And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel;…
The duties of the high priest, as exhibited in this chapter, divide themselves into two general classes. Some of his services related exclusively to himself, and the rest exclusively to the people. Aaron, though a priest, was still a man, with all the wants and infirmities of men. He consequently needed atonement as much as those for whom he was to officiate. And before he was allowed to proceed with his duties for others, he was required to offer sacrifices for himself.
1. Aaron was first of all to offer a calf for a sin-offering. And it may be that this was intended to refer back to his great sin in the matter of the "golden calf," which he had been prevailed upon to make for the worship of the people while Moses was in the mount. It is a hard thing to shake off the degrading recollection of any marked deed of wrong! The soil of sin upon the conscience cannot be easily washed out. I once heard a man say with tears upon his cheeks, that if he owned a world, he would willingly and gladly give it to have certain recollections of crime blotted from his mind. He was a pious man — a man who had solemnly consecrated himself to labours for the good of his kind; but the thought of his former deeds of shame haunted him like a demon, and clouded his brightest peace. Aaron had done a great evil in the sight of God, and the dark shadow of its remembrance followed him even into the honours of his high priesthood, and stood before him every time he came to enter into the Tabernacle of the Most High.
2. The second offering which Aaron was to make for himself was the holocaust, or whole burnt-offering. In addition to his special sin he was a common sinner with all other men. He needed justification by the blood of Jesus, just as everybody else. There is a sense in which all are equally guilty before God, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the learned and the ignorant, the priest and the people. And the only deliverance from this common guilt, as from all other guilt, is through the one great offering of "The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." Even Aaron in his priesthood needs it just as much as the wickedest and vilest of the race. These preliminary and personal services having been attended to, Aaron proceeded, as God directed, to perform the duties of his office for the people for whom he was ordained. A sin-offering, a burnt-offering, a peace-offering, and a meat-offering had been prescribed, and his functions with reference to these he now proceeded to discharge. Let us, then, contemplate him in the solemn service.
1. Aaron's first official duties were connected with the altar at the door of the Tabernacle, and were all performed in the presence of the people. Now, in order to understand the typical meaning of all this, it will be necessary to observe that Christ is at once the priest and the sacrifice. It was impossible to unite these two things in the type. They stand in the Levitical ritual as distinct, and they are not at all confounded together in the great mediation of Calvary. But we must bear in mind that Christ is at the same time the victim and the High Priest who officiates in offering that victim. When He was led forth to His immolation, He was the lamb without blemish and also the one who was to lay its body upon the fire, and sprinkle its blond upon the altar. As the apostle tells us, "He offered up Himself." He is the great High Priest who officiated at His own immolation. It was He Himself that presided at the awful ceremony, in which all His joints were relaxed, and all the binding ligaments of His being cut asunder, and all the tender parts of His most interior nature torn out for burning — and His body, soul, and spirit, laid down as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. It was by His own will that the blow was struck; that the blood flowed; that every covering and protection was torn off; and the whole blessed Christ reduced to a mangled and lifeless mass around and upon the altar of God. And it is this very fact that so infinitely ennobles, exalts, and dignifies Christ's sacrifice. It was a willing surrender of Himself to death. There is a very remarkable expression in the fifteenth verse to which I desire to call your particular attention in this connection. You read there that Aaron "took the sin-offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin." A stricter rendering of the original, as noted by various critics, would be, "He sinned it," or, "He made it to be sin." The same diction occurs in Leviticus 6:26. The idea is, that the sin-offering somehow had the sin transferred to it, or laid on it, or was so linked with the sin for which it was to atone as to become itself the sinful or sinning one, not actually, but imputatively and constructively. The animal had no sin and was not capable of sinning; but, having been devoted as a sin-offering, and having received upon its head the burden of the guilty one who substituted its life for his own, it came to be viewed and treated as a creature which was nothing but sin. And this brings us to a feature in the sacrificial work of Christ, at which many have stumbled, but which deserves to be profoundly considered. Jesus died, not only as a martyr to the cause He had espoused, not only as an offering apart from the sins of those for whom He came to atone, but as a victim who had received all those sins upon His own head, and so united them with His own innocent and holy person as to be viewed and treated, in part at ]east, as if He Himself had sinned the sins of all sinners. "The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all." "He made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us."
2. Having attended to what was to be done with the sacrifices at the altar, in presence of the people, the next duty of Aaron, as the high priest, was to enter into the sanctuary and the most Holy Place with the blood of the sin-offering, as directed in Exodus 30. But before entering upon this second grand department of his priesthood he "lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed them." It was a very significant act. It was as if he were emptying over them from his bloody hands all the effects and virtues of that blood. And it pointed forward to those gracious transactions of the Lord Jesus subsequent to His offering of Himself for us, and prior to His ascension into heaven. But having thus spread his hands in blessing towards the people, Aaron "went into the Tabernacle," and was hidden from the view of the solemn worshippers. How beautiful the connection between type and Antitype! Of our Aaron it is written, "He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven"; "while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight." Aaron was to enter into the Tabernacle with the atoning blood of the victim slain without. "But Christ being come an High Priest of good things, which were to come, entered into a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, not by the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood... For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Moses, as the representative of Jehovah in these transactions, accompanied Aaron into the holy places, and delivered over to his care all the vessels of the sanctuary, and put the ordering of all the sacred services into his hands. And thus also hath Jesus "received from God the Father, honour and glory." But Aaron did not stay in the Tabernacle. He went in after the morning sacrifices were made; bat before the evening sacrifices he again "came out, and blessed the people." The soul kindles as we proceed with these ancient types. They portray so beautifully the grand mysteries of redemption's progress. When I read of Aaron returning from his duties in the Holy Place the words of the bright angels that kept guard at the Saviour's ascension gather new preciousness. "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." When Aaron came out of the Holy Place, it was to bless the waiting people. And so it is written of our great High Priest in heaven — "Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Most people are afraid of the Saviour's second coming, and never think of it but with dread. It is because they have not sufficiently considered its nature, and what it is for. It is not to curse, but to bless. It is not to distress, but to heal and save. It is not a thing to be dreaded, but to be prayed for and most earnestly desired. It is the event that is to finish our redemption and complete our bliss. When Aaron came out of the Holy Place, "the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people." Nor shall it be otherwise when Christ's epiphany shall occur. Then shall Jerusalem's light come, and the glory of the Lord arise upon her. Then shall the pure in heart see God, and the righteous behold the King in His beauty. When Aaron came out of the Holy Place, "there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt-offering and the fat." These things had been "made sin." It was the exact picture of what is predicted concerning the reappearance of our great High Priest (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Malachi 4:1; Hebrews 10:26, 27). But the fire that darted forth before Aaron, and burned up what was accounted to be sin in that congregation, touched not ,me of the waiting worshippers. They saw it leap out with lightning fierceness, and lick up the guilty mass in a moment, but it came not near either of them. Not a saint of God shall be burned by the terrific fires of the Great Day. When the wicked are cut off, they shall see it. But He who upholds the worlds, yet marks the sparrow's fall, says to His people: "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh." Nay, when the congregation of Israel saw the fires, "they shouted" and adored. They "fell on their faces" for very ecstasy, and holy worshipful admiration. They had expected much, but the thing transcended their most rapturous imaginings. And so, in the day of our Saviour's coming, there is a joy, and glory, and holy exultation, and adoring gladness, for the people of God, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel;