The Holy Calling of the Pastor\Shepherd

Monday, June 26, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 7-9

Today’s scripture reading begins with “the law of the trespass offering” in Leviticus 7, while Leviticus 8-9 commences with the consecration of Aaron (the brother of Moses) and his sons to the Levitical priesthood (Moses and Aaron were both of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe).

Leviticus 7 introduces us to the “trespass offering”, a sacrifice identified with an individual’s sin. In his Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) on the Pentateuch, pastor and author Warren Wiersbe writes concerning the “trespass offering” in Leviticus 7,

“The sin [burnt] offering and the guilt (or trespass) offering were very much alike and were even governed by the same law (7:1-10). Generally speaking, the guilt offering was for individual sins that affected people and property and for which restitution could be made, while the sin [burnt] offering focused on some violation of the law that was done without deliberate intent. The trespass offering emphasized the damage done to others by the offender, while the sin offering emphasized the offender’s guilt before God. The priest would examine the offender and determine which sacrifice was needed.”

The “peace offering”, an offering for the purpose of acknowledging God’s grace and giving thanks to Him is described in Leviticus 7:11-21.  The sacrifice of oxen or cattle was accompanied by offerings of “unleavened cakes…unleavened wafers…and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fired” (Leviticus 7:12). The portions of the “peace offering” not consumed by the fire were given to the priests for their consumption.

The “fat of the beast” and “blood” portions of the offerings were not to be eaten (Leviticus 7:22-27).  The specific portions of the “fat of the beast” that were forbidden is described in Leviticus 3:3-4, 9.  Concerning the “blood” of the sacrifices, blood was not to be consumed because it was the means and object of atonement (Leviticus 17:11).  The penalty for consuming the “fat of the beast” or the “blood” was to “be cut off from his people” (7:25, 27).  To “be “cut off” might extend so far as capital punishment (as for Sabbath breakers (Exodus 31:12-14; Numbers 15:32-36) or put out of the camp until the sinner had followed cleansing rituals and was restored to their family (Leviticus 15).

Leviticus 8 establishes the Levitical priesthood by publicly ordaining and consecrating Aaron and his sons to serve as priests before the LORD on behalf of the nation (8:1-5).  The LORD describes each step of the ordination, beginning with a ceremonial washing of Aaron and his sons with water (8:6).

Aaron was the high priest and is distinguished by his clothes (8:7), a breastplate (8:8) upon which was mounted twelve precious stones and referred to as “the breastplate of judgment” (Exodus 28:30).  “Urim and the Thummim” (8:8) are believed to be some form of dice that were cast by the priests in matters of judgment, trusting the LORD to determine the outcome.

As a word of caution for some tempted to adopt some manner of the same in making judgments, either tossing dice or “putting out a fleece” (Judges 6:36-40), God has given us a superior means of determining His will and making good judgments…His Word!

Although serving before the LORD as priests on behalf of the nation, the ministries of the priests began with a “the bullock for the sin offering” upon which Aaron and his sons laid their hands identifying the bullocks death as the offering for their sins (8:14-17).  A ram was then brought as a “burnt offering” and its blood applied to Aaron and his sons “upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet” (8:23-24).

Seven days Aaron and his sons were to remain at the tabernacle and Moses continued to offer sacrifices as they consecrated themselves to the LORD as priests (8:31-36).  On the eighth day Aaron and his sons were to begin ministering before the LORD and offering sacrifices on behalf of the nation (Leviticus 9:1-24).

Displaying His glory and accepting the sacrifices in the sight of all the people, “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24).

I close today’s devotional commentary, reminded of the great responsibility borne by those who minister for the LORD before God’s people.  While the offering of sacrifices is no longer necessary because Jesus Christ, by His death on the cross, once and for all ended the need of sacrifices and became our priest making intercession for us before the throne of God (Hebrews 7:25-28); nevertheless, God has called and ordained men who are set apart for the purpose of shepherding His church.

Writing to believers in Ephesus, Paul reminded the church of the office and duties of the pastor.

 Ephesians 4:11-12 – “11 And He [the LORD] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12  For the perfecting [lit. to refit; make whole; equipping] of the saints, for the work [occupation; labor] of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ” .

The work of the pastor as a shepherd of the church is described in 1 Peter 5:2-4.

1 Peter 5:2-4 – Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3  Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Such is the great calling of the pastor…teacher, shepherd and spiritual leader in word and example.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith