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THE CONSECRATION OF AARON AND HIS SONS, AND OF THE TABERNACLE.
The second section of the book of Leviticus (viii. 1-x. 20) is historical, and describes (viii.) the consecration of the tabernacle and of Aaron and his sons, (ix.) their induction into the duties of their office, and, finally (x.), the terrible judgment by which the high sanctity of the priestly office and of the tabernacle service was very solemnly impressed upon them and all the people.
First in order (chap. viii.) is described the ceremonial of consecration. We read (vv. 1-4): "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and the bullock of the sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; and assemble thou all the congregation at the door of the tent of meeting. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him; and the congregation was assembled at the door of the tent of meeting."
These words refer us back to Exod. xxviii., xxix., in which are recorded the full directions previously given for the making of the garments and the oil of anointing, and for the ceremonial of the consecration of the priests. The law of offerings having been delivered, Moses now proceeds to consecrate Aaron and his sons to the priestly office, according to the commandment given; and to this end, by Divine direction, he orders "all the congregation" to be assembled "at the door of the tent of meeting." In this last statement some have seen a sufficient reason for rejecting the whole account as fabulous, insisting that it is palpably absurd to suppose that a congregation numbering some millions could be assembled at the door of a single tent! But, surely, if the words are to be taken in the ultra-literal sense required in order to make out this difficulty, the impossibility must have been equally evident to the supposed fabricator of the fiction; and it is yet more absurd to suppose that he should ever have intended his words to be pressed to such a rigid literality. Two explanations lie before us, either of which meets the supposed difficulty; the one, that endorsed by Dillmann,1313See "Die Bücher Exodus und Leviticus," 2 Aufl., p. 462. that the congregation was gathered in their appointed representatives; the other, that which refuses to see in the words a statement that every individual in the nation was literally "at the door," and further reminds us that, inasmuch as the ceremonies of the consecration are said to have continued seven days, we are not, by the terms of the narrative, required to believe that all, in any sense, were present, either at the very beginning or at any one time during that week. It is not too much to say that by a captious criticism of this kind, any narrative, however sober, might be shown to be absurd.
The consecration ceremonial was introduced by a solemn declaration made by Moses to assembled Israel, that the impressive rites which they were now about to witness, were of Divine appointment. We read (ver. 5), "Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded to be done."
Just here we may pause to note the great emphasis which the narrative lays upon this fact of the Divine appointment of all pertaining to these consecration rites. Not only is this Divine ordination of all thus declared at the beginning, but in connection with each of the chief parts of the ceremonial the formula is repeated, "as the Lord commanded Moses." Also, at the close of the first day's rites, Moses twice reminds Aaron and his sons that this whole ritual, in all its parts, is for them an ordinance of God, and is to be regarded accordingly, upon pain of death (vv. 34, 35). And the narrative of the chapter closes (ver. 36) with the words, "Aaron and his sons did all the things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses." Twelve times in this one chapter is reference thus made to the Divine appointment of these consecration rites.
This is full of significance and instruction. It is of the highest importance in an apologetic way. For it is self-evident that this twelvefold affirmation, twelve times directly contradicts the modern theory of the late origin and human invention of the Levitical priesthood. There is no evading of the issue which is thus placed squarely before us. To talk of the inspiration from God, in any sense possible to that word, of a writing containing such affirmations, so numerous, formal, and emphatic, if the critics referred to are right, and these affirmations are all false, is absurd. There is no such thing as inspired falsehood.
Again, a great spiritual truth is herein brought before us, which concerns believers in all ages. It is set forth in so many words in Heb. v. 4, where the writer, laying down the essential conditions of priesthood, specially mentions Divine appointment as one of these; which he affirms as satisfied in the high-priesthood of Christ: "No man taketh the honour unto himself, but when he is called of God, even as was Aaron. So Christ also glorified not Himself to be made a high priest." Fundamental to Christian faith and life is this thought: priesthood is not of man, but of God. In particular, in all that Christ has done and is still doing as the High Priest, in the true holiest, He is acting under Divine appointment.
And we are hereby pointed to the truth of which some may need to be reminded, that the work of our Lord in our behalf, and that of the whole universe into which sin has entered, has its cause and origin in the mind and gracious will of the Father. It was in His incomprehensible love, who appointed the priestly office, that the whole work of atonement, and therewith purification and full redemption, had its mysterious origin. The thoughtful reader of the Gospels will hardly need to be reminded how constantly our blessed Lord, in the days of His high-priestly service upon earth, acted in all that He did under the consciousness, often expressed, of His appointment by the Father to this work. Thus, Aaron in the solemn ceremonial of those days of consecration, as ever afterward, doing "all the things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses," in so doing fitly represented Him who should come afterward, who said of Himself (John vi. 38), "I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."
The Levitical Priesthood and Tabernacle as Types.
In order to any profitable study of the following ceremonial, it is indispensable to have distinctly before us the New Testament teaching as to the typical significance of the priesthood and the tabernacle. A few words on this subject, therefore, seem to be needful as preliminary to more detailed exposition. As to the typical character of Aaron, as high priest, the New Testament leaves us no room for doubt. Throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, Christ is held forth as the true and heavenly High Priest, of whom Aaron, with his successors, was an eminent type.
As regards the other priests, while it is true that, considered in themselves, and without reference to the high priest, each of them also, in the performance of his daily functions in the tabernacle, was a lesser type of Christ, as is intimated in Heb. x. 11, yet, as contrasted with the high priest, who was ever one, while they were many, it is plain that another typical reference must be sought for the ordinary priesthood. What that may be is suggested to us in several New Testament passages; as, especially, in Rev. v. 10, where the whole body of believers, bought by the blood of the slain Lamb, is said to have been made "unto our God a kingdom and priests;" with which may be compared Heb. xiii. 10, where it is said, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle"; words which plainly assume the priesthood of all believers in Christ, as the antitype of the priesthood of the Levitical tabernacle.1414Especially striking in this connection is the expression used by the Apostle Paul (Rom. xv. 16), where he speaks of himself as "a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God;" in which last phrase, the Greek word denotes "ministration as a priest." See R.V., margin.
As to the typical meaning of the tabernacle, which also is anointed in the consecration ceremonial, there has been much difference of opinion. That it was typical is declared, in so many words, in the Epistle to the Hebrews (viii. 5), where the Levitical priests are said to have served "that which is a copy and shadow of the heavenly things;" as also ix. 24, where we read, "Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us." But when we ask what then were "the heavenly things" of which the tabernacle was "the copy and shadow," we have different answers.
Many have replied that the antitype of the tabernacle, as of the temple, was the Church of believers; and, at first thought, with some apparent Scriptural reason. For it is certain that Christians are declared (1 Cor. iii. 16) to be the temple of the living God; where, however, it is to be noted that the original word denotes, not the temple or tabernacle in general, but the "sanctuary" or inner shrine—the "holy of holies." More to the point is 1 Peter ii. 5, where it is said to Christians, "Ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house." Such passages as these do certainly warrant us in saying that the tabernacle, and especially the inner sanctuary, as the special place of the Divine habitation and manifestation, did in so far typify the Church.
But when we consider the tabernacle, not in itself, but in relation to its priesthood and ministry, the explanation fails, and we fall into confusion. As when the priests are considered, not in themselves, but in their relation to the high priest, we are compelled to seek an antitype different from the Antitype of the high priest, so in this case. To identify the typical meaning of the tabernacle, considered as a part of a whole system and order, with that of the priesthood who serve in it, is to throw that whole typical system into confusion. Furthermore, this cannot be harmonised with a number of New Testament expressions with regard to the tabernacle and temple, as related to the high priesthood of our Lord. It is hard to see, for example, how the Church of believers could be properly described as "things in the heavens." Moreover, we are expressly taught (Heb. ix. 24), that the Antitype of the Holy Place into which the high priest entered every year, with blood, was "heaven itself," "the presence of God;" and again, His ascension to the right hand of God is described (Heb. iv. 14, R.V.), with evident allusion to the passing of the high priest through the Holy Place into the Holiest, as a passing "through the heavens;" and also (Heb. ix. 11), as an entering into the Holy Place, "through the greater and more perfect tabernacle." These expressions exclude reference to the Church of Christ as the antitype of the earthly tabernacle.
Others, again, have regarded the tabernacle as a type of the human nature of Christ, referring in proof to John ii. 19-21, where our Lord speaks of "the temple of His body;" and also to Heb. x. 19, 20, where it is said that believers have access to the Holiest "by a new and living way, which He dedicated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh."
As regards the first of these passages, we should note that the original word is, again, not the word for the temple in general, but that which is invariably used to denote the inner sanctuary, as the special shrine of Jehovah's presence: so that it really gives us no warrant for affirming that the tabernacle, as a whole, was a type of our Lord's humanity; nor, on that supposition, does it seem possible to explain the meaning of the three parts into which the tabernacle was divided. And the second passage referred to is no more to the point. For the writer had only a little before described the tabernacle as a "pattern of things in the heavens;" words which, surely, could not be applied to the humanity in which our Lord appeared in His incarnation and humiliation,—a humanity which was not a thing "of the heavens," but of the earth. The reference to the "flesh" of Christ, as being the veil through which He passed into the Holiest (Heb. x. 19, 20) is merely by way of illustration, and not of typical interpretation. The thought of the inspired writer appears to be this: Just as, in the Levitical tabernacle, the veil must be parted before the high priest could go into the Holiest Place, even so was it necessary that the flesh of our Lord should be rent in order that thus, through death, it might be possible for Him to enter into the true holiest. The thought has been happily expressed by Delitzsch, thus: "While He was with us here below, the weak, limit-bound, and mortal flesh which He had assumed for our sakes hung like a curtain between Him and the Divine sanctuary into which He would enter; and in order to such entrance, this curtain had to be withdrawn by death, even as the high priest had to draw aside the temple veil in order to make his entry to the Holy of Holies."1515"Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews," vol. ii., p. 172.
Not to review other opinions on this matter, the various expressions used constrain us to regard the tabernacle as typifying the universe itself, measured and appointed in all its parts by infinite wisdom, as the abode of Him who "filleth immensity with His presence," the place of the Divine manifestation, and the abode of His holiness. In the outer court, where the victims were offered, we have this world of sense in which we live, in which our Lord was offered in the sight of all; in the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies, the unseen and heavenly worlds, through the former of which our Lord is represented as having passed (Heb. iv. 14, ix. 11) that He might appear with His blood in the true Holiest, where God in the innermost shrine of His glory "covereth Himself with light as with a garment." For this cosmical dwelling-place of the Most High God has been defiled by sin, which, as it were, has profaned the whole sanctuary; for we read (Col. i. 20), that not only "things upon the earth," but also "things in the heavens," are to be "reconciled" through Christ, even "through the blood of His cross;" and, still more explicitly, to the same effect (Heb. ix. 23), that as the typical "copies of the things in the heavens" needed to be cleansed with the blood of bullocks and of goats, so "it was necessary that ... the heavenly things themselves should be cleansed with better sacrifices than these." And so, at this present time, Christ, as the High Priest of this cosmical tabernacle, "not made with hands," having offered His great sacrifice for sins for ever, is now engaged in carrying out His work of cleansing the people of God, and the earthly and the heavenly sanctuary, to the uttermost completion.
With these preliminary words, which have seemed essential to the exposition of these chapters, we are now prepared to consider the ceremonial of the consecration of the priesthood and tabernacle, and the spiritual meaning which it was intended to convey.
The Washing with Water.
"And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water."
The consecration ceremonies consisted of four parts, namely, the Washing, the Investiture, the Anointing, and the Sacrifices. Of these, first in order was the Washing. We read that "Moses"—acting throughout, we must remember, as Mediator, representing God—"brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water." The meaning of this act is so evident as not to have been called in question. Washing ever signifies cleansing; the ceremonial cleansing of the body, therefore, in symbol ever represents the inward purification of the spirit.
