Part 1—Empowering a Priesthood for Effectual Service
“The priests of Jehovah you will be called; the ministers of our God you will be said to be.”—Isa. 61:6.
1. Why have many priesthoods noted in history failed the people?
HISTORY, ancient and modern, records the formation of numerous priesthoods that have claimed ability and authority to bring men nearer to God and obtain for them divine blessings. Because those priesthoods were not called by God, were not ordained by him but rather by men, and were formed, for the most part, of selfish position seekers, they have produced no good results. In fact, candid persons will admit that humankind today is drifting farther and farther from the Creator, Jehovah God, and is seemingly doomed to self-destruction in thermonuclear war. In this extremity, how vital for honest-hearted people to learn of God’s merciful provision of a priesthood to which he has granted all the necessary qualifications for an effectual ministry!
2. What vital reason is there for giving careful attention to directions of the Greater Moses today?
2 After Moses had been called to the heights of Sinai and there instructed by Jehovah’s angel, he was in position to reveal God’s will to the nation of Israel. Likewise, Christ Jesus, having entered the very presence of his Father in heaven, was in position to reveal the mystery of Jehovah’s will to his faithful followers on earth, with the help of God’s holy spirit poured out upon them, so that they might have intellectual capacity to grasp the wonderful things revealed. (Heb. 9:24; 1 John 5:20) Let us follow along, then, with Bible open at the eighth chapter of Le the Bible book of Leviticus, and seek to understand what the Greater Moses, Christ Jesus, has to tell us about the installation of a heavenly priesthood foreshadowed by that typical priesthood installed on Nisan 1-7, 1512 B.C.E.
3. What vital truth is pointed to by Leviticus 8:1?
3 Jehovah proceeded to speak to Moses. (Le 8 Vs. 1) “And Jehovah proceeded to speak to Moses, saying:” The Source and the channel of every good thing that comes to creatures are here identified. Said Paul the apostle to others who, in association with him, had been “sanctified in union with Christ Jesus, called to be holy ones”: “There is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and we through him.” We may be sure that an understanding of God’s arrangement for empowering an everlasting priesthood will prove to be most beneficial to us.—1 Cor. 1:2; 8:6.
4. The assembly of the other nonpriestly tribes has what significance for us?
4 The assembly congregated at the entrance. (Le 8 Vs. 3) “And make all the assembly congregate at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” The assembly of all those nonpriestly tribes points to a multitude out of all nations that must in due time be assembled and instructed as to the opportunities and requirements for life. Such gathered ones correspond to “the twelve tribes of Israel” over whom the heavenly priesthood under Christ Jesus is destined to rule. (Matt. 19:28) In modern fulfillment we have observed, particularly from and after the year 1935, the assembly of a great crowd of Jehovah’s earthly “sheep” who are vitally interested in his provision for their eventual reconciliation with him.
5. What relationship between Christ Jesus and his Father in heaven is indicated by Moses’ words at verse 5?
5 This is the thing that Jehovah has given command to do. (Le 8 Vs. 5) “Moses now said to the assembly: ‘This is the thing that Jehovah has given command to do.’” Pointing to Jehovah as the originator of this marvelous provision of a life-giving priesthood on behalf of obedient humans, Christ Jesus displays complete subservience to his Father. As he expressed the matter during his earthly ministry: “I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” How essential, then, for us to pay close attention to the things spoken and done on authority of the Sovereign God himself!—John 8:28.
