seen indeed that it is in virtue of Christ’s priestly office that the Aaronic was ever instituted. In other words, Christ’s priesthood reflects backward and gives to that of Aaron all the efficacy and meaning it possessed.
Aaron was Israel’s representative before God, and in his priestly character he stood for the whole nation. As God was pleased with him so was He pleased with the nation. All his official acts were reckoned as having been done by the people here represented. All of which we know to be true of Jesus Christ as the representative of them that believe on Him. He died for them, and they died in Him (2 Corinthians 5:14). They are raised in Him, quickened and seated with him in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:5-6). As Aaron bore the tribes into the Most Holy place so Jesus Christ bears His people into God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19-22). The chief duty of the human priest was to reconcile men to God by offering an atonement for their sins, effected by sacrifice. What Aaron thus did for Israel in the type Jesus has done for His people actually (Hebrews 8:3; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10).
It is furthermore an element of the priestly office to make intercession on behalf of those whom it represents. This was done for Israel by the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat and the offering of incense on the golden altar, of which we shall learn in the next lesson. In the same way the New Testament combines Christ’s intercession for us with His sacrificial death (Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1-2; Romans 8:33-34).
To allude to a feature of the consecration of Aaron and his sons, we find something particularly suggestive in their anointing. Aaron was anointed before the bloody sacrifices were offered, while his sons were not anointed until afterward. And so, long before the cross, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit (John 1:33-34), but the disciples, who are the anti-types of the sons of Aaron, did not receive that anointing until after Jesus was glorified (John 7:39 RV; Acts 2).
Moreover, Aaron received a greater unction than his sons, the holy oil being poured upon his head and running down upon his beard, even to the skirts of his garments (Psalms 133). Compare John 3:34 and Hebrews 1:9.
These are hints of the typology of the Aaronic priesthood, of which we shall be learning more as we proceed and from which we shall be gaining richer apprehensions of the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf. For thus these things have been written for our learning.
1. Whom do the ordinary priests typify?
2. In what three ways did Aaron typify Christ?
3. What were two chief duties of the priest?
4. What New Testament epistle treats especially of Christ’s priesthood?
5. Can you quote 1 John 2:1-2?