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“On the Eighth Day”
“And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel… Aaron therefore went unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself…And he brought the people's offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first…And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.” (Leviticus 9:1-10:7)
Try to imagine the unimaginable. Suppose the Lord God in one swift burst of wrath and justice took two of your sons to hell today (not rebel sons but good, loyal, sons who were obedient to you and walked in your steps), and then commanded you not to weep, or mourn, or show any indication of sorrow for them.
Are you thinking — “Impossible! God would never do such a thing. No one could be expected to endure such a thing.” But that is exactly what happened to Aaron in Leviticus 10. Read Leviticus 9:1-10:7 and you will see why God killed Aaron’s sons (Nadab and Abihu), see why those two young men had to die and why Aaron could not weep for them.
At the end of chapter 8 God commanded Aaron and his sons to abide in the tabernacle for seven days, until the days of their consecration were fulfilled. Chapter 9 begins “on the eighth day.”
“And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel.” (v. 1)
The priests were now made ceremonially perfect. The days of their consecration were ended. They were accepted as the priests of the most high God. Being made ceremonially perfect, they could enter into the holy place before the holy Lord God as representatives of the people. As such, these priests are pictures of our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, when he was made perfect (complete), entered into heaven for us (Hebrews 5:9; 9:12).
Moses, Aaron’s four sons, and the elders of Israel were special witnesses of these things. They declared to the people that they could now approach the altar of God with confidence of acceptance, because Aaron was “made perfect,” fully consecrated.
In much the same way, witnesses of Christ’s completeness, perfection, and acceptance as our great High Priest assure us of his acceptance with God. They proclaim, “Being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). The Father bore witness of his acceptance at his baptism, on the holy mount of transfiguration, in his resurrection, and by his ascension and exaltation. And, on earth, saved sinners bear witness that we have seen and felt the power of his priesthood. We have taken our sins to him and received atonement from him.
As Israel was assured of acceptance at the altar of God because Aaron was accepted, so sinners coming to God by Christ are assured of acceptance because Christ is accepted.
The Sacrifices Presented
In verses 2-6 we see the sacrifices presented to Jehovah. As you read this passage, you cannot avoid seeing how that in all things, while Aaron was a picture of Christ, great care was taken that the people understood that he was nothing more. Everything about him and his work declared plainly that there must arise another high priest greater than Aaron, with a sacrifice greater than his.
Neither Aaron nor his sons could approach God without a sacrifice, the very sacrifice God required. If we would draw near to and be accepted of God, we must have the Sacrifice he requires, the blood of his own dear Son.
“And he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.” (v. 2)
Robert Hawker observed, “Some have thought that a young calf being appointed for the sin-offering of Aaron, was to remind him of his former transgression in making the golden calf: that thereby he might never lose sight of his own unworthiness, while the Lord had called him to such an exalted rank as the high priest before the people (Exodus 32:1-6).”
Every time Aaron brought his young calf to the altar, he must have remembered his great sin and lifted his heart with gratitude and praise to God for the forgiveness of sin by the precious blood of Christ represented in the sacrifice. The Lord has graciously arranged all matters of public worship precisely according to that purpose for us in this Gospel Age. Our songs of praise, our prayers (especially public prayer), the hearing of his Word, every time we observe a heaven-born soul confessing Christ in believer’s baptism, and every observance of the Lord’s Supper, all are designed by our God to remind us of our sin and his salvation by the sacrifice of his dear Son.
Aaron was himself a sinner. As such, he had to bring a sin offering for himself. In doing so, he was, like John the Baptist, “the voice of one crying” at the altar, “Prepare the way of the Lord! I am not the Christ. There is One coming after me who is preferred before me, One mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose! One who shall not need daily, as I do, ‘to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s’ (Hebrews 7:27). — That coming One is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. He has no sin and needs no sacrifice for sin. He shall be the Sacrifice!”
