Exodus 29:4

The book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of Genesis concerning the migration of the family of Jacob (the Israelites) to Egypt (Genesis 50). It describes the commissioning of Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives on earth to accomplish God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land (the land of Canaan). It also relates the miraculous deliverance from Egypt beginning with the plagues on Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea. It then describes the journey to Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Mosaic covenant with the Israelites. The last part of the book involves the specifications and building of the tabernacle – the place where the Lord Himself dwelt amongst His people.

In the book of Exodus, the focus shifts to the deliverance of God’s people.

Exodus 29 is a detailed account of what should occur in the ritual for ordaining the priests into their service to the LORD. It was to last seven days, and during that time the priests were washed, anointed, and sacrifices were made. The ceremony itself is recorded in Leviticus 8.

Exodus 29 can be outlined as follows:

  • The Ordination Ceremony of the Priests (29:1 – 35)
    • o Preparation for Ordination (29:1 – 3)
    • o Washing (29:4)
    • o Anointing (29:5 – 9)
    • o The Sin Offering (29:10 – 14)
    • o The Burnt Offering (29:15 – 18)
    • o The Peace Offering (29:19 – 26, 31 – 34)
    • o The Wave and Heave Offerings (29:27 – 30)
    • o The Ordination Ceremony’s Length (35)
  • The Consecration of the Altar (29:36 – 37)
  • The Dedication of the Daily Offerings (29:38 – 46)

The fact that the LORD described this ceremony in such detail shows how important it was to the nation. Israel was chosen by God to be in a special covenant relationship with Him, and Aaron and his sons were chosen to be the mediators of this covenant. Such a privileged position required a special ceremony to impress upon all of the people what the LORD required of them in terms of worship and service. It could also be a reminder to the people that they were called to serve as a priestly nation, serving as mediators to other nations (Exodus 19:5-6).

The first step in the ordination ceremony was the washing of the priests, Aaron and his sons had to be cleansed before they could be set aside for service to the LORD.

In order to approach the holy God, one must be clean. That is why the first thing that had to be done before entering into the LORD’s presence was to be washed. To do this, Moses was to bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Notice that this was to be done at the tabernacle’s door as a demonstration that to enter the LORD’s presence, one must be cleansed by removing the pollution that is the result of sin.

This principle applies to us as well (Heb. 10:22). The New Testament Church was cleansed by “the washing of water.” In addition, washing is tied to regeneration in the New Testament (Titus 3:5). Jesus also washed the disciples’ feet, showing that confession of sin, and the forgiveness it brings, is necessary to walk in fellowship with God (John 13:1-17). Jesus made it clear that forgiveness between humans is necessary to walk in fellowship with God (Matthew 6:14; 5:23-24).

Biblical Text

4 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water.

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