The Word Made Fresh
1On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of the people together. 2He said, “Aaron, choose a male calf for a guilt offering and a ram for a burnt offering and offer them to the LORD. Make sure they have no defects. 3Then tell the people to bring a male goat for their guilt offering, and a calf and a lamb, each a year old with no defects, for their guilt offering. 4They must also bring an ox and a ram as a thanksgiving offering to sacrifice to the LORD, and a grain offering with oil. Tell them that today the LORD will appear to them.”
5They brought the animals to the front of the sanctuary and all the people gathered before the LORD. 6Moses said, “This is what the LORD told you to do so that you might see the LORD’s splendor.”
7Then he turned to Aaron and said, “Bring your guilt offering and the burnt offering to the altar to make everything right between you and the people and the LORD; then sacrifice the people’s offering.”
8Aaron came to the altar and slaughtered the calf as his guilt offering. 9His sons brought the blood and Aaron dipped his finger in it and marked the horns of the altar with the blood, then poured the rest at the base of the altar. 10The fat with the kidneys and lobe of the liver he burned on the altar and let the smoke rise as the LORD had commanded Moses, 11but the flesh and the skin he burned outside the camp.
12Then he slaughtered the burnt offering. Aaron’s sons brought the blood and he sprinkled it on the four sides of the altar. 13Then they brought him the pieces of the burnt offering and the head which he burned and let the smoke rise from the altar. 14He washed the innards and legs and burned them as well.
15Next, he took the goat, the people’s guilt offering, slaughtered it and offered it like the first one, 16and sacrificed it as he had been told. 17He then presented the grain offering and burned a handful of it on the altar; this was in addition to the daily morning offering of grain.
18Aaron slaughtered the ox and ram for the people’s offering of thanksgiving and his sons brought the blood, which he dashed against the four sides of the altar. 19Then his sons brought the fat and inner organs and the ram’s tail. 20They laid the fat on the breast and burned them on the altar. 21Aaron lifted the breast and the right thigh to the LORD as Moses had instructed him.
22Then Aaron raised his hands toward the people to acknowledge them and descended from the altar after sacrificing all the offerings. 23Then Moses and Aaron went together into the sanctuary. When they came out, they raised their hands to honor the people, and the people saw the splendor of the LORD. 24Fire sprang from the LORD and consumed the offerings on the altar, and when the people saw it, they cried out and fell facedown.
1-7: After seven days of ordination sacrifices and rituals Moses announces that God is going to appear to them on the eighth day. More sacrifices are brought: a male calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering for Aaron; a male goat as a sin offering, a yearling calf, and a yearling lamb for burnt offerings; an ox and a ram for offerings of well-being; and a grain offering all for the people. Moses orders Aaron to sacrifice all the animals. The combination of offerings for Aaron and for the people signifies that Aaron will be their high priest, and his priesthood will be thus inaugurated.
8-11: Aaron slaughters his sin offering. His sons present the blood to him, which he applies according to established order. The fatty parts he burns on the altar and the rest of the animal he burns outside the camp.
12-14: Then he slaughters his burnt offering, burning all of it on the altar according to established procedure.
15-17: Next he slaughters the people’s sin offering and burnt offering and sacrifices them, then their grain offering. This is going to take all day, isn’t it?
18-21: Finally, he slaughters the offerings of well-being according to instructions.
22-24: Everybody is waiting for God to show up. Aaron turns and blesses the people. Then he and Moses go inside the tent of meeting. What did they do in there? They come out and again bless the people, and finally it happens: fire shoots out from the LORD and consumes what is left of the sacrifices on the altar. The people shout (wouldn’t you?) and fall on their faces, but we are left wondering what Moses and Aaron did in the tent just before the fire shot out.
Even though these rituals are foreign to us, it is obvious that they are taking their relationship to God seriously. We, too, are called to bring our offerings to the LORD: our prayers, our financial contributions, our time, our good deeds. In other words, the animal sacrifices practiced by the Israelites in the Old Testament have been replaced by the sacrifice of our lives and our time and our wealth to the LORD.