What is your favorite art form? Can you spend hours at an art museum? Do you love to dance – or at least watching people dance? Or are you a reader at heart? One of my favorite art forms, after writing, is television and film. It’s fascinating the different techniques and tactics people use to tell a story or to deliver a message on-screen. It’s one thing to write down an idea that you want to communicate to people; it’s quite another to transform those ideas into images that people can understand. For all the bad rap artists can get, not everyone can do what they do!
But anything we can do, God already did better. Throughout all the many thorough details God has been dictating to Moses, a message is coming clearly through. This chapter describes the consecration service for God’s priests. After dressing in the priestly garments described last chapter, these important men prepare for their service to God with a series of offerings. First, a bull is offered as a sin offering. Next, two rams are offered. The first one is completely burned as a burnt offering. The next one is partly burned as an offering and partly cooked and eaten by the priests-to-be. Next, bread is waved before God and then burned as an offering. Six bull offerings and six days later, the priests would be fully consecrated for service. There was so much pomp and circumstance surrounding the priests. But why?
The Treasures Within:
The more instructions God relates to Moses for the priests’ consecration, the bloodier things get. Not one, not two, but three animals are killed and cut into pieces. The guts and fat and intestines are sliced away from the rest of the animal. The blood from the dead animals is splashed all over the altar. Then the priests-to-be are smeared with the rest of the blood! Their ears, hands, and feet are all dabbed with blood, and more is sprinkled on them. Last but not least, the animal remains and carcasses are burned on the blood-splattered altar. Imagine how it all must have smelled. Imagine how painful it was watching the life being taken from those innocent animals. How could anyone put up with such a grisly ceremony?
Or perhaps a better question is, why would anyone design such a grisly ceremony? The answer God gives in His instructions is blunt and simple: “for consecration” (verses 21, 31, 33, 44). It’s almost bizarre. Consecration, ordination, anointing and dedication are all words that we associate with pure white rooms, soft organ music, and gentle prayers. Blood and guts and gore do not belong in the same sentence as “holiness”. Yet God places a jarring link between consecration and blood, between holiness and death. Why would He do that? Because there is a link between those things. This world, filled to the brim with troubled people doing dark things, would have no hope of holiness or consecration if it wasn’t for Jesus’ painfully shed blood. He died so that we could have a chance at holiness. Because of that sacrifice, holiness and blood are inextricably linked. It is jarring and shocking indeed, but so is the fact that heaven is now open to people like you and like me.
God’s Message To Us:
“You have been bought with a price.” Every day a new medium is used to deliver a new message to people old and young, near and far. But there is no message more important than this one: “Jesus died for you”. Jesus sweat and cried and bled so that every single person who has ever or will ever walk this earth could be made holy and righteous and could be saved from this crumbling earth. I have been purchased and you have been purchased and your Wal-Mart cashier has been purchased and even Beyoncé has been purchased with Jesus’s blood. All that’s left to complete the transaction is a signature of agreement. But people can’t accept what they don’t know they’ve been given. That’s why Jesus delivered this message all throughout His Word, and in the ceremonies described in this chapter. He transformed this cosmic concept into images we must grapple with, question, and understand. This is God’s literal message to us. Am I listening? Are you listening?
What do you think? How do the details of the priests’ ordination make you feel? What other messages did God reveal in this chapter?
There Are Always Questions:
- One of the less mentioned offering types is the wave offering, described in verses 24-26. Bread or fatty pieces from a sacrificed animal are literally waved before God. But why? What is the significance of waving something before God?