“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, the anointing oil, a bull as the sin offering, two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; and gather all the congregation together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting’ ” (Leviticus 8:1-3).
What does God expect of those who come to worship Him? While Jesus said we are to worship God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24), are there any other expectations God has of those worshipping Him? How does the manner we live our daily lives affect the way God receives our worship?
In the book of Leviticus, as God speaks to Moses from the tabernacle of meeting, Moses is given instructions regarding the various animal sacrifices Israel was to offer in worship to God (Leviticus 1:1-7:38). As the opening verses above indicate, following these instructions, God gives guidance regarding the priests who were going to be offering the animal sacrifices. Before these priests were allowed to serve, God has Moses and Israel to consecrate these priests to God (Leviticus 8:1-3).
What does it mean to “consecrate” something? Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Before the priests would be allowed to serve in being allowed to offer the animal sacrifices in sacred worship to God, they themselves had to undergo a process so they could “associate with the sacred”. This process was known as consecration (cf. Leviticus 8:10, 11, 22, 31, 33).
It is interesting to observe what was done to “consecrate” the priests of Moses’ day. After the entire congregation of Israel gathered together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron and his sons are washed with water (Leviticus 8:4-6). Moses then takes garments, which had been made for the priests, and puts the high priest’s garments on Aaron (Leviticus 8:7-9) and the priest’s garments on the sons of Aaron (Leviticus 8:13). He also anoints Aaron with the anointing oil since Aaron is to serve as the high priest for the children of Israel (Leviticus 8:12). Following this, Moses offers a sin offering (Leviticus 8:14-17), and a burnt offering (Leviticus 8:18-21) on behalf of Aaron and his sons. Then an offering of consecration is made, during which Moses takes some of the blood and puts it on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of both Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8:22-32). Aaron and his sons are then charged to stay at the door of the tabernacle of meeting for seven days to finish their days of consecration (Leviticus 8:33-36).
Following these days, Aaron, the High Priest, is allowed to begin offering sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel. Aaron offers a sin offering, a burnt offering, and peace offerings on behalf of the people (Leviticus 9:1-22). Following this, fire comes out before the Lord and consumes the sacrifice on the altar as the people behold the glory of the Lord (Leviticus 9:23-24).
Coming to God in worship is something which is sacred. As Christians, we serve as priests to God. We don’t have to go through a separate priesthood to offer worship to God. Jesus Christ serves as our High Priest (Hebrews 9:11-12). However, these verses from Leviticus remind me that I am to be “consecrated” as a priest to God. In offering worship to God, I need to live a life that is striving to “associate with the sacred” and not entangled in the world and its lusts (cf. Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15-17). I rejoice that God enables me to be a priest. Today, I will strive to live a consecrated life!
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).