Exodus 29:1. Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.
God is establishing the holy priesthood. Aaron and his sons will serve as priests before God in the tabernacle of God (and later the temple). Exodus 29 includes a detailed description of the consecration ceremony for the priests including sacrifices, offerings of bread, ceremonial washing, and putting on the priestly garments.
Of course it wouldn’t be an Exodus story if it wasn’t a little weird too. When sacrificing the ram for their own personal sins, the priests would take some of the blood and put it on their right earlobes, thumbs, and big toes.
Exodus 29:19-20. 19 “You shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, 20 and you shall kill the ram and take part of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron and on the tips of the right ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the great toes of their right feet, and throw the rest of the blood against the sides of the altar.
And then they would eat the flesh of the ram.
Excuse me? What does all that mean?
It means the entire life of the priest (ears, hands, feet) is consecrated by flesh and by blood alone.
By flesh and blood the sons of Aaron for generations will be set apart to serve God. The flesh and blood of their lineage and the flesh and blood of the ram. To be a priest unto God two things had to happen. 1) You had to be born into the right family (Aaron’s). And 2) you had to be covered by the blood of the ram.
Jesus too saw the importance of flesh and blood. In one of his strangest conversations with the Jews of his day he told them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood.
John 6:53-54. 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
And you thought Exodus was strange. This sort of talk made many of the people stop listening to Jesus and even walk away from him. But Jesus is simply reminding us of what it takes to be a priest. You must be born again into his family. You must be consecrated by the flesh and blood of the Lamb. That is, his life. And our participation with his life through our spiritual union with him. The Spirit places us into the family of Christ and joins us to the life of Christ. Not by rubbing blood on us. But by indwelling us. Here’s how Jesus explained it just a few verses later:
John 6:61-63. 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
By faith in the life giving death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ we are set apart, sanctified, consecrated unto God by the blood of Christ.
Hebrews 13:11-13. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.
We did not have the literal blood of Jesus rubbed on our ears, thumbs, and big toes. But we have had our lives joined to Christ’s life. We too have been set apart BY Christ and FOR Christ. By our union with his life we are consecrated to his service.
Po is consecrated as the Dragon Warrior.
But what does this consecration mean for us?
Many Christians try to force consecration (dedication) onto each other with a whole lot of guilt. “Jesus died for you, the least you could do is give your life for him.” And so while “I Surrender All” plays we walk and re-walk down the aisle recommitting our lives to Christ over and over again.
The problem here is that the motive for consecration unto God is all found in my own abilities and passions. Consecration as a means to pay God back or show my gratitude completely skips over the truth of Exodus (and the gospel). Priests in Exodus 29 weren’t priests because they were grateful or wanted to show God how much they loved him. They were priests because of their birth and because of the blood of the sacrifice.
Their motive wasn’t love. Their motive was life. Identity. “I am a priest. That is a fact of my birth. I am a priest by the blood of the ram.”
We are sanctified by Jesus’ shed blood outside the gate. Period. We are consecrated by our union with his life, death, and resurrection. Not by our own level of commitment. Not by how much love we feel for him at any given moment.
You were consecrated when you died with Christ. Not when you walked an aisle. Or went to church camp. Or wrote something in your journal. You were consecrated by Christ’s dedication to you, not by your dedication to him.
“To live is Christ” is to be a set apart, consecrated priest unto God. Not by your own power but by your new identity. Born again a priest. Consecrated by the blood of the Lamb. His dedication not yours. That’s good news.