Of this usage the Biblical illustrations are very numerous. Thus, the spiritual purification of Israel in the latter day is described (Isa. iv. 4) by the same word as is used here, as a washing away of "the filth of the daughters of Zion" by the Lord. So, again, in the New Testament, we read that Christ declared unto Nicodemus that in order to see the kingdom of God a man must be born again, "of water and the Spirit," and in the Epistle to Titus (iii. 5) we read of a cleansing of the Church "with the washing (marg., laver) of water, by the Word," even the "washing of regeneration." The symbolism in this case, therefore, points to cleansing from the defilement of sin as a fundamental condition of priesthood. As regards our Lord indeed, such cleansing was no more needed for His high priesthood than was the sin-offering for Himself; for in His holy incarnation, though He took our nature indeed with all the consequences and infirmities consequent on sin He was yet "without sin." But all the more it was necessary in the symbolism that if Aaron was to typify the sinless Christ of God he must be cleansed with water, in type of the cleansing of human nature, without which no man can approach to God. And in that not only Aaron, but also his sons, the ordinary priests, were thus cleansed, we are in the ordinance significantly pointed to the deep spiritual truth that they who are called to be priests to God must be qualified for this office, first of all, by the cleansing of their human nature through the washing of regeneration, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
"And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the cunningly woven band of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. And he placed the breastplate upon him: and in the breastplate he put the Urim and the Thummim. And he set the mitre upon his head: and upon the mitre, in front, did he set the golden plate, the holy crown; as the Lord commanded Moses."
The next ceremony of the consecration was the Investiture of Aaron with his official, high-priestly robes, as they had been appointed of God to be made (Exod. xxviii.). The investiture of the sons of Aaron significantly takes place only after the anointing of the tabernacle, and of Aaron as high priest. Of the investiture of Aaron we read in vv. 7-9, above.
As these garments were official, we must needs regard them as symbolical; a thought which is the more emphasised by the very minute and special directions given by the Lord for making them. Nothing was left to the fancy of man; all was prescribed by the Lord. The official robes of the high priest consisted of eight pieces, four of which, the coat, the girdle, the turban (or "mitre"), and the breeches, were, with the exception of the turban, of white linen, and identical in every respect with the official dress of the ordinary priests.
Four pieces more were peculiar to himself, the special insignia of his office, and unlike the dress of the ordinary priest, were richly made in gold and various colours, "garments for glory and for beauty." These were: the robe of the ephod, made all of blue, with a border of pendant pomegranates and golden bells in alternation; the ephod itself consisting of two pieces, broidered in gold and blue, purple, scarlet, and fine white linen, the one hanging in front, the other behind, over the robe of the ephod, and joined on the shoulders with two onyx stones, on which were graven the names of the twelve tribes, six on the one shoulder and six on the other; it was girt about him with a girdle of the same material and colours. The third was the breast-plate, which was a double square of the same material and colours as the ephod, within the fold of which, as it hung from his shoulders by golden chains, was placed the Urim and the Thummim, whatever these may have been, and upon the front of which were set twelve precious stones, on which, severally, were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. And the fourth and last article of his attire was "the golden plate, the holy crown;" a band of gold bound about his forehead over the turban, with blue lace, on which were engraven the words, "Holiness to Jehovah."
This dress of the high priest represented him, in the first place, as the appointed minister of the tabernacle. The number of pieces, twice four, like the four of the common priests' attire, answered to the four which was represented in the ground plan of the tabernacle, quadrangular both in its form as a whole and in its several parts, the Holy of Holies being a perfect cube; four being in Scripture constantly the number which symbolises the universe, as created by God and bearing witness to Him. So also the garments of the high priest marked him as the minister of the tabernacle by their colours, also four in number, and the same as those of the latter, namely, blue, purple, scarlet, and white.
But the official robes of the high priest marked him, in the second place, as the servant of the God of the tabernacle, whose livery he wore. For these colours, various modifications of light, all thus had a symbolic reference to the God of light, who made the universe of which the Mosaic tabernacle was a type. Of these, the blue, the colour of the overarching heaven, has been in many lands and religions naturally regarded as the colour symbolising God, as the God of the heaven, bowing to the earth in condescending love and self-revelation. In like manner, we find it repeatedly recurring in the symbolic manifestations of Jehovah in the Holy Scriptures, where it always brings God before us with special reference to His condescending love as entering into covenant with man, and revealing for their good His holy law.1616See, e.g., Exod. xxiv. 10; Ezek. i. 26. The purple, as will occur to every one, is everywhere recognised as the colour of royalty, and therefore symbolised the kingly exaltation and majesty of God, as the Ruler of heaven and earth. The scarlet reminds us at once of the colour of blood, which stands in the very foreground of the Mosaic symbolism as the symbol of life, and thus points us to the conception of God, as the essentially Living One, who is Himself the sole primal source of all life, whether physical or spiritual, in the creature. No one can mistake, again, the symbolic meaning of the white, which, not only in the Scripture, but among all nations, has ever been the symbol of purity and holiness, and thus represented the high priest as the minister of God, as the Most Holy One. By this investiture, therefore, Aaron was symbolically constituted the minister of the tabernacle, on the one hand, and of God, on the other; and, in particular, of God as the God of revelation, in covenant with Israel; of God as the Most High, the King of Israel; of God as the God of life, the Giver of life in the redemption of Israel; and, finally, of God as the Most Holy, the God "who is light," and "with whom is no darkness at all."
The "robe of the ephod" was woven in one piece, and all of blue. In that it was thus without seam, was symbolised the wholeness and absolute integrity necessary to him who should bear the high priestly office. In that it was made all of blue, the colour which symbolised the God of heaven as manifesting Himself to Israel in condescending love, in the holy law and covenant, this robe of the ephod specially marked the high priest as the minister of Jehovah and of His revealed law.
The ephod, which depended from the shoulders before and behind, according to the usage of Scripture, was the garment specially significant of rule and authority; a thought which reached full expression in the breast-plate which was fastened to it, which contained the Urim and Thummim, by which God's will was made known to Israel in times of perplexity, and was called "the breast-plate of judgment."
The ornamentation of these garments had also a symbolic meaning, though it may not be in each instance equally clear. In that the high priest, as thus robed, bore upon the ephod and the breast-plate of judgment, graven on precious stones, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, he was marked as one who in all his high-priestly work before and with God, presented and represented Israel. In that the names were engraven upon precious stones was signified the exceeding preciousness of Israel in God's sight, as His "peculiar treasure." In that, again, they were worn upon his shoulders, Aaron was represented to Israel as upholding and bearing them before God in the strength of his office; in that he wore their names upon his breast, he was represented as also bearing them upon his heart in love and affection.
The symbolic meaning of the pomegranates and golden bells, which formed the border of the robe of the ephod, is not quite so clear. But we may probably find a hint as to their significance in the Divine direction as to the border of blue which every Israelite was to wear upon the bottom of his garment (Numb. xv. 39). The purpose of this is said to be that it might be for a continual reminder of the law: "It shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them." If then this border in the garment of each individual member of the priestly nation was designed symbolically to mark them as the keepers of the law of the God of heaven, we may safely infer an analogous meaning in the similar border to the official garment of the high priest. And if so, then we shall perhaps not be far out of the way if in this case we follow Jewish tradition in regarding the pomegranate, a fruit distinguished by being filled to the full with seeds, as the symbol, par excellence, of the law of commandments, the words of the living God, as "incorruptible seed," endowed by Him with vital energy and power.1717Thus e.g., in Cant. iv. 13, where the Revised Version reads, "Thy shoots are an orchard of pomegranates," the Jewish paraphrast in the Chaldee Targum renders, "Thy young men are filled with the commandments (of God) like unto pomegranates (sc. with their seeds)."
As for the bells, we naturally think at once of the common use of the bell to give a signal, and announce what one may be concerned to know. So we read of these golden bells (Exod. xxviii. 35), "the sound thereof shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord ... that he die not."
These golden bells in the border of his garment, between each pair of pomegranates, thus announced him as officially appearing before God as the fulfiller of the law of commandments, and as, for this reason, acceptable to God in the execution of his high-priestly functions.
As to the Urim and Thummim, "Light and Perfection," which were apparently placed within the fold of the breast-plate of judgment, as the tables of the law within the ark of the covenant, there has been in all ages much debate; but what they were cannot be said to have been certainly determined. Most probable appears the opinion that they were two sacred lots, which on solemn occasions were used by the high priest for determining the will of God. So much, in any case, is clear from the Scriptures, that in some way through them the will of God as the King of Israel was made known to the high priest, for the direction of the nation in doubtful matters. Most fitly, therefore, they were placed within the breast-plate of judgment, which, indeed, may have received this name from this circumstance. The high priest, therefore, as the bearer of the Urim and Thummim, was set forth, in accordance with the meaning of these words, as one who in virtue of his office received perfect enlightenment from God as to His will, in all that concerned Israel's action.
The plate of graven gold, called the "holy crown," was bound by Moses with a lace of blue upon the mitre of Aaron in front. The precious metal here, as elsewhere in the official garments of the high priest, and in the tabernacle, was symbolic of the boundless riches of the glory of the God of Israel, whose minister the high priest was. The special significance, however, of this holy crown, is found in the words which appeared upon it, "Holiness to Jehovah." This was a continual visible mark and reminder of the fact that the high priest, in all that he was, and in all that he did, was a person in the highest possible sense consecrated to Jehovah, the heavenly King of Israel, whose livery he wore. And in that this golden plate with this inscription is called his "crown," it is further suggested that in this last-named fact is found the crowning glory and dignity of the high priest's office. He is the minister of the God of Israel, Jehovah, whose own supreme glory is just this, that He is holy. In the directions given for this crown in Exod. xxviii. 36-38 it is said that in virtue of his wearing this, or, rather, in virtue of the fact thus set forth, "Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord." That is, even Israel's consecrated things, their holiest gifts, are yet defiled by the ever abiding sinfulness of those who offer them; but they are nevertheless graciously accepted, as being offered by Aaron, himself "holy to the Lord."
Such then appears to have been the symbolic meaning of these "garments for glory and for beauty," with which Moses now robed Aaron, in token of his investiture with the manifold dignities of the exalted office to which God had called him. But we must not forget that we are not, in all this, dealing merely with matters of antiquarian or archæological interest. Nothing is plainer than the teaching of the New Testament, that Aaron, as the high priest, not by accident, but by Divine intention, prefigured Christ. In all the directions given concerning his investiture with his office, and the work which, as high priest, he had to do, the Holy Ghost intended to prefigure, directly or indirectly, something concerning the person, office, and work of Jesus Christ, as our heavenly High Priest, the Fulfiller of all these types. As Aaron appears in his fourfold high-priestly garments of four colours, which represented him as the minister, on the one hand, of the tabernacle, and, on the other, of the God of Israel, the Inhabitant of the tabernacle, so are we reminded how Christ is appointed as the "Minister of the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands" (Heb. ix. 11), the earth, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, to reconcile, by the offering of His blood, "both the things which are on earth and those which are in the heavens" (Col. i. 20). We look upon the blue robe of the ephod, and remember how Christ is made a minister of "a better covenant, enacted upon better promises" (Heb. viii. 6), representing, as that old covenant did not, the fulness of the revelation of God's condescending love and saving mercy. So also the inwoven scarlet reminds us how Christ, again, as the great High Priest, is the minister of the God of life, and is also Himself life and the Giver of life to all His people. We look upon the high priest's purple and gold, and are reminded again that Christ, the High Priest, is also invested with regal power and dominion, all authority being given unto Him in heaven and on earth (Matt. xxviii. 18).
Again, we look on the ephod of fine linen, inwoven with blue, and scarlet, and purple, and gold, with its girdle, symbolising service, and its pendant breast-plate of judgment, and are reminded how Christ in all the relations thus pertaining to Him as High Priest, is the Ruler and the Judge of His people, who, as the bearer of the true Urim and Thummim, is not only Priest, and King, and Judge, but also, and in order to the salvation of His people, their Prophet, continually revealing unto those who seek Him, the will of God for their direction and guidance in every emergency of life. The girdle, the symbol of service, brings to mind, again, how in all this He is the Servant of the Lord, serving the Father in saving us.
