New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


Lev 8:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
I suggested on Lev. 1:1 that perhaps the whole of Leviticus refers to the inauguration of Aaron and his sons. And the following passage is confirmation of that.

Lev 8:2 ’Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and the bull of the sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread-
We see here the usual progression from sin offering to burnt offering to peace offering. Conviction of sin leads to a desire to make complete dedication to God, which results in the peace with God celebrated in the peace offering [the reference of the unleavened bread in the basket]. So the priests were being convicted of their sin, so that their dedication to Yahweh's service was no mere ritual, but a from the heart desire to serve Him from gratitude for the forgiveness of sin.  

Lev 8:3 and assemble all the congregation at the door of the Tent of Meeting’-
The entire congregation could not have fitted there, so we have here an example of the Hebraism whereby the entire group is put for representatives of that group. Thus we read of "all men" being saved, hearing the Gospel etc., when clearly 'representatives of' "all men" are in view.

Lev 8:4 Moses did as Yahweh commanded him; and the congregation was assembled at the door of the Tent of Meeting-
The Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint [LXX], uses the word ekklesia, which is used in the New Testament for the church. The body of believers in Christ today are the equivalent of the Old Testament people of God, Israel.

Lev 8:5 Moses said to the congregation, This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded to be done-
The significance of this is that Aaron and his sons were declared the priests by Divine commandment. The later rebellion of Koran was effectively a disagreement with this commandment and Divine choice.

Lev 8:6 Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water-
This washing with water looks ahead to baptism into Christ, by which we become the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5). Baptism is not therefore a mere statement of agreement with a denomination or set of theology. It is our inauguration to a life of dedicated service.

Lev 8:7 He put the coat on him, tied the sash on him, clothed him with the robe, put the ephod on him, and he tied the skilfully woven band of the ephod on him, and fastened it to him with it-
Clothing after washing in water (:6) looks ahead to our being clothed in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus after baptism. But it is so that we might then go forward and serve, ministering in the spirit of the Levites.

The commands relating to the rebuilt temple of Ez. 40-48 are expanded upon in Zechariah 3. There we read that Joshua the high priest was to be dressed first with the headpiece and then with the rest of the priestly garments (Zech. 3:5). This is the reverse order to the Mosaic commands in Ex. 29:5-7 and Lev. 8:7-9- implying that this was to be a new kind of high priest. Likewise the two onyx stones and the twelve gemstones of the Mosaic breastplate are replaced by a singular stone for the restored high priest (Zech. 3:9). The religious system offered to the returned exiles was not at all a restoration of the Mosaic system. There are too many differences. The old covenant was broken by Israel and has been abrogated. There is no reason to think that these "weak and beggarly elements" will ever be revived; there is no need for it now that we have the new covenant.

Lev 8:8 He placed the breastplate on him; and in the breastplate he put the Urim and the Thummim-
LXX "The Manifestation and the Truth". These stones appear to have flashed out binary yes / no responses or judgments in response to issues brought before God; they were the means of the manifestation of His truth. This is how they were used on the occasions we will later read of them. This is perhaps why "Breastplate" is LXX "oracle", as if the judgment flashed out from the urim and thummim associated with the breastplate was God's word or oracle to His people. The urim and thummim are where the precious stones of the breastplate were (Ex. 28:29)- on the heart of the high priest. The answer of God concerning His people was on the heart of the Lord Jesus. The outcome of His judgment of us is so deeply in His heart.

Lev 8:9 He set the turban on his head; and on the turban, in front, he set the golden plate, the holy crown-
This is the plate of Ex. 28:36 "You shall make a plate of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engravings of a signet, ‘HOLY TO YAHWEH’". Most of the surrounding tabernacles featured quite a lot of noise- especially incantations and spoken formulas regarding the holiness of the god and shrine. There were few spoken words in the Mosaic rituals; "Holy to the Lord" was written upon the forehead of the High Priest rather than stated by incantations (GNB 'Dedicated to the LORD', LXX has "holiness of the Lord"). We could maybe go so far as to say that we see here the exaltation of God's written word, with all the faith and understanding which this requires, as opposed to the incantations of other worship systems. The plate or rosette on the High Priest's turban would've recalled pagan plates which warded off supposed demons; but this one spoke of "Holiness to Yahweh", again replacing the negative with the positive

