Scriptures

Leviticus 8

Introduction

Leviticus 1-7 have a gradual shift to the part of the priesthood in the various offerings and this in turn brings us to the laws of the priests.

In this chapter we find the Lord addressing the responsibilities of the priests in their role as mediators for the nation. You will notice that time and time again God wants them to be obedient in every aspect of their roles as priests, Leviticus 8:4-5 / Leviticus 8:9 / Leviticus 8:13 / Leviticus 8:17 / Leviticus 8:21 / Leviticus 8:29 / Leviticus 8:34 / Leviticus 8:36.

‘The LORD said to Moses, ‘Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast and gather the entire assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting.’ Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Moses said to the assembly, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded to be done.’ Then Moses 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 also fastened the ephod with a decorative waistband, which he tied around him. He 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 emblem, on the front of it, as the LORD commanded Moses.’ Leviticus 8:1-9

The Lord wants Moses to bring Aaron and his sons and bring them out in front of the whole assembly, and so everything which follows in this chapter was publicly done in front of the whole nation of Israel.

The first thing Moses did was wash Aaron and his sons, this was the beginning of the priesthood and the priests being set apart from all the other Israelites.

The priests were unique among God’s people and they had to stay unique, otherwise there would be a penalty to pay, Exodus 30:19-21. The priests were now Israel’s spiritual leaders, doing everything according to God’s will and in doing so, they would now become the prime example of obedience to the rest of the nation.

The Ephod

The ephod or tunic, Exodus 28:4 / Exodus 28:31-35 / Exodus 39:22, was a blue garment, worn over the tunic and underneath the ephod, Leviticus 8:7. It was a sleeveless dress woven in one piece, with alternating golden bells, purple, gold, and scarlet. chequered work effect. It had an opening in the top and in the middle of it and it had a band woven into it to prevent it from being torn when taken on or off, Exodus 28:32 / Exodus 39:23.

It had alternated pomegranates and golden bells hanging about the hem at the bottom of the skirt. This would be seen because the ephod came down no farther than the knees, Exodus 28:33-35 / Exodus 39:24-26. Pomegranates symbolised fruitfulness.

The sound of the bells enabled others to follow the movement of the high priest when he was in the Holy of Holies. They would be able to join in worship with him by following his movements, Psalm 89:15 / Exodus 28:31-35, and also let other priests know the high priest was coming.

The ephod was a double apron like garment like a vest or waistcoat, with a back section joined to the front section by shoulder straps over the shoulder. The shoulder straps were joined by two onyx stones set in gold, these two were inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel, six on each stone, Exodus 28:9-14 / Exodus 28:25 / Exodus 31-35 / Exodus 39:6-7 / Exodus 39:22-26.

Then there was a chain of pure gold attached these two together, the two remaining ends of the straps were attached to the breastplate.

The Urim And The Thummim

The Breastplate was folded double to form a pocket. Inside the pocket the Urim and Thummim were kept. Urim means ‘lights’ and Thummim means ‘perfections’.

They were probably two jewels. When someone had to make an important decision, the request was made known to the high priest. He would stand before the Lampstand, holding the Urim in one hand and the Thummim in the other.

As the light reflected from the Urim and the Thummim onto the stones of the Breastplate, this flash of light provided up to 24 combinations, 2 x 12. Since there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the flashes of light could produce strings of letters.

As God breathed through the Ark, the veil would move, permitting a breeze to flicker the flames in the Lampstand to momentarily alter the angle of direction of the light onto the Urim and Thummim, and thence to the Breastplate. Thus, God was able to communicate directly, but not audibly, to the high priest and answer the enquiry.

The Urim and Thummim were a means of revelation entrusted to the high priest. No description of them is given. This oracular means apparently consisted of a material object or objects since it was physically stored in the breastpiece of the high priest, Exodus 28:30 / Leviticus 8:8.

Most people today think that the Urim and Thummim were a lot oracle, but this is by no means certain. Besides being mentioned by their full name, Exodus 28:30 / Leviticus 8:8 / Ezra 2:63 / Nehemiah 7:65, in reverse order with possessives, Deuteronomy 33:8, the Urim and Thummim could also be referred to by Urim alone, Numbers 27:21 / 1 Samuel 28:6.

Sometimes the mention of the ephod, on which the breastpiece housing the Urim and Thummim were fastened, includes a reference to the Urim and Thummim, 1 Samuel 23:9-12 / 1 Samuel 30:7-8. Also, the verb ‘inquire of’ followed by ‘the Lord’ or ‘God’ when no means of revelation is specified refers to a usage of the Urim and Thummim.

The Urim and Thummim were used at critical moments in the history of God’s people when special divine guidance was needed. The civil leader was expected to make use of this means for all important matters for which he needed direction. Although referred to in Ezra 2:63 and Nehemiah 7:65, there is no convincing evidence that the Urim and Thummim were used after the time of David.

The reason for the demise of the Urim and Thummim is not explicitly given. Since the Urim and Thummim, in whatever way they functioned, were a physical means of revelation, it appears that God was taking his people away from the easy certainty inherent in a mechanical means of revelation to the more consistent use of prophecy and the Word alone.

This would require the more difficult application of the norms for true and false prophecy, Deuteronomy 13:1-4 / Deuteronomy 18:20-22, and thus necessitate a faithful teaching priesthood, Deuteronomy 33:10 / Malachi 2:7.

