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Exodus 29:19-21 (ESV)

“You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar. Then you shall take part of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons' garments with him. He and his garments shall be holy, and his sons and his sons' garments with him.

Why are they anointing all these places on their right side with blood?

Well, we know that the right hand signifies honor, blessing and authority.

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” – Matthew 26:64 (ESV)

When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father's hand to move it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” – Genesis 48:17-19 (ESV)

The anointed places on the right side represent the whole. The direct anointing with blood consecrates Aaron’s sons specifically as individuals. They are purified by the blood of the sacrificial ram.

It turns out that God will later prescribe the same procedure for something else.

And he shall kill the lamb of the guilt offering. And the priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. – Leviticus 14:25 (ESV)

But Leviticus 14 is about cleansing lepers! What a stark portrait of how serious this is. To make Aaron and his sons fit for service in the temple, they have to undergo the same purification rites as a leper.

We all recite how we are steeped in sin, but can we stomach the idea that our sin is this ugly?

Jesus made it possible for us to stand before God without going through all those purification rites. That’s a wonderful blessing, but we lose a reminder of just how awful we are.

Thank Jesus for being our Lord and for saving us. He who has been forgiven much loves much.

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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