Consecration

Finally we’re back to Exodus where we will look at the consecration of the priests today.  Exodus 29 is a long chapter with a lot of details about sacrifices and what to do with them.  We won’t be reading the entire chapter.  In fact, I’ve debated how much of the chapter I want to read at all.

As with most of scripture and particularly a book like Exodus, the details are important.  I want to paint with a broad brushstroke on this chapter however and address the overall idea of consecration rather than why wheat flour has been chosen to make bread.

Before we jump into the details of the chapter, let’s first discuss the idea of consecration.  If you search for the word in scripture, you’ll find that it mostly is in reference of the priests.  A few weeks ago we talked about how the priests were sanctified or set apart for their service.  Consecration is much the same idea as sanctification but it is a physical process rather than a spiritual one.

If someone has been sanctified, there is really no obvious way to determine this as the process is done by God.  Consecration on the other hand is an outward demonstration of what has taken place.  It is perhaps best to liken consecration to baptism.  Although some would argue differently, I firmly believe that water baptism is simply a physical symbol of a spiritual process that has already taken place.  In short it is a ceremony.  Just as millions of students graduate every year, they attend a graduation ceremony in celebration of that achievement.  If they don’t attend the ceremony, this doesn’t lessen the accomplishment of completing the schooling.

As I said, consecration is mostly mentioned in reference to priests, but there is one particular New Testament reference worth noting.

1 Timothy 4:4-5

4For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

This peculiar passage doesn’t mean that you can eat a handful of dirt and it will be good as long as you pray beforehand.  There are obviously many substances that are harmful to our bodies and shouldn’t be eaten or used.  This is in specific reference to the eating of certain foods that were considered forbidden.  God has declared them good – before some were off limits.  There has been nothing that physically changed to make them suddenly good but they have been declared good by God.

The outward part of this consecration is the prayer that takes place.  When a person receives what God has created with thanksgiving, they acknowledge that it is good and it then becomes good.  A person who receives something with a conflicted conscience doesn’t give thanks and thus doesn’t acknowledge that the object is good.  Thus it is not good for them.

So, we consecrate things today.  Food is the most obvious example but we do the same with baby dedications, marriages, and anything else that we receive with thanksgiving.  The consecration of the priests is very similar and it is placing God’s stamp of approval on both the men and the office of priest.

Let’s look at the beginning of chapter 29.

Vs 1-9

29 “This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. And from the finest wheat flour make round loaves without yeast, thick loaves without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves without yeast and brushed with olive oil. Put them in a basket and present them along with the bull and the two rams. Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breastpiece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skillfully woven waistband. Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred emblem to the turban. Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head.Bring his sons and dress them in tunics and fasten caps on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons.[a] The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance.

“Then you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

There are four important parts to this consecration.  It should be no surprise to us that the these parts all point to Christ and steps of our salvation.  The four parts of this consecration are sacrifice, washing, dressing, and anointing.

SACRIFICE: Christ sheds His blood for our sins.

WASHING: We identify with Christ and are cleansed of sin by His blood.

DRESSING: God imputes and imparts Christ’s righteousness to us.

ANOINTING: We receive the Holy Spirit and are born again!

Sacrifice is pretty easy to figure out how it points to Jesus.  The noteworthy part is that the sacrifices are to be without defect.  Not just any sacrifice would do, it had to be done the way that God prescribed.  Quite often in Christianity we try to determine how we’re going to worship.  Instead of asking God what He wants of us, we tell Him what we’re going to do.  We say when we’re going to worship, where we’re going to go, and how we’re going to do it.

The Israelites had this precise problem back in Malachi’s day.  They were telling God the way they were going to worship by offering blemished sacrifices.  God responds that he is not happy in Malachi 1:8

When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.

The unblemished sacrifice in Exodus as well as Malachi points to Jesus as the sinless, once for all, sacrifice.  Doing anything differently is telling God that we don’t have to worship the way He prescribed and ultimately it said that Jesus didn’t have to be sinless.  We don’t get to choose how we worship, we do it God’s way.

The second part of the consecration was washing.  Washing is the washing of our sins. David asked God to wash him after he was caught in adultery.  He cries out to the Lord in Psalm 51:7

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Jesus followed the Jewish practice of washing feet at Passover.  He noted the spiritual significance of the event however.

John 13:3-11

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him,and that was why he said not every one was clean.

A priest who was washed as a part of their consecration was symbolically being cleansed of their sins just as David begged for the Lord to do and Jesus set as an example at the Lord’s Supper.

The third part of consecration is the dressing.  This dressing is being clothed in God’s righteousness.  Our own righteousness is not a very good covering.  Isaiah 64:6 says:

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

The dressing that God gives us is His own righteousness.  Going back to the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve first sinned, they realized they were naked and so they sewed together fig leaves to cover their nakedness.  But this didn’t work to cover their nakedness because they hid from God, or at least attempted to hide because they recognized their nakedness.  Only God could cover them.

Revelation 19:8 tells us that we will be clothed in God’s righteousness.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

So our order of consecration is the sacrifice of Jesus, followed by the washing of our sins, followed by us being clothed in righteousness by God.  The final part of consecration is anointing.

Anointing is the reception of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Basically everywhere in the Bible where oil is used, it is representative of the Holy Spirit.  The anointing of the oil is the pouring of the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers.

This is consecration of the priests.  It is fully description of the process of salvation for believers as well as being a ceremony.  There’s a lot more details in this chapter but I’ll close with just the few final verses.

Vs 44-46

44 “So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 45 Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

Consecration is an outward, symbolic thing that is done.  But we can see the result of the process.  It allows fellowship with God.  It allows us to know God.  Of course, this couldn’t be a better description of our salvation.  Our salvation brings us fellowship with the Lord and it allows us to know Him.

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