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Exodus 29:1-9 (ESV)

“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. Take one bull of the herd and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers smeared with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. You shall put them in one basket and bring them in the basket, and bring the bull and the two rams. You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Then you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the coat and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod. And you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. You shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him. Then you shall bring his sons and put coats on them, and you shall gird Aaron and his sons with sashes and bind caps on them. And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”

The priests are still sinful people, regardless of what they’re wearing. So, a ceremony must be performed to consecrate them (the New King James says to hallow them). Obviously this can’t cleanse them of all sin, but it can make them holy (separate) and make them ceremonially clean enough to be acceptable.

The first thing they will do with Aaron and his sons is to wash them with water. This may seem obvious to modern Americans (so the clothes won’t get soiled) but bathing was rarer back then. Also, this particular procedure is only for the consecration ceremony, not for every time they enter the tabernacle.

Next comes the anointing with oil. Importantly, they don’t anoint everyone with oil, only Aaron. We tend to think of anointing as referring to the physical act of putting on the oil. That’s not what it means.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; – Isaiah 61:1a (ESV)

Aaron will be anointed as the chief priest – not “designated” as the chief priest, “anointed.”

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
– Psalm 133:1–2 (ESV)

We make a big deal of ordaining people to church office. The ordination ceremony may look like just so much pomp and circumstance, but it’s much more than that. Church officers are looked up to. They represent God’s holy church. If they mess up, it can do a lot of damage.

Recent cases in the news have made this clear. Thus, we do everything in our power to preclude that. We train. We examine. We vote. We call. Then we ordain – with the laying on of hands, as God prescribed.

It’s His church and we call on Him to protect it.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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