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Day 54 – Numbers 1-2

Day 54
Numbers 1-2

Numbers. Its relatively nondescript title is derived name from the two censuses taken at the beginning (Chapters 1-2) and near the end of the book (Chapters 26-27). Numbers is similar to what Forest Gump said about life: It’s “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Inside is an assortment of things ranging from


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Day 53 – Leviticus 26-27

 

God expects our obedience. Obedience is not an option for those who are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. Because of His grace, God will never stop loving us. But God’s amazing grace does not nullify our obedience. His grace empowers it.


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Day 52 – Leviticus 24-25

Two things were required for the proper and regular functioning of the Tabernacle. First, there was the requirement for freshly pressed olive oil to fill the golden Lamp that stood in the Holy Place (24:1-4). Aaron was to replenish its seven cups with oil each evening and tend to its floating wicks, in order to provide a burning light all night long.


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Day 54 – Numbers 1-2

Numbers. Its relatively nondescript title is derived name from the two censuses taken at the beginning (Chapters 1-2) and near the end of the book (Chapters 26-27). Numbers is similar to what Forest Gump said about life: It’s “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Inside is an assortment of things ranging from


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Day 51 – Leviticus 22-23

Day 51
Leviticus 22-23

God assigned to the tribe of Levi the solemn duty of the priesthood. It was a privilege to serve as a priest at the Tabernacle. For their service, God also oversaw the care and provision for each priest and his family. Chapter 22 highlights three important matters related to the priesthood. First of all, their privilege of serving at the Tabernacle necessitated specific responsibilities (22:1-9). The purity laws established in Chapters 11-15 regarding skin diseases, bodily discharges, and contact with unclean animals or the deceased, were to be carefully followed by all priests. No priest was permitted to render holy service at the Tabernacle in a state of ritual uncleanness. Since a priest was appointed to make distinctions between what was clean and unclean, such distinctions were to be applied personally as well. Every priest was required to be ceremonially clean and follow the rites for purification. They were to embody the kind of separation God expected from His people. The improper handling of holy things carried with it the penalty of death. Secondly, priestly service also came with accompanying benefits (10-16). The Law regulated that only a priest and members of his family could eat the permitted portion of an offering of bread or meat. Since the tribe of Levi did not own property and priests weren’t skilled in other trades, they earned their livelihood at the Tabernacle. As a result, it was necessary to determine who actually qualified as a member of a priest’s family, and therefore, shared in the provisions. For instance, if the daughter of a priest married an Israelite from another tribe she was no longer permitted to share in the offerings. If she was widowed or divorced and then returned home she was allowed to share in them. Benefits also applied to a servant living within the priest’s household. If an Israelite, who was not a member of a priest’s family, took what was not permitted, the gift (if it had not been consumed) was to be returned along with the payment of a 20% value added penalty. Thirdly, priests were required to inspect every animal brought to the Tabernacle as a sacrifice (17-23). Additional regulations dictated that an animal could only be offered as a sacrifice seven days after its birth and never on the same day as the mother. Above all, the burden of this section, was to show that God deserved only the best. Only unblemished animals were acceptable. In this way, gift was to reflect the character of God. If an Israelite brought a maimed animal to be sacrificed, such a “gift” depicted a deficient view of God. God’s requirement that only the best be brought to Him was also prophetic. Those perfect and unblemished animals pointed to Jesus, the unblemished sacrifice and perfect Savior. There was no imperfection in Jesus. He was perfect in His moral obedience and perfect in His ceremonial observance.