6. What is represented by (a) the washing of Aaron, and (b) by the washing of his sons?
6 Moses washes Aaron and his sons with water. (Le 8 Vs. 6) “So Moses brought Aaron and his sons near and washed them with water.” Since Aaron was selected to be the high priest, he represents none other than Christ Jesus. So the washing here could in no wise refer to any cleansing of the one who was “loyal, guileless, undefiled.” Rather, the washed Aaron points to that sinless One who, according to the apostle Paul, “offered himself without blemish to God.” (Heb. 7:26; 9:14) As to the sons of Aaron, their washing by Moses tells of a real cleansing process that is performed upon ones who have been selected and called to be members of the heavenly priesthood. So it cannot refer to the baptism of Christ’s underpriests, particularly since baptism does not refer to the matter of cleansing. Paul, writing under inspiration, tells us what this washing is: “Christ also loved the congregation [of his underpriests] and delivered up himself for it, that he might sanctify it, cleansing it with the bath of water by means of the word, that he might present the congregation to himself in its splendor, not having a spot or a wrinkle or any of such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph. 5:25-27) By the application of his teaching to their minds and hearts, and with the operation of God’s holy spirit, these are made spiritual sons of God, “a certain first fruits of his creatures.”—Jas. 1:18.
7. (a) The linen robe placed upon Aaron pictures what? (b) And the sash?
7 Linen robe and sash put upon Aaron. (Le 8 Vs. 7) “After that he put the robe upon him and girded him with the sash and clothed him with the sleeveless coat and put the ephod upon him and girded him with the girdle of the ephod and bound it closely to him with it.” At Revelation 19:8 we learn that “the fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the holy ones.” Christ, the High Priest, has certainly been identified by the long series of righteous acts he has performed from the time when he willingly agreed to lay aside heavenly glory and become a man right up to the present time, righteous acts that are so because of being in full harmony with Jehovah’s progressively revealed purposes. The sash can also be understood in the light of what Isaiah the prophet wrote: “And righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” This well describes Jehovah’s chief servant, Christ Jesus, who always delights to acknowledge his submission to the Father.—Isa. 11:5.
8. (a) The blue sleeveless coat has what application? (b) And what about its ornamental fringe?
8 The sleeveless coat, with blue its predominating color, and having a handsome fringe of embroidered pomegranates alternating with gold bells, was truly a garment of beauty. As blue was to serve as a sign to the Israelites that they must “remember all the commandments of Jehovah and do them,” the glorious heavenly High Priest sets the right example for all in highly prizing Jehovah’s reminders. How appropriate to his lips are the words of the psalmist: “Your reminders are wonderful. That is why my soul has observed them.” While on earth he had continually referred to the reminders of God’s written Word. (Num. 15:37-41; Ps. 119:129) The pomegranates speak of the fruitfulness and productivity that mark the service of this faithful priest of the “true tent,” while the golden bells suggest joyful proclamation. Since the “sound from him must be heard when he goes into the sanctuary before Jehovah and when he comes out,” this would indicate that joyful proclamation is due, not only when his resurrection and ascension to heaven take place, but also when he appears again to his faithful followers at the time of his second presence.—Ex. 28:35.
9. What do we understand from (a) the two parts of the ephod, and (b) the engraved jewels at the shoulders?
9 Atop the sleeveless coat is next placed the ephod, one part hanging down in front and the other hanging down behind. Today the great King-Priest who is like ancient Melchizedek bears upon his shoulders the God-given responsibility to administer the benefits of two covenants that promised marvelous blessings to obedient humans. One of these was given to faithful Abraham in the long distant past (at his back), while the other is of much later date, the covenant that God made with Christ Jesus himself for a kingdom, which covenant he mentioned to his close followers on the occasion of that special evening meal he inaugurated for them just before his sacrificial death. (Gen. 12:1-3; Luke 22:28-30) That the two portions were fastened at the shoulder by jewels engraved with the names of the twelve tribes is telling us in symbol how Jesus Christ joins with him in his administration spiritual Israelites who will “rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6.
10. What is pictured by Aaron’s bearing the breastpiece and its contents over his heart?
10 The breastpiece of judgment with the Urim and Thummim. (Le 8 Vs. 8) “Next he placed the breastpiece upon him and put in the breastpiece the Urim and the Thummim.” This reminds us that “the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son.” Also, bearing the symbolic breastpiece, Christ Jesus bears responsibility before Jehovah constantly for the purity and loyalty of the spiritual Israelites. In this and in all matters he has at heart and is guided by the sound principles of justice and truth that he has learned from the Father. Said he in the days of his flesh on earth: “Just as I hear, I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 5:22, 30; Ex. 28:29, 30.
