Bible Study With Jairus – Leviticus 8- Aaron’s Anointing and The Modern Day Mercy Seat

For today’s study, we’re going to look at several questions from a woman who wondered how we are to understand the meaning behind the story of Moses putting the anointing oil on the high priest. To her, it seemed that since the content of this chapter had already been mentioned in the Book of Exodus, why was it being repeated here? Was the anointing oil solely poured on Aaron the high priest? Or was it also poured on his sons? What are the reasons for putting blood on the lobes of Aaron’s and his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet after anointing the high priest?

We don’t find any verses specifically talking about anointing Aaron’s sons in this chapter. This chapter clearly states that the anointing oil was poured on Aaron. However, it also says that blood was put on the lobes of Aaron’s and his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. We think that this is about a transfer of responsibility. This was the very first moment when the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and met him in glory at the mercy seat where blood was poured (Numbers 7:89).  In this chapter, it was Moses who anointed Aaron, and sprinkled blood on the lobes of Aaron’s and his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet. This was in preparation for them to meet God since meeting with God was based on the atonement of blood.

The Offerings and the Mercy Seat

As we have already mentioned, the place where God and Moses met was at the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony. The high priest sprinkled blood on the seat once a year. When Moses entered the Holy of Holies where the ark was, God only saw the blood poured by the high priest– not Moses’ sin. Thus, the problem of sin was solved. God could talk with Moses in glory, as is clearly stated in the Bible.

This is the actual implication of peace offerings. Men take a step forward through sin offerings (and guilt offerings). God takes a step from the Holy Place through Christ’s burnt offerings (and grain offerings). As such, God and men meet in the midst of the path where the peace offering is. Jesus is the guarantor between God and men. We must follow Jesus in order to come to God. The righteousness of God allows us to meet God in the salvation of Christ. Why do I say that? Men cannot meet God in glory because men commit sin. Sin is an obstacle between God and men. If God did not love us, that would be fine. But God does love us! So, this is not only a difficult question for us, but for God. Because God loves us, He wants to see us. However, God could not see us in the Holy of Holies. That’s why Christ completed these offerings to overcome this difficulty. When we receive the sin offerings and the guilt offerings that Christ did for us, our sins and guilt are hidden by Christ. As such, we can come to a real peace offering. We have peace with God in Jesus Christ our Lord. God only sees the blood of Christ, but not our sins. That’s our perspective.

From God’s perspective, because Christ’s burnt offerings (representing the absolute offering of Christ to God) and grain offerings (representing salvation for men) satisfy the requirements of God, and in addition, because we practice sin offerings and guilt offerings by applying the blood of Christ in prayer to cleanse our sins, God can come out from the Holy of Holies and meet us. We have discussed this in other studies. The five basic offerings are the process of meeting between God and men. We can meet God in Christ. The actual meeting is peace offerings. Peace offerings include the wine and the blood in burnt offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings. They also represent salvation. Peace offerings also include grain offerings and other burnt offerings, and represent joy and the acceptance of God. Therefore, the peace offering is the sum of all that comprises most of the sacrifices and makes harmony between God and men.

Moses and God met at the mercy seat in the glory of God, forming a picture of peace offerings. Moses had met God at the mercy seat before, but he later had to pass this service to Aaron and the other high priests. They could then meet God in glory under the shed blood, just like Moses had. The sprinkling of blood is a further application of the mercy seat. This mercy seat was once kept in the ark of the testimony. It is kept on men’s thumbs, toes, and the side of their ears now.  Before we receive God’s anointing oil, we must be purified by the precious blood of Jesus. There is an interactive relationship between God’s anointing oil and the purification of precious blood. On one hand, we must be purified by the precious blood in order to get God’s anointing oil. On the other hand, just like what is mentioned in this chapter, if we want to receive God’s anointing oil, with the help of purification of precious blood, we must keep our fellowship  with God. As a result, we will have God’s anointing oil on a continuous basis.

As High Priest Aaron has been anointed by anointing oil.  High priests must live to the full extent of the anointing oil. They must always use the blood of sacrifices to purify themselves. As they do, God will meet them. The distance between God and priests is as narrow as the sides of ears and fingers. When Abraham was anointed by God as a prophet, God offered him places where his footsteps could reach, places where his hands could touch, and places where his eyes could see. Wherever he went, God would follow and be with him.

