Awhile back I had surgery on my shoulder. Picture the surgeon standing there in his regular clothes, no mask, no gown, no telescoped glasses and with nothing in his hands. Now, how is he supposed to do surgery with nothing in his hand? That is not how I want to picture my surgeon. Let’s fill his hands with whatever he needs to do the job; let’s put the mask and gown on so there is less chance of infection. And I definitely don’t want to picture a cartoonish doctor with a meat cleaver or chainsaw in his hand. No thank you. I never saw my surgeon. I was out way before I went to the operating room. But I still have a picture of him wearing the appropriate clothing and holding the tools he needed for the job. That’s a good picture. Let’s hold on to it.
Exodus 29:1-9 is about consecration and ordination. Well, the whole chapter is really, but we are going to focus on the first nine verses for now. The passage begins with “This is the word you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to me.” There just may be a life lesson for us here. God’s word is meant to be done. It is not a message or communication that just sits there as people pass by and contemplate it’s profound beauty. Moses received a message and is expected to do. And what he is expected to do is to consecrate. The word consecrate means “to set apart, treat as sacred, to dedicate.” The priests were to be set apart to minister as priests. This meant something had to be done to distinguish them for the service to God; something that would sacred them up.
First they are commanded to bring near a bull, two rams, unleavened bread, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil – animal and grain sacrifices. These are the tools that will be needed for the sanctification of the priests. Before they can offer sacrifices for the people; before they can approach the presence of Yahweh, they were required to offer sacrifices for themselves. So, these things are brought near. Then Aaron (representing all subsequent high priests) and his sons (representing all following assisting priests) were to be brought near – right to the doorway of the Tabernacle (here “tent of meeting” most likely refers to the Tabernacle).
Then Moses was to put all of the holy clothes, which were described in chapter 28, on Aaron and then anoint him with oil, which is described in 30:23-33. Anointing was another way to demonstrate that a person had been set apart. It was also used during the ordination of kings. It was also a means of communicating protection to guests (cf. Ps. 23:5). Then Aaron’s sons were to be brought near who were also to have holy garments put on them. All of this communicated that Aaron and his descendants were to have the priesthood by an eternal decree.
And then, the last thing we are told is that Aaron and his sons should be ordained. And this is interesting because the phrase is literally “fill their hands.” This has caused volumes of discussion on whether this is meant literally. Most likely it is both literal and symbolic. When we think of ordination we think of some kind of ceremony full of pomp and circumstances that tells the world that this person is ordained. I am sometimes asked “are you ordained?” I usually answer “we don’t do that.” But I think that is inaccurate. Because the word does not mean a ceremony. God’s command is that Aaron (the high priest) and his sons (the assisting priests) should have what they need put in their hands so that they can minister in the presence of God on behalf of the people. I believe I have been ordained. I went to college and worked on a couple of degrees and received some tools to put in my hand so that I can serve. And that is what ordination is. That is what God commanded Moses to do for Aaron – fill their hands so that they can serve. And isn’t that much better than a stuffy ceremony? Not that ceremony is wrong mind you.
According to Peter every believer is a living stone being built up into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices. And Jesus does not send us out as priests with empty hands; without tools or equipment to do the job. Because that would be sad and scary. I’m pretty sure if that were the case we would accomplish nothing. No. Jesus has ordained us – he has filled our hands so that we could serve. We have been anointed with the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. We have heard and believed the Gospel message. I don’t know how much fuller your hands could be. When asked if you have been ordained, the answer is “yes!” Jesus has filled your hands! Hear the word and do! Peace, Walter.