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Exodus 29:1-33 - Homilies By J. Orr

The rites of consecration for the priesthood.

The next portion of the Divine directions relates to the formal investiture of Aaron and his sons with the priests' office. This was to be made the occasion of a solemn and imposing ceremonial. "The rites of consecration proclaimed the necessity of holiness—a holiness not their own, but imputed to them by the grace of God; and following upon this, and flowing from the same source, a plentiful endowment of gifts for their sacred office, with the manifest seal of heaven's fellowship and approval" (Fairbairn). We may view the inaugurative ceremonies as having reference—

I. TO THE PRIESTHOOD , IN THE SIMPLEST IDEA OF IT ( Exodus 29:4-10 ). Aaron and his sons were to be—

1 . Washed with water—symbol of purification from all uncleanness ( Exodus 29:4 ).

2 . Clothed with the holy garments—which robing was the real installation. Aaron was to be first robed ( Exodus 29:6 , Exodus 29:7 ), afterwards his sons ( Exodus 29:8 , Exodus 29:9 ).

3 . Anointed—symbol of the abundant communication of Divine influences ( Exodus 29:7 ). 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 ( Exodus 29:9 ), 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 ( Exodus 29:10-15 ). 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 ( Exodus 29:10-15 ); a burnt-offering ( Exodus 29:15-19 ); and a peace-offering ( Exodus 29:19-22 ); and these sacrifices, with the accompanying ceremonies, were to be repeated on seven successive days ( Exodus 29:35 ). The altar, as defiled by the sin of those officiating at it, was likewise to be cleansed by the blood of the sin-offering ( Exodus 29:36 , Exodus 29:37 ). This is the first appearance of the sin-offering in the law.

III. TO QUALIFICATIONS , DUTIES , AND EMOLUMENTS ( Exodus 29:15-38 ). 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" ( Exodus 29:22 )—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 ( Exodus 29:20 ). 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 ( Exodus 29:21 ). 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 ( Exodus 29:24 ). This signified,

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