Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. TO THE PRIESTHOOD, IN THE SIMPLEST IDEA OF IT (vers. 4-10). Aaron and his sons were to be -
1. Washed with water - symbol of purification from all uncleanness (ver. 4).
2. Clothed with the holy garments - which robing was the real installation. Aaron was to be first robed (vers. 6, 7), afterwards his sons (vers. 8, 9).
3. Anointed - symbol of the abundant communication of Divine influences (ver. 7). The anointing took place immediately after investiture. See exposition. Nothing could be simpler than these introductory ceremonies, which yet, in connection with the symbolism of the dress, meant a great deal. They "filled the hand" of the priest with his office (ver. 9), declared the need of holiness in the discharge of his duties, and conveyed to him the gifts of heavenly grace necessary fir their right performance. So Christ "glorified not himself to be made an high priest" (Hebrews 5:5), but was formally installed in his office by the Father; was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26); and is endued above measure with the Spirit (John 3:34).
II. TO THE PRIESTHOOD, AS HELD BY SINFUL MEN (vers. 10-15). The direct installation to the priesthood is followed by ceremonies having reference to the personal sinfulness of the holders of the office. The tact could not be overlooked that the law was making men priests that had infirmity (Hebrews 7:28). Themselves sinful, Aaron and his sons were not as yet fit to transact with God as mediators for others. The true High Priest, having no sin, laboured under no disqualification of this kind (Hebrews 7:27); but it was different with priests "taken from among men" (Hebrews 5:1). They needed to have sacrifices offered for themselves. "This, therefore, was what was next provided; and through an entire series of sacrifices and offerings they were conducted as from the depths of guilt and condemnation to what indicated their possession of a state "of blessed peace and most friendly intercourse with God" (Fairbairn). The sacrifices were three - a sin-offering (vers. 10-15); a burnt-offering (vers. 15-19); and a peace-offering (vers. 19-22); and these sacrifices, with the accompanying ceremonies, were to be repeated on seven successive days (ver. 35). The altar, as defiled by the sin of those officiating at it, was likewise to be cleansed by the blood of the sin-offering (vers. 36, 37). This is the first appearance of the sin-offering in the law.
III. TO QUALIFICATIONS, DUTIES, AND EMOLUMENTS (vers. 15-38). The sin-offering had especially to do with the removal of guilt. The second sacrifice - the burnt-offering - denoted the duty of unconditional and entire surrender to Jehovah. The third - "the ram of consecration" (ver. 22) - was that by which the newly-made priests were wholly put into the functions and rights of their office.
1. The ram's blood was significantly applied to different members of the person (ver. 20). It was put upon the tip of the right eat', upon the thumb of the right hand, and upon the great toe of the right foot, of Aaron and of his sons. This denoted, of course, entire dedication of the person to God's service, in hearing, in acting, and in the daily walk. It beautifully symbolises, not only the perfect consecration of him whose meat it was to do his Father's will (John 4:34), but the completeness of devotion which ought to characterise each of his disciples, who also are priests to God.
2. The priests were sprinkled with the ram's blood and oil mingled (ver. 21). This symbolised the new life of God, in which the priest was "henceforth to move and have his being, in conjunction with the Spirit, on whose softening, penetrating, invigorating influence all powers and movements of that Divine life depend" (Fairbairn).
3. The portions of the sacrifice which belonged to God, with a loaf, cake, and wafer, of the meat offering - symbolic of fruitfulness in good works - were next to be placed on the priests' hands, and waved before the Lord (ver. 24). This signified,
(1) "The conveyal of the function which belongs to the priest to offer the fat pieces of God's altar; and
(2) the infeoffment of the priests with the gilt, which they receive in future for their service, but which they must now give over to Jehovah, because they are not yet fully dedicated, and therefore cannot yet themselves act as priests" (Oehler). The conclusion of the ceremony was a sacrificial meal, indicative of restored fellowship, and happy communion with God (vers. 31-35). Vers. 29, 30, provide for the handing down of the high priest's office to Aaron's sons. The priesthood continued till superseded by that of the greater Priest "after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 7.). - J.O.
1. Offered at morn and even.
3. With meat-offering-Medication of life in its practical activities. - J.O.