As Yahweh commanded Moses-
The careful obedience of Moses is emphasized; by it he became a type of Christ who was totally obedient to God (Heb. 3:2,5). The early chapters of Exodus present Moses as not always obedient, often arguing back with God and trying to find ways around God’s commandments to him. In this we see his spiritual growth. This growing acceptance of God’s authority and eagerness to obey rather than find ways around His commandments should be a feature of our spiritual growth too.

Lev 8:10 Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and sanctified them-
‘Christ’ means ‘the anointed one’. All these anointed things were therefore symbolic of Him. He fulfilled their meaning in reality within His person, character and work.

Lev 8:11 He sprinkled it on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, and the basin and its base, to sanctify them-
This pointed forward to the Lord Jesus, the Christ, the anointed one, through whom all the sacrifices were made ultimately meaningful. Without Him in the future, the whole system wouldn't have worked.

Lev 8:12 He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him-
The Septuagint word used for ‘anointing’ here occurs in the New Testament only in 1 Jn. 2:20,27, where we read that we have each been anointed. The idea of anointing was to signal the initiation of someone. I'd therefore be inclined to see 1 Jn. 2:20,27 as alluding to baptism; when we become in Christ, in the anointed, then as 2 Cor. 1:21 says, we too are anointed in a sense. We're given a specific mission and purpose. "The anointing that you received" would therefore refer to our commissioning at baptism. It seems to imply a one time act of being anointed / commissioned / inaugurated for service. Baptism isn't therefore merely an initiation into a community; it's a specific commissioning for active service, in ways which are unique to us. We do well to bring this point out to those we prepare for baptism. The words for 'anointing' are unique to 1 John but they occur in the LXX to describe the anointing / initiation of the priests, and of the tabernacle / dwelling place of God (e.g. Ex. 29:7; 35:14,28). John sees us as the dwelling place / tabernacle of the Father, and specifically as the priests.

Ps. 133:1,2 allude here, and clearly understand the oil [which was poured abundantly so that it ran down all his clothing] as representing the blessings of the Holy Spirit: "See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, that ran down on the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that came down on the edge of his robes". Aaron the High Priest is here likened to the whole community of Israel. They were all anointed, they were united "in him" by the oil of the spirit, looking ahead to the idea of the body of believers being "in Christ", the anointed one, the High Priest.

Lev 8:13 Moses brought Aaron’s sons, and clothed them with coats, and tied sashes on them, and put headbands on them; as Yahweh commanded Moses-
They were not to clothe themselves, but to be clothed by Moses. This may have been to remind Aaron that this was not of his doing, he was merely being used by God, manifest through Moses. But it would also have been to humble Moses, who might have been tempted to assume that he and his sons ought to be this new high priest figure and priesthood. For Aaron had consistently been spiritually inferior to Moses. But it was part of Moses' humbling process to make him array his brother as the High Priest and priests, and to realize that not his own sons, but those of his brother, were to be the priests. And so he ended up the humblest man (Num. 12:3). See on :29.

Lev 8:14 He brought the bull of the sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull of the sin offering-
Whatever special work we embark upon for God, we should always be aware of our own weakness and need for forgiveness. Therefore the consecration of Aaron and his sons for their great work began with sin offerings; their dedication to the work of serving others was to be motivated by an awe at God's personal grace to them. And so it should be with us, as the new priesthood.

Lev 8:15 He killed it; and Moses took the blood, and put it around on the horns of the altar with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it-
The physical furniture of the tabernacle wasn’t sinful of itself. It was cleansed in order to demonstrate that whatever humanly beautiful and impressive work we make for God, it is still shadowed by our own sinfulness. The whole system only functioned effectively because of how it looked ahead to the blood of the Lord Jesus. But "atonement for it" can as well be "atonement upon it". The preposition al is of very wide meaning, but generally means "upon", "over" or "above". The idea of 'cleansing' here surely requires the use of water and not blood. The same word is used of "purified / cleansed with water" (Num. 31:23). They were to offer a sin offering and after each sacrifice, they were to clean the altar, upon which atonement had been made. There is no idea here that inanimate objects are somehow sinful. The altar itself, like the Lord Jesus, was not sinful. It was a means to the end of atonement.

