“Just as the Lord Commanded” (Lev 8:9)
Throughout Leviticus we see the phrase “just as the Lord commanded.” Israel was receiving the Sacrificial System and the Law from God. Great care was necessary to ensure that their practice adhered to God’s prescription. One specific instance is found in Leviticus 8. God tells Moses how to consecrate Aaron and his sons for priesthood (v. 9, 13, 17, 21, 29, 36).
By doing just as God commanded, Israel sanctified themselves to God. Leviticus 8 is relevant to Peter’s claim that all Christians make-up a “royal priesthood.” If we are priests in the New Covenant, perhaps we should be just as concerned with holiness as Moses, Aaron and his sons were in this chapter.
Even though the text clearly says that God was obeyed in all these things, we know from the rest of Scripture that Moses, Aaron, his sons, and the rest of Israel would later disobey God in many ways. Even after all that He had done to display His glory, they still chose to sin in disbelief (Ps 78:9-20). Moses was to be the mediator between Israel and God – the one through whom God communicated with His people and by whom He brought His Law to them. Yet Moses was a sinful mediator. He did not always do “just as the Lord commanded.” Perhaps the most prominent instance of his sin and disbelief is recorded in Numbers 20:9-13.
So the phrase is a bit ironic. Moses did just as the Lord commanded… sometimes. As a sinful mediator, Moses was not fit to enter the presence of God (Ex 33:20). Israel’s mediator himself needed a mediator – Jesus Christ. Christ lived an obedient life unto God, obtaining righteousness for all of His people: past and present. Because of what Christ did on the cross, Moses could serve as Israel’s mediator. So every time you read in Leviticus that someone did “just as the Lord commanded,” remember this: Christ is the only one who truly did just as the Lord commanded.
We see Christ exalted here as the only true righteousness of His people. We also see Him exalted as an exclusive Savior. He is not Savior for all people, but rather Savior to those who repent and believe on Him alone. The faithful ones in Israel did not do just as the Lord commanded in all things. However, their lives sung repentance and faith in God. This is what differentiates God’s people from the world. This is what defines the people whose sins are paid for by Christ. The redemption Christ accomplished on the cross is exclusive to those who “do the will of My Father in Heaven,” even though many will surely say “Lord Lord” on that day (Matt 7:15-23).
Sinful Priests (Lev 8:34-36)
This point is similar to the previous but extended to include the priesthood of Aaron and his sons. Just as Moses was an imperfect, sinful mediator, so were Aaron and his sons imperfect, sinful priests. It was their task to go before God on behalf of the people – though they failed miserably. Each priest himself needed himself to be cleansed of sin. It is almost applicable to equate this to a blind person trying to lead a blind person – or a bankrupt man trying to bail-out another bankrupt man.
In the same way that Christ mediated for even Moses, so He was High Priest for Aaron and his sons. Jesus was the true and better High Priest who would make true atonement for His people. Week after week after week, Aaron and his sons performed sacrifices and rituals as the Lord had prescribed. Time and time again, these sacrifices and rituals utterly failed to pay for the sins of God’s people. No matter what they did, or how much they consecrated themselves (Lev 8), they were imperfect priests making imperfect sacrifices in imperfect ways.
After centuries of imperfection, Christ comes and makes one sacrifice. In His present work as High Priest, He accomplishes all that Israel’s priesthood failed to accomplish. Christ is exalted in Leviticus 8:34-36 as the true and better priest who did not need “atonement on [His] behalf” (v.34) and who did not die ascending the hill of the Lord – for He truly had clean hands and a pure heart (Ps 24:3-4).
“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn 2:1). Our hope in sin is that we have an Advocate. If Christ was not righteous, He could not enter God’s presence to plead our case. Upon entering the Heavenly holy of holies, He would be consumed in wrath. Praise God that our Mediator stood erect when we all crumbled in temptation. Christ our Advocate strides boldly into the holy room of God and sprinkles His own blood on the mercy. By His merit, it still drips wet and we are kept in salvation.