I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.
Matthew 22:8, 9-12
Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.” So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless.
Wow. Exodus 29 is the ceremony of all ceremonies. I’ve never heard or seen a more intricate ceremony! Have you?
First, Aaron and his sons are consecrated (set apart) and ordinated as priests. They are washed and dressed in the priestly garments and anointed with oil…
And the priesthood shall be theirs by a statute forever. Thus you shall ordain Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:9).
Aaron is a descendant of Levi (Ex 6:16-20). He is the first of the High Priests. Later, when the Israelites inherit the land and Joshua allots pieces of the land to the tribes of Israel, the Levites are not given land because they are to serve the nation as priests.
Next, Aaron and his sons must make a sacrificial offering to atone for their own sin. They place their hands on the head of the bull to signify the transfer of their sin to the animal. They then slaughter the bull and the insides of the animal are burned on the altar, but the outside of the bull… its flesh, skin, and dung, is burned outside the camp – away from the tabernacle. These parts of the animal symbolically bear the sin. And God does not tolerate sin. (Exodus 29:10-14)
Then we see two rams being offered. The first is a burnt offering in which the whole ram is given as an offering to the Lord. The 2nd ram is the ram of ordination. (Exodus 29:15-27)
The ordination ceremony is to last seven days, and each of the seven days, the priest must make a sin offering. God also gives instructions for how to purify the altar. The consecration of the altar would be part of the regular duties of the priests – to offer both a morning and evening sacrifice. (Exodus 29:38-42)
But why must the altar be consecrated daily? It stands just outside the Tent of Meeting which contains both the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. And it is there where the Lord will meet with the people. (Exodus 29:42-46)
What do we learn from these chapters? God is holy. He can not be in the presence of sin. The word “holy” is used 19 times in these two chapters alone!! And just in case you think that God relaxes on this “holy” thing when Jesus enters the world… Just read what Jesus has to say from today’s reading in Matthew… Only those with the proper garment, a holy garment, are invited to His feast. The man found without the proper garment was “[bound] hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness” (Matthew 22:13).
Friend, do you have the proper garment? We can not manufacture this garment from our own good works. This garment is a gift. It is the righteousness of Christ, received by faith…
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).
God’s holiness is to be feared. We can not approach him without the proper covering. Christ covers us with His righteousness so that He might “present [us] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22 NIV). That’s good news. That’s the gospel!