I skipped Leviticus 8, because I have already written on it here. Instead, I want to look at chapter 9. After the priest has been made pure before God, consecrated, and has waiting until the Lord would call them forth, they begin their ministry. There is a term, the five-fold ministry, that comes from Ephesians 4:11. I believe that all calls of God have root in priestliness. For those who desire to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers, you cannot legitimately have that role without priestliness. It takes more than schooling, education, understanding, knowledge, etc. Understanding and knowledge can be found outside of schooling, I don’t think anyone would argue, but often the pastor gets hired when they have the credentials. Sadly, this is one credential that often gets overlooked.
Notice Leviticus 9:1, “On the eighth day…” God had ordered that the priests be in waiting for seven days. For many of us, we would consider seven days to mean seven days. Yet, I have the inclination that the priests didn’t wait seven, but rather eight by our count. The day that they were consecrated was one, and then after that were seven more days of waiting before the Lord in silence. This totals eight days. I come to this conclusion from the book of Exodus. In Exodus 19, God tells Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves, and in three days, He will show Himself to them. Moses then tells the people to consecrate themselves for three days, and on the fourth day, God will reveal Himself. God desired three full days. Here, God desires seven days. Aaron and his sons had spent some of the first day already. Therefore, I believe that there were another seven days after the first.
Looking back at what these sacrifices mean, we can come to better understanding of what it would signify for Aaron and his sons to offer these sacrifices. They have been consecrated before the whole house of Israel. Now, they offer sacrifices on their behalf first, and then on behalf of the people. They offer the sin offering and the burnt offering together (verse 7). In this, they find atonement to draw near to God and to be made pure before Him through the sin offering. The flesh and the hide were burned outside of the camp (verse 11) to show that they shall not let any flesh be exposed, nor touch the holy things of God. For, as Paul puts it, it is impossible for those controlled by the flesh to please God.
In verses 15 and onward, Aaron begins to offer the sacrifices for the people. We find they also have a sin offering and a burnt offering being given before God. When we had examined the sin offering and the guilt offering, we had come to the conclusion that there is necessarily a second work to be done. We don’t simply have the burnt offering to draw near to God, because then what about our sin nature? Rather, we find the burnt offering to be our atonement, and the sin offering being the filling of the Spirit. There has never been a time in history when all of Israel was filled with the Spirit. That awaits a future time, as the prophet Joel prophesied, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh”.
They offer a grain offering. This signifies Israel’s tribute unto God. They aren’t simply going to be a people that treat God like an idol, but will rather be living sacrifices before Him. They offer the fellowship offering, by which we see their communion with God through their lives lived together. The priest and the people fellowshipping, where you wouldn’t know the difference between the priest and people if it weren’t for the job of the priest to offer the sacrifices on the people’s behalf. In all ways they are one. They eat from the same table, they commune with God in the same manner, and they learn and teach one another by the same Spirit. They are one body, though many members, and the priests are only distinguished in their function before God.
They offer the wave offering, where they take the breast and make the symbol of the cross with it. In this, we see that we are more than just fellowshipping together. We are giving ourselves for one another. Every day we die on behalf of our brothers and sisters. I pour my life into those that are near me, and they pour their lives into me. Through our bearing of the cross for one another, we find that we never lack and are never empty.
Finally, Aaron lifts his hands toward the people and blesses them. We find the words to this blessing in Numbers 6:22-27. The priest who is doing true work before God is the only one who has authority to bless the people. No other blessing is truly blessing. But their words shall be honored. It was when the priests blessed the people that the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people (verse 23). Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face downward. If we hope to have a similar reaction by the saints that we assemble with, we too must take up the call to be a priest unto God. Our priesthood is not of Aaron, but of Melchizedek. It is by this order that David and his sons were priests. It is by this order that all of the prophets offered sacrifices unto God.
What was it about Elijah that caused his sacrifice to be accepted, and his prayer to be heard? Don’t think that it was something astounding, nor something specific to his call as the prophet. It is directly correlated to his priestliness. It is the priest alone who offers sacrifices before God, and the priest alone who can bless the people. It is the priest alone who will receive the answer by fire. That fire will manifest in various ways, but the response is always that the people fall upon their face before God. It is to this end that we pray, not that there be a reaction or that revival might come, but that God would be glorified. If there be any other motive, even the motive of reaction, we will not truly be able to offer the sacrifices in a priestly way, nor bless the people, because our focus and hearts will be set against the Lord and instead of for Him.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He shine His face upon you and be gracious to you. May He turn His face toward you and give you peace. He shall put His name upon you, and He will bless you thoroughly. Amen.