The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons.

The next part of the high priest's dress is connected with the offerings and worship of the people of Israel. We have to remember that the special privileges of Christianity are not seen here; that is, there was no entrance into the holiest for Israel as there is for us now, nor had they the relationship and worship of children with the Father. Christians now see the One who bore their sins, in the glory of God, and have boldness to enter according to the value of the work which glorified God. The Son also places them in relationship with the Father. Still, looked at in ourselves, we are conscious of flesh and of that in us which is unsuited to the presence of God, and therefore can enter into the blessedness of being connected in our worship with One who, as He appears in the presence of God for us, is Himself "holiness to the Lord." The believer's place is now inside with Christ, but, with the sense of infirmity in himself, he has the consciousness of being in company with the great Priest over the house of God, on whose brow holiness appears, and is present to the eye of God.

The embroidered linen coat speaks of pure and perfect humanity, and of the graces wrought into that humanity as alone they could be in the person of Christ. The great Priest must needs be a Man, but what wisdom and grace in the power of the Spirit were inherent in Him! It would seem from Leviticus 16:4that the high priest entered into the holiest in this garment on the day of atonement. The garments made for glory and beauty which we have been considering in their typical import had to be laid aside. This has a voice for us, showing that the glories indicated in them as belonging to the office of the high priest could not be connected with a standing in sinful flesh, and such was the flesh of Aaron and his sons. Sinful flesh in them betrayed itself on the first day of their priestly ministration. (Leviticus 10:1.) Here we have the figure of the purity of the Lord as man - that holy thing born of the virgin, but in order to bring His companions with Himself into the presence of God He must put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. This He has done to God's satisfaction, and now all the glories are worn by One who has entered into the holy place by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. On the day of atonement Aaron entered the holiest in the linen garments alone, the coat, the mitre, and the breeches; not with glorious garments, but with blood. He who now wears these glories is of another order, not of earth, but inherently pure as begotten of the Holy Ghost, and gone into heaven, eternal glory having been brought to God by His one offering.

Aaron's sons represent what Christians are as a priestly family, the companions of Christ. They had part with Aaron as a sanctified and consecrated company in "ministry to the Lord." We have seen that the glories of the sanctuary could not be connected with sinful flesh, nor must the nakedness of the flesh appear before God. The obligation of this injunction is seen in the words, "that they bear not iniquity, and die." Thus of old God's people were instructed that His sentence of death was upon the flesh, it could not be uncovered in His presence. We are instructed in other places in scripture as to the wonderful portion allotted to the priestly family, but here the privilege of being of the family sanctified and consecrated to minister to the Lord, is before us. The word consecrate here means to fill their hands. (See 29:9, margin.) Aaron and his sons were a company whose hands were filled with the excellencies of Christ, and who entered into the delight of God in Him. The sweet savour of Christ to God filled their hands.

In chapter 29 the actual sanctification and consecration is given. The first important point is that Aaron and his sons were washed with water. We may regard the washing of Aaron in two ways. First, as a sinful man he needed purifying equally with his sons. Secondly, as a figure of Christ, his washing with his sons presents to us the truth, that the Moral cleansing of those who are Christ's companions is according to the actual truth of it in Him. The type thus sets before us that "He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." It was blessed down-stooping in Him, according to the will of God, to come into the place of identification with the first movement of grace in those who needed cleansing. This is seen in that having become a man He went into Jordan with the repentant remnant of Israel. He needed no baptism in those waters, but He identified Himself with those in whom the Word was working through the preaching of John. He who was the Word connects Himself, as far as John's baptism went, with the action of the word in those who repented. Afterwards (see Luke 8:21) He owns those who hear the word of God and do it as connected with Himself. In order to get the full import of the cleansing which now is ours, we must pass on to the death of Christ, when the water of purification flowed from His dead side. His death not only expiates our guilt, but clears away from the eye of God the man who is impure in the moral springs of his being. What is of Christ then becomes the word of life to us, so that the new commandment is that which is true in Him and in us. Our moral cleansing is thus according to what Christ is as the heavenly Man. It is represented in principle here by Aaron and his sons being washed together, for we must remember that the washing was in view of a place in the sanctuary, where we now can enter as companions of Christ.

Aaron is then clothed by Moses, acting on God's behalf, with the priestly garments which set forth the glories of Christ. Thereupon he is anointed, the oil being poured upon his head. This marked him off from his sons in a special way, as in their case the anointing oil with blood from the altar is sprinkled upon them. Psalm 133 notes this pouring of the oil upon Aaron's head, whence it descended to his garments. When the Spirit of God descended as a dove upon Jesus no others were anointed; it was on His ascending on high that He received, as Head, the Spirit to give to us. He has this place of Head from whom all flows. It is His personally, and though His companions are anointed (see v. 21), yet in all things He has the pre-eminence. This place of headship having been assumed, typically in the power of the Spirit, Aaron's sons are clothed and then girded, and here Aaron and his sons are together in the girded service of the priesthood. The sons are to worship with filled hands, and to serve in company with the anointed head. It is a blessed thought that the special place of nearness and worship belongs to men, to those who are of the order of Christ, the Anointed Head, to saints, and not to angels. This is set forth in the clothing of the sons of Aaron. Angels celebrate, but saints worship as a priestly company (Rev. 5), clothed with righteousness. (See Psalm 132:9; Rev. 4:4.)

