(latest thoughts on the subject of going into ministry, ordained or otherwise)
Exodus 29:31-46 (edited): “Take the ram for the ordination and cook the meat in a sacred place. At the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread… they are to eat these offerings by which atonement was made for their ordination and consecration. …sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement… offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight. …so I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests.”
Context: The Israelites are at the foot of God’s holy mountain, having just been set free from slavery in Egypt. Moses is receiving God’s instructions on how to ordain Israel’s first priests. The offerings described in this passage are required to cover the sins of Aaron and his sons before they begin their ministry.
What’s happening here: The ordination offerings are a bull and two rams on the first day, followed by a bull each day over a seven-day period, for atonement, during the ordination process. Afterwards sacrifices for consecration are to continue twice a day – one lamb in the morning and one lamb in the evening – daily, throughout all generations.
Sinners are to serve as priests before God: ordination alone requires seven days of blood sacrifices for atonement. How impossible is this calling? Who would dare take it on? And afterwards, to maintain the holiness of the priests, consecration offerings continue day and night forever.
Application: This resonates with me because what I do is never good enough. When I teach scripture, it’s never good enough. When I preach, it’s never good enough. It’s not that I lack confidence; I have skills in public speaking and I’m comfortable in front of groups. The problem is, my words are imperfect and my thoughts are imperfect and I’m trying to serve a perfect God. If I share lessons from my own life, I share my sinfulness. If I set aside my own words and speak only the words of scripture, my limited understanding keeps me from putting across God’s truth by emphasizing the wrong words or grouping the thoughts incorrectly.
Only by God’s mercy and grace, only by the power of His Spirit, do my words accomplish His work in the lives of others. I need to learn to set aside my own “that came across OK” attempts at self-congratulation. I can’t ever make it come across OK. I can use words to make people “feel good.” But I can’t ever work God’s will by my own efforts. I need to hear His words “well done”. I need His atonement, His consecration.
Whether I’m ordained to the priesthood or “merely” called to lay ministry, it’s the same. His will, done His way, or I’m wasting my time (and His).