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military in uniform February 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Leviticus 8, 9, 10

Honor Versus Dishonor

Military uniforms are worn to distinguish soldiers from civilians. The uniforms are not worn simply to entitle soldiers to fight for their country—they stand for their country and represent a system of values established by codes of conduct. The soldier who wears his uniform honorably will behave in consistency with those standards. Those who act in a disgraceful unpardonable manner are given a dishonorable discharge. In the time of Moses there was a particular day for the putting on of uniforms, the vestments of priests. It was a day of consecration, a dedication for service to the LORD.

After the tabernacle (a portable worship center) and all its furnishing had been constructed, priestly garments made, and instructions given regarding offerings, it was time to consecrate (dedicate and ceremonially purify) the priests for service. To do this, Moses gathers all of the Israelites together at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (probably meaning the tabernacle) to witness it. Before their eyes he washes Aaron and his sons, clothes them with linen tunics and puts priestly garments on them. Aaron wears the special garments of the high priest. These uniforms distinguish them from the rest of the Israelites for holy service to the LORD. Then Moses pours anointing oil over all furnishings of the tabernacle and upon Aaron and his sons, consecrating them for service. Afterwards, Moses offers up sin and burnt offerings for Aaron and his sons as prescribed by God. Next, Moses offers up a second ram for the ordination of the priests. From the blood of this animal, he smears a little blood on their right earlobes, right thumbs of their right hands, and right toes of their right feet, consecrating them for service as he did the bronze altar.

According to Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible and An Exposition of The Old Testament by John Gill, DD., ©1954, vol. 1, pp. 394-395, the blood is put on the right earlobes, thumbs, and right toes as symbols. It is put on the right earlobes so they will remember to give attendance to the Law, the right thumbs of the right hands so they will remember to do what is right with their hands, and the right toes of the right feet so they will remember to walk in paths of righteousness. In other words, the priests are ordained in this manner so they will remember they are consecrated to live a holy life.

This is a symbol of how the LORD consecrates Christians for service. God purifies and dedicates us by the blood of his Son. The Apostle Peter addresses strangers in the faith (non-Jewish believers) when he says,

[we] … have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood (1Peter 1:2a,b, NIV).

… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1Peter 2:9, NIV).

After the official ordination of the priests, a fellowship offering is sacrificed for dedication and sharing. The priests share the thighs of the animals and the grain offering as an ordination meal, and Moses is given the breast to eat. The ordination lasted seven days. During this time the priests are not allowed to leave the tabernacle.

An Honorable Discharge of Duties. On the eighth day of the ordination Moses shows the priests how to offer all the sacrifices as prescribed by God. Afterwards, Aaron and his sons assume the duties and the LORD is honored by their obedience. How do we know? The glory of the LORD descends upon the tabernacle and the sacrifice is consumed.

A Dishonorable Discharge. Soon after Aaron and his sons assume the leadership as priests, two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu, take censures and offer unauthorized fire before the LORD. Leviticus 10:9 seems to suggest that Nadab and Abihu are drunk and disorderly. In any case, whether drunkenness, carelessness, pride, or a combination of these cause them to disobey the LORD, God strikes them dead for dishonoring his holiness. God says, “Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored” (Leviticus 10:3, NIV).

Like all the priests, Nadab and Abihu were leaders and examples of holiness. Jesus will later say, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48b, NIV). Soon we will see Moses also judged harshly for dishonoring God before the Israelites (Numbers 20:7-12; Deuteronomy 32:48-52).

Although church leaders may not be killed, this should serve as a warning that the LORD may remove them from their place of service if they dishonor him before their people (Revelation 2:5). And, lest we regular Christians get too complacent, let us remember that by God’s grace we are priests before him and examples to our world of his holiness (1Peter 2:9). Every thought or deed we do will be held to account on judgment day (Romans 14:12). Therefore, the Apostle Paul later says, “…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17, NIV).

Nadab and Abihu are then carried out of the camp by their cousins (who are not priests), but Aaron and his other sons are not allowed to touch them or leave the sanctuary and grieve. This may seem unfair to us, but we must remember that they represent the holiness of God. They are consecrated (dedicated and ceremonially purified) for their ministry and are not finished in their holy service to the LORD. In their grief, however, Aaron and his remaining sons fail to offer the sin offering properly as instructed. Moses is at first angry, but after he hears their explanation he is pacified.

Lessons to Live By

  • The LORD has purified and dedicated us by the blood of his Son. Not only do we have forgiveness and peace with God (more...), but we also have the privilege to please him with our life.
  • God is honored by our obedience to his Word, the Bible.
  • Leaders bear a greater responsibility than others, but by God’s grace we are all priests before him and examples of holiness to our world.
  • Every thought or deed we do will be held to account on judgment day, so we need to live right in order to please the LORD.

Focus Verse

Colossians 3:17 (NIV) “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

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A Look Ahead: The preparation for worship are complete. Instructions are now given for the Healthcare and Holiness of the community. There are many important principles we can learn about this in our Next Lesson. Join us!

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