As it happened, God also appointed special days and feasts in order for the Israelites to meet with Him. To begin with, the weekly Sabbath was the cornerstone of Israel’s worship (23:2-4). The Sabbath was a day that uniquely belonged to the Lord. God even referred to every seventh day of every week of the year collectively as “my Sabbaths.” The regular observance of the Sabbath shaped the routine and order of their lives. One of the prominent features of the Sabbath was a cessation from all work. The labor and activity that marked every other day was prohibited. It was a day of solemn rest. It allowed the people to remember God’s cessation of creative work upon the creation of the world and to recall their emancipation from slavery in Egypt. The Sabbath also became the template for all other holy convocations or feasts. God appointed three pilgrim festivals to be observed by the men in every household, requiring leaving their homes: the Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread (these two go together), the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles). Each of these festivals were weeklong celebrations. In addition to the three annual feasts, there were two feast-days: the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. These two days were to be observed in every Israelite home. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which included the Feast of Firstfruits), and the Feast of Weeks were observed during the spring. Passover and Unleavened Bread looked back to their liberation from Egypt. Firstfruits and Weeks announced the beginning of the harvest and celebrated God’s provision. The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths were observed in the fall. Trumpets called the people to worship and to renew their commitment to the Lord. The Day of Atonement required fasting and contrition (they afflicted themselves: 23:27,29,32) as the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place to make atonement. During Booths, the people built temporary dwellings and stayed in them for seven days, remembering their days in the wilderness and also celebrating the fall harvest. The intent behind all of the Sabbaths and holy convocations was that God’s people were to be known by their worship and, most of all, by the God they worshipped.

Dear Lord God, I worship you today for You are worthy. I praise You for the gift of Your Son and my perfect Savior. May my life be marked every day by how I worship you in the words I speak, things I do, and in the way I serve You and others. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to…
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Day 50 – Leviticus 19-21

Day 50
Leviticus 19-21

According to Rabbinical tradition there are 613 commandments in the Pentateuch. There are 365 negative commands and 248 positive commands. Jesus properly and clearly summarized them into two main commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:38-39). For the Israelites, the Law was woven into the very fabric of their lives along vertical and horizontal axes. They were to love God and love people. What unnerves many people about the list of laws is that statutes like the prohibition of idolatry, stealing, and lying are placed alongside other laws regulating side-locks (payot: hair in front of the ears), facial hair, or clothing with mixed materials. This has led some to conclude that the laws were culturally determined. The basis for every command, however, was grounded in the holy character of the living God.

As it happened, some form of the phrase, “I am the Lord,” appears sixteen times in Chapter 19. Every child was to respect the authority of their mother and father, and every Israelite was to observe God’s Sabbaths: “I am the LORD” (19:3). They were not to turn to idolatry: “I am the LORD your God” (19:4). They were to leave enough produce of so that the poor would have something to eat: “I am the LORD” (19:10). They were not to misuse the name of God: “I am the LORD” (19:12). They were not to abuse the disabled: “I am the LORD” (19:14). They were neither to slander nor endanger a neighbor’s life: “I am the LORD” (19:16). They were not to seek revenge or hold a grudge against a neighbor, but each person was to love his neighbor as himself: “I am the LORD” (19:18). In the Promised Land, they were to plant fruit trees but refrain from eating its fruit for four years: “I am the LORD” (19:23-25). They were not to self-mutilate or tattoo their bodies: “I am the LORD” (19:28). They were to observe God’s Sabbaths and respect His sanctuary: “I am the LORD” (19:30). They were not to consult with mediums or sorcery: “I am the LORD” (19:31). They were to respect their elders and fear God: “I am the LORD” (19:32). They were to treat strangers or foreigners equitably: “I am the LORD” (19:33-34). They were to use honest weights and balances: “I am the LORD” (19:35-36). Obedience to these laws was to set them apart from their idolatrous neighbors.

As it happened, there were clear penalties for disobedience (20:1-21). The most severe penalty was capital punishment for transgressions like child sacrifice, parental cursing, adultery, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality. For a lesser offense, like spiritism, the guilty person would be cut off from the community. The purpose behind these laws was so that Israel would be separated unto the Lord as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

As it happened, God set a high standard for priests (21:1-24). The word “profane” is used nine times ranging from prohibitions of touching a dead body, cutting themselves, marrying a divorced woman or a temple prostitute. The High Priest was prohibited from having any contact with the dead, including his own parents. He was to marry a virgin who was born of Israelite parents. Any member of Aaron’s descendants born with a physical deformity was barred from priestly service (18-23). This prohibition seems severe from a contemporary perspective, but God was impressing upon His people a picture of His wholeness and holiness. God also established protections for those who were physically disqualified from abuse. Those excluded from the priesthood were to be supported as if they were actively serving (22).

