Aaron and His Sons

Leviticus 8  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 10
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The characteristic place from which Jehovah spake to Moses for Israel, in the Books of Leviticus and Numbers, has been remarked by others. In the former, He spake from the tabernacle of the congregation, giving directions how He was to be approached who dwelt there; in the latter, from the wilderness of Sinai, to instruct a people passing through a wilderness themselves.
Let us look for a moment at the moral significance of this, rather than at the historic and suited fact of His having done so.
In Genesis, when God had created the world, and pronounced it “very good,” He came down and spake in the garden of Eden, where He walked in the cool of the day, to hold familiar intercourse with His creature — man. But man had revolted from his Creator, and the blessed intercourse of God with him is over, on the ground of innocence; and while God drove him out of the garden, He Himself retired from the garden, never more to hold intercourse with man on this ground again.
In Exodus, when He had redeemed a people out of the nations, He bare them on eagle’s wings to bring them to Himself as a peculiar possession; He proposed terms of relationship between Himself and them in the Law. And when these terms were accepted in principle, He descended upon Mount Sinai — not now to the garden of Eden — and, amidst the terribleness of that sight, gave forth the just rule of conduct for man — the sinner, with regard to Him and with his neighbor. Again, as we know the proposed relations as broken up, man having revolted still more from God.
When we open Leviticus we find that it is no more from the garden of Eden God speaks, nor from the mountain where He had surrounded Himself with blackness and darkness and tempest, but He has, as it were, retired into His own resources, to His own fit dwelling-place in light, and there, from the Shekinah of glory, reminding us of the inaccessible light in which He dwells, He proposes, not now that He should approach man as innocent, nor man a sinner, in relations suited to these respective conditions, but that man, a sinner, may come, and come with welcome into His blessed presence in light; but when this is so, unfoldings of the perfections of His blessed Son irradiate the scene, and fill to overflowing the heart of him who finds that he cannot come to God without finding Christ there! Christ, too, in His varied loveliness, whether in life or in death, is presented to the soul of him who comes, that he may be filled with joy, and comforted and refreshed by that which also fills the heart of God. Step by step God had retired from the scene, until in Leviticus He has gone back into Himself, so to speak; but if so we find that Christ occupies the whole scene, to the satisfaction both of God Himself, and the one who has come to Him.
I need hardly say that I speak now of Leviticus as read in the light of the New Testament, when the way into the holiest is made manifest, through the vail being rent in twain from the top to the bottom.
God speaks, then, from “inaccessible light,” yet He speaks of Christ, and in such a way as leaves the conscience at rest, and the soul free to delight itself in Him who is invisible, and who, while He reveals Himself, lays bare the heart of him who approaches Him, and yet cleanses the conscience, and constitutes him a worshiper; worship becomes the spontaneous outflow of his soul.
But while the foreground (ch. 1-7) of Leviticus is exclusively occupied with Christ, whether in His own person, or the manner of the use of Him by the worshiper, we find that which has ever occupied God’s heart and counsels before us at once in chapter 8. For God has had counsels and purposes before the world was, for His own glory; and we find unfolded the intentions of His Son becoming a man, and of His associating man, and the sons of men, in whom was His delight, with His Son in eternal blessedness and in His supremacy over all the works of God’s hands.
We find this thought entering much into the texture of Lev. 8 so as to lead to the question, Why are the Sons of Aaron clothed before the sin-offering is applied to them? We frequently find in the Scriptures the knitting together of the purposes of God about His elect before the world was, with the cleansing of them by the blessed work of Christ on the cross, looking upon them as sinners needing redemption. In other words, the blessed association and identification of Christ and His people — as brought into the same place of blessing with Himself according to God’s intentions. And yet while perfect identity is theirs with Him, we shall always find that they are the redeemed while He is the Redeemer; they the sanctified while He is the Sanctifier, and so on. His divine place is preserved; while the highest blessings which they receive only prove the superiority of the Blesser who is the source of them.
It is remarkable the contrast and yet the complement — the one to the other which Leviticus 8 is with Leviticus 16. The latter chapter is connected in the mind of the Spirit with the former, in the opening verse, which as it were, gives a basis or occasion for God to unfold the provisions of chapter 16. The sons of Aaron are, with Himself, clothed in chapter 8. Failure then ensues, and Leviticus 16 opens with a reference to this failure. This connects them both.
In one chapter (8) we find that Moses was to take Aaron and his sons, the anointing oil, the bullock for a sin-offering, two rams for the burnt-offering and consecrations, with the basket of unleavened bread. All were thus prepared when the ceremony of the day began. And first we find that all — both Aaron and his sons — were “washed with water.” The same “word” which sanctified the Lord, and sent Him into the world (John 10:3636Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:36)) has set His people apart, and sent them into the world — sent into it because they were not of it. You could not send into it one who was of it in any wise. But those who are set apart by the Eternal Word of God, are sent into it when redeemed, as He was sent into it in virtue of who He was. The Father sanctifies the Son — sets Him apart and sends Him into the world. The Son sanctifies Himself when His work is done, and goes on high, in order that those whom the Father has sanctified and He has sent into the world, may be “truly sanctified” according to the pattern of Him, until they also go on high.
