Looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “Anointed,” part 2

The Word for today:
Leviticus 24

Good morning, super sleuths of Scripture. Let’s jump right in where we left off yesterday…

Stand in the Rain has chosen a few “minor” verses from Leviticus chapter 8—verses that even the most avid Bible reader tends to skim over—to show that even the little things have a lot to say about Jesus.

Yesterday, we noted how the oil was poured over the head of the high priest, but only sprinkled over the rest of the priests.

Because oil is Scripture’s most prevalent symbol of the Holy Spirit, we concluded that the pouring was a prophetic picture of the true High Priest, Jesus, who was given the Spirit without measure (1).

Before we leave that image, we want to point to some identical Old Testament images of Jesus the Anointed:

You love what is right and hate what is wrong. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else. (Psalm 45:7)

Psalm 45 is one of the many great “Messianic” Psalms. (Messiah is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek “Christ,” which means “anointed.”) Here we again see the word poured, which we focused on yesterday. The one upon whom the Spirit was poured, not just sprinkled, would be the Promised King, Prophet, High Priest, and Deliverer—the Messiah.

Let’s turn to another remarkable image of the oil being lavishly poured out on the head of the high priest:
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! (Psalm 133:2)

Along with the symbol of oil and the office of high priest, there is another subtle but definite hint of Jesus in that verse. Can you find it? (I’ll leave this one for you to track down. The answer can be found below in footnote #2.)

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Let’s conclude our basic Bible detective training by going back to where we started–with another major Jesus sighting that can be found among the “minor details” of Leviticus 8. A very careful reading reveals that the anointing oil is poured over Aaron before the blood is applied to his ear, thumb, and toe. This is uniquely typical of Jesus Christ–our High Priest–who needed no sins forgiven before empowerment (anointing) for service.

Every other priest–representative of you and me as priests–has the order reversed: first the atoning blood and then the anointing. Needing no forgiveness of sins, Jesus stands uniquely apart.

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Do not be discouraged if some of the clues escape you on your first trips through Leviticus or any other “uneventful” portions of scripture. For example, it took me about twenty readings before I first saw the prophetic pictures of Jesus in Leviticus 8 that we have examined over the last couple days.

On the other hand, don’t ever get to the point where you think you’ve seen it all. Experience tells me that — miraculously — the more pictures we find, the more we’ve yet to discover!

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(1) John 3:34

(2) The clue is the word head (upon which the oil is copiously poured) because Jesus is the head of the body, the church  (Colossians 1:18).  Note how the oil (Holy Spirit) then falls upon the rest of the body, which is true of the church as well.

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Looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “Anointed,” part 1

The Word for today:
Leviticus 23

As we’ve been looking for Jesus in Leviticus, we’ve seen words that may as well be shouting out, “That looks just like him!”

Lamb and blood and fire and offering and flawless and high priest  and  mediator   and substitute and holy and bread and goats and birds and law and access are each telling us more and more about him.

But there’s one word that might as well be shouting out his Name.  That word is anointed…

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When we are looking for Jesus in the prophetic pictures of the Old Testament, we have to be (like any good detective) very observant of things that, to the untrained eye, might look like mere details. These seemingly minor details can contain our biggest clues.

Let’s carefully read the following often-overlooked verses from Levitcus 8.  I’ve been a detective for a long time, so I will help out by highlighting some details that might otherwise go unnoticed:

Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them. (Leviticus 8:10)

He sprinkled some of the oil on the altar seven times, anointing the altar and all its utensils and the basin with its stand, to consecrate them. (Leviticus 8:11)

He poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him. (Leviticus 8:12)

First of all, whenever we see the word anointed, you can be sure that Jesus is lurking nearby! (You’ve no doubt heard the word “Christ.” Well, Christ is a Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah, which means anointed. Let’s put it this way, if we were to say “Jesus Christ” in pure English, it would be “Jesus Anointed.”)

Which means he’s very near in this passage. So we’ll look even closer. Notice the word “poured.”  Poured is a crucial clue. But it’s only understood relative to the word “sprinkled,” which we find in Leviticus 8:30:

Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments.

Note that oil (the most prevalent symbol of the Holy Spirit in scripture) is poured on the high priest. So, when we are told in the New Testament that Jesus has “the Spirit without measure (1),” it means he’s the real High Priest–the one upon whom the Spirit is poured.

But the oil is only sprinkled on the other priests–who are like the high priest in essence, but not in degree.

***

Aaron, anointed, high priest, Christ, poured, and sprinkled. Just minor details to many Bible readers, but not to the super sleuths who stand in the rain every day.

Well, that’s enough to process for one day. So come on back tomorrow when we will find more unmistakable clues among the “minor details” of Leviticus chapter 8.

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(1) John 3:34

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looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “in the dark”

The Word for today:
Leviticus 21, 22

The Tabernacle was divided into three sections.

There was a large outer court, then a smaller enclosed area that included two sections. These two sections were known as the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, respectively:

In the outer court were the altar of burnt offering and the laver (a basin of water for ceremonial washing.)

In the Holy Place were a table with bread, an altar with incense, and a golden lamp stand.

A few days ago, we wrote about the word alone.  On the Day of Atonement, some of the priests accompanied the high priest into the Holy Place. They performed their ceremonial duties in the light that shone from the lamp stand:
Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the Holy Place, performing the services. (Hebrews 9:6)

But that was as far as any of the priests could go, except for one:
But into the Most Holy Place the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins. (Hebrews 9:7)

That one—the high priest—went beyond a thick curtain into the Most Holy Place (also known as the Holy of Holies.) No one else could enter there; no one ever witnessed the high priest’s work. The light from the lamp stand could not penetrate the veil.