Holy Father, Your commandments are a mirror of Your character. They reveal the holy conduct and honest living that You expected from Your people. The Law, however, exposes how far all of us fall short of Your glory. When we read the Law and its demands our mouths are silenced without any defense. We are guilty. Thank You for forgiving us all our transgressions and wiping our slate clean by the blood of Christ. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

The LORD Is Holy – And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the…
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Day 49 – Leviticus 16-18

Day 49
Leviticus 16-18

Leviticus is a pretty bloody book. There are approximately sixty-five references to blood in its pages. The reason for this emphasis is because blood is an essential symbol of atonement and redemption. The writer to the Hebrews declared, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (cf. Hebrews 9:2).

As it happened, God instituted an annual memorial known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Blood was the most important symbol featured in this convocation because it served as a dramatic picture of redemption. The Day of Atonement was to occur on the same day, every year (the tenth day of Tishri), for generation after generation. It is not coincidental that God’s statute for mandating its observance occupies a central place in this book. Like a hinge, the two halves of Leviticus (Chapters 1-15 and Chapters 17-27) turn on the importance of this day, so critical to the life of God’s people. The Day of Atonement was a Sabbath of solemn rest (16:31). Therefore, no work was permitted. In addition, prior to this sacred day, the Israelites were commanded to afflict themselves (16:29; cf. 23:27). These afflictions (later called, “The Five Afflictions”) probably included abstinence from eating and drinking, washing and bathing, applying lotions and perfumes, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. For an entire day, the people were to live as if they were dead. On this day, Aaron or the future High Priest, was to take a bull and two goats for special offerings. First, he offered a bull for his own Sin Offering and for his family, purging the physical Tabernacle and his household of any corruption (16:6). Secondly, the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place with a censor of burning incense which created a cloud, obscuring his gaze of the mercy seat, where God dwelled. Behind the veil, the High Priest then sprinkled the blood of the slain bull before the mercy seat seven times. Thirdly, he slaughtered a goat as a Sin Offering for the people. Likewise, he sprinkled its blood on the mercy seat and also on the altar. Fourthly, he cast lots, likely using the two stones known as the Urim and Thummim, to assign the role for each goat. The first goat was sacrificed to the Lord as a Sin Offering. The High Priest would reenter the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the blood of the goat on the mercy seat. Then he would take the second goat and publicly confess the sins of the people over it. He would then lay his hands on its head, symbolically transferring all their sins to this “scapegoat” (the probable meaning of Azazel). The goat was led away into the desert, symbolizing the sins of the people being carried away. When the High Priest completed these sacrifices, he removed his simpler priestly garments and was clothed with the wardrobe of the High Priest. He made a Burnt Offering for himself, and also a Burnt Offering for the people, in order to make atonement (16:24). The Day of Atonement was both a formal ritual and an amazing prophecy pointing to Jesus (cf. Heb. 9:11—10:18). Guilty sinners are redeemed through the shed blood of Christ who died for our sins. He entered the Most Holy Place not over and over again, but once and for all.

As it happened, God sought to safeguard the symbolic integrity of blood. For instance, if anyone sacrificed an ox, lamb, or goat outside the precincts of the Tabernacle, a severe sentence of bloodguilt was imputed to the offender (17:4). The guilty person was cut off from all communal life and worship. Under the Old Covenant, the only authorized place for worship and the slaughter of animal was at the Tent of Meeting. No animal was permitted to be slaughtered for personal consumption anywhere else. Therefore, no Israelite ate meat without first making a sacrifice for sin. If an Israelite wanted to eat meat, he had to make a peace offering in the way God prescribed. The basis behind such restriction was essentially theological: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood … for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life” (11). The animal belonged to God and its blood was safeguarded by God for the purpose of making atonement.

