- Orders are given in this chapter, I. Concerning the consecration of the priests, and the sanctification of the altar, verse 1-37.
- II. Concerning the daily sacrifice, verse 38-41.
- To which gracious promises are annexed, verse 42-46.
They were to be consecrated at the door of the tabernacle - God was pleased to dwell in the tabernacle, the people attending in the courts, so that the door between the court and the tabernacle was the fittest place for them to be consecrated in, who were to mediate between God and man, and to stand between both, and lay their hands (as it were) upon both. Here they were to be washed, signifying that they must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord, Isaiah 52:11. And they were to be clothed with the holy garments, to signify that it was not sufficient for them to put away the pollutions of sin, but they must put on the graces of the Spirit, be clothed with righteousness, Psalms 132:9. They must be girded, as men prepared and strengthened for their work; and they must be robed and crowned, as men that counted their work and office their true honour.
The high priest was to be anointed with the holy anointing oil - That the church might be filled with the sweet favour of his administrations, and in token of the pouring out of the Spirit upon him, to qualify him for his work.
There must be a sin-offering, to make atonement for them. The law made them priests that had infirmity; and therefore they must first offer for their own sin, before they could make atonement for the people, Hebrews 7:27,28. They were to put their hand on the head of their sacrifice; confessing that they deserved to die for their own sin, and desiring that the killing of the beast might be accepted as a vicarious satisfaction. It was used as other sin-offerings were; only, whereas the flesh of other sin-offerings was eaten by the priests, in token of the priests taking away the sin of the people, this was appointed to be all burnt without the camp, to signify the imperfection of the legal dispensation, for the sins of the priests themselves could not be taken away by those sacrifices, but they must expect a better high priest, and a better sacrifice.
There must be a burnt-offering, a ram wholly burnt, in token of the dedication of themselves wholly to God, as living sacrifices, kindled with the fire, and ascending in the flame of holy love. This sin-offering must be offered, and then the burnt-offering, for till guilt be removed no acceptable service can be performed.
There must be a peace-offering; it is called the ram of consecration, because there was more in this, peculiar to the occasion, than in the other two. In the burnt-offering God had the glory of their priesthood, in this they had the comfort of it. And in token of a mutual covenant between God and them, the blood of this sacrifice was divided between God and them, part of the blood was sprinkled upon the altar round about, and part upon them, upon their bodies, and upon their garments. Thus the benefit of the expiation made by the sacrifice was applied and assured to them, and their whole selves from head to foot sanctified to the service of God. The blood was put upon the extreme parts of the body, to signify, that it was all as it were enclosed and taken in for God, the tip of the ear, and the great toe not excepted. And the blood and oil signified the blood of Christ, and the graces of the Spirit, which constitute and compleat the beauty of holiness, and recommend us to God. The flesh of the sacrifice, with the meat-offering annexed to it, was likewise divided between God and them, that (to speak with reverence) God and they might feast together, in token of friendship and fellowship.
Part of it was to be first waved before the Lord, and then burnt upon the altar, these were first put into the hands of Aaron to be waved to and fro in token of their being offered to God, and then they were to be burnt upon the altar, for the altar was to devour God's part of the sacrifice. Thus God admitted Aaron and his sons to wait at his table, taking the meat of his altar from their hands. Here, in a parenthesis as it were, comes in the law concerning the priests part of the peace-offerings afterwards, the breast and shoulder, which were now divided; Moses had the breast, and the shoulder was burnt on the altar with God's part.
The other part of the flesh of the ram, and of the bread, Aaron and his sons were to eat at the door of the tabernacle, to signify that he not only called them servants but friends. He supped with them, and they with him. Their eating of the things wherewith the atonement was made, signified their receiving the atonement, their thankful acceptance of the benefit of it, and their joyful communion with God thereupon.
Seven days shalt thou consecrate them - Though all the ceremonies were performed on the first day, yet, they were not to look upon their consecration as compleated till the seven days end, which put a solemnity upon their admission, and a distance between this and their former state, and obliged them to enter upon their work with a pause, giving them time to consider the weight of it. This was to be observed in after ages: he that was to succeed Aaron in the high priesthood, must put on the holy garments seven days together, in token of a deliberate advance into his office, and that one sabbath might pass over him, in his consecration. Every day of the seven, in this first consecration, a bullock was to be offered for a sin-offering, which was to intimate, (1.) That though atonement was made, yet they must still keep up a penitent sense of sin, and often repeat the confession of it. (2.) That those sacrifices which were thus offered day by day, could not make the comers there unto perfect, for then they would have ceased to be offered; Hebrews 10:1,2. They must therefore expect the bringing in of a better hope. Now this consecration of the priests was a shadow of good things to come. 1. Our Lord Jesus is the great high priest of our profession, called of God to be so consecrated for evermore, anointed with the Spirit above his fellows, whence he is called Messiah, the Christ; clothed with the holy garments, even with glory and beauty; sanctified by his own blood, not that of bullocks and rams. 2. All believers are spiritual priests, to offer spiritual sacrifices, 1 Peter 2:5, washed in the blood of Christ, and so made to our God priests, Revelation 1:5,6. They also are clothed with the beauty of holiness, and have received the anointing, 1 John 2:27. His blood sprinkled upon the conscience, purgeth it from dead works, that they may, as priests, serve the living God. The Spirit of God is called the finger of God ( Luke 11:20, compared with Matthew 12:28,) and by him the merit of Christ is effectually applied to our souls, as here Moses with his finger was to put the blood upon Aaron. It is likewise intimated that gospel ministers are to be solemnly set apart to the work of the ministry with great deliberation and seriousness, both in the ordainers, and in the ordained, as those that are employed in a great work, and intrusted with a great charge.
The consecration of the altar, seems to have been coincident with that of the priests; and the sin-offerings, which were offered every day for seven days together, had reference to the altar, as well as the priests. And atonement was made for the altar. The altar was also sanctified, not only set apart itself to a sacred use, but made so holy as to sanctify the gifts that were offered upon it, Matthew 23:19. Christ is our altar, for our sakes he sanctified himself, that we and our performances might be sanctified and recommended to God, John 17:19.
This daily service, a lamb offered upon the altar every morning, and every evening, typified the continual intercession which Christ ever lives to make in the virtue of his satisfaction for the continual sanctification of his church: though he offered himself once for all, yet that one offering thus becomes a continual offering. And this teaches us to offer up to God the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise every day, morning and evening, in humble acknowledgment of our dependence upon him, and our obligations to him.
A tenth deal, or tenth part of an Ephah, is about three quarts. A hin is five quarts.