When Jesus the High Priest offered himself as sacrifice, his time on the altar was in two stages. For the first three hours, he suffered the wrath of man.

But then Jesus entered, alone, into another compartment of time, behind a veil of darkness:
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. (Matthew 27:45)

During those three hours, Jesus suffered the wrath of God in the cosmic Holy of Holies (of which the Tabernacle was but a shadow).

And no one except the Father and the Son witnessed his work. Even scripture leaves no record of their transaction.

The Holy Spirit, it seems, has it permanently sealed. More than that, I believe the Holy Spirit is the seal of the record. We would have to break the bonds of Trinity to be able to see into that darkness.

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We talk about the cross, we make movies of the cross, we wax poetic and rhapsodic about the cross.

As if we were there.

We Christians are supposed to tell the truth. So here it is: we know a few things about the ultimate Day of Atonement. But about that Day’s ultimate hours, we know nothing.

Father forgive us for speaking so glibly about things we know not of.

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looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “priest”

The Word for today:
Leviticus 19, 20

The book of Leviticus derives its title from “Levi,” the tribe from which the priests of Israel came.

We see the book of Leviticus on a prophetic level, but when first written it was seen on a practical level, as a manual for the priests who served in the temple.

We hear the word “priest” differently than the people of Israel heard it. For us, “priest” often has a slightly stuffy, detached-from-reality connotation. Priests, in our experience, don’t work in the real world with bankers, bricklayers, and bridge builders.

“Priest” also carries, in our hearing, a hint of the ridiculous. I mean, they wear costumes to work. And funny hats. And some of them can’t even get married, for heaven’s sake.

But the odd fellows of our experience were not what the average Israelite thought of when he heard the word “priest.”

When Jacob Six-Pack, in the time of the Levitical priesthood, envisioned a priest, he thought of a man in the prime of life (they served only from 30 to 50) whose daily duties left him blood-stained, world-weary, and spiritually spent.

Approaching the temple with a lamb for his offering, Jacob looked into the eyes of a man who, at the end of his shift, was up to his elbows in blood, and up to his eyeballs with killing. Priests in those days didn’t welcome you into their paneled offices, offer you tea and a seat on the couch, discuss your feelings and failings, and leave you with a feel-good message.

Jacob Six-Pack saw, instead, a man who was an instrument of atonement. He was literally steeped in the bloody wages of sin:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)

He longed for the day he could retire, when he would never have to wring the neck of another pigeon, or subdue another lamb as its throat was slit.

When we think of Jesus as our high priest, we experience his priesthood technically, as if he were our authorized proxy with power of attorney.

If only we could look into the sin-sickened eyes that Jacob Six-Pack saw when he handed his lamb, or pigeon, to the priest.

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Looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “alone”

The Word for today:
Leviticus 18

In our current series of articles, which we’ve called “Looking for Jesus in Leviticus,” we’ve seen pictures and prophecies and fore-shadows and symbols and types and analogies of Jesus.

So far we’ve seen Jesus in the offerings, in the fire, in the grain, in the substitute, in the laying on of hands, in the leprosy, in the sin, in the scapegoat. And we’re just getting started. In the next week or so, we will look for Jesus—and find him—in the garments, in the feasts, in the Sabbath, in the Jubilee, in the blood, and in the birds (if we’ve got the time).

But there’s one word — “alone” — which is illustrated in Leviticus 16, and spelled out in Hebrews 9:7 — that is often overlooked, even though it says as much about Jesus as any of the pictures which we previously mentioned:

Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services;
But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance. (Hebrews 9:6-7)

Most of you know the context of the passage—that on the Day of Atonement, the Holiest Day of the Year, only one person, out of all the people, went into the Holiest Place to offer the blood of the sacrifice. Surely we see Jesus, the lone Lamb and the High Priest, in this prophetic context.

But what about the word alone, alone? When taken out of its spiritually prophetic context, is it still personally prophetic of Jesus?

Was he unique, and thereby misunderstood? Certainly:
When Jesus returned to the house where he was staying, the crowds began to gather again, and soon he and his disciples couldn’t even find time to eat.
When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him home with them. “He’s out of his mind,” they said. (Mark 3:20-21)

When he said these things, the people were again divided in their opinions about him.
Some of them said, “He has a demon, or he’s crazy. Why listen to a man like that?” (John 10:19-20)

Was he sometimes lonely? I think so:
At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you going to leave, too?” (John 6:66-67)

Was he forsaken? I know so:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Psalm 22:1)

In the book of Hebrews—the reality, of which Leviticus is just the shadow—we read a statement that we should never forget about the Son of Man:
Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.
Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

When we talk (as we do) so learnedly and so profoundly about our high priest (which he is) who became one of us (which he did) in order to offer himself (which he did) and intercede for us (which he is doing right now), let’s not forget that when he took upon himself our frail covering (our flesh), he took within himself our frail inner lives, as well.

Never forget that Jesus is all the big-deal things that “alone” implies: unique, unparalleled, peerless, incomparable.

But while we’re never forgetting all of that, let’s remember that “alone” also means he knew — like most of us some of the time, like some of us most of the time — what it’s like to feel alone.

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