The Ordination of Aaron and His Sons as a Type of Jesus and the Thieves on the Cross
Below is an article on the Ordination of Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8) as a prefigure of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. It is written by John Oakes, but the idea comes from an anonymous contributor to the site.
The Ordination of Aaron
A Prefigure of the Crucifixion of Jesus
John Oakes 12/2009
In my book From Shadow to Reality (www.ipibooks.com), I discuss many examples of the sacrifices in the Old Testament being physical types of spiritual realities found in the New Covenant under Jesus Christ. This brief article is a discussion of an example not found in my book which serves as a further example of the truth that the entire Old Testament is about Jesus Christ.
The ceremony for the ordination of Aaron and his sons as high priests of the Most High God is found in Leviticus chapter eight. To summarize, the ordination of these men to serve as mediators between men and God required the sacrifice of a bull and two rams. As we will see, the bull in this sacrifice serves as a type/prefigure of Jesus, while the rams are a types/prefigure of the two thieves who were killed along with Jesus on Golgotha, outside Jerusalem.
First, there is the bull. The bull which was given as a sin offering (Leviticus 8:14) was sacrificed so that Aaron could make atonement for the sins of the people. The bull was burned outside the camp (Leviticus 8:17), as Jesus, the antitype was also sacrificed as a sin offering outside of Jerusalem, at Golgotha. As with Aaron, this sacrifice made Jesus High Priest of Israel, but in his case he is High Priest forever of spiritual Israel: the church (Hebrews 7:11-28).
Then, interestingly, there are the two rams which were also sacrificed with the bull. Perhaps this is a coincidence, but the parallels with the thieves "sacficed" along with Jesus is uncanny. In fact, given the many other examples (see FSTR Ch. 6) of specific types and antitypes in the levitical sacrifices, the coincidence explanation seems far fetched. The first ram for the burnt offering (Leviticus 8:18-21) was slaughtered and burned, but the entrails and shanks were washed with water before being burnt because they were unclean. This can be seen as representing the thief who rejected Jesus was not forgiven of his sins. This parallels the symbolism of the normal burnt offering (Leviticus 1). In this case, the head of the bull, which represents Jesus, did not have to be washed, but the body of the bull, which represents "us" (ie those who are saved by the sacrifice of Jesus) was washed before being burned. In the case of the first ram, the entire body was burned up in the sacfifice. None was "saved."
The differences between the first and second rams in this sacrifice is interesting as a type. The second ram was also sacrificed and burned, but the differences are striking. First, it was not washed with water. Second, only part of this ram was burned. Some of the blood was used to purify Aaron and his sons, while the breast of the ram was saved from the fire. It was "waved" before the Lord and not burned up. The symbolic prefigure of the other thief is hard to miss here. The second thief acknowledged Jesus and put his faith in him. Because of his faith, Jesus told him "Today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43) The implication is that he was forgiven of his sins and saved. Like the second ram, he did not need to be cleaned with water, as he was forgiven of his sins by Jesus. Like the second ram, he was saved from the fire. He will not be in hell, but instead is with Jesus in Paradise.
It is truly striking that this historical detail was so wonderfully prefigured in the ordination ceremony of the High Priest Aaron who was a prefigure of our High Priest Jesus Christ. It is inconceivable that human minds could have produced this dramatic symbolism. This is not a coincidence. It is further evidence, both that the Old Testament is inspired by God and that Jesus Christ is the prophetic fulfillment of the Old Covenant given to the Jews by God well over one thousand years before Jesus was born.
There is more encouragement here. Through the ceremony in Leviticus eight, the sons of Aaron were also vicariously purified and prepared for service as priests of the Most High God. Only those born by direct descent from Aaron could serve in this capacity. By prophetic analogy, we, like the sons of Aaron are direct descendents and inheritors of Jesus by faith (Ephesians 2:12-19) and we, too, are priveleged to serve as priests (1 Peter 2:9) in the true, heavenly sactuary with God (Hebrews 10:19-20). Jesus did not have physical descendents, but those of us who join with him in burial and resurrection in baptism (Romans 6:2-4) are born again as spiritual, priestly descencents of Jesus.
Thanks to Tom Turowski for pointing this one out!