Christ's Priestly Ministry Inaugurated

Part II of our series continues.

By F. C. GILBERT, Field Secretary of the General Conference


While instruction was being given to Moses regarding the erection of the sanctuary when he was in the mount with God during the forty days and forty nights, he was commanded to prepare a special anointing oil with which the tabernacle was to be anointed and the priests consecrated, before the ministry in the sanctuary was undertaken. (See Ex. 24:1,2, 18; 30:25, 26.) In regard to the consecration of the high priest and his associate priests, it is written:

"Thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be a holy anointing oil unto Me throughout your generations. 'Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you." Ex. 30:30-32.

Sanctuary Anointed and Priests Inaugurated

When the sanctuary was made and its parts were all put together, the following command came to Moses:

"Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering; ... and gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.... And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done." Lev. 8:2-5.

Moses then brought his brother Aaron and his sons, and washed them in the laver. He clothed them with the sacred robes in which they were to minister in the sanctuary. Following this part of the ceremony—

"Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, . . . to sanctify them. And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.' Verses 10-12.

Aaron's sons also were to be anointed with this holy oil. The Scripture says:

"Thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him ; that he may minister unto Me in *he priest's office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats : and thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations." Ex. 40: 13-15.

The Scripture says regarding the thoroughness with which this anointing with the holy oil was actually performed: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity ! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments." Ps, 133:2.

It was a most complete service which Moses performed upon his brother when he anointed him with 'the holy oil, in order that Aaron might be consecrated to the sacred and solemn work which was committed to him as the high priest of the earthly sanctuary. This holy oil was used for the purpose of dedicating the sanctuary and its vessels of service, as well as for the consecration of the priests to their ministry.

This inaugural and consecration service lasted seven days, as will be seen from the following scripture: "Ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you." Lev. 8:33.

None who were to take part in the service of the sanctuary were permitted to perform any labor during this time of inauguration and consecration; for, says the Sacred Record: "Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven clays, and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not: for so I am commanded." Verse 35. What a solemn and sacred service this must have been ! To question or to minimize its value meant certain death. That the sanctuary ministry was thus inaugurated and the priests consecrated to this most sacred office, is clearly set forth in the following:

"It came to pass that on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them." Num. 7

When the week's dedication and consecration service ended, the ministry of the sanctuary by the priesthood was officially inaugurated. Says the Scripture:

"It came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; and he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord." Lev. 9:1, 2.

The people responded to this command of Moses. When Aaron had offered the sacrifices, and had blessed the people for carrying out this divine instruction, then "there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces." Verse 24. The sanctuary service could now be entered upon according to the will and command of God.

Christ's Anointing as High Priest

Before the Saviour could begin His ministry as our high priest, the heavenly sanctuary must be dedicated and anointed. and our Lord must be consecrated to His high priesthood. That this was to take place is foretold by the word of God.

When the angel Gabriel explained to Daniel the significance of the first part of the twentythree-hundred-day prophecy by telling hi,tn that seventy weeks were determined upon his people and upon the Holy City, the celestial messenger said that the last thing to occur before the end of the seventy-times-seven period was the anointing of the "most holy." These words, "most holy," in the Hebrew are Ko-desh Ko-do-shim. Dan. 9:24. The words Ko-desh Ko-do-shim are not applied to people. They are invariably applied to objects, and particularly to the inner apartment of the sanctuary. (See Ex. 26:33, 34.)

The seventy-week prophetic period terminated in the seventh Bible month, or our month October, 34 A.D. There was no "most holy" place anointed on earth at that time. No sanctuary or priesthood was introduced or reintroduced at that time, or at any time near that year. Our Saviour ascended to heaven following His crucifixion and resurrection in 31 A.D. In the book of Hebrews the apostle to the Gentiles tells us that when the Saviour ascended to heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God as our high priest. Heb. 8:1, 2. But before He could become high priest, He must be consecrated to His priesthood, and the sanctuary in which He was to minister must also be dedicated and inaugurated.

In Hebrews 1:8, 9, the apostle states that Psalms 45:6, 7, applies to the Son of God. In these verses of Hebrews I, there is brought to view an anointing of the Son of God. This anointing of our Lord is not an 'anointing with the Holy Ghost, but an anointing "with the oil of gladness." The apostle gives the reason for the anointing with this "oil." In comparing the two scriptures, especially the first few words of verse 7 in Psalms 45 with the first few words of Hebrews i :9, it will be observed that the tense of the verb is changed. In the psalm, the writer is describing the attitude of the Son as divine, deity. As God, He certainly loved righteousness and hated iniquity. This is the nature of the Godhead. In the application of the scripture of Psalms 45, the Saviour had already been on earth as a man. As Son of man He had by Himself purged our sins. Following this purging, He sat down on the right hand of the throne of God. By the life He lived on earth—pure, spotless, holy, undefiled—He proved that He loved righteousness and hated iniquity. He challenged the world to accuse Him of sin. John 8:46.

