Book of Leviticus Chapter Eight Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Have you placed your faith in the Lord? If so, God has ordained you into His service, for His purposes (1 Peter 2:5-9), and this chapter in Leviticus is for you. Verses 1-3: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments and the anointing oil and the bull of the sin offering, and the two rams and the basket of unleavened bread, 3 and assemble all the congregation at the doorway of the tent of meeting." Notice that Aaron and his sons were not asking for ordination here, nor did they deserve such an honor. Moses didn't ask, either for himself or them. Ordination is not a career choice, but instead it is God's doing, His blessing, for those who trust in the Lord.
Why was Moses chosen to lead the people? There were a number of reasons why he was perfect for the job, and a key one is in Verses 4-5: "So Moses did just as the Lord commanded him. When the congregation was assembled at the doorway of the tent of meeting, 5 Moses said to the congregation, 'This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to do.'" This Moses, who had previously been a reluctant follower, "did just as the Lord commanded him." That degree of obedience is what God wants from you and me. The whole congregation was present, and we should see that our relationship with the Lord is not about us alone, but we are saved and gifted so others can perceive their need and receive God's help through us.
The life of Moses was real, but also a parable of the Christ who was to deliver the world from the slavery of sin. The first step in coming to the Lord is to be washed by the blood of the Lamb, as later pictured in baptism. John called out in Revelation 1:5, "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood." Notice in Verse 6 that God is always ready to wash us, but we must be willing: "Then Moses had Aaron and his sons come near and washed them with water." This is the physical, outward acting out of a spiritual reality: They couldn't wash themselves anymore than we can, and none of us can dress ourselves, as pictured in Verse 7: "He put the tunic on him and girded him with the sash, and clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him; and he girded him with the artistic band of the ephod, with which he tied it to him."
Coming to the Lord is more than we expect—it's an entry into a life of service to God, and ordination is part of what salvation is all about. Verses 8-9: "He then placed the breastpiece on him, and in the breastpiece he put the Urim and the Thummim. 9 He also placed the turban on his head, and on the turban, at its front, he placed the golden plate, the holy crown, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." No matter how excellent the theological education and fine the understanding of languages, only God can call us, prepare us and dress us appropriately for service. It isn't that we accept or reject education or training, it's following the Lord as He opens and closes doors individually for each one. The capstone on God's call is the Holy Spirit, as seen in the "oil" of Verses 10-12: "Moses then took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. 11 He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times and anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, to consecrate them. 12 Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him." To be what God intends, His Spirit must be in us, as in Romans 8:9—"You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." He is the "GPS" who leads us.
Spiritually, we are needy beggars who have nothing, and even "our" faith is God's gift to us—As written in Hebrews 12:2, "Jesus (is) the author and finisher of our faith." We can't clothe ourselves with the things of the Spirit, or be forgiven, act on God's behalf or even have faith, except He does it in and through us. As part of God's ordination, we find Moses, in Verse 13, clothing Aaron and his sons with the trappings of the priesthood—by themselves they could do nothing, anymore than we can: "Next Moses had Aaron’s sons come near and clothed them with tunics, and girded them with sashes and bound caps on them, just as the Lord had commanded Moses."
And there's the problem of sin. "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), so how can a sinful person lawfully and rightly minister or do anything else in God's name? His answer is that a substitute, a sacrifice on our behalf is needed, as in Verses 14-15: "Then he brought the bull of the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull of the sin offering. 15 Next Moses slaughtered it and took the blood and with his finger put some of it around on the horns of the altar, and purified the altar. Then he poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar and consecrated it, to make atonement for it." Just like we can't clothe ourselves spiritually, we can't offer an acceptable sacrifice either, and so Jesus Christ "has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (He was) offered once to bear the sins of many" (Hebrews 9:26-28). What we cannot do, God has done by giving Himself.
In Verses 16-17, we find an utterly dead bull ox, burned in fire outside the camp: "He also took all the fat that was on the entrails and the lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat; and Moses offered it up in smoke on the altar. 17 But the bull and its hide and its flesh and its refuse he burned in the fire outside the camp, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." This was a physical, outward parable of a then future event that would make the faithful acceptable in the sight of God. We are invited to come outside of mere religious ideas, to the Lord. We "go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach... giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:13-15).