Although the lot theory has wide support today, there are significant difficulties with so identifying the Urim and Thummim. It is questionable whether the key evidence, the Greek text of 1 Samuel 14:41, is really to be preferred over the Hebrew text. Also, the vocabulary of lot casting is not used, and the answers contain more information than the casting of lots could yield, e.g. 1 Samuel 1:1 / 1 Samuel 5:23-24.

This last point suggests the involvement of prophecy and the divine inspiration of the high priest in giving revelation. It can also be noted that the use of the actual object(s) constituting the Urim and Thummim appears to have been self-authenticating. Even in extremely difficult circumstances, the guidance of the Urim and Thummim is followed, Judges 20:18-28.

It could be theorised that a perfect light that miraculously shone from the gem(s) constituting the Urim and Thummim, which belonged to God, Deuteronomy 33:8 gave the needed authentication to the actual answer spoken by the high priest under divine inspiration.

In this way the judgment of the Urim, the light, may have been given, Numbers 27:21. Such authentication would not have been out of place in Old Testament times when special signs were provided more often.

‘Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. He sprinkled some of the oil on the altar seven times, anointing the altar and all its utensils and the basin with its stand, to consecrate them. He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. Then he brought Aaron’s sons forward, put tunics on them, tied sashes around them and fastened caps on them, as the LORD commanded Moses.’ Leviticus 8:10-13

The Anointing of the Priest

Moses then took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it and consecrated them. He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times and anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the basin and its stand, to consecrate them. Then he poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him, to consecrate him.

The Hebrew word for ‘anoint’ is the root word for which we get the word, Messiah. There were only three groups of people who were commonly anointed in the Old Testament.

a. Priests.
b. Prophets. 1 Kings 19:16
c. Kings. 1 Samuel 9:16 / 1 Samuel 10:1

Jesus filled each of these positions and because He did, He is the Messiah, the ‘anointed One’. To be anointed meant that they would be set apart from other people, once anointed the person would then be given the responsibility of doing any special work which the Lord had for them to do.

‘He then presented the bull for the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. Moses slaughtered the bull and took some of the blood, and with his finger he put it on all the horns of the altar to purify the altar. He poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. So, he consecrated it to make atonement for it. Moses also took all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys and their fat, and burned it on the altar. But the bull with its hide and its flesh and its intestines he burned up outside the camp, as the LORD commanded Moses. He then presented the ram for the burnt offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. Then Moses slaughtered the ram and splashed the blood against the sides of the altar. He cut the ram into pieces and burned the head, the pieces and the fat. He washed the internal organs and the legs with water and burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses. He then presented the other ram, the ram for the ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on its head. Moses slaughtered the ram and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. Moses also brought Aaron’s sons forward and put some of the blood on the lobes of their right ears, on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. Then he splashed blood against the sides of the altar. After that, he took the fat, the fat tail, all the fat around the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, both kidneys and their fat and the right thigh. And from the basket of bread made without yeast, which was before the LORD, he took one thick loaf, one thick loaf with olive oil mixed in, and one thin loaf, and he put these on the fat portions and on the right thigh. He put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and they waved them before the LORD as a wave offering. Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar on top of the burnt offering as an ordination offering, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the LORD. Moses also took the breast, which was his share of the ordination ram, and waved it before the LORD as a wave offering, as the LORD commanded Moses.’ Leviticus 8:14-29

Notice the detail which Moses goes into here concerning the consecration of the priests for their work as priests, their work in the tabernacle and all their service for God. The reason for all the detail is to let everyone know the importance of having ministers and ministries, both mean they are totally committed to God.

Notice what Moses did with the blood to Aaron and his sons, ‘he put it on the lobe of their right ears, on the thumb of their right hands and on the big toe of their right feet’. This was a reminder to Aaron and his sons that as priests they must continually listen to God, they were to continually serve God and His people and continually walk in the holiness.

‘Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So, he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments. Moses then said to Aaron and his sons, ‘Cook the meat at the entrance to the tent of meeting and eat it there with the bread from the basket of ordination offerings, as I was commanded: ‘Aaron and his sons are to eat it.’ Then burn up the rest of the meat and the bread. Do not leave the entrance to the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for your ordination will last seven days. What has been done today was commanded by the LORD to make atonement for you. You must stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting day and night for seven days and do what the LORD requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.’ So, Aaron and his sons did everything the LORD commanded through Moses.’ Leviticus 8:30-36

The consecration of the priests now means they weren’t permitted to own any property or support themselves. It’s clear that God intends that all their support should come from the nation of Israel, in order that they can dedicate themselves fully to God and to the duties within the tabernacle.

After having been cleansed and anointed, Aaron and his sons were required to stay at the door of the tabernacle for seven days. They were being set apart for the work of the Lord. They were holy and this meant that they must be separate and distinct from the rest of the people. They were to minister the sacrifices of the tabernacle, and so they learned that they must stay within the compounds of the tabernacle.

On the eighth day, another sacrifice was made and Aaron blessed the people, then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.

Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, when they came out and blessed the people, ‘THE GLORY OF THE LORD’ appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces, Leviticus 9:22-24.

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DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God."

Acts 18:11

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