Bible Commentary: Leviticus 8

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Leviticus 8

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Aaronic Priesthood Consecrated 

The incredible mercy of God is demonstrated in the appointment of Aaron as Israel’s ecclesiastical leader. Aaron, after all, had presided over Israel’s idolatry with the golden calf. Yet, now forgiven, God gives him another chance—this time to serve as God’s own high priest, with Aaron’s sons serving as priests under him. Indeed, the priesthood was to be perpetuated through his family from then on.

This also serves as a reminder that when God forgives, He forgives us completely. In Psalms 103:12 Psalms 103:12As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
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, King David proclaims that God removes our transgressions “as far as the east is from the west.” Isaiah 43:25 Isaiah 43:25I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins.
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and Jeremiah 31:34 Jeremiah 31:34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, said the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
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tell us that He remembers our sins no more. In Isaiah 1:18 Isaiah 1:18Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
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God says that our sins, formerly as scarlet, “shall be white as snow.” God’s mercy and forgiveness toward Aaron are proof that God is equally merciful toward us, both forgiving and forgetting our sins. This is possible because, although God has perfect memory of the past, while we continue in the process of repentance and overcoming He looks on the new person within that He is forming and shaping as distinct from the sinful nature we battle (see Romans 7:17 Romans 7:17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
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). Our old sinful self will one day be eliminated at our transformation to immortal incorruption (see 1 Corinthians 15) and only the sinless new self will remain. But thankfully, we don’t have to wait until then to be considered forgiven and reckoned as sinless. When we repent, God forgives us totally right then and there.

Leviticus 8 records the consecration, or setting apart, of Aaron and His sons for their important responsibility. The entire nation came out to witness the important event. As God’s prophet and chief servant on earth, Moses was the only one qualified to ordain Aaron and his sons to their offices. Aaron, as the high priest, was anointed through the pouring out of oil upon his head (Leviticus 8:12 Leviticus 8:12And he poured of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
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)—symbolic of a special dispensation of God’s Holy Spirit (compare Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
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). In ancient Israel, the high priests and kings were anointed. Interestingly, both offices looked forward to the coming of an “Anointed One”—which is the meaning of Mashiach (or Messiah) in Hebrew and Christos (or Christ) in Greek. And indeed, Jesus Christ now fills both of these positions, king and high priest.

Though Aaron’s sons were not anointed in the same manner he was, they were, along with him, sprinkled with anointing oil and blood (Leviticus 8:30 Leviticus 8:30And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, and on his garments, and on his sons, and on his sons’ garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.
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; compare Leviticus 10:7 Leviticus 10:7And you shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest you die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is on you. And they did according to the word of Moses.
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). Furthermore, Aaron and his sons were all specially consecrated by the blood of a ram being applied to the right ear, right thumb and right big toe of each of them. Some have speculated that this anointing of their extremities, top to bottom, represented a total covering by the sacrificial blood. Or perhaps it meant something else. The ear often represents hearing—so perhaps their willingness to listen to and heed God’s instructions was being sanctified. After all, the phrase “this is what the Lord commanded,” or similar words, is stated 10 times in this chapter (verses 4, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 29, 34, 35, 36). The right thumb is the part of the right hand that allows it to function—and the right hand is often symbolic in the Bible of a person’s actions. The priest’s actions had to be holy. And as for the big toe, it enables balance in walking and standing—which are often representative in Scripture of walking with God, i.e., leading a godly life, and remaining steadfast in the faith respectively. These are important qualities for God’s priests—qualities we must exemplify too, as we are now God’s chosen holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5 1 Peter 2:5You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
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, 9).

We should also take note of the washing of Aaron and his sons. The Keil & Delitzsch Commentarystates regarding Leviticus 8:6 Leviticus 8:6And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.
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that Moses “directed them to wash themselves, no doubt all over, and not merely their hands and feet. This cleansing from bodily uncleanness was a symbol of the putting away of the filth of sin; the washing of the body, therefore, was a symbol of spiritual cleansing, without which no one could draw near to God, and least of all those who were to perform the duties of reconciliation” (Vol. 1, p. 544). Many of the washing rituals of the Old Testament foreshadowed the baptism of the New Testament, and that would seem to be true in this case. Again, the New Testament Church is a holy priesthood, each individual being cleansed symbolically through washing in water when baptized—although it is actually the grace of God through “the blood of Jesus Christ” that “cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 1 John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
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).

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