Christian Churches of God
The Ordination of Aaron and His Sons
(Edition 1.0 20050108-20061125)
Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his sons and their garments and so he consecrated them. This paper has been adapted from Chapters 32-34 of The Bible Story Volume II by Basil Wolverton, published by Ambassador College Press, and covers from Leviticus chapter 8 to chapter 25 in the Bible.
The Ordination of Aaron and His Sons
We continue here from the study paper Rebellion Against God’s Laws (No. CB41).
After Moses had set up the tabernacle in the wilderness, the Lord said to Moses, “Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast, and gather the entire assembly to the Tent of Meeting (Lev. 8:1-3 NIV).
Moses did as he was asked. He brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. He put the tunic on Aaron, tied the sash around him, clothed him with the robe and put the ephod on him. He then placed the breastpiece on him and put the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece. Then he placed the turban on Aaron’s head and set the gold plate, the sacred diadem, on the front of it as the Lord commanded Moses (vv. 4-9 NIV).
Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. He sprinkled some oil on the altar seven times, anointing the altar and all its utensils to consecrate them. He poured some of the oil on Aaron’s head to consecrate him. Then he brought Aaron’s sons forward, put tunics on them, tied sashes around them and put headbands on them, as the Lord commanded Moses (vv. 10-13 NIV).
The consecration service included a sin offering for atonement, a burnt offering for worship (v.18) and a “ram for ordination” (v. 22) whose blood was applied to the high priest (Aaron) on his right ear, thumb and toe (v. 23). After this was done Aaron offered sacrifices for the people (Lev. 9:15-21). Then he blessed the people in his capacity as priest, and the Lord accepted his ministry with the sign of miraculous fire (vv. 23-24). See the notes on Leviticus 8:14 NIV Study Bible.
“God will allow you to enter completely into His tabernacle service only after you have spent seven days and nights in your duties at the door,” Moses told Aaron and his sons. “Do exactly as you have been told, or you may have to pay with your lives” (Lev. 8:31-36).
On the eighth day (after the seven days of ordination) Moses told Aaron, his sons and the elders of Israel to bring offerings for the first services in use of the altar. All the people were also told to be present. After the first carcasses were placed on the altar, Moses, Aaron and his sons went out to stand before the people while Moses informed the crowd that God was pleased with the offerings.
The first fire that lit the altar was supplied supernaturally from fire from heaven (Lev. 9:24; 1Kgs. 18:38,39; 2Chro. 7:1-3). The offering there was quickly consumed by an energy more like lightning than ordinary flames. This close display of God’s power so startled the people that they fell forward in awe (Lev. 9:22-24).
“This is God’s holy fire,” Moses told Aaron. “Your sons should never allow it to die” (Lev. 6:12-13). “Twice a day live coals should be taken from the altar and carried in a censer to the holy place to be sprinkled with incense at the golden altar” (Ex. 30:1-9). Therefore, it was the priest’s job to make sure the fire did not go out.
The fire is a representation of the Holy Spirit that we need to keep burning, or growing in us. Just as fire can be put out, the Holy Spirit can be quenched (1Thes. 5:19), or grieved (Eph. 4:30), which can result in the Holy Spirit being removed from an individual. It is the priest’s job to teach the people how to obey God’s Laws, and by doing so they keep God’s Holy Spirit.
From then on the tabernacle was in constant use. Early each morning Aaron’s sons came to carry out their preparation duties. Then animals were slaughtered, dressed and offered for all Israel. This was done again in the afternoon, so that an offering was always on the altar (Lev. 6:9,12-13). The unblemished animals used for burnt offerings typified the Messiah who would later come to die for the sins of the people.
Aaron and his sons had to carry out their duties properly. There were several kinds of offerings planned by God to distinctly remind the Israelites of their sins, and to give them an opportunity to worship Him with a feeling of close contact. These offerings were to teach Israel the habit of obeying their God (Gal. 3:24). They also taught the need for a Saviour to come to pay for the sins of the world. The offerings were not to pay for sin. Salvation never came through animal sacrifices. They were given to Israel until the coming of the Saviour (Gal. 3:19), and were to remind the people that one would come to shed his blood for their sins (Heb. 10:3, 4, 18).
There were burnt offerings, food offerings, peace offerings, trespass offerings, offerings for sins of ignorance and others. For each type there was a special ceremony outlined by God (Lev. 1-5). For example, if a man wished to make a personal burnt offering as a gift to God, he was to bring one of three things. It had to be a healthy, unblemished male from his cattle, sheep, goats, turtledoves or pigeons. There was a ceremony for each kind of creature. Some ceremonies were more involved than others, but each ended with the animal’s flesh being burned.
Most of the people didn’t realise their sacrifices pointed to a time when the Being in the cloud (the Angel of Yahovah) would later come in human form as Jesus the Christ, and he would be sacrificed for the sins of all the world’s inhabitants.
Sacrificial ceremonies included more than animals. Olive oil, flour from grains, wine and incense were also used. Some were used in combinations, such as unleavened breads not sweetened by honey. Whatever the ritual or its necessities, all had to be done exactly according to how God had instructed Moses. Nothing was to be changed, added or omitted.
The sacrificing of animals was no longer necessary after Jesus Christ was sacrificed many centuries later, as the Lamb of God to die for the sins of this world (Heb. 10:4, 10-12,18). When Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself there ceased to be any need to sacrifice animals as a reminder of sin (Heb. 10:3).
Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorised fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the Presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord (Lev. 10:1-2).
Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:
‘By those who come near me
I must be regarded as holy:
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’” (v. 3)
Aaron’s sons died because they disobeyed God by bringing strange fire before Him when they were told not to.
Aaron stood in silent misery, gazing at the flame-blackened bodies of his sons. Finally he turned away, realising that disobedience had brought punishment. In spite of the shock of his nephews’ deaths, Moses lost no time in arranging for burials, and for replacements in Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s two other sons.
“Don’t mourn because of Nadab and Abihu,” Moses warned Aaron and the two other sons. “If you do, it would show that you feel God has dealt unjustly with them” (vv. 6-7). However, their relatives could mourn for the two men that the Lord had destroyed by fire.
People were sobered when they heard Nadab and Abihu had died by the hand of God. Even a funeral wasn’t to interfere with tabernacle ceremonies. Aaron had to carry on with his duties, and Eleazar and Ithamar had to start with theirs.
Priests are to be holy in the exercise of their duties. To that end, it is also a ruling that priests on duty abstain from wine and strong drink until after they have ceased the sacrificial duties in hand that day. The only wine used in the ceremonies was the drink offering where wine was poured out as an offering to God.
Serious events didn’t necessarily steer matters smoothly. In one case a goat was to be used as a sin offering for the people. When Moses inquired about the goat offering and found it had been burned up he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s remaining sons.
“Why was the offering left to burn?” he angrily asked. “Why wasn’t it eaten in the holy place, as holy meat to bear the sins of the people?” (vv. 16-18). “Since its blood was not taken into the holy place, you should have eaten the goat in the sanctuary area, as I commanded”, Moses said.
Aaron replied to Moses, “Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, but such things as this have happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today?” (Lev. 10:19).
When Moses heard this he was satisfied.
God gave us Laws and a priesthood to protect the understanding of those Laws and to conduct the day-to-day worship of the nation of Israel.
This priesthood were the sons of Levi, a tribe of Israel. This tribe itself was subordinate to the older order of Melchisedek. Levi was deemed to have tithed to Melchisedek when he was in the loins of his great-grandfather Abraham. This order of Melchisedek represented the new priesthood of the Church, which was open to all nations, or the Gentiles (meaning people of the nations), through the death of its High Priest Jesus Christ.
Levi was to give way to and become a part of this order and many would be added to Levi and the tribes, who would all provide priests in the new system.
Levi was to become a priesthood that was holy and dedicated to God, as Israel was a nation holy and dedicated to God. In order to be holy and clean as servants of God there were rules given to them to maintain clean and healthy bodies and minds.
These apply to the servants of God both as ancient Israel, the priests of Levi and the nations brought into and serving under the priests of the Order of Melchisedek, of whom Jesus Christ is High Priest. These aspects are covered in the Book of Hebrews. See also the paper Melchisedek (No. 128).
Everybody should be healthy. God intended that His own people should not only know the truth about food but also live radiant, healthy lives.
Food that is clean doesn’t always mean that it is free of every kind of dirt. It can be pure in that respect, but at the same time it can be unfit to eat. God made animals, birds and fish in a class good for human food, and in another class unfit for humans to eat. The Bible calls one kind “clean” and the other kind “unclean.”
This was known before the Flood. Noah knew what to do when he was told to take seven pairs of each kind of clean animals and birds into the Ark along with one pair of each unclean kind (Gen. 7:2-3). The detailed knowledge of such things had been compromised over the centuries as the Israelites had mingled with the heathen Egyptians, who had no interest in obeying God. The laws needed to be restated.
The same was true of the Ten Commandments. Adam knew what they were. So did Noah, Abraham and many others. At Mt. Sinai they were brought to the Israelites so they could know again, or have confirmed, what was God’s will. (See the paper The Ten Commandments (No. CB17).) To Israel went the responsibility of preserving the Laws in writing and keeping pagan beliefs and rules from becoming mixed with them.
God gave simple rules by which clean animals could be known from the unclean. See the paper The Biblical Food Laws (No. CB19).
The Creator never does anything without a good reason. His mind is far superior to human minds, which are rarely able to understand divine decisions and actions. Nevertheless, man tries to figure out why God tells him to do certain things. And when he can’t discover God’s reasons, he generally decides obedience is unnecessary.
Man should obey for his own good, regardless of how little he understands. Only then is he blessed. Unhappily, millions have decided that unclean animals are proper to eat, especially if God is thanked for them.
The main reason any animal is unclean is that God did not intend that man should eat it. God made some animals for human food. Others were for work, for pets, for consuming waste products and for controlling the numbers of other creatures. If man could have discerned which animals were unclean, there would have been no need for the Bible to inform him.
The human body has degenerated since Adam. Man should not be surprised to find that much of that degeneration has been due to centuries of consuming unclean foods.
“Do not defile yourself with these unclean creatures,” God warned.
“Keep yourselves clean and sacred, so that you will be more acceptable to your holy God” (Lev. 11:44-47).
Regardless of what God said, millions who claim to be faithful, obedient Christians feel that anything with high vitamin content must be good for them. They argue mistakenly that the laws of clean and unclean food, inspired by God for all people for all time, were merely “old Jewish laws” that had been “nailed to the cross” at Christ’s death.
To justify their eating unclean foods many people turn to 1Timothy 4:4-5, and point with triumph to what Paul said:
“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (RSV).
Taken out of its context, this statement would probably cause the reader to conclude that either Paul didn’t agree with God or that God has changed His mind and humans could eat anything as long as God’s blessing is asked on it. But Paul didn’t disagree with God, who never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). Neither do His Laws change (Mat. 5:17-18).
In 1Timothy 4:4-5, the Holy Spirit was telling Paul that in the Last Days two doctrines of demons would be popular on planet Earth. The demons introduced these doctrines to deceive people. Some people have wrong ideas about not marrying and not eating certain foods.
The first doctrine of demons is the teaching that people should not get married. The demons want to destroy the family unit that God is using to teach His system and Plan of Salvation. The family unit is the foundation of our society on which the nations are built. Many people today live together without getting married and this is not the correct thing to do. This is sinning against God’s Laws and can only lead to punishment of the nations.
The next doctrine is not eating meats that God specifically created for us to eat. This doctrine is called “vegetarianism”. If we do not eat meat we will lack essential nutrients that we need for a healthy brain. That is not the system God set up from the beginning when he created Adam. Cain was a tiller of the soil and Abel was a pastoralist. Abel's offering was more acceptable to God than Cain's offering. That is the reason for Cain's anger and the reason why he killed his brother Abel (Gen. 4:1-16). See the papers Cain and Abel: Sons of Adam (No. CB7) and The Doctrines of Demons of the Last Days (No. 48).
Picking certain words and phrases out of the Bible and adding them together to try to prove untruths is an ancient trick. Such deceit can generally be uncovered by comparing Scriptures and by carefully reading whole chapters to find exact meanings of certain words, phrases and sentences.