Lev 8:16 He took all the fat that was on the inward parts, and the cover of the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat; and Moses burned it on the altar-
The idea may be that these internal organs were not to be eaten by the priests, but were to be wholly offered to God. For our inner things are to be wholly His. David came to understand that all the Mosaic emphasis upon the "kidneys" was because they represented the inner heart or mind. He often uses the word to describe his innermost thoughts (Ps. 7:9; 16:7; 26:2; 73:21; 139:13). Jeremiah likewise (Jer. 11:20; 12:2; 17:10; 20:12). The Hebrew for "kidneys" is a form of the word for "jewel"; for the innermost core thoughts of a person are so precious to God.  Likewise the Hebrew for "liver" is literally 'that which he heaviest / most valuable'. For the innermost thoughts are the weighty things to God. We see here the supreme importance of being spiritually minded.

Lev 8:17 But the bull, and its skin, and its flesh, and its dung, he burned with fire outside the camp; as Yahweh commanded Moses-
The Lord Jesus suffered and died, shedding the blood of atonement, "outside the camp" (Heb. 13:13). We are bidden go forth to the Lord Jesus "outside the camp", just as those who "sought Yahweh" did when there was no tabernacle (Ex. 33:7). The people watching Moses as he walked out to it, without the camp, therefore looks ahead to a faithless Israel lining the via Dolorosa and watching the Lord walk out to His place of crucifixion. And we are to get behind Him and follow Him there, stepping out from the mass of Israel. As the Lord Jesus suffered "outside the camp", so various parts of the Mosaic sacrifices were to be burnt there (Lev. 4:12,21; 8:17; 9:11; 16:27); and yet it was the blood of those sacrifices which achieved atonement (Heb. 13:11; Num. 19:3,9). "Outside the camp" was the place of excluded, condemned sinners (Lev. 13:46; 24:14; Num. 5:3,4; 15:35,36; 31:13,19), and it was here that the Lord Jesus died, in identification with us. 

Lev 8:18 He presented the ram of the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram-
To lay the hand upon is a phrase which means more than merely touching the head, but implies leaning upon or pushing upon. It is rendered "lean his hand [upon a wall]" (Am. 5:19). It was an act of very conscious identity. The same phrase is used of how God's hand upholds those who spiritually fall (Ps. 37:24). So we see the mutuality of relationship between God and man. We strongly place our hand upon the offering of the Lord Jesus, and God places His hand upon us. Paul may have this idea in view when he speaks of how he grabs hold of Jesus and is grabbed hold of by Jesus (Phil. 3:12); just as the Lord seized hold of Peter drowning in the lake, as Peter grabbed hold of Him. That incident surely was a mini parable of our redemption.           

Lev 8:19 He killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood around on the altar-
To sprinkle blood upon something didn't necessarily mean the object was forgiven. For an inanimate altar didn't need forgiving. The blood of the covenant was sprinkled (s.w.) upon the people as a sign of their involvement with the covenant process of salvation, rather than as a statement of their forgiveness (Ex. 24:8). Likewise with the sprinkling of the blood of the Passover lamb (2 Chron. 35:11). This was an act of identification rather than forgiveness of sin. The function of the altar was valid before God, or efficacious, because of its association with the blood of Christ; for the blood of the animals slain upon it couldn't bring salvation of itself, but only through God's way of looking at that blood is looking ahead to that of His Son (Heb. 10:4). And so the altar was associated with the blood which represented His blood.     

Lev 8:20 He cut the ram into its pieces; and Moses burned the head, and the pieces, and the fat-
We note the continual Mosaic requirement that sacrifices be cut into parts. Every part of our lives, including our most inward parts, are to be offered to God. The process of splitting the offering into its parts speaks of our self-examination, defining each part of our lives and offering them to God consciously.