As it happened, beyond the rules and regulations of sacred offerings, the distinctions between what is clean and unclean, God also specified clear moral and sexual boundaries for His people (18:1-30). Specifically, the Israelites were not to be like the people they left behind (i.e. the Egyptians) or like the people where they were going (i.e. the Canaanites). Four times in Chapter 18 God’s pattern for the sexual purity of His people was based upon His own declaration: “I am the Lord Your God” (cf. 18:4, 5, 21, 30). The way the Israelites lived was an expression of their devotion to God. The sexual prohibitions in Chapter 18 were generally a protection for the sanctity of the family (6-18) and an injunction against perverted behavior (19-23). The phrase, “to uncover nakedness,” which occurs over fifteen times, was a euphemism for sexual relations. Every possible family relation was not mentioned but a sufficient number of possible relations were cited to indicate God’s disapproval of violating any existing bond of kinship. In addition, other egregious sins were condemned (i.e. child sacrifice, v. 21) and also sexual contacts that were deemed unlawful for God’s people, including prohibitions against homosexuality and bestiality (21-22). Any Israelite guilty of such abominations was unclean and cut off from communal life and worship. God’s righteous intention for His people was to reflect His rightful place in their lives as Lord and God.

Holy Father, we praise You for the blood of Jesus. Help us to rest daily in Christ’s one-time act of shedding His of blood for the forgiveness of all our sins. Jesus is our only hope. Help us also, to live in such a way, that we would live before You in a way that truly honors who You are. In Jesus’ Name, we pray, Amen.

The Day of Atonement – The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died, and the…
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Day 48 – Leviticus 14-15

Day 48
Leviticus 14-15

We can imagine the emotional impact felt by those Israelites upon learning that they were cut off from their families for contracting an infectious skin disease. There was the physical isolation of being removed from the center of communal life and worship. There was the inner desolation of the soul that required them to tear their clothes, shield the lower part of their face, and warn people away with yelps of “Unclean! Unclean!” (cf. 13:45). It was a double curse. For some, at least, there was the hope that their disease was not terminal. Maybe one day, they could be restored to their loved ones and to the worship of the living God. Chapter 14 epitomized this emblem of hope. There was a provision for their restoration to social and spiritual normalcy after their disease was cured by the Lord. What is outlined here was not a homoeopathic remedy for those afflicted but the ritual for being reinstated to the community after their healing was authenticated (1-9). The priest exited the camp and examined the expelled patient. If their healing was confirmed, the priest would initiate a complex ritual that was designed to move the person from outside the camp to the Tent of Meeting. While still outside the camp, the cleansed person took two birds, cedarwood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop and followed the steps indicated (4-7). He bathed and shaved off all his hair. This was followed by a seven-day period of observation, within the camp, while still banned from returning home. On the eighth day, the cleansed person stood at the Tent of Meeting and gave animal and grain offerings. The blood of the sacrificed lamb, or birds if impoverished, was then applied to the cleansed person from head to toe. Finally, the Israelite was reinstated to the presence of God, their family, and home. What joy must have been felt upon hearing the words, “He shall be clean.”

As it happened, the focus now moved from the laws for cleansed lepers to the laws for cleansed homes (14:33-53). Most likely, this involved an outbreak of mycological mildew. The reason that this mattered was that the infection in the home could afflict its residents and render them disqualified to worship at the Tabernacle. The priest observed the same procedure for identifying a skin disease, the discoloration of the stone and the extent of its permeation. The home was first evacuated. Then the priest examined the infection of the stones and walls. The house remained unoccupied for seven days. On the seventh day, the priest examined it for a second time. What followed were the steps taken if the fungus remained, or if it had been contained. First, if the infection had spread, the stones were ripped out and discarded. The plaster of the home was stripped off and new plaster was applied. Then the priest reexamined the home. If he determined that a stubborn blight remained, the house was demolished (demo-day!) and its rubble was tossed into the garbage dump outside the city. The residents of the home then took a long bath and put on a new set of clothes. Secondly, if, after inspection, the priest determined that the fungus had not spread, the same procedure that was established for the cleansed person was implemented for the cleansed home (48-53). Atonement was made for the house, the only difference being that no animal sacrifice was required. The home needed to be cleansed but not forgiven!

