Today’s readings.. (Leviticus 8), (Psalm 107), (1 Corinthians 16)

We have been reading in Leviticus about the laws and offerings that were to come into operation now that they had made the Tabernacle with its Holy Place, altars and other furnishings. The clothing and rituals for the priests are very detailed and elaborate.

Today’s reading (Ch. 8) is about how the LORD tells Moses to bring Aaron and his sons and assemble all the congregation to the Tabernacle. They are then to hold what might be called an ordination ceremony. There are various ordination offerings (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 7 days to ordain you.” [v.33]

Now all this is a total contrast to the way the church operated in the First Century. The New Testament has no mention or indication of anything like an ordination ceremony, there is no mention of them building places of worship – they appeared to meet in the homes of members as we read today in 1 Corinthians 16 v.19 to “the church in their house”– and note Acts 2 v.46. 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 elders 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] Jesus bluntly said, “call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” [Matt 23 v.9]

It was not until the Church was officially recognised by the Roman Empire in the 4th Century that an elaborate ritual of ordination and costuming was developed and this still happens today; most of the world is aware of the present drama of deciding who will be the next Pope! The First Century believers saw Jesus Christ as their only Priest. Read Hebrews 4 v14 to 5 v.10. Even the Jews abandoned their Priesthood system after their Temple was destroyed.

Is there not a sense in which baptism is an ordination? When each individual ordains to be baptised, that is decides, they are made aware in various ways of the commitment they are making to Christ and to God

How meaningful are those “the days of ordination” – what searchings of the heart! – but this world then presents them with many challenges and the regularly feeding of their and our minds on God’ word is an essential source of strength to “endure unto the end.”

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* Click verse text to see cross references.
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