Blood on the Ear, Thumb and Toe

“Then he presented the other ram, the ram of ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. And he killed it, and Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.” (Leviticus 8:22–23, ESV)

Levitical laws are so many and varied that a contemporary reader might have trouble understanding what they have to do with his Christian walk. After all, our age is one of grace, not one of daily ordinances. Our lives are ruled by freedom in Christ, not by the do-this-do-that restrictions of the Old Testament. And let’s face it, when we crack open our Bibles, Leviticus is not the first book we turn to, right? May I be so bold to suggest, however, that the Christian’s DNA may be found in those pages, and learning more about our elemental structure can only enhance the understanding of our Christian lives?

The unregenerate man does not know what to do about sin. Even Adam and Eve thought their covering of leaves to be an adequate covering for their nakedness — and they were right to a point: the leaves covered their naked skin — not their naked sin. But sin required atonement, and atonement required blood. The first blood ever shed in the Bible flowed from those animals which God slew to make coats of skins for our sinning parents. Blood-for-sin is God’s inviolate rule, and blood has flown East of Eden ever since.

As God added to his revelation, and as he moved humanity along into the age of the Law, he revealed detailed rules for the handling of blood, for cleanliness and for consecration. Through these, God taught his people the value of holiness, of separation and of the continuing need for sacrifice. God used the language of blood to speak of a future atonement — the perfect sacrifice for sin — by the only one who could, once and for all, end sin’s tyranny: Jesus Christ. However, humans needed a priesthood until that day, and that priesthood had rules.

God told Moses to consecrate Aaron and his sons as priests. The priests laid their hands upon the head of the Ram of Consecration and slew it. Moses applied its blood to Aaron’s right ear, right thumb and right foot. We are not told why, but I see some parallels for the Christian life.

My first observation is contextual. The ceremony was one of consecration, the setting aside of persons for official Godly service, in this case, the priesthood. What could be a better picture of separation than to encircle the consecratee with blood? The blood marked-off a border between the priest and the world — a sacred line of blood, which, as in life, could be easily overstepped, but which God must watch over to ensure official obedience. Secondly, one might observe that the ear controls the body’s input, the hands control the person’s action and the feet control the body’s place of service. As such, the blood marked-out all the practical needs of a priest. He needed to guard his ears, to serve the Lord, and to serve the people.

Finally, even though God does not say specifically what those applications of blood meant, Moses and the priests obeyed anyway…and perhaps that is all we need to know about it. But did God leave any loose ends with all that stuff about the blood of bulls and goats? Not at all. We no longer need that blood nor do we need those sacrifices. Why not? The blood of Jesus Christ covers all our sins — and it covers all our sins forever.

Ties things up nicely, I think.

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