There is another picture here, a picture repeated throughout the book of Leviticus. We saw it in chapter 8. We will see it again in chapter 16. And we see it here. As Aaron first had to make atonement for his own sins (Leviticus 16:11), so the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Substitute, when he was made sin for us, so thoroughly took our place and so completely took our sins as his own that when he made atonement for us by the sacrifice of himself, he made atonement for our sins which were made to be his own sins (Psalm 40:12; 69:5; Hebrews 7:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
“And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering; Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meat offering mingled with oil: for today the LORD will appear unto you.” (vv. 3-4)
Aaron, now consecrated as Israel’s priest, was commissioned to speak to the people as Moses conveyed the mind and will of God through him. Here, again, he stands forth as a type of our blessed Savior (Hebrews 1:1-2).
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”
The people had to bring all the offerings required in the law, except the trespass offering. They did not have to bring that on this occasion, because they had not yet trespassed the holy things in the worship of the Lord (Leviticus 5:15).
First and foremost is the sin offering, “a kid of the goats,” ceremonially bearing all their sin and guilt by imputation. They also brought the burnt offering, “a calf and a lamb, both of the first year and without blemish,” to show their faith in Christ, represented in both the sin offering and the burnt offering. Next, the peace-offering, in its fullest form, was brought, “a bullock and a ram,” portraying the complete reconciliation made with God by the sacrifice of Christ and peace bestowed through Christ our sin offering and the burnt offering. Last, they brought “the meat offering, mingled with oil,” by which they declared their own consecration to God by blood atonement and holy anointing.
What blessed promise was given at the end of verse 4. — “For today the Lord will appear unto you!” — God’s way to us and our way to him is exactly the same. We come to him by the blood of Christ. And he comes to us by the blood. It is as if Moses had said, “Come to God with the blood that has been shed for you this day; and the invisible God, whom no man has seen nor can see, will this day appear unto you!” — Blessed good news for sinners who know themselves far off from God!
The congregation gathered in front of the tabernacle, with their offerings, and “stood before the Lord.” Then Moses said to them, “This thing which the Lord commanded you to do, do, and in so doing expect that the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you!”
“And they brought that which Moses commanded before the tabernacle of the congregation: and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you.” (vv. 5-6)
In verse 4 we saw that the Lord appears as our God reconciled and gracious when we come to him trusting Christ. Here he tells us to expect it. Yes, believing sinners have every reason to expect God to appear to them and for them as they come to him by faith in Christ. I call you this day to come to God by faith in his Son, declaring that he will be found of all who so seek him. Come to God trusting Christ and expect him to be gracious to you. That is not presumption, but faith.
The Sinless Priest
Next, we see the Lord Jesus Christ portrayed as the sinless priest (vv. 7-14). Aaron is again presented to us as one who needs atonement, always reminding those even in the earliest days of Judaism that he was but a type of him that was to come.
“And Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded. Aaron therefore went unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. And the sons of Aaron brought the blood unto him: and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar: But the fat, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver of the sin offering, he burnt upon the altar; as the LORD commanded Moses. And the flesh and the hide he burnt with fire without the camp. And he slew the burnt offering; and Aaron’s sons presented unto him the blood, which he sprinkled round about upon the altar. And they presented the burnt offering unto him, with the pieces thereof, and the head: and he burnt them upon the altar. And he did wash the inwards and the legs, and burnt them upon the burnt offering on the altar.”
Behold, a greater than Aaron is here! He who is our great High Priest before God must be without sin. Therefore, Aaron first makes atonement for himself, then for the people. The Lord Jesus Christ is an effectual High Priest, because he is a sinless, everlasting High Priest (Hebrews 7:24-28).
The Sanctified People
In verses 15-21 Aaron, representing the people of Israel, brings their sacrifices to God, sacrifices by which they were sanctified and accepted as God’s holy ones. Here we see the sanctified people accepted of God.
“And he brought the people’s offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first. And he brought the burnt offering, and offered it according to the manner. And he brought the meat offering, and took an handful thereof, and burnt it upon the altar, beside the burnt sacrifice of the morning. He slew also the bullock and the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people: and Aaron’s sons presented unto him the blood, which he sprinkled upon the altar round about, and the fat of the bullock and of the ram, the rump, and that which covereth the inwards, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver: And they put the fat upon the breasts, and he burnt the fat upon the altar: And the breasts and the right shoulder Aaron waved for a wave offering before the LORD; as Moses commanded.”