Lev 8:21 He washed the inward parts and the legs with water; and Moses burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt offering for a pleasant aroma. It was an offering made by fire to Yahweh; as Yahweh commanded Moses-
There is huge emphasis upon the “inward parts” in the regulations about sacrifices. Our inward parts and thoughts of the heart are laid open before God and should be offered to Him, not just the externalities which men see (Heb. 4:12). The same word is used of Sarah's laughing "within herself" (Gen. 18:12). The sacrifice of Christ was so perfect because His innermost thoughts were offered to God. And it is our thoughts when nobody else is watching which are of the essence to God; "to be spiritually minded", as the New Testament expresses it. This is why Yahweh could not go up in "the midst" of Israel (Ex. 33:3; Num. 14:42; Dt. 1:42), because they didn't have Him in their midst. Thus to marry unbelievers would be a snare "in the midst of you" (Ex. 34:12), right in the inner mind which is what God seeks above all. David in the Psalms speaks of the "inward parts" of the human mind, which are critical in God's judgment of a person as wicked or righteous (e.g. Ps. 5:9; 36:1; 49:11 and Ps. 64:6, where "inward thought" is s.w. "inward parts"). It is those inward parts which were to be washed (Lev. 1:13), just as our innermost heart can be washed by the Spirit which is given at baptism. For this is the gift of the Spirit in the new covenant, whereby God's law is placed within our inward parts (s.w. Jer. 31:33; Ez. 36:26,27) by the God who can form the spirit of man in man's inward parts, the God who can work directly upon the human heart (Zech. 12:1).  

Lev 8:22 He presented the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram-
This spoke of dedication or consecration to God after the sin offering. This is what should motivate service to God- personal conviction of sin and experience of forgiveness. This ensures our service is given in humility.

Putting the hand on the animal’s head was to show that the animal represented the offerer. He showed thereby that he deserved to die, and wished to give his total life to God just as the animal would be totally offered to God. We see here God’s principle of accepting us on the basis of the representative sacrifice of Christ; the equivalent of our putting our hand on the head of the sacrifice is the act of baptism into Christ and abiding “in Christ”, He being our representative and we being His. The Hebrew means more to the effect of leaning on the head, as if a very intense act of identification was being made.

Lev 8:23 He killed it; and Moses took some of its blood, and put it on the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot-
As the blood of the ram had to be put on the ear, thumb and toe (Lev. 8:23), so the blood of Christ's atonement should transform and affect every aspect of our lives; our hearing [i.e. our perception], our doing and walking...

Lev 8:24 He brought Aaron’s sons; and Moses put some of the blood on the tip of their right ear, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the great toe of their right foot; and Moses sprinkled the blood around on the altar-
All our service to God is to be done with the awareness of the fact that Christ shed His blood for us- our way of hearing, all we do with our hands and where we go with our feet is to be influenced by our experience of His death for us.

Lev 8:25 He took the fat, and the fat tail, and all the fat that was on the inward parts, and the cover of the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right thigh-
The idea is as in LXX "the fact [even] the fat tail" (as Lev. 3:9; 7:3). There were species of sheep with a large fatty tail, which was considered in their culture to be a great delicacy. We see here how the law of Moses was limited in application to an immediate context, and was simply not intended to be a global law for all time. But the take away lesson is that we are to give to God whatever is for us, in our culture and worldview, the best and most desirous.

Lev 8:26 and out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before Yahweh, he took one unleavened loaf, and one loaf of oiled bread, and one wafer, and placed them on the fat, and on the right thigh-
This was a form of peace offering. Having been convicted of sin, accepting forgiveness through the sin offering, we devote ourselves to God's service. That is what the burnt offering represented. And only after that comes the celebration of peace with God.