Now that Aaron and his sons are together associated in the priestly office the offerings are brought, in virtue of which they were sanctified to approach to God. There needs not only moral cleansing, but the dealing with sin before Him according to the exigencies of His holy nature. Sin is abhorrent to Him. Hence the sin offering is first. Aaron and his sons lay their hands on the head of the bullock, and its blood is shed. This takes place at the door of the tabernacle. Some of the blood is put upon the horns of the altar, and the remainder poured out at its base. Note that the blood is not carried inside here, though the carcase of the victim is burned without the camp. Thus we have the dealing with sin under the judgment of God and guilt met, but not yet the blood carried within to give a place there. It is so in Lev. 16, and it is the failure of the priesthood, as here established in connection with the brazen altar, which gave occasion for bringing out the deeper thoughts of grace in its abounding over sin, according to which entrance is now made into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. Sin and sins were thus judicially dealt with, as they have been in the cross in order that priestly relations with God might be established. It is on this ground that they go into the sanctuary, but not within the veil.

Two other sacrifices are offered - the burnt-offering, setting forth the acceptance of Aaron and his sons, and the ram of consecration. In the former, by devotedness to death the excellency of the sacrifice was manifested, and the sweet savour arose to God in the fire of the altar. It was wholly for God. In the latter, there was the character of a communion offering, for Aaron and his sons eat of the flesh, but its chief import lay in the putting of the blood first upon the right ear of Aaron, and then upon the right ear of his sons as associated with him in devoted obedience; it is also put upon the thumb of their right hand and upon the great toe of their right foot. This was done also for cleansing the leper with the blood of the trespass-offering. In his case the thoughts and actions and ways were purified according to the estimate of the blood as shed for sin and defilement. In the case of the priests it is the blood of a sweet savour offering which not only purifies but sanctifies. In the one case it is the thoughts, action, and walk of a leper who is to be cleansed, in the other of a washed, clothed, and sanctified priest. In the one it is dissociation from defilement, in the other it is association in mind and conduct with Christ according to His devotedness to God. The sanctification is complete in that the blood is taken from the altar (devotedness to death in the Lord Jesus Christ), and with the anointing oil sprinkled upon Aaron and his garments, and upon his sons and his sons' garments. It thus figures the full and complete setting apart in the power of the Spirit,, by which Jesus offered Himself without spot to God.

So far we have been looking at the consecration more in the aspect of hallowing or sanctifying (see verse 1), but consecration or filling the hand is consequent upon Aaron and his sons having been sanctified by the blood and the oil; that is, by the blood of Jesus, who in the power of the Eternal Spirit offered Himself spotless to God; and by the Spirit in whose power He did so offer Himself in death. Their hands can now be filled with the excellency and value of the offering - the fat and the right shoulder - and also with that which figured the perfections of Christ as man, pure, sinless, holy, anointed by the Spirit. We notice here that his sons are associated fully with Aaron in this worship. As priests we worship in the company of Christ. All that filled their hands is then put upon the altar for a sweet savour to the Lord. We enter into the delight which God has in the perfections of Christ, and He accepts our worship according to Christ's acceptance, for the consecrations were burned upon the burnt-offering. (Lev. 8:28.)

In verse 26 the breast is not heaved or offered as with the shoulder. (v. 27.) It is called the breast of the ram of Aaron's consecration, and was specially Moses' part as the mediator. It would indicate the special communion and enjoyment which Christ has in the love which sanctifies and consecrates a company of which He is the Head and Leader, and who are associated with Him in offering and worship. "He that sanctifieth" has this peculiar joy of love. The heave shoulder is sanctified for Aaron and his sons. It would speak to us of Christ as the power of God. Power that has come in by the cross and death of Jesus. The priestly company are in communion with this power of God by which all will be sustained in blessing for ever.

It only remains to notice the communion and enjoyment for themselves in the precious things that have been offered. The first and great thing was to have the hands filled for the Lord, for a priest must have somewhat to offer, and then they eat the flesh of the ram and the bread from the basket  by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. They abide there Seven days (see Leviticus 8:35), a full period of consecration. They thus abide in the full sense of their own consecration before priesthood can begin for Israel as in Leviticus 9. It is well to note that though the great principles of consecration are set forth, yet the worship and nearness of the Church are not found in this passage. The principles abide, but priesthood was evidently established then in connection with the earthly standing of the people of Israel; hence it is transitional in its character, the great day of atonement bringing in other elements. Now there is entrance into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, and the true worshippers have access by one Spirit to the Father, worshipping Him in spirit and truth.

T. H. Reynolds.