While they might be boring for some, ceremonies make fascinating viewing, they are often full of powerful symbolism and pageantry.
For the Israelites, the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests and their consecration described in Exodus 29 must have been akin to a royal coronation.
Moses’ detailed account helps us feel like we are amongst the onlookers watching as the priests in their special garments are consecrated (set apart) for their important ministry and the various sacrifices that are brought. As we can see – their role was not to be taken lightly – sacrifices were required to atone for sin in order to be presented as holy. The tent of meeting where God would speak to his people was also consecrated in a special way.
God set out what he required of his people before he would dwell amongst them:
42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 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.
Thankfully, through the Christ’s sacrifice on the cross we can draw near to God’s presence. But in the same way, our places of congregational worship and those seeking a priestly calling are still to be set apart for his holy purposes. Let us never forget to be praying for those who exercise a priestly function over us – that they may live holy lives worthy of their calling and that God would meet us as we gather together each week in our house of worship, that it will continue to be a ministry hub to the local community and give thanks for the sacrificial giving of God’s people over the years.
Luke 19:1-27 records for us a later spectacle – Jesus passing through the town of Jericho. A large crowd had gathered in the expectation of seeing something special. Amongst the crowd is Zacchaeus the tax collector. He had come into wealth through questionable means. Despised by his community, no one was willing to offer him their vantage point and being of small stature he was forced to climb a tree in order to catch a view of Jesus. There were hundreds of faces looking at Jesus – but Jesus picked him out to host his travelling party. Many noses were put out of joint – how could this miracle worker and teacher of religion pick out such a sinner.
But Jesus saw something in Zacchaeus that others could not, and Zacchaeus saw something special in Jesus – it was an encounter his life was changed forever.
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Let us be careful not to judge others and be a stumbling block to those who seek to come to Christ.