Lev 8:27 He put all these in Aaron’s hands and in his sons’ hands, and waved them for a wave offering before Yahweh-
The portion to be waved was placed on the priests hands (Ex. 29:25), and then 'waved' or 'swung' towards the altar and then back- not from right to left. The idea was that the offerings were first given to God, recognizing they should be consumed on the altar to God; but then given back to the priest by God. So they ate them having first recognized that their food was really God's, all was of Him, and He had given it back to them to eat. This should be our spirit in partaking of any food, as we are the new priesthood. Our prayers of thanks for daily food should include this feature. All things are God's and anything we 'offer' to Him is only giving Him what He has given to us (1 Chron. 29:14,16).

Lev 8:28 Moses took them from their hands, and burned them on the altar on the burnt offering. They were a consecration for a pleasant aroma. It was an offering made by fire to Yahweh-
“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.

Lev 8:29 Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave offering before Yahweh. It was Moses’ portion of the ram of consecration, as Yahweh commanded Moses-
I discussed on :13 how all this was very humbling for Moses. He had briefly been Israel's priest, and was therefore allowed to have the portions of the sacrifices for himself. But now he was handing over the priesthood to Aaron and his sons.

Lev 8:30 Moses took some of the anointing oil, and some of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, and on his sons, and on his sons’ garments with him, and sanctified Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him-
The Lord having His own clothes put back on Him meant that He would have been dressed in blood sprinkled garments for the walk to Golgotha. Again His holy mind would have been on the Messianic prophecies of Is. 63:3 about a Messiah with blood sprinkled garments lifted up in glorious victory. Or perhaps He saw the connection to Lev. 8:30, where the priests had to have blood sprinkled garments in order to begin their priestly work. This would have sent His mind to us, for whom He was interceding. Likewise when He perceived that His garment would not be rent, He would have joyfully perceived that He was indeed as the High Priest whose garment was not to be rent (Ex. 39:23).

Lev 8:31 Moses said to Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the Tent of Meeting, and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of consecration, as I commanded, saying, ‘Aaron and his sons shall eat it’-
The peace offering was really a matter of voluntary desire, but in this special case of the inauguration of Aaron, it was commanded.

Lev 8:32 What remains of the flesh and of the bread you shall burn with fire-
This continues a major theme in the Mosaic law, that the sacrifices were to be eaten immediately and not left to be eaten over a longer period. The spontaneous desire to offer a peace offering was not to be spun out over a period of days. The condemnation for doing so was severe (Lev. 7:18). Lev. 7 warns against various ways of using the peace offering for the benefit of the offerer. One such idea may have been to kill meat and eat it over three days, and then claim this was a peace offering- when actually it involved eating meat which the offerer wanted to eat anyway. So the warning is against using voluntary offerings [in whatever way] as a front for doing our own thing, offering what cost us very little, and only appearing to others to have a great religious devotion.

Lev 8:33 You shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting seven days, until the days of your consecration are fulfilled: for He shall consecrate you seven days-
This is the phrase used for not going out of the doors at Passover night, on pain of death (Ex. 12:22). They were to again realize that Israel's redemption from Egypt was theirs personally, and that redemption [like ours] had been in order to serve Yahweh. And that was what they were now doing.

Lev 8:34 What has been done this day, so Yahweh has commanded to do, to make atonement for you-
They were insistently reminded of their own need for atonement as they commenced the work of securing the atonement of others. In all our efforts for others we must bear this in mind.

Lev 8:35 You shall stay at the door of the Tent of Meeting day and night seven days, and keep Yahweh’s command, that you don’t die; for so I am commanded-
The calling to priesthood was not to be taken lightly. There was the death penalty for not remaining on duty during the seven days of their inauguration (Lev. 8:35), and it could be that Lev. 21:12 implies the same as a general principle. We cannot just resign our responsibilities; for we are called to the priesthood, our baptism and clothing in the righteousness of Christ was our calling and inauguration (see on Lev. 8:6,7). It is not for us to walk away from our calling. We are in this for life, serving until death, and then eternally in God's Kingdom.

Lev 8:36 Aaron and his sons did all the things which Yahweh commanded by Moses-
When Moses said "For so I am commanded" (:35), he really means 'Yahweh commands you through me'. In the preaching of God's word, we become identified with that word; our intimacy and connection with God becomes the greater as we preach His word through our own lips.