Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
One day, I was reading Exodus 26-29. These chapters deal partly with the further details about setting up the Tabernacle, its movements and things like that. I found Exodus 26:14 especially interesting, it says, “Make for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of hides of sea cows.” Now, not every Bible says the same thing, but my NIV Bible says “sea cows,” and then explains in the foot note that these are likely dugongs. However, neither the Scriptures themselves nor my NIV edition offer much explanation on how God expected the desert-dwelling Israelites to get these sea cows. One day I will have to research that more.
The other part of these chapters relate to the first priesthood, garments and ordination in particular. Now previously when I’ve read this, I’ve considered the connections to modern pastors, but this time the Holy Spirit led me to connect parts to Jesus’ ministry and his position as the last High Priest. We can find Jesus with this position in Hebrews 4:14, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” I saw “last” as he is still alive, therefore has no reason to give up his position.
While reading about the ordination (consecration) in Exodus 29, the Holy Spirit pointed out to me something I hadn’t noticed before. In the first sacrifice of the bull, the blood goes on the altar:
Bring the bull to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of Meeting. Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar. Then take all the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its offal outside the camp. It is a sin offering (Exodus 29:10-14).
Likewise, in the second sacrifice, the ram’s blood goes on the altar:
Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it and take the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides. Cut the ram into pieces and wash the inner parts and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. They burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering made to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire (Exodus 29:15-18).
Finally, the blood of the second ram goes on the earlobes, thumbs, toes, and finally the altar:
Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then sprinkle the blood against the altar on all sides (Exodus 29:19-20).
But what happens after that is quite strange. Exodus 29:21 says,
And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.
This is strange as Leviticus 17:11 explains, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” So why is the blood from the altar going back on the priests? Well, because it is symbolic of what happens when Christ died on the cross.
Don’t follow? It is ok; I will try to explain more. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” So we are all called to be priests. Therefore, we should see Aaron and his son’s ordination as a preview of our own when we accept Christ into our heart. The oil of anointing that is sprinkled on them represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit we receive, as 1 John 2:20 says, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” And the sprinkling of blood from the altar is representative of the final sacrifice, Jesus. The Bible says in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.” And since we already know that it is blood that makes atonement, this washing is through blood. And in the purification ritual, this is exactly what they are doing.
Since we are consecrated by the blood of Christ, it is no problem for us to approach God even though we are not perfect. We find out about this in Hebrews 10:22, “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
So we know that that long ago, before the first coming, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, God already set up a system in place to help us to understand the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This is not surprising, as the Lord said in Isaiah 46:10,
I make known the end from the beginning,
From ancient times, what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
And I will do all that I please.
So then, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved- you and your household” (Acts16:31). And take the gift of not only salvation, but the cleanness that comes from the Lord. For Jesus says to all of creation, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).