We have seen these sacrifices and their significance before. In short, they speak of complete reconciliation and devotion to God by blood atonement. But let’s look at the sin offering and the language used in verse 15 more closely.
“And he brought the people’s offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first.”
The language used here is remarkable and instructive. The words “offered it for sin” might be better translated, “sinned it” or “made it sin.” The sin offering was that offering that distinctly had sin imputed to it. The idea seems to be that Aaron put the sins of the people on this innocent victim, making it the whole mass of their sins. The victim was made the sinner and made to receive and bear all the penalty their sins deserved.
I have no doubt at all that this is precisely what both Isaiah and Paul had in their minds as they declared to us, by inspiration of God the Holy Ghost, the great work of Christ upon the cross, when he was made sin for us (Isaiah 53:4-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Our great Sin-offering, the Lord Jesus Christ, when slain for us, was treated as if he were the very reservoir of sin. All the curse that we deserved, the curse that flows in countless floods of wrath over man, fell on him, and fell on him all at once! Thus, the Father made him to be sin for us and made him to be the curse for us!
Aaron presented the people; and God accepted them for his sake. This prefigured the grand message of the gospel. — Our Lord Jesus Christ has presented us, and the Triune God accepts us for his sake! In him sinners who deserve his wrath are restored and brought into fellowship with God in perfect reconciliation. By all these things, we are told two great things.
The Satisfaction Portrayed
Read verses 22-24 and rejoice in the satisfaction portrayed. Here’s the result of it all. — Mercy and truth are met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Justice is satisfied. Sin is pardoned. All God’s wrath is clean gone forever.
“And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”
Aaron came down from the place of sacrifice and lifted up his hands, hands that were that day made wet with blood, and blessed the people for whom sacrifice had been made. In Luke 24, we find the fulfillment of this in our Savior’s ascension.
“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.” (Luke 24:50-53)
Then, Aaron and Moses went back into the tabernacle.
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:11-12)
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” (Hebrews 9:24)
Then, late in the evening of the 8th day, Aaron and Moses came out and blessed the people upon the basis of the sacrifice accepted (Numbers 6:24-26; Hebrews 9:26-28). “And the glory of the Lord appeared!” — When the glory of the Lord appeared, fire came out from the Lord and consumed the sacrifice. When the people saw this, they shouted and fell on their faces (Revelation 19:1-6).
What precious tokens of divine favor! The glory of the Lord appeared. The Lord Jehovah showed himself present with his people and showed himself glorified in both his sacrifice and his salvation of sinners by the sacrifice.
God answered by fire, testifying his acceptance of the sacrifice. The fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, which might justly have consumed the people for their sin. So the Holy Ghost came down in confirmation of the fact that Christ’s offering for sin on the cross was accepted. Had he not died, had he not first put away our sin by the sacrifice of himself, the Holy Ghost could not have come (John 16:7). He could never have baptized us with the Holy Ghost and fire. And we could never have escaped destruction.
The Solemn Picture
Read the first seven verses of chapter 10 and pay close attention to the solemn picture. — Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, were slain because they sought to approach God with something other than the sacrifice he provided and accepted. This is what we must see and understand. — Sinners come to God and find acceptance with him only by Christ crucified. Sinners cannot come to God in any other way or upon any other grounds. If you offer the strange fire of another sacrifice, the Lord God will destroy you with that same fire of strict justice that consumed his Son at Calvary.
“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:1-7)
Come to God. Come now to God, by the merits of Christ, by the merit of his blood, trusting this great High Priest.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
This great, glorious High Priest will perfect that which concerns us. He will put the bread on the golden table, that we may never want better angels’ food. He will pour in daily the olive oil, that the lamps of his golden candlesticks may never be dim in this dark, gloomy world. He will present his incense with every prayer of ours, with every groan, with every sigh of broken, contrite sinners pouring out their hearts to him. And soon, very soon, he will come forth again, perhaps before any of us sleep with our fathers. He will come forth to bless us and to receive the shout of multitudes of adoring saved sinners confessing that he is Lord alone (Revelation 4:10-11; 5:9-14).