Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams…
I. These sons of Aaron, as well as Aaron himself, had been PREVIOUSLY AND DIVINELY CALLED TO BE PRIESTS. They had not been erected by men, but designated of God. Even so our calling and election to be priests of God and of Christ has come not from any workings of nature, but from the supernatural interposition of Divine grace. God, by His word and Spirit, has come forth, and nominated every one of us to the high service of ministering at His altar. He has sent forth His ministers and commissioned them to set apart all men whom they can reach, to be His priests.
II. Aaron and his sons OBEDIENTLY ASSENTED TO THEIR DIVINE APPOINTMENT. Would to God that I could say as much for all who are called to be priests under the new and better covenant! But it cannot be said. Though God calls, many refuse. They prefer to be priests of sin and self to being priests of God and of Christ. They choose rather to minister for iniquity and Satan than minister at the pure altar of Him who made them.
III. Aaron and his sons were CONSECRATED ACCORDING TO SPECIFIC DIVINE DIRECTIONS. As Moses proceeded to attend to it, he said, "This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done." No wisdom or ingenuity of man can set apart priests for God. No rites that we can devise, no observances which this world's sages may invent, can ever induct a man into Christian offices. Not even Moses had any right to proceed a single step, or to do one thing, except as God directed him. And everything which God commanded had to be done. Nor is it different now. We can only be set apart as priests of God and of Christ by the ceremonies which God Himself, by His Son, has prescribed. No rites of human make, no decrees of councils, or commands of earthly sovereigns, in Church or State; no liturgies; no manual impositions; no services, however solemn or dignified; nothing can avail one feather's weight toward making any one a priest of God. His own clear and specific appointments alone can do this. It must be done by means of God's own unmutilated prescriptions, or it cannot be done at all.
IV. The consecration of Aaron and his sons was A PUBLIC AND OPEN TRANSACTION. The command of God was, "Gather thou all the congregation together"; and the history says, "the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation," around the spot where the solemn deed was done. We cannot secretly be inducted into the holy priesthood to which the gospel calls us. If there is any such a thing as secret discipleship, it is a very imperfect discipleship. Christ requires of us to confess Him before men. He demands of us an open and unreserved following of Him. He exacts submission to all His holy ordinances, some of which are essentially public. And if we are not willing to be openly known as God's consecrated priests, I doubt whether our secret religion is of a sort that will avail in the Great Day. We come now to consider the particulars of the consecration itself.
1. "And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water." This was the first item in the service. And what does it typify, but that " washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour"?
2. "And Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them." This was the second item in the service. After their cleansing they had to be clothed with ornaments "for glory and for beauty." We must be pure, and we must be holy. Our native deformities must all be covered. We must "put on the Lord Jesus Christ," and be arrayed in His loveliness. His own glorious attirements are to be reflected in ours.
3. A third item in this consecration service, was the leaning of hands upon the head of the sin-offering. Everywhere, even in our holiest moods and most sacred doings, there still flashes out the stern and humiliating accusation — "O man, thou art a sinner! All thy goodness is but abomination apart from Christ!" There must, therefore, be a habitual recurrence of our minds to this fact. Our hand must be ever kept on the brow of the atoning Lamb.
4. "And Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet." The whole person is visibly dedicated to the Lord. Every faculty and power is consecrated with the blood of the Lamb.
5. "And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him." Even after their setting apart to be priests, they needed to be yet further sanctified as priests. Not only themselves, but their very garments also, were marked as holy. The sacred oil was emblematic of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. And so the Holy Ghost, in conjunction with the blood of the Lamb, sanctifies and endows us for holy services. Sprinkled with these sacred elements — touched with moral unction and constrained by the dying love of Jesus, we become equipped for duty, and qualified "to show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light."
6. Still another item in the consecration of God's ancient priests was that they had to eat the boiled flesh of the offered lamb with unleavened bread, at the door of the Tabernacle. This boiled lamb of course typifies the Saviour as offered for our sins. It calls to mind the great sufferings which He endured as our Substitute and Sacrifice of consecration. And now that He is thus made an offering for our sanctification, it appertains to us to put forth our hands, and eat of that offering, as the life and feast of our souls. He is the bread of life, and upon that bread we must feed to be God's priests.
7. Aaron and his sons, having attended to these several particulars, were further required to "abide at the door of the Tabernacle day and night seven days," before they could enter fully upon the high offices to which they had been consecrated. The number seven is very often used in the Scriptures as the type of perfection and completeness. The consecration period was a complete period — a full measure of time. It was not only the fact of completeness, but a duration through which this fact was brought out. We are not only to be completely consecrated to a complete spiritual priesthood, but it is to take a complete period of time in which this completeness is to be effected. We must yet wait the revolution of a complete period before we can come into the Holy of Holies. That complete period can be nothing short of our entire earthly life. It is necessary to complete our glorious installation as priests of God and of Christ. And it will soon be over. It is only "seven days" — the shortest o! all the complete periods of human reckoning. Before we think of it, it will have passed. For some of us, much of it has already gone.
(A. Willet, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;