The symbolism of the pomegranates and the golden bells reminds us, for the strengthening of our faith, how our exalted High Priest, who appears before God in our behalf in the Holiest, appears there as the great Preserver and Fulfiller of the Divine law, supremely qualified, no less by His supreme merit than by Divine appointment, to urge our needs with prevalence before God, His very presence in the heavenly sanctuary vocal with sweet music. Did Aaron bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on his shoulders and on his breast before God continually? Even so does his great Antitype bear continually all His people before God, as He executes His high-priestly office; and this, too, not merely in a vague and general way, but tribe by tribe, community by community, each with its peculiar case and special need; nay, we may say even more; each individual, as such, is thus borne continually on the shoulders and the breast of the heavenly Priest; on His shoulders He bears them, to support them by His power; on His heart, in tenderest love and sympathy. And so often as we are distressed and discouraged by the consciousness of defilement still pertaining even to the holiest of our holy things, consecration ever imperfect at the best, we may bethink ourselves of the golden crown which Aaron wore, and its inscription, and remember how the Lord Jesus is in fullest reality "holy to the Lord;" so that we may take heart of grace as, with full reason and right, we apply to Him what is said of this crown of holiness on Aaron's brow: "The crown of holiness is ever on His forehead, and He shall bear the iniquity of the holy things which we shall hallow in all our holy gifts; it is always on His forehead, that our works may be accepted before the Lord." And so we are taught by this symbolism ever to look away from all conscious defilement and sin to the infinite holiness of the person of the Lord Jesus, as He continually appears before God as High Priest in our behalf, the all-sufficient Surety for the acceptance of our persons and of our imperfect works, for His own sake.
The investiture, as also the anointing, of the sons of Aaron, followed the robing and anointing of Aaron. We read (ver. 13): "Moses brought Aaron's sons, and clothed them with coats, and girded them with girdles, and bound head-tires upon them; as the Lord commanded Moses."
To the three articles of their attire here mentioned, must be added the "linen breeches" (Exod. xxviii. 42, 43); so that they also, in the several parts of their official vestments, bore the number four, the signature of the creaturely, as represented in the tabernacle. All was of pure white linen, signifying the holiness and righteousness of those who should act as priests before God. So once and again in the Apocalypse, the same symbol is used to denote the spotless holiness and righteousness of the blood-bought saints, who are made "a kingdom and priests" unto God; as, for instance, it is said of that same holy body, symbolised as the bride of the Lamb, that "it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Rev. xix. 8).
"And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, and the laver and its base, to sanctify them. And he poured of the anointed oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him."
Next in order came the anointing, first of the tabernacle and all that pertained to its service, and then the anointing of Aaron.
The anointing oil was made (Exod. xxx. 22-33) with a perfume of choice spices, their number, four, the sacred number so constantly recurring in the tabernacle. To make or use this oil, except for the sacred purposes of the sanctuary, was forbidden under penalty of being cut off from the holy people. The purpose of the anointing of the tabernacle and all within it, is declared to be its consecration thereby to the service of Jehovah. The altar, as a place of special sanctity, the place where God had covenanted to meet with Israel, was anointed seven times. For the number seven, compounded of three, the signet number of the Godhead, and four, the constant symbol of the creaturely, is thus by eminence the sacred number, the number, in particular, which is the sign and reminder of the covenant of redemption; and so here it is with special meaning that the altar, as being the place where God had specially covenanted to meet with Israel as reconciled through the blood of atonement, should receive a sevenfold anointing.
After this, the anointing oil was poured on the head of Aaron, to sanctify him.
As to the meaning of this part of the symbolic service, there is little room for doubt. The "anointing" is said to have been "to sanctify" or set apart to the service of Jehovah him that was anointed. And, inasmuch as oil, in the Holy Scriptures, is the constant symbol of the Holy Spirit, it is taught hereby that consecration is secured only through the anointing with the Holy Ghost.
The direct typical reference of this part of the ceremonial to Christ, will not be denied by any one for whom the Scripture any longer has authority. For Christ Himself quoted the words we find in Isa. lxi. 1, as fulfilled in Himself: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord God hath anointed Me." And the Apostle Peter afterward taught (Acts x. 38) that God had "anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost and with power;" while the most common title of our Lord, as "the Messiah" or "Christ," as we all know, though often forgetful of its meaning, simply means "the Anointed One." So every time we use the word, we unconsciously testify to the fulfilment of this type of the anointing of Aaron as priest, as, afterward, of the anointing of David as king, in Him. And as the anointing of Aaron took place in the sight of all Israel, assembled at the door of the tent of meeting, so in the fulness of time was Jesus, in the sight of all the multitude that waited on the baptism of John, after having been washed with water, "to fulfil all righteousness," anointed from heaven, as "the Holy Ghost descended in bodily form, as a dove," and abode upon him (Luke iii. 22). And while, according to Jewish tradition, the anointing oil was applied to the ordinary priests only in small quantity and by the finger, on the head of Aaron it was "poured;" in which word, as suggested in Psalm cxxxiii. 2, we are to understand a reference to the great copiousness with which it was used. In which, again, the type exactly corresponds to the Antitype. For while it is true of all believers that they "have an anointing from the Holy One" (1 John ii. 20), even as their Lord, yet of Him alone is it true that unto Him the Spirit "was not given by measure" (John iii. 34). And by this Divine anointing with the Holy Spirit without limit, was Jesus sanctified and qualified for the office of High Priest for all His people.
The anointing of the tabernacle with the same holy oil was according to a custom long before prevalent, and however it may seem strange to any of us now, will not have seemed strange to Israel. We read, for instance (Gen. xxviii. 18), of the anointing of the stone at Bethel by Jacob, by which he thus consecrated it to be a stone of remembrance of the revelation of God to him in that place. So by this anointing, the tabernacle, with all that it contained, was "sanctified;" that is, consecrated that so the use of these might be made, through the power of the Holy Ghost, a means of grace and blessing to Israel. And it was thus anointed, and for this purpose, as being a "copy and pattern of the heavenly things." By the ceremony is signified to us, that by the power of the Holy Ghost, through the high-priesthood of our Lord, the whole universe and all that is in it has been consecrated and endowed by God with virtue, to become a means of grace and blessing to all believers, by His grace and might who works "in all things and through all things" to this end.
