Who in their right mind would focus on Leviticus for Lent? Everyone … if you called it Lentviticus! Last week we learned that the first seven chapters of Leviticus are about five different offerings. In Leviticus 8-10, it’s all about the priests. Before you click off, please hear me out!
Every priest must be set apart to the Lord. Why? “So that the glory of the LORD may appear” (Lev 9:6). Well, this is suddenly exciting! This only makes sense if we understand that all human beings were originally called to be priests. God created humans to be mediators of his presence, people who dedicate all of creation to him. Creation is God’s cosmic temple! Unfortunately, most human beings have refused to function as priests. When it got down to a family of priests (the tribe of Levi), the priests needed to be consecrated.
How do the NT authors interpret the need for consecration now that we have become “a royal priesthood” because our “great high priest has passed through the heavens” (1 Pet 2:9; Heb 4:14; cf. Heb 7:24-25)?
Levitical priests were “washed with water” (Lev 8:6). That’s it? Plain water? Jesus is much more thorough! Now all believers are consecrated through water baptism. Plus, he continually cleanses us “by the washing with water through the word” (Eph 5:25-26).
Levitical priests were given special clothes (Lev 8:7-13). That’s it? Fancy pants? Well, “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). What a deal! Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and love looks good on you (Col 3:12-14)!
Levitical priests had anointing oil poured over their head (Lev 8:12). That’t it? Scented olive oil? Jesus anoints us with the Holy Spirit who empowers and guides us into all the truth (1 John 2:20; John 16:13).
Levitical priests had to continually offer sacrifices to seal their consecration (Lev 8:14-29). Thank God that “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all … For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb 10:10, 14). We are now able “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5).
Levitical priests had blood applied on their ear lobe (to hear God clearly), on their right thumb (to cover their conduct), and on their big right toe (to cover their movement) (Lev 8:23-24). That’s it? A bit superficial, don’t you think? Jesus’ shed blood is way more comprehensive. His blood so thoroughly “cleanses us from all sin” that it “cleanses our conscience” and opens the way to God’s throne (1 John 1:7; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:14; 10:19). But that’s not all! Jesus even “reconciles to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col 1:20).
During this Lenten season, let us prepare our hearts like priests to Jesus Christ the King.