Todays readings… Leviticus 8, Psalm 107, 1 Corinthians 16
“IT WILL TAKE SEVEN DAYS TO ORDAIN YOU”
We have been reading in Leviticus about the laws and offerings that were to now come into operation now that the Tabernacle was set up and ready for use. Today’s reading (Ch. 8) is about how the LORD tells Moses to bring Aaron and his sons and assemble the entire congregation to the Tabernacle to witness their ordination. Moses then dresses Aaron in the elaborately prepared garments, with the ephod and the breastpiece of judgement.
Various ordination offerings followed (v.22,28, 29,31) Aaron and his sons are to stay within “the tent of meeting … until the days of your ordination (the A V uses the word consecration) are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you.” [v.33]
There is a total contrast between this ritual and the way the church operated in the First Century, when there is no mention or suggestion of anything like an ordination ceremony. The First Century churches apparently met in the homes of members as we read today in 1 Corinthians 16 v.19 – note also Acts 2 v.46, Rom. 16 v.5, Col. 4 v.15 and Philemon v.2. The word church does not mean a building, it means an ‘assembly’ or congregation, as it is translated in Acts 19 v.32,39.
There were no Priests, the elders had a key role and Peter simply describes himself as “a fellow elder” [1 Peter 5 v.1] and goes on to write that elders should “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not domineering … but being examples to the flock.” [v.2,3]
It was not until the Church was officially accepted in the Roman Empire in the 4th Century that it began to develop an elaborate ritual of Priesthood with ordinations and costuming.
The First Century Christians saw Jesus Christ as their only Priest as Hebrews 4 v14 to 5 v.10 makes plain. Even the Jews abandoned the Priesthood system after their Temple was destroyed.
In a sense baptism is an ordination – when each individual ordains, that is decides, to commit his or her life to Christ and to God, but it does not take seven days – it takes a dedicated decision of the heart, a decision that changes the purpose of our lives for all time and those faithful to the end “will be priests of God and of Christ and they will reign with him …” [Rev.20 v.6]