As it happened, Chapter 15 turns its focus on, well, let’s say it–bodily discharges. Oh, the humanity! The instructions covered male discharges, whether prolonged (2-15), or fleeting (16-18). The former referred to anything unusual that might be considered contagious, and thus, required a ritual procedure for cleansing. The latter was normal and only required the man to bathe. No animal sacrifice was required. Next, the law addressed the discharge of blood for women (19-30). The instructions were similar to those for men. If temporary (19-24), the woman was regarded unclean (ritually, speaking) for a week. If chronic (25-30), lasting more than a week, the same procedure was followed to prevent spreading. The similarity between the procedures for both men and women indicated that there was no discrimination between the genders (hooray!).

Holy Father, as Christians today, we understand that we are no longer bound by the ceremonial laws of the Old Covenant. We rejoice in the glorious truth that Jesus Christ fulfilled the ceremonial law for us. However, we do not take lightly the regulations that had to be followed by our spiritual ancestors because they enhance and deepen our appreciation for all that Jesus accomplished on our behalf. Thank You, oh our Father, for sending us Your Son! In His Mighty Name, we pray, Amen.

Laws for Cleansing Lepers – The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leprous person for the day of his cleansing. He shall be…
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Day 47 – Leviticus 11-13

Day 47
Leviticus 11-13

God is holy. His holiness saturates His entire being. The essence of His holiness is His otherness. God is wholly other. He is unlike anyone else. No one can compare to Him. Two times in Chapter 11, the people of God were commanded to be holy since God is holy (44 & 45). Since God is distinct, He wanted His people to be distinct from all other nations. God gave the Israelites specific rules and regulations so that the world would know that they belonged to Him. God is holy and His people were to be holy because they belonged to Him, served Him, and functioned according to His purposes.

Warning: Reading this entire section may be hazardous to your mental and emotional state today! The functional holiness of the Israelites was captured in the Holiness Code of Leviticus. The blend of dietary, health, and sanitation laws (ethical rules come later, cf. Chapters 17-27) were designed to help the Israelites, and their neighbors, see that they belonged to God. While some of these laws do reflect sensible hygiene for people living in close quarters, they were fundamentally, laws designed to reflect His holiness. The Israelites were journeying toward a land filled with idolatry. The idolatry was evident, among other things, in what the people living ate. For the Israelites, a distinct diet would serve as a shield against assimilation. The intricate guidelines of God’s Sinai Diet Plan were based on what was regarded as clean or unclean. The word clean means acceptable to God in worship. The word unclean means unacceptable to Him, and therefore, banned from the Tabernacle. In this case, the words clean and unclean were ritual concepts, not moral qualities. The categories for animal consumption were arranged according to their natural habitat: land (2b-8), sea (9-12), sky (13-23), and ground (41-43). The criteria for eating, for example, of eating cattle, sheep or goat as opposed to eating camel, rabbit or pig (no bacon!) was twofold: fully split hooves and chewing cud. The criteria for seafood was also twofold: scales and fins (no lobster!). There’s no criteria for birds, just a list of forbidden feather friends (harshly designated as “detestable,” supposedly because they fed on dead flesh). Among the insects, only those with joints which allowed for hopping were permitted on the menu (recall John the Baptist and locusts!). The creatures voted least favorable to the Hebrew palate were those that had unbroken contact with the ground (i.e. snakes, rodents, the lizard, and the lovable gecko!). All of these food laws helped keep Israel distinct from its surrounding culture.

