I can’t hear the phrase “whatever it takes” without thinking about the Avengers. Yes, I saw Avengers: Endgame, and like everyone else, I relished the scene where, well, the Avengers did whatever it took. They pulled out all the stops, risked life and limb, and sacrificed themselves in order to fight evil. It made perfect sense. This was their mission, their sworn goal. This was what they were here to do. They pulled out all the stops because this was their life: protecting the world, avenging the innocent.
But for all their impressive powers, the Avengers don’t have anything on the Levite priests. It is their ordination day. They prepare carefully, first bathing, then putting on each article of priestly clothing: the tunic, the sash, the ephod, the waistband, the breastpiece, the turban, and the Urim and Thummim. Dressed and prepared, Aaron and his sons with Moses offer four sacrifices: a bull for a sin offering, a ram for a burnt offering, another ram for a special ordination offering, and a grain offering. They sprinkle blood on the altar, the garments, and the priests themselves. Then the priests bunk down at the tabernacle – it is to be their home for the next seven days. Then, and only then, the ministry that has been examined and explored for chapters will finally begin.
The Treasures Within:
Athletes practice, condition, and train for hours upon hours to become the best in their sport. Doctors pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their education and then sacrifice peace and sleep in order to care for their patients. First responders and members of the military miss vital time with family and friends and literally risk their lives to protect their country and its citizens. So many people in so many fields are willing to lay it all on the line for their passions and for their careers. They commit. They prioritize. They deliver.
And then there’s us. Christians. Believers. Breathlessly, we promise and proclaim that God is the most important Person in our lives. He is the reason we live. He is the One we serve. But if someone were to look at our actions instead of our words – how we spend our time, what we do for God – they’d find us slipping. We don’t live like we believe in the words we say.
And it stands in stark contrast to the Bible’s examples of what it actually looks like to serve God. Here in Leviticus 8 the priests are a prime example. God called them into service, and they forsook everything to follow and obey. They listened to His words and followed them closely. They publicly declared their dedication to the priesthood. They spent an entire week in God’s presence – at church! – just them and him.
We are different from the Levite priests. We don’t wear ephods or tunics. We don’t offer animals as sacrifices. We may not even be pastors or leaders. But our dedication, our commitment to God should be just as strong at the Levites’. Our obedience should be just as careful. Our surrender to God should be just as public and just as obvious. We should love spending time with God and we should do it a lot. We should live as if we believe ourselves when we say Jesus created the world, died on the cross, and rose from the grave to save us from sin. We should live as if our God is our priority and the reason we live and breathe.
It Takes Two
Just like the Levite priests. They were admirable in their sacrifice. But it took two things to make the Levites what they were now – ordained, committed servants of God. The first thing was indeed their dedication. They strictly obeyed God’s complex rules about dressing, about sacrifices, about their sleepover at the tabernacle. But the second thing had nothing to do with them. The second thing is revealed in the ceremony, referenced by the blood placed on the Levites’ bodies (verses 23-24) and the smoke of the sacrifice (verse 21). The second thing was the power of God.
It was not the clothing that sanctified the priests. It wasn’t the dead animals, the blood, or the obedience that made their actions holy and acceptable to God. Just like it won’t be our church attendance, clean music, or kindness to our coworkers that makes us truly committed and surrendered to God. Like the Levite priests, we need two things. When we give our lives to God, we must obey Him, serve Him, and give Him our absolute best – but it is only He who can make us clean. Only He has the power to forgive our sins. Only He can accept us as true believers in Him. Sacrifice is required, as is obedience. But our hope comes from the fact that we do not commit to God alone – when we do, He also commits to us.
God’s Message To Us:
“I want all of you.” Giving my life to God. Becoming a Christian. These words and phrases we use to describe our beliefs – they can roll easily off the tongue. But their meaning has so much depth and importance. God wants us to make a lifelong commitment. He requires our time. He requires our effort. He requires us to put other priorities on the back burner, sometimes even our hopes and dreams. He requires pain, temporarily. He requires us to let go of the sin that hurts so good. But at the same time, He gives peace. He gives health. He gives hope. He gives excitement. He gives us the most loyal, ride-or-die friendship you can imagine. He gives security even when it looks like the world is coming to an end. He gives us support even in the darkest times. He gives joy. He gives laughter. And He is worth it. He is the best option. He is the only option. So if we give our lives to God, if we become Christians, if we commit, we have to be willing to do whatever it takes.
What do you think? What do you think about the priests’ ordination day? What message did God send you through this chapter of the Bible?