Anointing in Today’s Context

What is the meaning of this? The lobe of priests’ right ears, the thumb of their right hands, and the big toe of their right feet represent the words we hear, the things we do, and the ways we walk. After God anointed the high priests, not only could they enter the Holy Place, God was actually with them wherever they went. With God’s presence, God could not only come out from the Holy of Holies but actually live in the lobe of high priests’ right ears, the thumb of their right hands, and the big toe of their right feet. In other words, God was in the body of high priests. No matter what the high priests heard, said, did, or went, God was with them. This also applies to the New Testament nowadays. Every one of us, as Christians, are God’s priests. God is with us no matter what we say, what we do, or where we go. Many Christians do not notice that. They speak unsuitable words, do unsuitable things, and go to unsuitable places. Thus, they defile God’s anointing oil offered to them. That’s why we need the precious blood of Christ to purify our ears and mouths, the thumb of our right hands, and the big toes of our right feet. When we use the precious blood of Christ to purify ourselves, and guard ourselves to live well in the anointing of God, we continuously strengthen the anointing of God and the fact that God is with us.

This is the fact of anointing. The actual anointing is that God trusts us and gives Himself to us.  You can say “God has trusted himself to you”, wherever you go, God be with you. Take Abraham as an example. God was with Abraham when he went to Egypt. Even though he sold his own wife, God still blessed him. We can see this in Scripture and in our own lives. If someone is right in the eyes of God, God will still bless him even though he commits mistakes occasionally. But this cannot be an excuse for our wrongdoings or for betraying God’s trust. Instead, if an anointed man betrays God’s trust, he will receive more severe punishment from God.

Being anointed implies higher authority given by God and being closer to God. It does not matter if you are doing work for the Lord or preaching the word of God; it is easier to bring the good things from above to earth if you are anointed. In the Old Testament, normal people could not go into the Holy of Holies except for the high priests. The anointing of a high priest was so huge that he always needed to purify himself with blood to avoid the sins and uncleanness of the world. If he was unclean, he could face the punishment of death. Beginning in the New Testament, every Christian can enter the Holy of Holies through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We enter the Holy of Holies and stay with God without fear. This requires us to use Christ’s precious blood to purify ourselves. If we purify ourselves continuously,  we keep on strengthening the anointing of God and God’s manifested presence will be with us to a greater degree.

I have come across some of the groups that are regarded as heretics by Christians in the United States, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have witnessed their hard work in spreading the “gospel”, reading Bibles in groups, setting up booths in Metro stations, etc. I see how hardworking they are, but I don’t see the presence of God. In other words, I see the lack of anointing from God. These groups may deny the deity of Jesus Christ, or they believe in books other than the Bible. They try to receive God through hard work, which is impossible. We must receive salvation from God through the blood of Jesus Christ. We must also always use the blood of Jesus Christ to purify ourselves, our ears, our hands, and our feet in order to let more anointing of God be released to us.  When we have the anointing of God, things will be much easier.

The Leviticus 8 Ordination Process

Leviticus 8  is a portrait of this concept. It portrays the relationship between God’s anointing and the purification of blood. Let’s take a look in detail.

Leviticus 1-7 describes Burnt Offerings (Chapter 1); Grain Offerings (Chapter 2); Peace Offerings (Chapter 3); Sin Offerings (Chapter 4); Guilt Offerings (Chapter 5); the laws of Burnt Offerings, Grain Offerings, Sin Offerings (Chapter 6); and the laws of Guilt Offerings and Peace Offerings (Chapter 7). These offerings put Aaron in a position that was close to God. In Chapter 8, God started anointing Aaron as well as allowing the priests to offer their blood offerings. To our surprise, God did not let Aaron offer his offerings and blood at the beginning. Instead, God let Moses take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and all that was in it, consecrating all these things (8:10). He also sprinkled some of the oil on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its utensils and the basin and its stand, to consecrate them (8:11). He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him (8:12). It says “consecrate them” three times respectively. This is to consecrate something positionally. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” (Matthew 23:17) From God’s words, the temple that has made the gold sacred is more important. It helps our understanding if we apply this to what we’ve already discussed.  We must consecrate ourselves in order to get anointed by God. If we want to keep ourselves in God’s anointing, we must always purify ourselves by the blood of Christ.

Let’s consider the sequence of events in chapter 8. In verse 2, the Lord requested Moses to take Aaron and his sons, along with the garments, the anointing oil, the bull of the sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread. Moses assembled “all the congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting” (3). He then brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water (6). He clothed Aaron with the holy clothes and anointed the tabernacle and all its utensils (7-11). Finally, Moses “poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him” (12). It does not talk about Moses pouring anointing oil on Aaron’s sons’ heads or anointing them. Instead, it says that Moses “brought Aaron’s sons and clothed them with coats and tied sashes around their waists and bound caps on them” (13). We notice that the anointing oil is only for Aaron the high priest. This does not imply that Aaron’s sons were not anointed after they became high priests. This is not true. This anointed oil was inherited from Aaron’s anointed oil. We can find proof in the Bible. In Psalm 133, David said, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down the collar of his robes!” Although this anointing oil was only poured on Aaron, his sons could inherit his anointing oil. Even though the anointment of Aaron’s sons is not mentioned in this chapter, the above reference still applies. 

