For Week Ending July 19, 2009
Purpose: To explore the meaning of ordination within the ministry of the baptized
Scripture Text: Leviticus 8:1-13 (NRSV)
(1)The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: (2)Take Aaron and his sons with him, the vestments, the anointing-oil, the bull of sin-offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; (3)and assemble the whole congregation at the entrance of the tent of meeting. (4)And Moses did as the Lord commanded him. When the congregation was assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting, (5)Moses said to the congregation, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded to be done.’
(6) Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward, and washed them with water. (7)He put the tunic on him, fastened the sash around him, clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him. He then put the decorated band of the ephod around him, tying the ephod to him with it. (8)He placed the breast piece on him, and in the breast piece he put the Urim and the Thummim. (9)And he set the turban on his head, and on the turban, in front, he set the golden ornament, the holy crown, as the Lord commanded Moses.
(10) Then Moses took the anointing-oil and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and consecrated them. (11)He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its utensils, and the basin and its base, to consecrate them. (12)He poured some of the anointing-oil on Aaron's head and anointed him, to consecrate him.(13)And Moses brought forward Aaron’s sons, and clothed them with tunics, and fastened sashes around them, and tied head-dresses on them, as the Lord commanded Moses.
Two important things to remember when you read this passage is the way the first verse begins and the way the last verse ends. It was the Lord that was in command of this service of ordination.The other interesting aspect of this service, is it was done after the erection of the tabernacle and after Aaron and his sons had been performing these tasks for a long period of time. The ordination comes closer to the end than the beginning of Aaron's reign.
So what was the purpose of the ceremony? I think God was trying to instill in the nation of Israel a couple of truths. First, they themselves had been called by God to be priests to the rest of humankind. And they will be a priestly nation, that is the priest will teach them the commandments and teachings of God. If they obeyed there would be no need for a king or other secular leader. God wanted them to be a holy nation.
The same is true of His Church today.The Church of Jesus Christ is called to bear witness to the rest of humankind that being a Christian should make a difference, just as the nation of Israel was a testimony to the rest of the nations that were neighbors and enemies. We as Christians are called to be a priestly witness to both our neighbors and our enemies. A priestly witness or holiness living does not mean being an overbearing snob. Our call is to connect everyone with Christ, point everyone to Christ, a priestly witness should reflect Christ; when they look at you they should see the reflection of Christ in you.
The one commandment that seems to be the most ignored is the last commandment of Christ, “go and make disciples”. This is exactly the same point the Lord was trying to make to the nation of Israel at this most pious and holy ceremony. It would be almost impossible to witness this ceremony which lasted for seven days, and not be impressed with the holiness of the Lord, and the call to separate yourselves as a nation and as individuals to the ministry that the Lord wants to share with the rest of the world.
One thing I have no explanation for is the “Urim and “Thummin” that were placed in the breastplate. Over the years I have read and heard many explanations, but none have satisfied my curiosity. We know it was used in special circumstances to help in making decisions.
How can we better serve the mission that we have been called to fulfill? Why was this ordination service conducted in front of the entire congregation? What do you think is the best way to share God's mission in the world?
For a special blessing, please watch "The Great Physician." It is a wonderful slide show that demonstrates how God can use each of us to share God's mission to the world.