In Leviticus 8, we get a whole chapter 36 verses, around a thousand words, about the ordination of Aaron and his sons as the priests in Israel. We see offerings, blood, sacred meals, washings, and all the sorts of things we see regularly in Leviticus. But before we shut off our brains and let it all slide by, we ought to see the words that Moses spoke to his brother as the process was coming to a conclusion, because those words teach us about our own need.
Leviticus 8:34-35 – 34 As has been done today, the Lord has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. 35 At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the Lord has charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.”
The process spelled out took a week. And Aaron had to do it all. Why? Why was this so important to Aaron? He needed to do this stuff, and do it rightly, to be protected. If Aaron was going to minister in the presence of God, touching the holy things of God, he had to be under God’s protection. If not, he and his sons would die. This is why Aaron had to take this so seriously. A mistake here led to death.
In that truth is a picture of the gospel for you and me. We must remember that none of us qualify to enter the presence of God. That means, dear friends, that because of our sin, none of us qualify for heaven. Not one of us could survive the presence of God, at least not in our natural state.
God made Aaron go through a week long ordination process full of sacrifices and other ceremonies to show how big the gap is between Aaron’s goodness and the cleanness required to enter the presence of God. And in truth, God let Aaron off easy. The gap between Aaron’s goodness and that of God is infinite. In truth, Aaron could have washed for a million years and still not made up for his sin against God in the past. But God was gracious, allowing the sacrifices to atone for Aaron’s guilt. God chose to grant Aaron a grace that would allow him to be in God’s presence.
Do you see the gospel here? You and I need to be able to be in the presence of God if we are to go to heaven. If we want to live, we must be covered by the grace of God. But God has also made it clear that we cannot make any animal sacrifice to pay for our sins. Nor can we do enough good in our lives to make up for even one sin against God in his holiness.
But God made the way. God sent Jesus, God the Son, to be our sacrifice for sins. God also grants righteousness to his people, not for their doing good, but in response to faith in Christ. The good news is that, though we could never cover over our sins or make ourselves good enough to live in the presence of God, Jesus, through his life, death, and resurrection, covers all our need. Turning from sin and entrusting our souls to the care of Jesus in faith leads to our being fully forgiven by God. Turning to Jesus leads to God counting us as righteous because of the righteousness of Christ. This is the only way for us to be saved.
Aaron had to go through the bloody ordination process so as not to die when he got near the presence of God. We have a bloody sacrifice that was made on our behalf too, a sacrifice of infinitely more worth than that which allowed Aaron to serve. The Son of God has died to save the souls of all who will come to him. May we not fail to see how great such a sacrifice is. May we see, even in the priestly office of Aaron and his ordination a glimpse of our desperate need for Jesus.