Day 11: Priestly blessings and God’s glory.
And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.’’ Lev.9:22
Additional reading: Num. 6:22 – 26; Deut. 21:5; Luk. 24:50.
No doubt, this marked Aaron’s first public function as the high priest after a long induction in the hands of Moses. But before this first official function, he needed to be ordained as the high priest (mediator) right before the entire congregation of Israel. In this regard, the LORD spoke to Moses saying:
‘‘Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.’’ (Lev. 8:2 – 4).
God had indeed nominated Aaron and his sons to the office of priests but they could not function until the tabernacle and all other vessels, which were necessary for a proper functioning of their role as priests had been put in place. Having done so, it became necessary to publicly ordain them as priests appointed by God Himself. I believe that God instructed His servant Moses to do this public ordination to wipe out all doubts that Moses on his own chose his brother and his sons to impose their will on the entire community of Israel as the sons of Levi had earlier been accused of taking too much upon themselves.
Accordingly, Moses prepared Aaron and his sons for their role as mediators for Israel in these steps: (1.) Moses washed Aaron and his sons in water. This signified purification from sin — that they were to purify themselves from all tendencies to sin and ensure purity in their lives at all times. (2.) They were clothed with holy garments. This signified dignity of their calling as priests. (3.) Aaron and his sons were anointed with holy oil. By this, they were sanctified — officially and publicly pronounced, proclaimed and dedicated into their priestly office in the view of all. (4.) A bull was offered for a sin offering — this was typically the biggest offering — an offering for purification from sin and to terminate their period of uncleanness so that their old ways of sinful life would not bear on their new life (Lev. 12:6), and to purify them from unintentional sins (Lev. 4:2; 5: 1 – 4). (5.) A ram was sacrificed — it was a thing of honour to be ordained as a priest, thus, they returned the glory and honour to God through this act. (6.) A second ram was brought for a peace offering and its blood smeared on different parts of their body — ear, thumb and toe — it meant that all their days they would give attendance to the details of their calling. (7.) Aaron and his sons then presented their special gift to the LORD — wave offering — the unleavened bread. The entire ceremony lasted for seven days.
Then on the eighth day, the instruction, which eventually ushered Aaron into performing his first public assignment, was given. Aaron was to take a young bull and a ram without defect and offer them to the LORD. The bull was for a sin offering while the ram for a burnt offering. The people of Israel were to take a male goat of a year old for a sin offering and a lamb of a year old for a burnt offering. Also, they were to take a bull and a ram for a fellowship offering along with grain offering mixed with oil. This was necessary because the glory of God was to appear to them that day.
Now, read this: ‘‘Moses said, ‘The LORD has commanded you to do all this, so that the dazzling light of his presence can appear to you.’ Then he said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar and offer the sin offering and the burnt offering to take away your sins and the sins of the people. Present this offering to take away the sins of the people, just as the LORD commanded.’ ’’ (Lev.9: 6 – 7). You must bear in mind the fact that Aaron and his sons had just been openly consecrated — ordained as priest. As priests called from amongst the people for things pertaining to men as their mediators, they needed to get on the job. So, this was his first official assignment as high priest and assisted by his sons who were the priests.
One sacrifice after another, Aaron and his sons did as instructed by the LORD through Moses. After performing the rituals, Aaron raised his hands and blessed the congregation and in company of Moses both of them entered the Tent of the LORD and as they came out, God’s glory appeared over the Tent of meeting and a fire from the LORD came and consumed the offering. ‘‘He and Moses went into the sacred tent, and when they came out, they gave the people their blessing. Then the LORD appeared to the people in all of his glory. The LORD sent fiery flames that burned up everything on the altar, and when everyone saw this, they shouted and fell to their knees to worship the LORD.’’ (Vv. 22 – 23 CEV).
Note the following: (1.) Moses and Aaron gave the people their blessing as they emerged from the tabernacle. (2.) The LORD appeared to the people in all of His glory. (3.) Fire consumed the offering. (4.) Then, the people shouted and fell on their knees to worship the LORD.
To bless simply means to confer or pronounce words of goodness, prosperity or increase on an individual — words that would influence the outcome of someone’s life. And the full text of this priestly blessing as conferred on Israel by Aaron the high priest is contained in Numbers 6: 24 – 26. ‘‘The LORD bless thee, and keep thee…’’ That God should cause prosperity and increase upon His people and keep them from harm. ‘‘The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious upon thee…’’ That God should take pleasure in His people and be favourable to them. ‘‘The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace’’ That Israel should be lacking in nothing, thus, resulting in the peace and well – being of the land.
While the people were being blessed, the LORD appeared in all of His glory. ‘‘…and the glory [kabod … properly weight, honour] of the LORD appeared unto all the people.’’ In other words, God manifested His fullness — what makes Him God — His honour before the people — His Shekinah glory. And as this happened, the fire of the LORD consumed the offering signifying God’s total acceptance. More so, this was a confirmation that He indeed called and ordained Aaron and his sons and that they had followed His instructions as given by the hands of Moses. And in total surrender to the will, power and presence of the Almighty God that had overwhelmed the entire congregation, they bowed in worship. Aaron could now fully play his role as high priest mediating between God and the people of Israel so that they could maintain an unhindered relationship with the LORD.
This is instructive: Aaron blessed the people after their sins had been atoned. It points to the fact that it is only in righteousness and holiness that this conferment was to abide with the people. Therefore, the born again child of God will be a partaker of God’s blessing only by abstaining from all appearances of evil (sin).
Meditation: Am I living a life of sin yet wander why God’s blessings seem far from me? Do I expect to see God’s glory in my life yet I do not keep to His rules or instructions?
Prayer: I lay my life before You that sin shall have no dominion over me. Let none of Your words of blessings be withheld, but let each one of them be fulfilled in me.