Leviticus 8, The Ordination of Priests
Following the commands given in Ex. 28-29 about the ordination of the priests, this chapter records how Moses complied with the commands — it is the historical narrative of that event. Interestingly, the chapter states seven times the phrase “as the Lord commanded” (two additional times record Moses saying it). The altar is anointed seven times (v. 11) and the priests remain in the tent of meeting seven days (vv. 33. 35). Seven is the number for completeness!
All of Israel is assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting (vv. 1-4). Israel will witness the ordination of the priests —God wanted them to see this happen and that these men were divinely set apart for this office in accordance with His Word.
They are first washed (v. 6) and then clothed with their garments (vv. 5-9). After that, they are anointed along with the tabernacle and its items (vv. 10-13). The sin offering is offered first for the priests and also used to purify the altar (vv. 14-17). Following Lev. 1, the burnt offering is made next (vv. 18-21) — the whole offering perhaps expressed the priests’ total dedication.
After these men had been set apart and purified, they offer up the ram for their ordination (vv. 22-29). Aaron and his sons have the blood put on their right ear, right thumb and their right big toe — which may symbolize their consecrated role to hear, act, and move about as mediators. Finally, they are anointed a second time with the oil and blood. Now the priests and their attire are fully consecrated (v. 30).
In vv. 31-36, both the fellowship covenant meal and the ordination offering are recorded here. For seven days, they could not leave the tent of meeting (v. 33) to fulfill their ordination process.
In the New Covenant, we know that our Lord is the final high priest who was sanctified so that we also could be sanctified: “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (Jn. 17:19). From Heb. 7:26, 27, we learn that Jesus our High Priest, did not sacrifice animals for his own sins but instead, offered up himself as a perfect sacrifice for all our sins!
Some of the sacrifices were rejected and all the sacrifices had to be carefully and faithfully offered according to God’s strict and holy requirements. They were performed by fallible priests. But now, we have a faithful high priest who did everything that was required and we can have confidence that through Jesus’ blood, we will be accepted in the beloved! In a sense, this entire chapter looked forward to the perfect faithful high priest, Jesus Christ!