This also explains why it is later said that the purification of blood on Aaron also applied to his sons. Moses not only put blood on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot (23), he also put blood on the lobes of Aaron’s sons’ ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet (24). This means that Aaron and his sons were anointed together in the presence of God. But they had to offer blood offerings and let their ears, right thumbs, and right toes be purified in order to listen to the voice of God, do what God asked them to do, and go to places where God asked them to go.

Verses 14-17 describe how Moses offered the bull of the sin offering: Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull of the sin offering before Moses killed it. He then took the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar with his finger, purified the altar, poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and consecrated it to make atonement for it. Please note, as mentioned before in vs. 10-12, anointing oil was placed on the altar and utensils. Moses then consecrated the altar, the utensils, and Aaron.  Starting in this verse, blood was poured at the base of the altar which was consecrated by Moses. Verse 30 says, “Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron and his garments, and also on his sons and his sons’ garments. So, he consecrated Aaron and his garments, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him.” The blood Moses sprinkled made the priests clean and the anointing oil made the priests holy. We must be clean and holy to get closer to God. It was true for the priests in the OT and for believers in the NT. For Hebrews 12:14 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Priests in the Old Testament and in the New Testament must be sanctified.

Verses 18-21 describe Moses presenting the ram of the burnt offering: Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram before Moses killed it. Verse 22 and following describes Moses presenting the other ram, the ram of ordination. This ram was not for atonement but for ordination. The blood of the ram was put on Aaron’s and his sons’ right ear lobes, the thumbs of their right hands, and the big toes of their right feet by Moses. The blood of this ram was specifically used to consecrate Aaron and his sons. After that, the unleavened bread used for grain offerings (26), wave offerings (29) and burnt offerings (28) were added to the ceremony. These offerings, used to consecrate Aaron, were very important. 

In verses 31-35, Moses commanded Aaron and his sons to boil the flesh at the entrance of the tent of meeting. They were to eat that and the bread that was in the basket of ordination offerings. Moses also commanded them to burn up the remains of the flesh and the bread with fire. Aaron and his sons were not to go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of their ordination were completed. At the entrance of the tent of meeting they were to remain day and night for seven days so that they did not die. This also tells us that, while the feet of Aaron and his sons were purified and consecrated by blood, they had to stay in the tent of meeting and not leave during the period of special ordination.

Ordination in Today’s World

What is ordination? Many churches still use this procedure to “ordain” ministers and other spiritual positions. These ceremonial constraints do not exist in the New Testament but in the spirit instead. Every one of us believers is to serve God. Although we are not all pastors, we are the Lord’s priests (1 Peter 2:9)- we are the one who receive ordination. Our high priest is Jesus Christ himself. He receives the greatest anointing from God. Psalm 45:7 says, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” This was said when Jesus was anointed by God. We are in Christ. So the anointing of Christ is also our anointing, just like the anointing that Aaron was anointed with was also his sons’ anointing. But this does not imply giving us anointing unconditionally. The anointing that God gives us in Christ is so huge that we must use the blood of Christ to continuously purify the lobes of our right ears, the thumbs of our right hands, and the big toes of our right feet. When we purify what we have heard with our ears, what we have done with our hands, and where we have walked with our feet, we can use the anointing prepared by Christ to consecrate ourselves. Today we are not short of anointing, but we are not sanctified enough. This means that the anointing is not able to be released in us. The more we become sanctified with the blood of Christ, the more anointing will be in our lives and ministries. We are very close to God now. God lives inside our heart and at the side of our mouths. “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” (Romans 10:10) God meets us at the side of our ears. If we do not listen to and pay attention to voices from the world and from our flesh, after we put blood on the lobes of our right ears and purify them, we can hear the spiritual voice. Many Christians can only see images and hear sounds from the world, or even the lies from the enemy. But when we offer our ears to God, God will talk to us. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Our distance from God is as close as the distance of the sides of our ears.  This blood on the side of the ear is like the blood on the mercy seat that let Moses and the Lord meet below the glorious cherubim. Similarly, when we use Christ’s blood to purify our ears, God’s voice will come to us. Likewise, after our hands have done any wrong doings, if we repent and use Christ’s blood to purify our hands, God will come to us, and we will come to God. God will bless what our hands have done. After we have gone to a sinful place, if we repent and use Christ’s blood to purify our feet, God will be with us. God will bless the places we step, just like God blessed Abraham. So if we put Christ’s blood on our ears, our right hands, and our right feet, we meet with God by the blood of Christ, like Moses and God met at the mercy seat.

Aaron’s and his sons’ right earlobes, the thumbs of their right hands, and the big toes of their right feet in this chapter are the extension of the mercy seat where Moses and God met. May Christians today understand this truth, and use this in their daily life.