As we have seen, the Tabernacle was to be a place where God would dwell in a special way. So the people who served in it needed to be made fit to do so. Three important words are used to describe the significance of what was going on:
- The priests were consecrated (v.1). Consecration means to be made holy - to be set apart for God's use. It is the same word which is used to describe what God did to the seventh day of the week when he finished creating the universe (Genesis 2:3).
- They were ordained (v.9). Literally 'theirs hands were filled' - probably meaning that a solemn responsibility (but also a great privilege) was given to Aaron and his sons.
- Atonement was made for them (v.33). This is the first time this word is used like this in the Bible, and basically it means to be ransomed or purified. The Scriptures will go on to reveal that everyone (not just priests) needs to experience atonement.
The book/film Atonement by Ian McEwan tells the story of a great wrong committed by the child Briony Tallis, and of her lifelong failure to atone for it.
The Bible is in no doubt that as humans we can never atone for our own wrongs. But the good news - better news than we can ever grasp - is that God himself has atoned for them all in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfil thy law's demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and thou alone
To ponder: Are you still trying to atone for something which only God can deal with? Take some time to praise him that he has done all that is necessary, and so now you can come freely and joyfully into his holy presence.