Vayikra/Leviticus 8:30 And Moshe took from [the] oil and from the blood ... and he sanctified Aharon ...
Both - oil - and - blood - are singular nouns. As a rule, blood is usually singular when referring to animal blood, but plural when describing human blood, as for example - your brother's blood - Abel's blood that cried out from the ground (B'resheet 4:10). In this case, the blood is from the burnt offering (8:19) and the inauguration offering (8:24) that had been thrown on the altar.Nachmanides alerts us to the interesting observation that things seem to be out of order here in the account of what happened when compared to the instructions that Moshe had been given. Back in the book of Shemot, before the Tabernacle had been constructed, Moshe was told how to inaugurate Aharaon and his sons as priests: "Then you shall take some of the blood that is on the altar and some of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his garments, and on his sons and on his sons' garments with him; so he and his garments shall be consecrated, as well as his sons and his sons' garments with him" (Shemot 29:21, NASB), before the mention of the inauguration ram, whereas our text has it happening after the inauguration ram has been slaughtered and its blood poured on the altar. Nachmanides comments, "Moshe deduced that these sprinklings were the last things to be done to them, through which they would become completely holy ... thus he completed the sanctification by means of these sprinklings."
The Torah contains several images of sprinkling things with blood to "consecrate" them or make them holy. The people, for example, are sprinkled with blood when they and Moshe ratify the covenant: "So Moshe took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, 'Behold the blood of the covenant, which the L-RD has made with you in accordance with all these words'" (Shemot 24:8, NASB). Israel is instructed to consecrate the priests, "You shall consecrate him, therefore, for he offers the bread of your G-d; he shall be holy to you; for I the L-RD, who sanctifies you, am holy" (Vayikra 21:8, NASB), so that they may be holy for the people in the same way asHaShem Himself is holy. The people are even to consecrate themselves, "You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the L-RD your G-d" (Vayikra 20:7, NASB) because HaShem is their G-d and is to dwell among them. This is also because Israel are a sign people, set apart from all the other nations of the world as a witness to HaShem: "Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the L-RD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine" (Vayikra 20:26, NASB).
It is not, however, just sprinkling that makes Israel and the priests holy, it is specifically sprinkling with blood. This is because blood represents life, the shed life of a sacrifice, and brings atonement. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement" (Vayikra 17:11, NASB). This remains so on an ongoing basis; even today, every sin that is committed requires a blood sacrifice to atone for it. So much so that the writer to the Hebrew confirms that "according to the Law ... all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22, NASB). But for nearly two thousand years there has been no temple and no ritually clean priests and Levites to offer sacrifices - how can we find our atonement or be consecrated?
G-d has provided a way for Jew and Gentile alike to enter into relationship with Him. Rav Sha'ul writes: "Praised be ADONAI, Father of our L-rd Yeshua the Messiah, who in the Messiah has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven. In the Messiah He chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in His presence" (Ephesians 1:3-4, CJB). Not only has G-d provided a way to enter that relationship, it is His purpose that we should be holy - consecrated, set apart - before Him; that is why He chose us: in love and before this world was even created. The Apostle Peter, quoting one of the command that G-d gave in the Torah, echoes Sha'uls's words: "like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:15-16, NASB). What G-d calls people to do, He also enables them to do; there is no command without empowerment, for G-d's attribute of justice forbids that He should give a command that cannot be fulfilled. The writer to the Hebrews explains how this works: "For when every commandment had been spoken by Moshe to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which G-d commanded you' ... Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Hebrews 9:19-20, 13:12, NASB). After Moshe gave our people all the commandments, he sanctified them by sprinkling them with the blood. In the same way, Yeshua, provided a sprinkling of His blood to provide atonement and sanctification for us.
While Moshe performed the sprinkling at Sinai, after he had received the Torah and shared it with the people, Yeshua goes back one stage to the moment of liberation. The people of Israel were liberated on Aviv 14, the night of the Passover, when they daubed the blood on the lintels and doorposts of their houses so that the destroyer - who killed all the firstborn on Egypt - would not enter. At the annual celebration of that event, the Passover seder that Yeshua kept with His talmidim, He used the ritual of the meal to announce the critical change that His imminent death and resurrection would bring about. Four cups of wine are drunk during the Seder; one each to remember the four great promises that G-d spoke to Moshe just before the event: "I will free you from the forced labor of the Egyptians, rescue you from their oppression, and redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your G-d" (Shemot 6:6-7, CJB, emphasis added). Yeshua used the cup after the meal, the third of the four cups of wine, to pick up on the third promise - "I will redeem you" as the gospel narrative makes clear: "He did the same with the cup after the meal, saying, 'This cup is the New Covenant, ratified by My blood, which is being poured out for you'" (Luke 22:20, CJB).
Moshe, then, sanctified Aharon and his sons by sprinkling them with oil - a symbol for the Holy Spirit - and blood. Yeshua ratified the covenant that Moshe foretold by shedding His own blood (and water, remember the spear thrust into His side that produced blood and water (John 19:34)), so that John could write, "He is the one who came by means of water and blood, Yeshua the Messiah - not with water only, but with the water and the blood" (1 John 5:6, CJB). Water is also a symbol for the Spirit, so that John can conclude the verse, "And the Spirit bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth". This Passover, hear the witness of the Ruach Elohim and celebrate your atonement and sanctification in Messiah Yeshua.
Further Study: Isaiah 53:7, Revelation 5:12-14
Application: Who are you trusting for your sanctification? Who makes you holy? Is it you, trusting in your own careful observance of the Torah, or have you committed your life to Yeshua, the anointed King, High Priest and Messiah of Israel? Only He will never let you down or forsake you, for only He is "the Lamb of G-d who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
© Jonathan Allen, 2010
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