Read Leviticus 9
The Priests Begin Their Ministry
9 On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. 2 He said to Aaron, “Take a bull calf for your sin offering and a ram for your burnt offering, both without defect, and present them before the Lord.3 Then say to the Israelites: ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, a calf and a lamb—both a year old and without defect—for a burnt offering, 4 and an oxand a ram for a fellowship offering to sacrifice before the Lord, together with a grain offering mixed with olive oil. For today the Lord will appear to you.’”
5 They took the things Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting, and the entire assembly came near and stood before the Lord.6 Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.”
7 Moses said to Aaron, “Come to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and the people;sacrifice the offering that is for the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded.”
8 So Aaron came to the altar and slaughtered the calf as a sin offering for himself. 9 His sons brought the blood to him, and he dipped his finger into the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; the rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar. 10 On the altar he burned the fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver from the sin offering, as the Lord commanded Moses; 11 the flesh and the hide he burned up outside the camp.
12 Then he slaughtered the burnt offering. His sons handed him the blood,and he splashed it against the sides of the altar. 13 They handed him the burnt offering piece by piece, including the head, and he burned them on the altar. 14 He washed the internal organs and the legs and burned them on top of the burnt offering on the altar.
15 Aaron then brought the offering that was for the people. He took the goat for the people’s sin offering and slaughtered it and offered it for a sin offering as he did with the first one.
16 He brought the burnt offering and offered it in the prescribed way. 17 He also brought the grain offering, took a handful of it and burned it on the altar in addition to the morning’s burnt offering.
18 He slaughtered the ox and the ram as the fellowship offering for the people. His sons handed him the blood, and he splashed it against the sides of the altar. 19 But the fat portions of the ox and the ram—the fat tail, the layer of fat, the kidneys and the long lobe of the liver— 20 these they laid on the breasts, and then Aaron burned the fat on the altar. 21 Aaron waved the breasts and the right thigh before the Lord as a wave offering, as Moses commanded.
22 Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.
23 Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. 24 Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
Leviticus 9 is one of the few narratively designed movements in Leviticus, and it details Aaron and his sons first working day in their role as priests. Many of us have probably started at a job without knowing what to expect, but Aaron and his sons’ experience here is on a whole different level. They are filling a role in an official capacity that has not ever been filled by humans, and they are filling it for a new kind of nation and community. This community would be one built on the laws and heart of God, designed to bless the world, just as God had promised Abraham that his descendants would. Aaron and his sons were to be the chief administrators and wardens of that blessing, ensuring that God’s people were in right relationship with Him, that they kept the covenant commands, and that they made atonement if they did otherwise.
The chapter opens with another set of sacrifices, which is strange, because the only thing Aaron and his sons have been doing previously is sitting in the tabernacle with God. Even though Aaron and his sons had been doing the things of God in the presence of God, their consecration in Leviticus 8 had not made them perfect, and they still had sin they needed to atone for—sin significant enough that they need to offer two separate animals in atonement. Part of what God is trying to illustrate through this whole process of priesthood is that the men who serve as priests and the system that they administer will always need to do more. It will pale in comparison to the whole weight of Israel’s sin, and that they need a better way, a way that will remove the guilt-stain of sin for the people of Israel once and for all. As the author of Hebrews tells us, it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). Once again, the Old Testament points clearly to a need for a Messiah that will stand in the gap and atone for his people where they have shown they themselves cannot.
After Aaron and his sons atone, they lead the people of Israel in a similar process of atonement. In a display rare in the Old Testament, the people of Israel are unquestioningly compliant with the instructions they are given. After having done this, God sends fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices offered (a regular symbol in the Old Testament of God’s acceptance and presence in a sacrifice). After Aaron and his sons had dwelt in the presence of God, they turned around and led the people around them into God’s favor and presence as well, and upon seeing it, the people of Israel fell on their faces in worship. We, too, are a people consecrated as priests called to bring people into the blessing of God. As you dwell in the presence of God today, take up this mindset, and administer the blessing of the kingdom to those around you in inviting them to look and dwell with the Living God in fellowship.
- What did you notice about God in this chapter? What did you notice about humanity?
- How can you be a part of administering the blessing of God to a wanting world today? Get specific with your answers.
- Has there been a moment where you had an intense encounter with God, and then proceeded immediately afterward to sin?
Did You Know?
There actually have been other priests in the Old Testament before Aaron (even one that seems to have fellowship with Yahweh): Melchizedek. That said, his presence is often considered to be a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. For more on Melchizedek, check out this article from GotQuestions.org!
Leave a Comment Below
Join the Team
Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.