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Shemot/Exodus 40:13 And you shall dress Aharon with the clothes of holiness and you shall anoint him and you shall consecrate him and he shall serve as priest for Me.
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HaShem wants to make sure that we pay attention to the commissioning and installation of Aharon as Cohen Gadol, High Priest: the Torah tells us about the event no less than three times. The first time is the original command in Shemot 28:41; the second is the repeat here; and the third time is the detailed account of it actually happening in Vayikra 8:7, 12 and 24. Umberto Cassuto reports that "by virtue of this ceremony (v. 15) their anointing would be a token of everlasting priesthood to them and their children and their children's children after them."1 What is it about this process that makes it so important and what can we learn from it about our lives and service of HaShem today? There are four links in the chain: washing in water (in verse 12, the previous verse), dressing in holy clothes, being anointed and being consecrated. Walter Brueggemann suggests that "perhaps the most important matter of these commands is the series of pivotal verbs addressed to Moshe: anoint, consecrate and wash. Through the anointing Moshe is to make holy. Moshe is to wash Aharon and his sons and so purify the priesthood. Moshe must transpose the visible objects [that have been constructed] into something they have not been, and could not be, without his authority."2
We know from the short account that follows as the parasha closes, that when Moshe had carried out these steps and set up the Tabernacle, "the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the presence of the L-RD filled the Tabernacle" (Shemot 40:34, NJPS). Moshe was the steward who oversaw the construction of the Tabernacle, following HaShem's orders and exercising HaShem's delegated authority among the people, so that HaShem would later say of him, "he is faithful in all My house" (B'Midbar 12:7). In a similar way, when Solomon completed building and consecrating Temple is Jerusalem, "a cloud filled the house of the L-RD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the L-RD filled the house of the L-RD" (1 Kings 8:10-11, NJPS). Solomon was king of all twelve tribes of Israel, ruling in Jerusalem and gifted by G-d Himself, "I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you" (1 Kings 3:12, NASB).
Yeshua - who was seen by Daniel being presented to the Ancient of Days "and to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:14, ESV) - is also building a temple where G-d will dwell. But, as Stephen tells us, "the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands" (Acts 7:48, ESV); instead - here, Rav Sha'ul takes up the story - the Holy Spirit is building - "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20, ESV) - "a holy temple in the Lord" (v. 21, ESV). Sha'ul pushes home his argument: "Do you not know that you are G-d's temple and that G-d's Spirit dwells in you? ... God's temple is holy, and you are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, ESV). And the difference between Yeshua and Moshe in this respect? "Now Moshe was faithful in all G-d's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Messiah is faithful over G-d's house as a son" (Hebrews 3:5-6, ESV). Whereas Moshe was told, "See that you make [everything] after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain" (Shemot 25:40, ESV), Yeshua Himself is the Cohen Gadol, the great High Priest who serves in the "greater and more perfect tabernacle" (Hebrews 9:11).
The Torah is very clear that the priests, as the servants and ministers of HaShem, were a key part of the worship in both the Tabernacle and the Temple, mediating the presence of HaShem to the people and bringing near the offerings of the people. Before they could serve as priests, they had to be washed, clothed, anointed and consecrated - made holy and set apart for HaShem. Peter puts the pieces of the building and the people together and tells the followers of Yeshua that "as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of G-d chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to G-d through Yeshua the Messiah>" (1 Peter 2:4-5, ESV). We are both living stones, made alive in Yeshua theliving stone, and priests called to serve G-d through Yeshua. But how does Yeshua do that with us? What is that makes us priests in Him?
We find the same four stages in our life in Yeshua that qualify us to serve as priests to our G-d. Firstly, we are washed - in fact, we are washed in three ways. We are washed by baptism, when we are immersed into the death and resurrection of Yeshua; as part of Yeshua's bride we are cleansed "by the washing of water with the word" (Ephesians 5:26) and "our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:22). Secondly, we are clothed in power and righteousness by the Holy Spirit who is given to us as the "guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it" (Ephesians 1:14, ESV) as Yeshua told the disciples: "Stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49, ESV), "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5, ESV). Thirdly, we have been anointed by God as Rav Sha'ul - "it is G-d who establishes us with you in Messiah, and has anointed us" (2 Corinthians 1:21, ESV) - and John tell us: "you have been anointed by the Holy One" (1 John 2:20, ESV). Lastly, we have been consecrated, "set apart as holy" (2 Timothy 2:21) because G-d "chose us in [Messiah] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4, ESV).
So, as HaShem filled the anointed and consecrated tabernacle, as His dwelling place - or point of presence - on earth, so today the Spirit fills the washed, anointed and consecrated believers, followers of Yeshua, to be His dwelling place. We can see this working in each individual as G-d calls them into relationship with Himself - "you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of G-d" (Ephesians 2:19, ESV) - and makes them members of His kingdom. We can also see the way in which God is building us together - "In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for G-d by the Spirit" (v. 22, ESV). Let's see the way the Spirit is promised to each of us.
Firstly, Isaiah sees Messiah who is to come, "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the L-RD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the L-RD" (Isaiah 11:1-2, ESV). Then Isaiah voices the prediction of Messiah's anointing - "The Spirit of the L-rd G-D is upon me, because the L-RD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor" (61:1-2, ESV) - that Yeshua Himself publicly inherits at the synagogue in Nazareth at the start of His ministry: "The Spirit of the L-rd is upon Me, because He has anointed Me ... today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:18,21, ESV). Yeshua passes the promise on to His disciples - "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me" (John 15:26, ESV) so that Rav Sha'ul can confirm: "you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the Spirit of our G-d" (1 Corinthians 6:11, ESV), putting that into practice in Ephesus, "when Sha'ul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying" (Acts 19:6, ESV).
In Yeshua we have each and collectively been called, equipped, enabled and empowered as priests to serve our G-d. Although that priesthood doesn't look quite it did in the days of the Tanakh, we are still called to serve G-d in holiness, to bring spiritual sacrifices, to intercede and to teach others about G-d and what it means to serve Him. More than the priests who served in the Tabernacle and the Temple, we have the unique privilege of being mandated to invite others to know Yeshua and find new life in Him. Let us seek to walk in that anointing every day!
1. - Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus, (Magnes Press, Jerusalem, 1983), page 480.
2. - Walter Brueggemann, "Exodus," in The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary Vol I, edited by Leander E. Keck, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2015), page 503.
Further Study: Romans 12:1-2; Titus 3:4-7; 1 Peter 3:21-22<
Application: Are you secure in your identity as a priest of the Most High G-d - washed, clothed, anointed and consecrated - to serve Him and bringing Him acceptable and pleasing sacrifices? Check in with the Boss today to make sure that you are fully up-to-speed in all four ways and seek His fresh mandate to go out and serve in His blessing.
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© Jonathan Allen, 2022
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