“Bring the young bull to the front of the tent of meeting. Aaron and his sons are to lay their hands on the bull’s head, and you are to slaughter the bull in the presence of Adonai at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Take some of the bull’s blood, and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger; pour out all the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Take all the fat that covers the inner organs, the covering of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat, and offer them up in smoke on the altar.“-Exodus 29:10-13
We’re now going to take a look at the first sacrifice used to get the Tabernacle up and ready for its daily operations.
Notice that Moses is still officiating over the sacrifices.
The reason is because until this consecration ceremony is finished, Moses is the only one authorized to officiate.
There is no official priesthood yet.
Actually the same thing happened back in chapter 24 when the ritual of sealing the Mosaic covenant occurred.
Recall that it was Moses who God ordered to build a stone altar and then the firstborn males (called the “young men” in Scripture) sacrificed uon it, NOT the priests because there weren’t any priests yet.
Remember, according to tradition, it was the firstborn of a household who was responsible for priestly duties.
So first a bullock (also called an ox or bull) is brought into the Outer Court area of the Tabernacle right in front of the Tent of Meeting (the roofed area containing the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies) which is next to the bronze altar.
What happens next is a grand visual demonstration of the PRINCIPLE OF SUBSTITUTION.
All of the priests lay their hands on the Bull.
This indicates a transfer of the priests’ sin onto the bull.
The bull has now become their substitute and bears the sin of the soon-to-become priests.
The bull is then killed, skinned and sliced up into pieces.
A portion of the animal’s blood is captured inside a ceremonial bronze pail.
The blood is then splashed onto the bottom of the altar and also dabbed onto the bronze Altar’s horns.
A couple of key points here.
First, under normal circumstances the bull would have been firmly tied down to the Altar’s horns, but not this time.
The reason is because not just the priests but the Brazen Altar itself including its tools and utensils ALSO NEEDED TO BE CONSECRATED.
Even the Brazen Altar, until it was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice, wasn’t fit for use.
However, once cleansed, the meat of the sacrificial animal can be placed on the altar.
Second, notice that ONLY THE FAT that covered the inner organs were placed on the Altar.
Why is this?
Well, in the Bible, the fat of the animal is considered to be the most valuable part.
And for this special sacrifice, ONLY THE MOST VALUABLE PART was to be offered up to the Lord on the Brazen Altar.
The rest of the animal, its meat, bones and hide were all taken outside the camp of Israel and burned to a crisp and offered up as a SIN OFFERING.
We’ll talk a little bit about that next time.