The ritual impurity, not moral impurity, of childbirth was briefly addressed in Chapter 12. In this section, God was not denigrating the value of motherhood. There wasn’t anything sinful about childbirth. The objective was exactly the opposite. The physical discharges after birth rendered the mother ceremonially unclean because giving birth, while wonderful, is not a normal physical state (for most women!). After a period of ritual purification, the mother was restored to communal life and worship. If the mother gave birth to a boy, she was regarded as ritually unclean for one week. On the eighth day, she was restored and her baby was circumcised (3). For an additional thirty-three days, she entered a period of ritual purification. If the mother gave birth to a girl, she was regarded as ritually unclean for two weeks and her period of purification lasted for sixty-six days (Question: Why twice as long if a girl? Answer: We don’t know!). At the end of the purification period, whether she had a boy or girl, the mother gave a Burnt Offering, a lamb if she could afford one, or two turtledoves or a pigeon, if she could not. She also made a Sin Offering for atonement, the bird of sacrifice was again determined by her economics. It is worth peeking ahead and reading about Joseph, Mary, and the birth of Jesus as this special family in Luke 2:21 as this special family applied Leviticus 12 to their own lives. It was the depth of our Lord’s condescension that He came to earth and was born to a mother who, along her husband, was so poor that they could afford only two turtledoves.

In Chapter 13, God’s laws for His people shifted from motherhood to mildew and leprosy (i.e. skin diseases). Earlier, God told the priests that they had to distinguish between the holy and the profane (cf. 10:10-11). They had their work cut out for them with this responsibility. This entire chapter is heavy sledding because it deals with skin diseases (1-46), contaminated clothing (47-59), and how both issues affected a person’s ritual cleanness. Regarding skin-related diseases, the priest (though not a licensed dermatologist) provided a thorough examination based on specific symptoms. Certain diseases made a person unclean (i.e. psoriasis or leprosy), whereas, other concerns did not render one unclean (i.e. a rash, eczema, scars, burns, and baldness, whew!). Leprosy was a broad term that included a variety of skin diseases. In this case, a leper was declared ritually unclean and lived a lonely life, barred from communal life and worship.
In more ways than can be addressed these chapters point to our great need that can only be met in Christ. We are all sinners or lepers. When Jesus came, He dared to touch the lonely leper, against all medical protocol, and by His death He made the unclean sinner clean, forever!

Lord God, there is much in this section of Leviticus that befuddles us and even bothers us. However, we know that every word in Your Word is precious. This portion of Your Word is ultimately precious to us because it points us to Jesus, our Living Word, who was willing to come and give His life for broken and diseased sinners like us. Thank You, Jesus! In Your mighty Name, we pray, Amen.

Clean and Unclean Animals – And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, These are the living things…
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Day 46 – Leviticus 8-10

Day 46
Leviticus 8-10

The five sacrifices which would define the worship of Israel for centuries have been elucidated and explained. Aaron and his sons were ready to be ceremonially ordained as priests. Their ministry was then inaugurated in a brilliant pubic worship service at the Tent of Meeting. After an undisclosed period of time, two of Aaron’s sons were guilty of a faulty and fatal act.

