And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.…
To direct the thoughts of a congregation to Jesus Christ is never unseasonable. The Epistle to the Hebrews warrants the assumption that in the rites here described are symbolized the characteristics of our Great High Priest. The consecration consists of two parts - the anointing and clothing of the person of Aaron, and his offering of sacrifices; and it is on the former we are now to dwell, reminding us of that Person in whom "all beauties shine, all wonders meet, all glories dwell."
I. See typified THE PURITY OF CHRIST in the washing of the priest from head to foot. As an Eastern climate demands thorough ablution for cleanliness, so was this a lesson man needed to learn, that only purity is tit to come into contact with God. Priesthood bridged the gulf between sinful man and a Being unsullied by admixture of evil. Like all God's dealings, it humbled and exalted man. Taught plainly that he was too polluted to approach his Maker, with equal distinctness he was shown a way in which he might draw near with clean hands and a pure heart. The material and ceremonial purity of Aaron was eclipsed by the total freedom from taint of Christ. He bathed, indeed, in the crystal waters of Jordan at his entrance upon his public ministry, but those waters were stained compared with the purity of his soul.
II. Observe THE SPLENDOUR OF HIS ENDOWMENTS. For every post a certain character is requisite. The putting on of garments represented the bestowment upon Aaron of the qualities essential to the proper discharge of his duties. This was the apparel respecting which the Lord said unto Moses, "Thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, for glory and for beauty." Looking at the high priest thus arrayed, we see symbols of the ornaments and graces of Jesus Christ. Note the choice quality of the attire. Everything of the best, fine linen, gold unalloyed, stones precious and rare. The oil is "costly ointment." Search out all that is best in human nature, all that challenges admiration and excites esteem, and an example of all is found in Jesus Christ. Possessed of every gift, power, and skill, loveliness and majesty, perfect in intellect, emotion, and will, he was victorious over every temptation, and unscathed by every trial. This dress of Aaron emblematized positive virtue; so Christ was upright, not only like Adam as he left the hands of God, but as acquiring and exhibiting every grace that can adorn humanity. There was virtue in exercise, virtue visible and potent. The tree put forth its leaves, its blossoms, and its fruit.
III. The high priest maintained A CONSTANT REMEMBRANCE OF THE PEOPLE. Hence the breast-plate bearing the names of the twelve tribes, which were also inscribed upon the onyx stones of the shoulder. The people were borne in the positions that indicated power and sympathy. What the bosom desires the arms accomplish. Let others write their names upon lofty pillars or granite rocks; let statesmen, warriors, nobles, inscribe themselves upon the roll of fame; "Give me," says the Christian, "a place upon the Saviour's breast; for there on the heart of Christ, under the glance of infinite mercy, where the love of God delights to rest, are the names of all his followers graven for ever."
IV. In the breast-plate were put the Urim and Thummim, by means of which was ascertained and made known the will of God. REVELATION OF GOD was thus part of the high priest's functions. The priestly and prophetic offices were intertwined. Though we may single out an office of Christ for distinct consideration, as we may distinguish one of the hues of the rainbow, yet let us not forget that it is the combination which is of such surpassing excellence and glory. It has been well said that Christ is called the Wisdom of God in the Old Testament, and the Word in the New. Full vocal expression was reserved for the time when he could joy to say, "I have declared unto them thy Name, and will declare it." It is by the priesthood of Christ that we learn in particular the grace of God. It is written on all creation, but to our blurred vision the letters are oft obscure. On the cross of Christ, where he becomes at once the Offerer and Victim; these words glisten with heavenly radiance, luminous not only in noontide prosperity, but in the dark midnight of affliction, "God is love."
V. The high priesthood is AN OFFICE OF AUTHORITY, and this authority is THE SUPREMACY OF HOLINESS. Upon the head is placed the mitre, a cap or turban, and upon the mitre is fastened a golden plate or diadem, inscribed "Holiness unto the Lord." Christ's is a royal priesthood, and his sway is the result of his consecration to God. He rules by right of character, by right of rank, by right of work. The "holy crown" is the guarantee for the acknowledgment of his claims to hearty, unreserved obedience. If today men demand authority as priests, at least let the holiness of their lives support their pretensions.
VI. By the pouring of the oil upon Aaron's head we see intimated ENTIRE DEDICATION TO GOD'S SERVICE. This holy unction set apart the high priest for hallowed toil, and became an emblem of the fortifying, sustaining, vitalizing presence of the Spirit of God. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me." It is the oil of gladness, the dew of the blessing of the Lord. It is a token of perpetuity. The brightest pageant fades, the show of today is forgotten ere the morrow dawns, but the priesthood of Christ knows neither ebb nor flow. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.