Peter says of Him: "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." t Peter 2 :22. The testimony of the apostle Paul makes clear that the anointing mentioned in Hebrews 1:9 must have taken place after our Saviour lived on earth, and completed His labors in behalf of a lost world. This anointing in Hebrews I could not have occurred at the time of His baptism, for at that time He had not encountered the attacks of Satan. He had not been in the wilderness; He had not yet begun His ministry among men ; He had not yet met the severe temptations of the enemy ; He had not yet proved by His life on earth as a man that Be did love righteousness and hate iniquity.

Furthermore, His baptism by John in the river Jordan was in fulfillment of the angel Gabriel's announcement that there were to be 69 times 7 periods to Messiah, the Prince. Dan. 9 :25. The word "Messiah" is from the Hebrew M-she-ach, which means "anointed." (See Ps. 2:1, 2 ; compare with John 1:41; Acts 4:25, 26.) At the time of the Saviour's immersion, He was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power, and He went about doing good. Acts 10:38. We have no record that at the time of His immersion others were anointed with Him, and that He was anointed above them. The apostle Paul, however, does tell when He Was anointed with the "oil of gladness," in harmony with the prophecy. He was indeed anointed above His fellows. At this anointing there were others ano'nted with Him, only He was anointed above them.

Dedication of Heavenly Sanctuary

We are told in the Scripture that at the time of His resurrection, others came out of their graves, entered the Holy City, and told the people that they with the Saviour had been raised from the dead. Matt. 27:50-53. What became of these resurrected ones? The answer is stated in Ephesians 4:8, including the margin. In Revelation 4 and 5 the prophet John describes a company of people around God's throne, of whom he says :

"They sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy .blood out of every kindred, and ton,zue, and people, and nation ; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests : arid we shall reign on the earth." Rev. 5:9, TO.

Here are a company of saints surrounding God's throne who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. For these our Lord was slain. They have been made kings and priests ; they expect to reign on the earth. The only other persons who, according to Scripture, have been taken from earth to heaven are Enoch and Elijah, who were translated without tasting death, and Moses, who was resurrected. Gen. 5:24; 2 Kings 2 :I ; Jude 9. These whom John describes are people who have been redeemed from many tongues, nations, and peoples. This company, therefore, can be only those who were resurrected with Christ, and who ascended to heaven at the time of the Saviour's ascension.

When the dedication of the heavenly sanctuary took place (according to the testimony of the angel Gabriel in Daniel 9:24, and the consecration of our Lord to the priesthood was accomplished at His inauguration (Heb. 1:8, 9), these whom John describes around the throne of God were also anointed and consecrated to minister with our Lord in the heavenly sanctuary—only Jesus was anointed above them as the great high priest. That such an inauguration did take place in heaven after our Lord's ascension, and that our Saviour at that time was consecrated to the royal priesthood in heaven, is confirmed by the following statement from the Spirit of prophecy:

"Christ's ascension to heaven was the signal that His followers were to receive the promised blessing. For this they were to wait before they entered upon their work. When Christ passed within the heavenly gates, He was enthroned amidst the adoration of the angels. As soon as this ceremony was completed, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples in rich currents, and Christ was indeed glorified, even with the glory which He had with the Father from all eternity, The Pentecostal outpouring was Heaven's communication that the Redeemer's inauguration was accomplished. According to His promise, He had sent the Holy Spirit from heaven to His followers, as a token that He had, as priest and king' received all auth9ri'y in heaven and on earth, and was the Anointed One over His people."—'`Acts of the Apostles," pp. 38 39.

The following facts are worthy of reemphasis : First, Christ ascended to heaven. Second, Following His ascension, a ceremony took place amidst the adoration of the angels. Third, This ceremony was an inaugural ceremony. Fourth, The gift of the Spirit to the disciples was an indication that this inaugural ceremony was accomplished, or ended. Fifth, During this inaugural ceremony Christ was anointed. Sixth, This anointing of Christ in heaven assured the people that He now was man's High Priest. Seventh, During this inaugural ceremony the disciples were not permitted to perform any labor or ministry.

Thus from the Scriptures and from the Spirit of prophecy we have clear and definite information that the anointing of the "most holy," the consecration of Christ to the priesthood, and the consecration of those who ascended with Him after His resurrection, all took place during the days following the Saviour's ascension, and that this event was finally signalized by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost. It was then that the Saviour entered upon His ministry as man's great high priest in behalf of all those who could be benefited by the atonement which He made for sinners by the offering of Himself in Gethsemane and on the