The Consecration Sacrifices.
"And he brought the bullock of the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock of the sin offering. And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it. And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul of the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar. But the bullock, and its skin, and its flesh, and its dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he presented the ram of the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he killed it: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he cut the ram into its pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat. And he washed the inwards and the legs with water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt offering for a sweet savour: it was an offering made by fire unto the Lord; as the Lord commanded Moses. And he presented the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood thereof, and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. And he brought Aaron's sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he took the fat, and the fat tail, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat, and the right thigh: and out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the Lord, he took one unleavened cake, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and placed them on the fat, and upon the right thigh: and he put the whole upon the hands of Aaron, and upon the hands of his sons, and waved them for a wave offering before the Lord. And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were a consecration for a sweet savour: it was an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And Moses took the breast and waved it for a wave offering before the Lord: it was Moses' portion of the ram of consecration; as the Lord commanded Moses. And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him. And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the tent of meeting: and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of consecration, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it. And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire."
The last part of the consecration ceremonial was the sacrifices. Each of the chief sacrifices of the law were offered in order; first, a sin-offering; then, a burnt-offering; then, a peace-offering, with some significant variations from the ordinary ritual, adapting it to this occasion; with which was conjoined, after the usual manner, a meal-offering. A sin-offering was offered, first of all; there had been a symbolical cleansing with water, but still a sin-offering is required. It signified, what so many in these days seem to forget, that in order to our acceptableness before God, not only is needed a cleansing of the defilement of nature by the regeneration of the Holy Ghost, but also expiation for the guilt of our sins. The sin-offering was first, for the guilt of Aaron and his sons must be thus typically removed, before their burnt-offerings and their meal- and peace-offerings can be accepted.
The peculiarities of the offerings as rendered on this occasion are easily explained from the circumstances of their presentation. Moses officiates, for this time only, as specially delegated for this occasion, inasmuch as Aaron and his sons are not yet fully inducted into their office. The victim for the sin-offering is the costliest ever employed: a bullock, as ordered for the sin of the anointed priest. But the blood is not brought into the Holy Place, as in the ritual for the offering for the high priest, because Aaron is not yet fully inducted into his office. Nor do Aaron and his sons eat of the flesh of the sin-offering, as ordered in the case of other sin-offerings whose blood is not brought within the Holy Place; obviously, because of the principle which rules throughout the law, that he for whose sin the sin-offering is offered, must not himself eat of the flesh; it is therefore burnt with fire, without the camp, that it may not see corruption.
By this sin-offering, not only Aaron and his sons were cleansed, but we read that hereby atonement was also made "for the altar;" a mysterious type, reminding us that, in some way which we cannot as yet fully understand, sin has affected the whole universe: in such a sense, that not only for man himself who has sinned, is propitiation required, but, in some sense, even for the earth itself, with the heavens. That in expounding the meaning of this part of the ritual we do not go beyond the Scripture is plain from such passages as Heb. ix. 23, where it is expressly said that even as the tabernacle and the things in it were cleansed with the blood of the bullock, so was necessary that, not merely man, but "the heavenly things themselves," of which the tabernacle and its belongings were the "copies," should be cleansed with better sacrifices than these, even the offering of Christ's own blood. So also we read in Col. i. 20, before cited, that through Christ, even through the blood of His cross, not merely persons, "but all things, whether things on the earth, or things in the heavens," should be reconciled unto God. Mysterious words these, no doubt; but words which teach us at least so much as this, how profound and far-reaching is the mischief which sin has wrought, even our sin. Not merely the sinning man must be cleansed with blood before he can be made a priest unto God, but even nature, "made subject to vanity" (Rom. viii. 20), for man's sin, needs the reconciling blood before redeemed man can exercise his priesthood unto God in the heavenly places. Evidently we have here an estimate of the evil of sin which is incomparably higher than that which is commonly current among men; and we shall do well to conform our estimate to that of God, who required atonement to be made even for the earthen altar, to sanctify it.
Reconciliation being made by the sin-offering, next in order came the burnt-offering, symbolic, as we have seen, of the full consecration of the person of the offerer to God; in this case of the full consecration of Aaron and his sons to the service of God in the priesthood. The ritual was according to the usual law, and requires no further exposition.
The ceremonial culminated and was completed in the offering of "the ram of consecration." The expression is, literally, "the ram of fillings;" in which phrase there is a reference to the peculiar ceremony described in vv. 27, 28, in which certain portions of the victim and of the meal-offering were placed by Moses on the hands of Aaron and his sons, and waved by them for a wave-offering; and afterwards burnt wholly on the altar upon the burnt-offering, in token of their full devotement to the Lord. Of these it is then added, "they were a consecration" (lit. "fillings," sc. of hands, "were these"). The meaning of the phrase and the action it denoted is determined by its use in 1 Chron. xxix. 5 and 2 Chron. xxix. 31, where it is used of the bringing of the freewill-offerings by the people for Jehovah. The ceremonial in this case therefore signified the formal making over of the sacrifices into the charge of Aaron and his sons, which henceforth they were to offer; that they received them to offer them to and for Jehovah, was symbolised by their presentation to be waved before Jehovah, and further by their being burnt upon the altar, as a sacrifice of sweet savour.
Another thing peculiar to this special consecration sacrifice, was the use which was made of the blood, which (ver. 23) was put upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. Although the solution is not without difficulty, we shall probably not err in regarding this as distinctively an act of consecration, signifying that in virtue of the sacrificial blood, Aaron and his sons were set apart to sacrificial service. It is applied to the ear, to the hand, and the foot, and to the most representative member in each case, to signify the consecration of the whole body to the Lord's service in the tabernacle; the ear is consecrated by the blood to be ever attentive to the word of Jehovah, to receive the intimations of His will; the hand, to be ever ready to do the Lord's work; and the foot, to run on His service.