The ordination ceremony for Aaron and his sons was a public extravaganza that extended for an entire week. The purpose of the ceremony was not only to set apart those chosen by God for the priesthood, but also to communicate the holiness of God to His people. In preparation for the ceremony, Moses collected the finely crafted priestly garments, the specially formulated anointing oil, three animals for sacrifice, and a basket of unleavened bread. He summoned everyone to assemble at the entrance to the Tabernacle (8:1-4). The service of ordination consisted of four main movements. It began with Moses ceremonially washing Aaron and his sons, symbolizing the moral purity required in their service. Secondly, Aaron, as the High Priest, was invested with the six garments unique to his office, depicting the majesty and glory of God (ephod, breastpiece, sash, turban, robe, and tunic). The Urim and Thummin, the two stones used by the High Priest for discerning the will of God, were placed in the fold of his breastpiece. Thirdly, Moses consecrated the Tabernacle. He smeared oil on the Tent, its furnishings and utensils. He consecrated the altar with a seven-fold anointing. He poured oil on Aaron’s head which ran down his face, beard and garments. He also invested Aaron’s sons with their priestly clothes. Thirdly, three offerings of consecration were conducted. The first animal sacrificed was the valuable male bull for the Sin Offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the bull’s head, transferring their sin to the animal, as their substitute. The bull was killed. Moses took the blood and consecrated the altar, the horns of the altar, and its base. The fat, liver and kidneys were offered to the Lord. The rest of the bull was burned outside the camp. The second animal was a ram given for the Burnt Offering. The ram was killed. Moses threw its blood against the sides of the altar and then the whole animal was offered to the Lord. A third animal was sacrificed, the ram of ordination. The ram was killed. Moses took its blood and anointed Aaron from head to toe, then did the same to his sons. Moses placed the fat, liver, kidneys and right thigh in the hands of Aaron and his sons. They waved the pieces before the Lord. Then Moses took all the pieces from Aaron and burned them as an offering of ordination. Moses also waved the breast and then kept it for himself. He took the oil of God’s secret recipe, along with blood from the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron’s and his sons’ pristine garments. The ceremony concluded with a meal of ordination consisting of cooked meat and baked goods. These four steps were repeated every day for seven days. During the weeklong ceremony, Aaron and his sons were not permitted to leave courtyard, upon the penalty of death.

As it happened, on the eighth day after the seven-day ordination ceremony, the inaugural service of the Tabernacle was celebrated (9:1). The worship service had three elements. First, two offerings were made on behalf of Aaron (7-14): a bull calf for the Sin Offering (symbolizing purification) and a ram for the Burnt Offering (symbolizing devotion). After the bull was sacrificed and before the ram was offered, Aaron left the camp for the first time in seven days to properly dispose of the ashes in a clean place. Then the ram was sacrificed. The second element was the cleansing offerings for the people (15-21). A female goat was given for the Sin Offering, followed by animal and grain offerings (the five sacrifices minus the guilt offering). These offerings were presided over by Aaron in order that the Lord would appear and display His manifest presence. The service concluded with a benediction (22-24). Aaron lifted up his hands and blessed the people. Moses and Aaron entered the Tent together, then reappeared and blessed the people again. After the blessing, the fire of the Lord flashed from The Most Holy Place and consumed the smoldering animals on the altar. As God appeared in His glory, the people erupted in spontaneous praise and fell on their faces (24b).

As it happened, Aaron and his sons were given an awesome responsibility. They served near the Lord (10:3), under strict accountability. As priests, they were commanded to take hots coals from the altar (the fire ignited by the Lord Himself) and use God’s fire to burn incense in a hand-held censor. Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, took fire from another source (literally, a strange or foreign source). The tragedy is shrouded in mystery. Whether done deliberately or out of ignorance (which neither was excusable) the fire which came from God consumed them. Aaron’s response to the death of his two sons was sobering. He held his peace (3). Aaron’s cousins, who were Levites, were assigned to carry their scorched bodies away using their seared priestly garments as a stretcher. Moses spoke to Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazer and Ithamar, and warned them not to mourn nor leave the courtyard but let the people bewail their deaths. Moses ordered them to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean” (10). That same day, Eleazar and Ithamar, offered a Sin Offering, which permitted the priests to eat the remaining meat portions. But instead of eating them, they burned them up. When Moses found out, he was angry for what he perceived to be their indifference to the Lord’s command and provision. Aaron replied to Moses, “If I had eaten the sin offering today, would the Lord have approved?” (19). Aaron concluded that it was far better to be sensitive to God’s will than insensitive to it. And who could blame him? Moses did not.

Holy God, You are a consuming fire. Holiness befits You. Reverence is due You. I am reminded of the holiness required of Your people and Your servants. Forgive us when we offer anything that is not authorized by You. Fill us with Your Spirit so that we may serve You faithfully. We serve in the hope of the gospel knowing that Jesus, Your Son, was consumed by Your fire so that we would not be consumed. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Consecration of Aaron and His Sons – The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments and the anointing oil…
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