11. How has Christ Jesus given the right example to his underpriests, as pictured by the turban and its golden plate?
11 The turban with its golden plate. (Le 8 Vs. 9) “Then he placed the turban upon his head and placed upon the turban at the forefront of it the shining plate of gold, the holy sign of dedication, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” This head covering and the words HOLY TO JEHOVAH engraved on the plate carried at the forehead express the clear recognition of the headship principle taught by the Lord Jesus to his disciples and transmitted to us by them: “But I want you to know that the head of every man is the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God.” More than that, this beautiful badge tells of the frank and open confession of the heavenly High Priest that he is owned by his God and Creator, and he will never render himself in service to anyone else. His body of underpriests must follow his lead, for they too must have “the name of his Father written on their foreheads.”—1 Cor. 11:3; Rev. 14:1.
12. What vital truths are represented by the anointing of the tent, the altar and the basin?
12 Moses anoints with oil the tent, the altar, the basin. (Le 8 Vss. 10, 11) “Moses now took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it and sanctified them. After that he spattered some of it seven times upon the altar and anointed the altar and all its utensils and the basin and its stand so as to sanctify them.” Since the anointing oil stands for the invisible active force of Jehovah, the anointing with it of all the provisions of that symbolic tent, both inside and outside the tent, helps us to understand that Jehovah’s active force is what approves and imbues his propitiatory system under Christ Jesus, with all of its manifestation both in heaven and on earth. It is God’s spirit that directed the offering of the perfect sacrifice for sin, and that provided the written Word and its power for cleansing those who approach him.
13. How does Aaron’s anointing apply in fulfillmen, and how does it in the fulfullment affect Christ’s body of priests?
13 The anointing of Aaron. (Le 8 Vs. 12) “Finally he poured some of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head and anointed him so as to sanctify him.” That we have the proper understanding of the oil and its significance we can note from the words of the apostle Peter: “You know the subject that was talked about throughout the whole of Judea, starting from Galilee after the baptism that John preached, namely, Jesus who was from Nazareth, how God anointed him with holy spirit and power.” (Acts 10:37, 38) And that this anointing extends through him to his priesthood members we are assured by Paul: “But he who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and he who has anointed us is God. He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.”—2 Cor. 1:21, 22.
14. The appropriate timing of the clothing of Aaron’s sons has what significance?
14 Aaron’s sons clothed with robes of installation. (Le 8 Vs. 13) “Moses then brought Aaron’s sons near and clothed them with robes and girded them with sashes and wrapped the headgear upon them, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” This takes place after the investiture of Aaron and after he had been anointed with oil. So, in later fulfillment, the anointing of Jesus at Jordan in the fall of 29 C.E. preceded by more than three and a half years the anointing with holy spirit of his disciples at Pentecost of 33 C.E. They too must follow their High Priest in performing righteous acts of devotion in obedience to the revelation of Jehovah’s will for them.
BULL OF THE SIN OFFERING
15. What does the bull of the sin offering picture, and what is the significance of Aaron and his sons’ laying their hands on its head?
15 Aaron and sons lay hands on the bull’s head. (Le 8 Vs. 14) “Then he led up the bull of the sin offering and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bull of the sin offering.” Their action shows that they are directly involved in this proffered victim. Christ Jesus, for his part, gladly agrees to ‘carry the sin of many people, and to interpose for the transgressors,’ while his anointed followers readily confess that he constitutes the sacrifice for their sins upon whom they load all of their guilt. The bull, then, stands for the “man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) The prospective members of the heavenly priesthood must rest their hope of life and acceptance with Jehovah squarely upon their faith in that precious offering.