Each of these offerings was a glimpse into the future (our past), when God the Son offered Himself for us. Verses 18-21 reveal Him in the form of a "ram" presented as a "burnt offering" before God: "Then he presented the ram of the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. 19 Moses slaughtered it and sprinkled the blood around on the altar. 20 When he had cut the ram into its pieces, Moses offered up the head and the pieces and the suet in smoke. 21 After he had washed the entrails and the legs with water, Moses offered up the whole ram in smoke on the altar. It was a burnt offering for a soothing aroma; it was an offering by fire to the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." It is unclear whether these priests were acting in faith or were merely responding to Moses. It is very likely that Aaron, Moses' brother, will be in eternity with the faithful because Scriptures like Psalm 106:16 reveal him as "Aaron the saint of the Lord." About his sons it is less clear, understanding that religious offices don't make us right before God.
Our sins must be dealt with before entering God's service and we now find another ram presented for the ordination of these men, in Verse 22: "Then he presented the second ram, the ram of ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram." Strangely but beautifully we join Christ and die to this world before entering God's service. We give up the ways of humanity, trusting the Lord wherever He leads. Verses 23-25 portray the idea: "Moses slaughtered it and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 He also had Aaron’s sons come near; and Moses put some of the blood on the lobe of their right ear, and on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. Moses then sprinkled the rest of the blood around on the altar. 25 He took the fat, and the fat tail, and all the fat that was on the entrails, and the lobe of the liver and the two kidneys and their fat and the right thigh." Aaron and his sons did not offer the sacrifice, Moses did, picturing Christ who offers us salvation and ordination. The ear, thumb and toe symbolize this: What you hear, what you do, and where you go is no longer yours. Jesus gave His blood, He died for you—you belong to Him.
If we have received the Lord, the Bread of Life, and if the oil of the Holy Spirit is within us, we can expect that the Lord will use us, not in our strength, but in His. Verse 26: "From the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord, he took one unleavened cake and one cake of bread mixed with oil and one wafer, and placed them on the portions of fat and on the right thigh." Notice that Aaron and his sons deserved nothing, did nothing, but merely received as their ordination continues in Verse 27: "He then put all these on the hands of Aaron and on the hands of his sons and presented them as a wave offering before the Lord." Note that the Lord does not need to have anything waved before Him that would catch His attention. He knows everything. The wave is for us, who need to be reminded that the Lord sees it all.
Keep recalling in these verses that Jesus Christ is the eternal Sacrifice who satisfies the deep need of Israel and the world. He has done the work to deal with your past, present and future. Verses 28-30: "Then Moses took them from their hands and offered them up in smoke on the altar with the burnt offering. They were an ordination offering for a soothing aroma; it was an offering by fire to the Lord. 29 Moses also took the breast and presented it for a wave offering before the Lord; it was Moses’ portion of the ram of ordination, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 30 So Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, on his sons, and on the garments of his sons with him; and he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and the garments of his sons with him." The "soothing aroma" reflects God's pleasure that you have placed your faith in His Son; accepting His offering on your behalf. Your faith has been seen and received by Almighty God. You are safe. You are His.
Verses 31-32: "Then Moses said to Aaron and to his sons, 'Boil the flesh at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and eat it there together with the bread which is in the basket of the ordination offering, just as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it.’ 32 The remainder of the flesh and of the bread you shall burn in the fire.'" Note here that through faith you share in the victory of Christ, "eating" spiritual "food" provided for you. Your Commanding General has won the war. Your Doctor has found the cure. He has done the work. You and I reap the benefits of what He has done.
In Genesis we see that in six days, God created everything. There was no more to do on the seventh day because it was done. In commemoration of God's great act, and although the men in these verses may or may not have understood the significance, they remained within the doorway of the tent of meeting for seven days as in Verses 33-35: "You shall not go outside the doorway of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the day that the period of your ordination is fulfilled; for he will ordain you through seven days. 34 The Lord has commanded to do as has been done this day, to make atonement on your behalf. 35 At the doorway of the tent of meeting, moreover, you shall remain day and night for seven days and keep the charge of the Lord, so that you will not die, for so I have been commanded." To believe is to trust in the Lord, to have faith in His words, relying on Him. These men would "die" if they disbelieved, and so in Verse 36, "Thus Aaron and his sons did all the things which the Lord had commanded through Moses." Through faith we believe the Word of the Lord because He has already proven Himself through the cross and His resurrection. His work is complete, His ordination of us is a fact and we are His—forever. Let's thank Him:
Father, You have given us more than we ever asked or expected. The Lord has done everything and through faith, we are His, we are Yours. Thank You. We praise Your Holy Name. In Jesus Name. Amen.