Leviticus 9, The Lord Appears
Aaron’s first sin offering as the newly ordained high priest was a “bull calf” — ironically, in Ex. 32, he had previously fashioned an idolatrous golden bull calf and led others astray. That God spared Aaron and destroyed others in that incident is a testament to God’s mercy! But to continue to serve as the high priest displays God’s extravagant mercy!
All these rituals of detailed sacrifices and the manipulation of blood served to bring about one thing— that God would be with them. In this chapter, after all the regulations, the Lord would appear appear to them (vv. 4, 6, 23) — God’s presence would become palpable. God appeared when the tabernacle was constructed (Ex. 40) thus showing His approval and He does the same here after the ordination of the priests – once again, conveying His tacit acceptance.
Sin offerings and burnt offerings were offered first for the priests and then for the people (vv. 8-21) — the order remains significant. The sin offering “are not for specific sins” but “for the general sinfulness” of the priesthood and the people (Currid). First they were cleansed by the sin offering and then they entered into fellowship with God through the burnt offering.
After Aaron’s blessing (v. 22) God’s glory appeared to all the people (v. 23) and while the sacrifices burned on the altar, God’s fire came from his presence in the tent of the meeting and consumed the offerings (v. 24). The people, upon seeing this “shouted and fell on their faces” (v. 24) — probably out of fear and awe though the word implies one of joy! That must have been an awe inspiring experience! This led them to worship!
The priest’s ministry enabled God’s glory to become present to the people. Israel’s presence as a people was to enable God’s glory to be present to the world (Is. 43:7, 21; 49:3): “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Is. 43:21). As God is with us to the New Covenant people, so God makes Himself known to the world as we proclaim God’s Word. In addition, God conveys His presence to us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
I make one last observation from v. 24. God is worthy of our worship. That worship must be according to God’s prescribed Word – that we have noted repeatedly. We also note how a sight of God induced worship — O that God would so make Himself known in our services that we might be powerfully moved to worship Him that much more!!