16. In the realities, what is to be understood by the blood’s being applied to the altar and not to the washbasin?
16 Blood of bull applied to the altar. (Le 8 Vs. 15) “And Moses proceeded to slaughter it and take the blood and put it with his finger upon the horns of the altar round about and purify the altar from sin, but the rest of the blood he poured at the base of the altar, that he might sanctify it to make atonement upon it.” Since those things visible outside the tent refer to things visible here upon earth, it is of special significance that the blood is applied, not to the copper basin, but to the altar. The cleansing ‘bath of water of the word’ needs no sin-atoning benefits applied to it, for “the sayings of Jehovah are pure sayings.” (Ps. 12:6) However, the symbolic altar on which Jesus was offered is clean and pure and to God just like the copper altar after the sacrificial blood was applied to it. The horns of the altar, particularly, speak of its power for acceptance with God, which power derives from the merit of Christ’s sacrifice for sins. On the basis of Christ’s sacrifice on God’s symbolic altar all the gifts and vows of those who seek favor and reconciliation with Jehovah must now be presented.—Heb. 13:10-12.
17. The smoking of the fat and the inward parts on the altar has what application in the reality
17 Intestinal fat, liver, kidneys smoked on altar. (Le 8 Vs. 16) “After that he took all the fat that was upon the intestines, and the appendage of the liver and the two kidneys and their fat and Moses made them smoke upon the altar.” The sizzling, smoking fat here accurately represents the burning zeal with which Christ Jesus performed the will of Jehovah upon earth, seeing that it was amid fiery persecution and reproach that he had to maintain integrity. Speaking prophetically for Christ Jesus, the psalmist declares: “For sheer zeal for your house has eaten me up, and the very reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.” (Ps. 69:9; Rom. 15:3) The vital inward organs of the offering here represent the inmost feelings and longings of the High Priest, the pure motive with which he rendered all in worship to his Father.
18. The portions burned outside the camp have what significance, and how does the apostle Paul confirm this?
18 Remainder of bull burned outside the camp. (Le 8 Vs. 17) “And he had the bull and its skin and its flesh and its dung burned with fire outside the camp, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” As the fat and inward parts refer to that which is not seen, the true inclinations and inmost desires of the creature, so the outward parts, the flesh and bone, that cover the vital organs seem to point to the outward man, in Jesus’ case the fleshly body upon which the enemy wreaked their fierce hatred. To aid us in discerning the reality of this part of the shadow picture, we have to read the words of the apostle Paul: “For the bodies of those animals whose blood is taken into the holy place by the high priest for sin are burned up outside the camp. Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore.” (Heb. 13:11-13) At the installation of the Aaronic priesthood the blood of the sacrificed bull was not taken into the Most Holy, because such procedure could only be done one day of each year, the day of atonement, Tishri 10. But we do know that at the installing of the priests the bull here did represent the “one sacrifice for sins forever.”
19. In what way did endurance of persecution specially qualify Jesus Christ?
19 Jesus’ faithful course under trial and persecution to the death perfected or qualified him to be the High Priest who would enter heaven itself with the value of his own sacrificed, perfect human life. Thus the apostle Paul could write: “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience [under the most crucial test] from the things he suffered; and after he had been made perfect [in obedience] he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.” (Heb. 5:8, 9) His body of underpriests must also display the same courage and endurance under enemy reproach even until death.
THE RAM OF THE BURNT OFFERING
20. What does the ram of the burnt offering signify, and why the imposition of hands upon its head?
20 The ram of the burnt offering presented. (Le 8 Vs. 18) “He now brought the ram of the burnt offering near, and Aaron and his sons then laid their hands upon the head of the ram.” Again the imposition of hands by Aaron and his sons points to the fact that this ram involves all the members of the heavenly priesthood, and since it is a burnt offering “for a restful odor” unto Jehovah, it is expressing the prayer of the Greater Aaron to Jehovah that he would now apply the benefits of his ransom sacrifice to the members of his body of underpriests so that they might be in position to function acceptably on behalf of still others who would be drawing near to God. Jesus’ anointed followers lean entirely upon the merit of his offering of himself for their sins so as to become usable and acceptable to Jehovah.
21. That ram’s blood being applied to the altar has what meaning for us?
21 Application of the blood of the ram. (Le 8 Vs. 19) “After that Moses slaughtered it and sprinkled the blood round about upon the altar.” Again we note the blood being applied to the altar, pointing to the cleanness and purity of God’s altar by means of which the atoning merit of Jesus’ shed blood comes to his underpriests. Thereby the way is opened for multitudes of honesthearted persons from all nations and languages to assemble themselves unto an organization of priests through which, during the Millennium, Jehovah is pleased to receive them for instruction and cleansing under direction of the great High Priest in the heavens.
