Today’s reading in Leviticus describes a one-time event. Up until this point, Leviticus has described proper procedures for ongoing sacrifices. Today, however, recounts the installation and ordination of Aaron and his children as the priests of Israel. This is an eight-day event. The first day, the Levites receive the appropriate clothing and sacrifice to prepare them their institution. Priestly garments, sacrifices, and even blood smeared on different parts of their bodies indicate that these men needed significant cleansing and covering to do their work before God. Then, for the span of one week, Aaron and his sons were not to leave the tent of meeting. The importance of this pomp and circumstance becomes clear on the eighth day, as God ends the ordination ceremony by attending the celebration Himself, His glorious presence appearing amidst Israel and consuming the offerings (Leviticus 9:23-24).
This event would certainly convey God’s power and majesty, but more urgently for the original audience, His visitation would communicate His pleasure with both the sacrificial system and the installation of the priesthood. As modern readers, we need to remember that this priesthood pleased God and resist interpreting them simply as a strange stop-gap until Jesus’ advent. Though a better priesthood is to come, we do well to consider how this priestly ordination conveys the holiness of God, the severity of sin, and the necessity of being cleansed to do God’s work. Our priesthood, in similar fashion, is enabled by being covered by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9-10).