But when it becomes a question of Aaron’s official place, there he is alone. The coat and the girdle, the robe and the ephod, with its curious girdle; the breast-plate also, with the Urim and Thummim; the miter and its plate, and the holy crown — all these were put upon Aaron, and in this he stood alone. Jesus might be clothed and honored, He might be set in the place purposed for and suited to Him; but no need had He of blood being shed. He is robed and clothed with priestly glory in virtue of His own sacred person and its perfection, as answering to all the mind of God as Man and Mediator, and being the display and disclosure of it as Son.
But mark well. His sons do not come at once into further association with Aaron. But Moses, who stood in God’s place now anoints with the holy anointing oil the whole tabernacle and all its contents, sanctifying them. He sprinkles the altar too with oil; anoints it with its vessels, and both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them. Thus in connection with them Aaron is anointed all alone.
This is the more remarkable when we turn to Lev. 16 and find that on the great day of atonement when Aaron alone, had entered the presence of God, carrying the basin of the blood of the bullock and sprinkled it before and on the golden mercy-seat; that he then came out and sprinkled with blood the altar of incense; and with blood reconciled the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar (of brass I suppose) — these same things which he had anointed with oil in Lev. 8, and this before the other goat was offered.
Thus we have two distinct things before us.
Christ as Son is “appointed Heir of all things,” according to Hebrews 1. He will, according to God’s counsels, possess all things as their true Head, in the power of the Holy Spirit — the oil. But sin having defiled the inheritance, He must take it with all its responsibilities and inherit it; not only as Heir of all things, but as Redeemer; and then follows Hebrews 2. If, in Hebrews 1, He is “Heir of all things” as Son, by God’s appointment, in chapter 2. He, “by the grace of God, tastes of death for all” (τα παντα). If in Lev. 8 He possesses all things by the power of the Holy Spirit; in chapter 16 He redeems all things by the virtue of His precious blood. And thus God’s eternal counsels are brought to pass through the work of the cross, and will be brought to fruition when the joint-heirs are gathered together.
We have this like thought in Ephesians 1. There we learn that God will head up all things into Christ, in the “administration of the fullness of the times.” He will take possession of God’s universe as its Head — as the Second Man. Then follows the joint-heirs and their possessions in Him, and their being gathered out by the power of God in accomplishing His counsels (Eph. 2).
Still, in Lev. 8 it is not exactly in the condition of sinners needing redemption that the sons of Aaron are seen. It is more the value of Christ’s work in its various phases put upon them, fitting them for their official place as priests in connection with Aaron. The sin-offering and other sacrifices come in consequently after their investiture with their priestly robes in connection with Aaron. Thus the connection through the cross, of the counsels which associate the elect with Jesus, and their standing in the acceptance of the worth of Christ on the cross, is maintained. The sin-offering being brought, Aaron and his sons place their hands upon its head, showing the connection and identification, and yet the difference, between Him and them. For Jesus was as surely made sin (2 Cor. 5:2121For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)) as we were sin itself. He alone could be made what He was not. Still here there is no sprinkling of the sons with blood. It is the purifying of the altar by blood, which is poured out at its foot; and the fat and the inwards burned upon the altar. It seems to be more the identification of all with Him in the blessed act, by which the basis of God’s glory was established, by which the elect were brought into positive identity with Him who chose them, and delighted in them before the world was.
So also when the “Ram of consecration” was offered, after the burnt-offering, Aaron and his sons are again together. He who acted in God’s place and for Him — Moses (for it appears to be him all through here), did this with the burnt-offering. And Aaron and his sons are all anointed with the blood of consecration. So that the thoughts, actions, and walk are all put under the guardianship and value of the precious blood which He shed. How wondrously blessed! How poorly responded to by His people, is this place of blessing; yet how true it all is!
Then the meat-offering and the basket of consecrations — the unleavened cake and oiled bread are all placed upon and received from off Aaron’s and his son’s hands (vss. 27-28). Thus we learn in type what is taught in doctrine in Ephesians 5:1-21Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. (Ephesians 5:1‑2), that the elect who have been redeemed are to “Be therefore imitators of God as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering (meat-offering) and a sacrifice (peace offering) to God for a sweet smelling savor.” “An odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice (peace-offering) acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:1818But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18)).
After the anointing of Aaron and his sons, and his garments, and his sons’ garments with him, the Holy Spirit thus sealing and constituting all the priestly family, high priest and priests, in their persons and circumstances as one (vss. 30-36), they are shut up for the seven days of their consecration, to feed upon the consecrations, and “keep the charge of the Lord,” until the eighth day of glory (Lev. 9) comes, when the Lord will reveal Himself to Israel, and His glory appear to His earthly people, and they will fall on their faces in repentance and adoration of Jesus — their Jehovah-Messiah.
Words of Truth, New Series 2:161-166.