EXODUS 29 – THE CONSECRATION OF THE PRIESTS
A. Preparation for consecration.
1. (Exodus 29:1 a) The purpose of the ceremony.
And this is what you shall do to them to hallow them for ministering to Me as priests:
a. This is what you shall do: This ceremony was actually carried out in Leviticus 8:1-36.
b. To hallow them for ministering to Me as priests: The purpose of the ceremony was to hallow them – that is, to set the priests aside for God’s purpose.
2. (Exodus 29:1-3) Ingredients needed for consecration.
Take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil (you shall make them of wheat flour). You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, with the bull and the two rams.
a. One young bull and two rams without blemish: The ceremony for consecration required animals intended for sacrifice. Consecration couldn’t happen without shedding sacrificial blood.
b. Unleavened bread, unleavened cakes: The ceremony for consecration required bread for fellowship with God. Consecration couldn’t happen without true fellowship with God.
3. (Exodus 29:4) The washing.
And Aaron and his sons you shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and you shall wash them with water.
a. Aaron and his sons: This was not a ceremony for just anyone in Israel. There were special consecration ceremonies available to anyone – such as the vow of a Nazirite in Numbers 6:1-27. But the ceremony described here and carried out in Leviticus 8:1-36 was for priests, for Aaron and his sons.
b. You shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of meeting: This process of consecration didn’t take place inside the tabernacle. It happened outside, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. It was something others could see.
c. And you shall wash them with water: The process of consecration began with cleansing. All priestly ministries began with cleansing, and a cleansing that was received: you shall wash them. Aaron and his sons did not wash themselves; theyreceived a washing.
i. This was humbling, because it took place publicly at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. We cannot be cleansed from our sin without being humbled first.
ii. This great cleansing was a one-time thing. From then on they just needed to cleanse their hands and their feet.
iii. Like these ancient priests, every Christian is washed by the work of God’s word (Ephesians 5:26), by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). This cleansing work was accomplished by the death of Jesus for us (Revelation 1:5) and appropriated by faith.
4. (Exodus 29:5-9) The clothing and the anointing.
Then you shall take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron, and the robe of the ephod, the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the intricately woven band of the ephod. You shall put the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. And you shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and put the hats on them. The priesthood shall be theirs for a perpetual statute. So you shall consecrate Aaron and his sons.
a. Take the garments, put the tunic on Aaron: After being cleansed, the priest had to be clothed – but not in his own clothes, but in clothes given by God.
i. Like these ancient priests, every believer is clothed in Jesus Christ and in his righteousness (Revelation 3:5). These are clothes that are given freely by Jesus, but received and “worn” by faith.
ii. “Note, that these garments were provided for them. They were at no expense in buying them, nor labor in weaving them, nor skill in making them; they had simply to put them on. And you, dear child of God, are to put on the garments which Jesus Christ has provided for you, at his own cost, and freely bestows upon you out of boundless love.” (Spurgeon)
b. And you shall take the anointing oil, pour it on his head, and anoint him: Priests must be anointed. The oil (a picture of the Holy Spirit) was poured over their heads, indicating that it was not in small measure (Psalms 133:2).
i. Like these ancient priests, every believer has an anointing (1 John 2:20) that they may receive and walk in by faith.
5. (Exodus 29:10-14) The sin offering.
You shall also have the bull brought before the tabernacle of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the bull. Then you shall kill the bull before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour all the blood beside the base of the altar. And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe attached to the liver, and the two kidneys and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. But the flesh of the bull, with its skin and its offal, you shall burn with fire outside the camp. It is a sin offering.
a. Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the bull: The washing at the door of the tabernacle was only one aspect of the symbolic cleansing from sin. There had to be the punishment of the guilty, and this happened. As Aaron and his sons put their hands on the head of the bull, they symbolically transferred their sin to the bull.