Another peculiarity of this offering was in the wave-offering of Aaron and his sons. Not the breast, but the thigh, and that together with the fat (ver. 27) was waved before the Lord; and, afterward, not only the fat was burnt upon the altar, according to the law, but also the thigh, which in other cases was the portion of the priest, was burnt with the fat and the memorial of the meal-offering. The breast was afterward waved, as the law commanded in the case of the peace-offerings, but was given to Moses as his portion. The last particular is easy to understand; Moses in this ceremonial stands in the place of the officiating priest, and it is natural that he should thus receive from the Lord his reward for his service. As for the thigh, which, when the peace-offering was offered by one of the people, was presented to the Lord, and then given to the officiating priest to be eaten, obviously the law could not be applied here, as the priests themselves were the bringers of the offering; hence the only alternative was, as in the case of sin-offerings of the holy place, to burn the flesh with fire upon the altar, as "the food of Jehovah." The remainder of the flesh was to be eaten by the priests alone as the offerers, under the regulation for the thank-offering, except that whatever remained until the next day was to be burnt; a direction which is explained by the fact that the sacrifice was to be repeated for seven days, so that there could be no reason for keeping the flesh until the third day. Last of all, it is to be noted that whereas in the thank-offerings of the people, the offerer was allowed to bring leavened bread for the sacrificial feast, in the feast of the consecration of priests this was not permitted; no doubt to emphasise the peculiar sanctity of the office to which they were inducted.
With these modifications, it is plain that the sacrifice of consecration was essentially, not a guilt-offering, as some have supposed, but a peace-offering. It is true that a ram was enjoined as the victim instead of a lamb, but the correspondence here with the law of the guilt-offering is of no significance when we observe that rams were also enjoined or used for peace-offerings on other occasions of exceptional dignity and sanctity, as in the peace-offerings for the nation, mentioned in the following chapter, and the peace-offerings for the princes of the tribes (Numb. vii.). Unlike the guilt-offering, but after the manner of the other, the sacrifice was followed by a sacrificial feast. That participation in this was restricted to the priests, is sufficiently explained by the special relation of this sacrifice to their own consecration.
Before the sacrificial feast, however, one peculiar ceremony still remained. We read (ver. 30): "Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood (of the peace-offering) which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him."
This sprinkling signified that now, through the atoning blood which had been accepted before God upon the altar, and through the sanctifying Spirit of grace, which was symbolised by the anointing, thus inseparably associated each with the other, they had been brought into covenant relation with God regarding the office of the priesthood. That this their covenant relation to God concerned them, not merely as private persons, but in their official character, was intimated by the sprinkling, not only of their persons, but of the garments which were the insignia of their priestly office.
All this completed, now followed the sacrificial feast. We read that Moses now ordered Aaron and his sons (ver. 31): "Boil the flesh at the door of the tent of meeting: and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of consecration, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it. And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire."
This sacrificial feast most fitly marked the conclusion of the rites of consecration. Hereby it was signified, first, that by this solemn service they were now brought into a relation of peculiarly intimate fellowship with Jehovah, as the ministers of His house, to offer His offerings, and to be fed at His table. It was further signified, that strength for the duties of this office should be supplied to them by Him whom they were to serve, in that they were to be fed of His altar. And, finally, in that the ritual took the specific form of a thank-offering, was thereby expressed, as was fitting, their gratitude to God for the grace which had chosen them and set them apart to so holy and exalted service.
These consecration services were to be repeated for seven consecutive days, during which time they were not to leave the tent of meeting,—obviously, that by no chance they might contract any ceremonial defilement; so jealously must the sanctity of everything pertaining to the service be guarded.
The commandment was (vv. 33-35): "Ye shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting seven days, until the days of your consecration be fulfilled: for he shall consecrate you seven days. As hath been done this day, so the Lord hath commanded to do, to make atonement for you. And at the door of the tent of meeting shall ye abide day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not: for so I am commanded."
By the sevenfold repetition of the consecration ceremonies was expressed, in the most emphatic manner known to the Mosaic symbolism, the completeness of the consecration and qualification of Aaron and his sons for their office, and the fact also that, in virtue of this consecration, they had come into a special covenant relation with Jehovah concerning the priestly office.
That these consecration sacrifices by which Aaron and his sons were set apart to the priesthood, no less than the preceding part of the ceremonial, pointed forward to Christ and His priestly people as the Antitype, it will be easy to see. As regards our Lord, in Heb. vii. 28, the sacred writer applies to the consecration of our Lord as high priest the very term which the Seventy had used long before in this chapter of Leviticus to denote this formal consecration, and represents the consecration of the Son as the antitype of the consecration of Aaron by the law: "the law appointeth men high priests, having infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was after the law, appointeth a Son, perfected for evermore."
An exception, indeed, must be made, as regards our Lord, in the case of the sin-offering; of whom it is said (Heb. vii. 27), that He "needeth not ... like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins." But as regards the other two sacrifices, we can see that in their distinctive symbolical import they each bring before us essential elements in the consecration of our Lord Jesus Christ as High Priest. In the burnt-offering, we see Him consecrating Himself by the complete self-surrender of Himself to the Father. In the offering of consecrations, we see Him in the meal-offering of unleavened bread, offering in like manner His most holy works unto the Father; and in the sacrifice of the peace-offering, wherein Aaron ate of the food of God's house in His presence, we see Jesus in like manner as qualified for His high-priestly work by His admission into terms of the most intimate fellowship with the Father, and sustained for His work by the strength given from Him, according to His own word: "The living Father hath sent Me, and I live because of the Father." In the formal "filling of the hands" of Aaron with the sacrificial material, in token of his endowment with the right to offer sacrifices for sin for the sake of sinful men, we are reminded how our Lord refers to the fact that He had received in like manner authority from the Father to lay down His life for His sheep, emphatically adding the words, (John x. 18), "This commandment have I received of My Father."
So also was the meaning of the collateral ceremonies fully realised in Him. If Aaron was anointed with the blood on ear, hand, and foot, by way of signifying that the members of his body should be wholly devoted unto God in priestly service, even so we are reminded (Heb. x. 5, 7), that "when He cometh into the world He saith, ... Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body didst thou prepare for Me; ... Lo, I am come to do Thy will, O God."
