And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…
cf. Luke 3:21, 22; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 5; Hebrews 7; Hebrews 8; Hebrews 9; 1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9. In this chapter we have the history of the consecration of the Aaronic priesthood. The stages were briefly these: - Lustration, or, as we would now say, baptism; investiture; anointing; atonement; dedication; consecration; and, finally, communion. The mediation and ministry of this priesthood were essentially dramatic in character, hence it took a long time to present, in the dramatic form, the various ideas which have been just set down as the stages of consecration. Not only so, but they were emphasized by a sevenfold repetition; for seven days the process was to be repeated, at the end of which time Aaron and his sons were regarded as duly set apart for their work. Let us, then, compare the consecration of the high priests with the consecration of the immortal High Priest, Jesus Christ; and, secondly, the consecration of the minor priests with the consecration of believers, who are, as the passage cited from 1 Peter shows, "priests unto God."
I. THE CONSECRATION OF AARON COMPARED WITH THE CONSECRATION OF CHRIST, Now we have in this comparison, first a contrast, and then a parallel. It will be useful to take these up in this order -
1. The elements of contrast in the consecrations. And here we notice:
(1) That Aaron's consecration implies his infirmity and sinfulness, whereas Christ never assumed the penitential position. The baptism of Jesus Christ (Luke 3:21, 22) is the historical counterpart of Aaron's consecration. And although John's baptism was unto repentance, we know our Lord took up the sinless position even unto the end, challenging all comers to convince him of sin (John 8:46). We shall see presently what his acceptance of John's baptism signified. One thing meanwhile is clear, that he professed to be "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." Now, in this respect he was a complete contrast to Aaron. Aaron, in the consecration, takes up the penitential position. He has to be typically washed and sprinkled with blood.
(2) Aaron's consecration implied a temporary high priesthood, while Jesus is set apart to an everlasting priesthood. The association of Aaron's sons with him in the priesthood indicated plainly that death would sooner or later necessitate a successor. Moreover, there are sundry indications in the regulations about the successors. It was, therefore, only a temporary office. "They were not suffered to continue by reason of death." But Jesus was set apart to an everlasting office. "This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood" (Hebrews 7:24-28). So much briefly about the contrast.
2. The parallel in the consecrations. And here we have to notice:
(1) Both Aaron and Christ are formally set apart. What Moses did for Aaron, John the Baptist did for Christ. Not, of course, that our Lord's priesthood had an existence only after his baptism; we merely mean that the baptism in the Jordan was the formality with which his ministry began, and corresponded to the consecration of Aaron by Moses. The crowd at the tabernacle door to witness Aaron's consecration corresponded to the crowd of candidates at the Jordan who witnessed the baptism of Jesus, though its significance and singularity they did not appreciate.
(2) Both Aaron and Christ willingly dedicated themselves to their work. We have already noticed how Aaron needed a cleansing by water and blood, which Jesus did not. The sin offering is what Jesus provided for others, not what he requires for himself. But when we enter this caveat about the different relations of the two persons towards atonement, we are in a position to appreciate the parallel between them in personal dedication. This was what Aaron's burnt offering implied, lie offered himself willingly for the priestly work. And the same dedication of self we find in the baptism of Jesus. He claimed baptism after all the people (ἅπαντα τὸν λαόν) were baptized (Luke 3:21), in other words, after the movement inaugurated by John had become national. John did not at first understand why a sinless One like Jesus should demand baptism from one who was sinful. But Jesus quieted his fears by the assurance, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15). The meaning of the act on Christ's part can only have been that he dedicated himself to the fulfillment of all that was needed to realize the national hope. Now, the national repentance was in hope of pardon, and so Jesus' dedication at the Jordan was to death and to all that his priesthood implies, that the people may have their place as pardoned and accepted ones in the kingdom of God (cf. Coder upon Luke 3:21, 22; also his 'Etudes Bibliques,' tom. 2. page 105). This dedication of Jesus at the Jordan was the spirit of his ministry, and above all of his death. It is this he refers to in the momentous words, "For their sakes I sanctify (ἁγιάζω) myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth" (John 17:19).
(3) Both Aaron and Jesus received certain blessings from God in response to their self-dedication, the gracious gifts of God to his high priests may for brevity's sake be summed up into three.
(a) The gift of REVELATION, to enable them to understand their office, and faithfully to fulfill it, This is presented in the investiture of Aaron, especially in the arrangement about the Urim and Thummim. The beautiful garments and this mysterious portion which lay upon the high priest's bosom were to convey certain ideas about the office, and to secure in him the oracular man (cf. Ewald's 'Antiquities of Israel,' pages 288-98), Now, in the baptism of Christ, as he was praying with uplifted eye, he saw "heaven opened;" that is, the source of light, the fountain of all knowledge, was opened to him, In other words, he obtained and had continued to him a full revelation of all which he needed for his work.
(b) The gift of UNCTION OR INSPIRATION, to enable them to interpret the revelation already guaranteed. This was indicated by the anointing of Aaron, not only on the head, but on the ear, hand, and foot. In this way the needful inspiration was symbolized, and the ritual of the ram of consecration coincided therewith. In Christ's case the perfect inspiration was symbolized by the descent of the dove. The dove being an organic whole, a totality, indicates that to Jesus there was communicated the entirety of the Holy Spirit, for the purposes of his priesthood. "The Holy Spirit was not given by measure unto him," and "out of his fullness do all we receive, and grace for grace" (John 3:34; John 1:16).
(c) The gift of COMMUNION AND ABIDING. Aaron, after the ritual of the sin offering, burnt offering, and consecration offering was over, and the best portions had been laid upon God's altar, was called to communion in the feast at the door of the tabernacle. There he was to abide in the enjoyment of fellowship with God, and in this spirit was to do all his work. And the assurance of sonship which Christ received in baptism corresponded to this. The words of the Father, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;" and "Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22), spoken respectively to John and to Jesus, convey the state of sweet assurance of sonship in which our Lord lived all his life. It was this supported him when he foresaw the dispersion of the disciples, "Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me" (John 16:32). The Great, High Priest performed his mediatorial work in an assurance of sonship and in the enjoyment of fellowship. It was only in the climax of his sufferings on the cross, when the desolation came upon him, that for a season he seemed to lose sight of his sonship, and was constrained to cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
II. THE CONSECRATION OF THE MINOR PRIESTS COMPARED WITH THE CONSECRATION or RELIEVERS. NOW here we have to notice -
1. That the sons of Aaron were consecrated along with Aaron. It was one consecration. Although the high priest received special anointing, and was chief of the group, the others shared his consecration. The one oil and the one consecrating blood went upon all. The one burnt offering was presented on behalf of all, and they all partook of the one feast and fellowship at last. And is this not to indicate that all believers share in the consecration of Jesus, their Great High Priest? It is the Spirit of Christ and the mind of Christ which is made over to them. He is the reservoir, and out of his fullness all the minor receptacles receive.
2. This fellowship in consecration was with a view to fellowship in service. The priestly service was so arranged that all had a share in it. There were, of course, services in connection with atonement which only the high priest could perform, but there was ample work about the tabernacle for all the minor priests. In the same way the life of believers is to be a consecrated fellowship with Christ in work. "Fellow-workers with God" is the great honour of the religious life. A Divine partnership is what we are asked to enter upon, And this is the greatest honour within the reach of man. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,