i. “The Hebrew word means more than lightly placing the hand, it gives the idea of pressing hard upon the bullock’s head. They came each one and leaned upon the victim, loading him with their burden, signifying their acceptance of its substitution, their joy that the Lord would accept that victim in their stead. When they put their hands on the bullock, they made a confession of sin.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Like these ancient priests, every believer can only be consecrated to God through sacrifice. Our consecration should be greater, because it was made through a far greater sacrifice – the sacrifice of God’s own Son.
b. You shall take some of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger: The altar was sanctified with the blood of the sin offering, and the best of the animal was burnt before the LORD – the rest was destroyed outside the camp. The sin offering said, “We have failed to give our best to God. This animal now gives its best to atone for our failure, and we decide to live now giving our best, even as this animal who dies in our place.”
i. The idea behind the ancient Hebrew word for altar is essentially, “killing-place.” The ancient altar – a place of death – was made holy and was consecrated to God. Like that ancient altar, the altar of the New Covenant – the cross – is transformed from a place to death to a place set apart to bring life.
6. (Exodus 29:15-18) The burnt offering.
You shall also take one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram; and you shall kill the ram, and you shall take its blood and sprinkle it all around on the altar. Then you shall cut the ram in pieces, wash its entrails and its legs, and put them with its pieces and with its head. And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.
a. Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram; and you shall kill the ram: As the sin offering before it, the burnt offering also symbolically received the sins of the priests and they laid their hands on the head of the animal and confessed their sin.
b. And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar: The ram was completely burnt before the LORD, with its blood sprinkled on the altar. The burnt offering said, “We have failed to give our all to God. This animal now gives its all to atone for our failure, and we decide to live now giving our all, even as this animal who dies in our place.”
B. The consecration offering.
1. (Exodus 29:19-21) The application of blood.
You shall also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram. Then you shall kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar. And you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, on his sons and on the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.
a. Also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram: Atonement for sin was performed with the sin offering and the burnt offering. Yet in their consecration, the priests still had to identify with the sacrificial victim. Their identification with the sacrifice went beyond atonement.
b. Kill the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron: To express the idea of consecration, blood from the ram is placed on the ear, thumb, and toe of the priest. It was blood from the ram – not the wool, not the fat. God wanted the “life” of the sacrificial victim to mark His consecrated priests.
i. Leviticus 17:11 is one of many passages that expresses this principle: For the life of the flesh is in the blood. God wanted the life of the sacrificial victim to be evident in the body of the priest.
c. Tip of the right ear . . . thumb of their right hand . . . big toe of their right foot: These consecrated priests were stained with the blood of sacrifice. They should heardifferently because the blood was on their ear. They should work differently because the blood was on their thumb. They should walk differently because the blood was on theirtoe.
i. Specifically, it was applied to the right ear, hand, and foot. This isn’t because God felt they could do whatever they wanted to with their left ear, hand, and foot. It is because the right side was considered superior, with more strength and skill (because most people are right-handed). God wanted their best to be dedicated to Him.
d. You shall take some of the blood that is on the altar, and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments: The blood alone wasn’t enough. God wanted blood mixed with oil, and to have the mixture sprinkled on the priests. There was to be a combination of both the sacrifice and the spirit (represented by theanointing oil).
i. “Yes, brethren, we need to know that double anointing, the blood of Jesus which cleanses, and the oil of the Holy Spirit which perfumes us. It is well to see how these two blend in one . . . It is a terrible blunder to set the blood and the oil in opposition, they must always go together.” (Spurgeon)
2. (Exodus 29:22-28) The wave offering.
