Moses brought the ram… for consecration… slaughtered it, took some of its blood, and put it on Aaron’s right earlobe, right thumb, and right great toe… and then poured the blood on the altar and all around it. Leviticus 8:22-24 ISV
As it is the Lenten season, we should reflect often on the sacrifice of Jesus and our response to it. Jesus our great High Priest went into the Holy of Holies to offer His own blood for our sanctification and He ever lives to make intercession for us. He commands us to share in His priesthood before God in our generation, and pray for the world. But how should we prepare for this work?
Before the high priest under the Old Covenant began his ministry, he went through a solemn ordination service. Each step in that deeply moving ceremony teaches us something about the internal spiritual preparation necessary for this service. The preparation sets the foundation for the success of our ministry as intercessors.“The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16 ESV)
One stage stands out – the application of the blood upon the priest which I will discuss in another post. Let us first go through the steps.
The first 3 steps indicate his call. The actions were performed for the priest by Another. He only had to present himself and be willing for these things to be done.
- The priest was washed with the water of cleansing: signifying the repentance, renewal, a changed heart and the burial of the old life to receive the new.
- He was dressed in rich robes: his nakedness or unworthiness covered by Christ, and he was declared worthy to enter the presence of God. “Now Joshua [the high priest] was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel. So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then He said to him, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.”( Zechariah 3:3-4 NIV)
- He was anointed with holy oil, signifying the sealing by the Holy Spirit, his separation for his office, and the outpouring of God’s power upon his service.
Next 3 steps, special sacrifices were made to equip him for this role. Again, he only had to make himself available in the right place.
- The sin offering of a bull for the forgiveness and atonement of his sins.
- The whole burnt offering of a ram mark a total surrender of his body, soul and spirit to God. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NIV).
- The consecration offering of another ram, to mark the priest being set apart – just as Jesus was – from among his fellow men, in order to serve them. “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19 ESV) The blood of the ‘consecration ram’ was applied to his right ear lobe, thumb of his right hand and great toe of his right foot – to indicate that from now on his daily intercourse with the world, the work of his hands and his daily walk were all sanctified for God.
The final steps required his participation.
- Part of the consecration ram, he was to take in his hands and offer to be burnt – indicating the voluntary aspect of his surrender.
- The blood and the oil were then sprinkled over his clothes to indicate that Jesus continually purifies and perfects his work, with its many shortcomings, with His own blood.
- Finally the priest partook of its meat to indicate that the sacrifice made for him had become a part of his very being and essence.
- He was to remain in the ‘Tent of Meeting’ for 7 days – this shows the continual abiding in Christ that is essential for the success of this ministry.
Everything that we, Christians, need to fulfil our service as priests before God – the cleansing, the covering, the empowerment, the forgiveness, the sanctification and the setting apart or consecration – will be either supplied or undertaken for us by Christ Himself. We only need to make ourselves available to Him, so that He can perform these operations over our bodies and spirits.
“…I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice-the kind he will find acceptable…” Romans 12:1 NLT.
However, the final steps call for our active participation. We must choose to surrender our lives each day to Christ and choose to do His work, be willing to have our lives and our work purified by Him, and finally partake of His sacrifice, making it our own.
“Father, I make my life available to You, so that Christ may perfect His work over my body, soul and spirit. I yield myself and desire to serve You wholeheartedly. Continue to purify my imperfect life and work. May His sacrifice for me become a part of my very essence. And let me dwell within Your house all the days of my life.”