And so, as Aaron was at the end of the sacrifice sprinkled with blood and oil, in token that God had now, through the blood and the oil, entered into a covenant of priesthood with him, so we find repeated reference to the fact of such a solemn covenant and compact between God and the High Priest of our profession summed up in the words of prophecy, "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."
So did this whole consecration ceremony, with the exception only of such parts of it as had reference to the sin of Aaron, point forward to the future investiture of the Son of God with the high-priestly office, by God the Father, that He might act therein for our salvation in all matters between us and God. How can any who have eyes to see all this, as opened out for us in the New Testament, fail with fullest joy and thankfulness to accept Christ, the Son of God, now passed into the Holiest, as the High Priest of our profession? How naturally to all such come the words of exhortation with which is concluded the great argument upon Christ's high-priesthood in the Epistle to the Hebrews (x. 19-23): "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus; ... and having a great priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water: let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for He is faithful that promised."
But not only was Aaron thus consecrated to be high priest of the tabernacle, but his sons also, to be priests under him in the same service. In this also the type holds good. For when in Heb. ii. Christ is brought before us as "the High Priest of our confession," He is represented as saying (ver. 13), "Behold, I and the children which God hath given me!" As Aaron had his sons appointed to perform priestly functions under him in the earthly tabernacle, so also his great Antitype has "sons," called to priestly office under Him in the heavenly tabernacle. Accordingly, we find that in the New Testament, not any caste or class in the Christian Church, but all believers, are represented as "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter ii. 5). To the testimony of Peter corresponds that of John in the Apocalypse, where in like manner believers are declared to be priests unto God, and represented as also acting as priests of God and of Christ in the age which is to come after "the first resurrection"1818Not, however, as many imagine, in behalf of those who have in this age died in sin, but in ministrations to the living nations in the flesh, in the age to come. We find no ground of hope, in Holy Scripture, for the impenitent dead. (Rev. xx. 6). Hence it is plain that according to the New Testament we shall rightly regard the consecration of the sons of Aaron as no less typical than that of Aaron himself. It is typical of the consecration of all believers to priesthood under Christ. It thus sets forth in symbol the fact and the manner of our own consecration to ministrations between lost men and God, in the age which now is and that which is to come, in things pertaining to sin and salvation, according to the measure to each one of the gift of Christ.
As the consecration of Aaron's sons began with the washing with pure water, so ours with "the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus iii. 5). As Aaron's sons, thus washed, were then invested in white linen, clean and pure, so for the believer must the word be fulfilled (Isa. lxi. 10): "He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself" (marg. "decketh as a priest"). That is, the reality of our appointment of God unto this high dignity must be visibly attested unto men by the righteousness of our lives. But whereas the sons of Aaron were not clothed until first Aaron himself had been clothed and anointed, it is signified that the robing and anointing of Christ's people follows and depends upon the previous robing and anointing of their Head. Again, as Aaron's sons were also anointed with the same holy oil as was Aaron, only in lesser measure, so are believers consecrated to the priestly office, like their Lord, by the anointing with the Holy Ghost. The anointing of Pentecost follows and corresponds to the anointing of the High Priest at the Jordan with one and the same Spirit. This is another necessary consecration mark, on which the New Testament Scriptures constantly insist. As Jesus was "anointed with the Holy Ghost and (thereby) with power," so He Himself said to His disciples (Acts i. 8), "Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you;" which promise being fulfilled, Paul could say (2 Cor. i. 21), "He that ... anointed us is God;" and John (1 John ii. 20), to all believers, "Ye have an anointing from the Holy One." And the sacrificial symbols are also all fulfilled in the case of the Lord's priestly people. For them, no less essential to their consecration than the washing of the Holy Ghost, is the removal of guilt by the great Sin-offering of Calvary; which same offering, and true Lamb of God, has also become their burnt-offering, their meal-offering, and their sacrifice of consecrations, as it is written (Heb. x. 10), that, by the will of God, "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all:" and that He also is become "our peace," in that He has expiated our sins, and also given Himself to us as our spiritual food; that so we may derive daily strength for the daily service in the priest's office, by feeding on the Lamb of God, the true food of the altar, given by God for our support. Also, as the sons of Aaron, like Aaron himself, were anointed with the blood of the peace-offering of consecration, on the ear, the hand, and the foot, so has the blood of the Lamb, in that it has brought us into peace with God, set apart every true believer unto full surrender of all the members of his body unto Him; ears, that they may be quick to hear God's Word; hands, that they may be quick to do it; feet, that they may only run in the way of His commandments. And finally, whereas the solemn covenant of priesthood into which Aaron and his sons had entered with God, was sealed and ratified by the sprinkling with the oil and the blood, so by the unction of the Holy Spirit given to believers, and the cleansing of the conscience by the blood, is it witnessed and certified that they are a people called out to enter into covenant of priestly service with the God of all the earth and the heavens.
What searching questions as to personal experience all this raises! What solemn thoughts throng into the mind of every thoughtful reader! All this essential, if we are to be indeed members of that royal priesthood, who shall reign as priests of God and of Christ? Have we then the marks, all of them? Let us not shrink from the questions, but probe with them the innermost depths of our hearts. Have we had the washing of regeneration? If we think that we have had this, then let us also remember that after the washing came the investiture in white linen. Let us ask, Have we then put on these white garments of righteousness? All that were washed, were also clad in white; these were their official robes, without which they could not act as priests unto God. And there was also an anointing. Have we, in like manner, received the anointing with the Holy Ghost, endowing us with power and wisdom for service? Then, the sin-offering, the burnt-offering, the peace-offering of consecration,—has the Lamb of God been used by us in all these various ways, as our expiation, our consecration, our peace, and our life? And has the blood which consecrates also been applied to ear, hand, and foot? Are we consecrated in all the members of our bodies?
What questions these are! Truly, it is no light thing to be a Christian; to be called and consecrated to be, with and under the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, a "priest unto God" in this life and in that of "the first resurrection;" to deal between God and men in matters of salvation. Have we well understood what is our "high calling," and what the conditions on which alone we may exercise our ministry? To this may God give us grace, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
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