Also you shall take the fat of the ram, the fat tail, the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobeattached to the liver, the two kidneys and the fat on them, the right thigh (for it is a ram of consecration), one loaf of bread, one cake made with oil, and one wafer from the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD and you shall put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons, and you shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. You shall receive them back from their hands and burn them on the altar as a burnt offering, as a sweet aroma before the LORD. It is an offering made by fire to the LORD. Then you shall take the breast of the ram of Aaron’s consecration and wave it as a wave offering before the LORD and it shall be your portion. And from the ram of the consecration you shall consecrate the breast of the wave offering which is waved, and the thigh of the heave offering which is raised, of that which isfor Aaron and of that which is for his sons. It shall be from the children of Israel for Aaron and his sons by a statute forever. For it is a heave offering; it shall be a heave offering from the children of Israel from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, that is, their heave offering to the LORD.
a. Also you shall take the fat of the ram: The second ram used in the consecration ceremony – the ram whose blood was applied to the ear, hand, and foot of the priest – was used as a heave offering and peace offerings.
b. You shall wave them before the LORD . . . burn them on the altar as a burnt offering: Part of this second ram – the best parts – was put together with the bread,cake, and the wafer and was first waved before God in an act of presentation. Then these portions were burnt on the altar as an act of complete devotion.
c. It shall be your portion: The remaining meat portions of this ram were given to Aaron and the other priests, after those portions were presented to God as a wave offering. It was then cooked and eaten by the priests during the days of their consecration ceremony.
i. The second ram – after the ram presented as a burnt offering – had its lifeapplied to the consecrated priests. First its life was applied with the application of blood to the ear, hand, and foot of the priest. Then through a ritual meal, its life was applied by the priest taking the ram into himself.
ii. The eating did not begin the process of consecration. It came after the washing, the clothing, and the blood-atonement of the priests. The eating speaks of the continuing relationship of the priest with God. “Let not this distinction be forgotten; the eating of the sacrifice is not intended to give life, for no dead man can eat, but to sustain the life which is there already. A believing look at Christ makes you live, but spiritual life must be fed and sustained.” (Spurgeon)
iii. In this way, eating is a good picture of a healthy, continuing relationship with Jesus.
· Eating is personal. No one can eat for you, and no one can have a relationship with Jesus on your behalf.
· Eating is inward. It does no good to be around food or to rub food on the outside of your body – you must take it in. We must take Jesus unto ourselves inwardly, not merely in an external way.
· Eating is active. Some medicines are received passively – they are injected under the skin and go to work. Such medicines could even be received while one sleeps – but no one can eat while asleep. We mustactively take Jesus unto ourselves.
· Eating arises out of a sense of need and produces a sense of satisfaction. We will have a healthy relationship with Jesus when we sense our needfor Him and receive the satisfaction the relationship brings.
3. (Exodus 29:29-37) The week of consecration.
And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated in them. That son who becomes priest in his place shall put them on for seven days, when he enters the tabernacle of meeting to minister in the holy place. And you shall take the ram of the consecration and boil its flesh in the holy place. Then Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. They shall eat those things with which the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them; but an outsider shall not eat them, because they are holy. And if any of the flesh of the consecration offerings, or of the bread, remains until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy. Thus you shall do to Aaron and his sons, according to all that I have commanded you. Seven days you shall consecrate them. And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement. You shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to sanctify it. Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and sanctify it. And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar must be holy.
a. That son who becomes priest in his place shall put them on for seven days: With the coming generations, new descendants of Aaron would qualify for the priesthood and would be consecrated the same way. For Aaron and his descendants the consecration process took seven days.
b. They shall eat those things with which the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: For seven days they lived at the tabernacle and ate the ram of the consecration and the bread of consecration. The consecration ceremony wasn’t quick and easy. It took time, reflection, and a constant awareness of sacrifice and atonement.
i. “The Lord’s part was consumed with fire upon the altar, and another portion was eaten by man in the holy place. The peace offering was thus an open declaration of the communion which had been established between God and man, so that they ate together, rejoicing in the same offering.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “I know some good people who are very busy indeed in the services of God, and I am very delighted that they should be, but I would caution them against working and never eating. They give up attending the means of grace as hearers, because they have so much to do as workers.” (Spurgeon)
c. But an outsider shall not eat them, because they are holy: Few among us today are of the lineage of Aaron, but we have the right to receive and enjoy this priestly consecration and relationship based not only on the clear declaration of the New Testament (1 Peter 2:5; 1Pe_2:9) but also upon principles of the Old Covenant.
