Today’s Scripture: Exodus 39-40
As they complete the construction of the tabernacle pieces and priestly garments and the set-up process begins, Moses inspects everything to ensure its perfection in accordance with God’s instructions, and consecration occurs before it can be used. Though God has already detailed the instructions regarding the consecration process and the ceremonies involved, one notices that the act of washing oneself is indicated here as a precursor to the consecration. We remember from chapter 29 that what follows is the process of anointing with oil, then giving a sin offering, a burnt offering, and a wave offering — using the blood of the wave offering to sprinkle on the priests’ ears, thumbs, and big toes. There is a lot of meaning behind this, and considering it in terms of ourselves is just as meaningful.
To consecrate is to dedicate to the service of God, to set apart for His use. The act of consecration is the process by which one is made holy in order to be acceptable for this service. Just as Aaron and his sons were to be consecrated before taking up their positions as priests for the Israelite people, we, too, should consider ourselves consecrated before the Lord for His service.
The initial washing of the priests (which they must repeat every time they enter the Tent of Meeting, which is the purpose for the water basin) is a way of removing the filth of the outside world before entering the sacred presence of the Lord. Before all else, we are to come to Him with respect and reverence; the filth of the world can mean a lot of things (and for the Israelite priests, it meant literally the dust and sand of the desert), but we should consider it anything that would be offensive to God. Whether that be hatred toward our brother or distrust of God, we should leave it at the door and wash it off.
The anointing of oil is associated with election by the people as well as endowment by the Spirit. While we are not all elected officials, and we certainly will not all have a public ministry in an obvious way (in conjunction with a church or a priesthood), we are all endowed by the Holy Spirit to make disciples of all the nations. God gave the gift of the Spirit to all who believe, to go with us as a witness of His power. We must all consider ourselves equiped by the Spirit to do His work.
The next step is the sin offering. This particular offering, as the name suggests, was to remove sin from he who offered it to God, or from those who the offerer represented. Just as the Israelite priests, we are to approach God blamelessly. Though we are imperfect, He removes our imperfection through His Son Jesus Christ — and as we prepare for the building of His Kingdom and are set apart for His use, we must constantly we aware of ourselves and the witness that we project. What do our actions say about who Jesus is? When we make mistakes, we must humble ourselves in repentance and once again accept the gift of grace through Jesus Christ.
After the sin offering comes the burnt offering, which according to the IVP Bible Background Commentary, was an offering used to approach God with a plea and invoke His response. This plea could have been any of a number of things — victory in battle, mercy or forgiveness, the favor of God, etc. I can’t help but feel that the burnt offering’s place among the rites of the consecration process is a way of asking God, in all circumstances of life, to be with us — to have His favor over us as we go daily, performing His work. As we dedicate ourselves to His work on earth, may it be our constant prayer that He be with us in all things, and that He work alongside us as we work for His glory.
Finally, the wave offering finishes the consecration process, with the sprinkling of the blood on Aaron and his sons at the ears, thumbs, and big toes. First, the wave offering itself is a way of literally elevating the offering toward Him — basically stating that all things belong to God. This is the mindset with which we must all go about our daily business, knowing that everything we have and all that we are is His to use for His purposes. The sprinkling of blood (blood, remember, is used for purifying purposes) on the ears, thumbs, and big toes also holds great significance; the ears represent their discernment of God’s word to them, the thumbs represent their active role in the practice of sacrifice both for themselves and for the people they represent, and the big toes represent their role as leader, who will walk ahead of the people to guide them. May we, as we represent God in this world, rightly hear what He says to us. May we go about the duties He has given us with integrity, cheerfully doing what He asks and not cutting any corners — for He is practical in His assignment and His way is always best. Finally, may we lead in His direction, careful never to stray from the only road that leads to Him — Christ.
Tomorrow’s Scripture: Leviticus 1-4