22. The disposition of the entire ram of the burnt offering has what application to Christ Jesus and to his underpriests?
22 The entire ram smoked upon the altar. (Le 8 Vss. 20, 21) “And he cut up the ram into its pieces, and Moses proceeded to make the head and the pieces and the suet smoke. And the intestines and the shanks he washed with water, and Moses then made the entire ram smoke upon the altar. It was a burnt offering for a restful odor. It was an offering made by fire to Jehovah, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” The completeness of Jesus’ sacrifice of himself, his physical and mental powers, his inmost thoughts and desires, his walking in a pure course, is noted by the shadow representation here. His anointed followers must follow the path he trod, throw themselves wholeheartedly into the service of the “true tent.” They can never permit any other concern of life to overshadow their devotion to the interests of God’s pure worship. As did their Leader, so must they think, not of themselves alone, but of the multitude of others who urgently need help to make a successful approach to Jehovah.
THE RAM OF THE INSTALLATION
23. How does the presentation of the ram of installation apply in the reality?
23 The ram of installation presented. (Le 8 Vs. 22) “Then he brought the second ram, the ram of the installation, near, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the ram’s head.” Again we have to appreciate that this offering is something of prime concern to the entire priesthood under Christ, for Aaron and his sons again laid their hands upon this third animal offering. The blood of Jesus having first been offered for the sins of humankind, and then special request having been made for the benefits of that sacrifice to begin accruing to his anointed followers, the third step is to constitute the actual installation of this body of priests, charging them with duties and responsibilities relating to pure worship. Here, too, emphasis is placed upon the perfect offering from which stems the empowering of this priesthood to serve effectually at the “true tent” of God’s worship.
24. How has Christ Jesus fulfilled the picture of Aaron having his right ear, thumb and great toe smeared with blood?
24 Blood applied to Aaron’s right ear, thumb, toe. (Le 8 Vs. 23) “After that Moses slaughtered it and took some of its blood and put it upon the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and upon the thumb of his right hand and upon the big toe of his right foot.” During his sacrificial ministry of three and a half years on earth, the greater High Priest, Christ Jesus, provided the perfect example for his underpriests. His ear was continually attuned to the directions of Jehovah as expressed in the written Word; he gave these his primary attention. His physical and mental abilities and equipment were expended fully in doing the work assigned him; he gave of his best. And never did his feet stray from the narrow path of integrity-keeping; prophetically his very steps had been plotted out for him, and thus it could be said that “all the things written in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms about me” were truly fulfilled.—Luke 24:44.
25. How does the application of the blood to Aaron’s sons apply to the Christian priesthood?
25 Blood applied to Aaron’s sons. (Le 8 Vs. 24) “Next Moses brought Aaron’s sons near and put some of the blood upon the lobe of their right ear and upon the thumb of their right hand and upon the big toe of their right foot; but Moses sprinkled the rest of the blood round about upon the altar.” Jesus’ anointed followers are committed to a course identical with that of their High Priest. They too must give their best attention to the directives of God’s Word as made plain to them by holy spirit. They must apply the best of their physical and mental powers to the work of carrying out the things heard, and they must ever walk in a right way before Jehovah, constantly ‘making straight paths for their feet.’ (Heb. 12:13) They must grasp God’s service, as it were with right hand, and apply their best powers to their priestly duties.
26. Why is information about the heavenly priesthood under Christ of special comfort to life seekers today?
26 How comforting and thrilling it is to know that Jehovah’s exalted King-Priest after the manner of Melchizedek is reigning and has an organization of priestly servants to serve with him during the Millennium as an acceptable approach for multitudes as they bring their gifts and offer their vows to the Sovereign Ruler of all the universe, with strong hope of being eventually brought into full harmony with him!
[Picture on page 400]
Moses put some of the blood of the ram of installation upon the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and upon the thumb of his right hand and upon the big toe of his right foot