i. Leviticus 22:11 says, But if the priest buys a person with his money, he may eat it; and one who is born in his house may eat his food. Since Jesus, our High Priest, has purchased us with His own life, we may eat of the priestly portion. And since we are born again as children of God – born in his house, the family of our High Priest – we also may eat his food and enjoy the priestly privileges of our High Priest.
d. And you shall offer a bull every day as a sin offering for atonement: Every day there was another large animal to sacrifice and use its blood for atonement. This daily ritual – for seven days in a row – reminded Aaron and the priests that any animal sacrifice could not take away sin, only providing a temporary covering.
4. (Exodus 29:38-41) The continual consecration.
Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. With the one lamb shall be one-tenth of an ephah of flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of pressed oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine as a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer at twilight; and you shall offer with it the grain offering and the drink offering, as in the morning, for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD.
a. Two lambs . . . day by day continually: After the ceremony of consecration the priests continued with daily sacrifices, one in the morning and the other at twilight. Every day was given to God, beginning and ending by sacrifices of atonement and consecration.
b. A drink offering: This was wine given to God as a sacrifice, “poured out” before Him as a demonstration of completely emptying one’s self to God.
i. The Apostle Paul used the terminology of the drink offering to express his complete devotion to God, and his possibly soon martyrdom (Philippians 2:17).
c. For a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD: These burnt offerings – completely consumed by fire – pleased God and “smelled good” to Him. God is honored and glorified by our complete surrender to Him.
5. (Exodus 29:42-43) Why God wanted the daily sacrifices and continual consecration.
This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet you to speak with you. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.
a. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations: Except for times of captivity and national apostasy, these daily sacrifices continued in Israel up through the time of the New Testament. Luke 1:1-80 describes Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) ministering at a morning sacrifice, which developed into what we might call “morning devotions” for ancient Israel.
b. I will meet you: God wanted consecrated priests and a worshipping nation, and not because He simply wanted a “well-trained work-force.” God wanted consecrated priests and daily sacrifice so He could meet with and speak to His people.
i. This is the great reason for consecration, for full surrender to God. It isn’t primarily so we can be better workers for God, but so that we can enjoy deeper and more meaningful relationship with Him. If this is of little interest to us, we will never be properly motivated to true consecration.
c. And the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory: It was the presence of God that truly sanctified and consecrated the tabernacle and the priests. It wasn’t primarily because of what the priests did. What the priests did in consecrate was remove the barriers to the radiant glory of God.
6. (Exodus 29:44-46) So I will sanctify.
So I will consecrate the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. I will also consecrate both Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.
a. So I will consecrate: God makes it clear who performs the work of consecration. We are tempted to think that we sanctify our self because we are so immersed in the sanctifying process and because it draws so much out of us. Yet God does the work – what we do is remove barriers and spend time with the focus on Him.
b. To minister to Me as priests: Aaron and his sons had a ministry to the people of Israel, but their first ministry was to the LORD. They might be successful in ministry to the people, but if they failed in their ministry to the LORD, their ministry failed.
i. “The best part of all Christian work is that part which only God sees.” (Andrew Bonar)
c. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God: God promised to show His glory through consecrated priests. When Moses and Aaron performed this ceremony of consecration, Leviticus 9:23-24 tells us the result: Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
i. There is a price to pay for being fully surrendered to God. The ceremony of consecration was long, bloody, and it took persistence to complete. Yet the reward was far greater than the cost – the glory of the LORD was revealed not only to the consecrated priests, but to the people in general.
d. I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God: God again stressed the idea of relationship in the process of consecration. This worship-filled relationship with God is both the instrument and the fruit of consecration.