God did not cleanse the unclean creatures
Another example of misunderstanding is based on Acts 10:9-16. If one reads only those verses, the impression is conveyed that Peter was told that God had cleansed unclean creatures, and that Peter should not hesitate to eat them. But verse 17 shows that Peter knew God did not mean for him to eat unclean meat. Peter noticed that no animal’s nature had been changed; they were still unclean! So he began to wonder what the vision did mean. He did not jump to a hasty conclusion.
Verses 28 and 29 show that the vision was for pointing out that Peter should not regard any man, regardless of nationality, as common or unclean if he seeks to live rightly. It had nothing to do with clean or unclean foods.
No matter what is believed about clean and unclean creatures, the two kinds still exist. The nature of unclean animals has not changed. They are the same today as they were before the Flood, in Moses’ day and in Peter’s time. Those who obey the Creator in these matters receive definite blessings.
God’s great plan for man’s future has to do with salvation—being spared from sin and death and being given the gift of eternal life. Moses wanted to know about this. God explained it to him so that he could pass on the vital information to the Israelites. See the paper God’s Plan of Salvation (No. CB30).
If there were no sin, man wouldn’t have to be saved from it. People who say they don’t need salvation don’t know what sin is or what eternal life means. Man should know he is mortal, subject to death, and needs the Spirit of God as a gift to make it possible to live forever. God made this plain to Moses about the time the tabernacle was erected. Most of the Book of Leviticus (written by Moses) has to do with the rules meant to keep Israel the wisest and cleanest nation on Earth. God also made known the rituals required to teach the Israelites the need of a Saviour and the habit of obedience.
The Book of Leviticus makes it obvious that God’s Laws, which explain right from wrong, are helpful in making all people much happier. But down through time many religions have sprung up that ignore those rules by labeling them “Jewish laws,” and referring to Leviticus as an account of the ancient “laws of Moses.”
Many people regard the words law, Jew, Moses and Israelite with contempt. Their religious leaders unknowingly have either failed to teach them the truth, or have deliberately withheld the truth from them. Those who have brought the truth (including Jesus Christ) have been slain or ridiculed because the truth they announced conflicted with the beliefs of many religious sects. Men have always hated those with God’s truth (Mat. 23:29-35). Those who sneer at the commandments given to Israel are inviting on themselves the miserable results of sin.
There is nothing wrong with the Laws given to the Israelites through Moses, but because they were broken, Jesus had to die.
When Moses told the people the civil laws which God gave him, the Israelites recalled with shame the way so many of them had pranced before the Golden Calf. See the paper Rebellion Against God’s Laws (No. CB41).
Seven steps to the Plan of Salvation
Israel’s God told Moses that the Plan of Salvation for mankind was so important He would require the people to observe certain annual Holy Days as reminders. In summary, the seven steps in God’s Plan are pictured by seven special holy periods of time. These special days are: Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Festival of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Festival of Ingathering or Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day. See the paper God’s Holy Days (No. CB22).
All went well in carrying out these things. In spite of their weaknesses, the Israelites became aware that they were the only people to whom God was revealing His Plan (at that time), which was pictured by the Holy Days. In choosing them to preserve His truth, He was mercifully willing to forgive their sins even though He did not promise them eternal life at that time.
People who have forgotten these days have forgotten the true Plan of Salvation, which these days picture. They have come to believe in a counterfeit plan! See the paper God’s Plan of Salvation (No. CB30).
Today most people do not observe God’s Holy Days. But every human being who has ever lived or ever will live must have the opportunity of learning of God’s great Plan. (2Pet. 3:9; 1Tim. 2:4). God will deal justly with everyone. Each person (Rom. 2:11) will have a full understanding of the right way and must make his or her own decision as to whether he or she will obey God (Heb. 8:11).
In this way the people of the world are called out and prepared to join the body of Christ, which is the Church of God. They are prepared to become priests, as were the Levites before them. They become priests after the Order of Melchisedek, and servants of the Most High God, bringing the elect to understanding and to baptism in the Holy Spirit so that they too might become priests of the Most High God.
(The New International Study Bible was used as a source of reference in various places in this paper.)