God doesn’t give busy work. The consecration of the priests was a big to do, but what was all the doing for? Why were the priests and the altars consecrated so? Two answers are given, and the first one flows and swells into the second like a river bursting forth into a grand delta.
The priests and the altar are consecrated for the daily offerings (Exodus 29:38–42). In the morning, a lambs offered with wine and flour; in the evening, the same. A full meal is to be cooked up to Yahweh on the altar twice daily.
But why all of this? Why the priests, the altar, the tabernacle, the daily offerings? The answer God gives is Himself. These daily offerings are to be made at the tent of meeting where Yahweh meets with Israel (Exodus 29:42–43). How does the Holy God meet in covenant love with a sinful people? By the priest, the altar, and the tabernacle.
None of this smacks of man trying to pull himself up to heaven. Nor is this God giving man secret carful instructions to climbing a heavenly stairway. All this action is a display of God’s action. The tabernacle and all the priest’s action is a reflection of heavenly realities. Ultimately it is God who consecrates the tent and the priests (Exodus 29:43). The tabernacle is no display of man’s wisdom, but God’s. It speaks nothing of man’s work, but God’s redemption. The tabernacle is not about man ascending, but God descending.
God’s meeting His people here is not to be thought of as the event of a lifetime, but a lifetime event. God meets with His people here because He dwells here (Exodus 29:45). He dwells in their midst as their God for they are His people. He dwells with them in covenant love.
Still this isn’t the end of the blessedness that the tent testifies to. God is not content just to be their God; He wants them to know that He is their God (Exodus 29:46). Specifically, He wants them to know that Yahweh (all caps LORD), the one who has revealed Himself as sovereign, self-existent, eternal, infinite, immutable and incomprehensible, is their redeemer, the one who has delivered them.
The way that God wants Israel to know all of this is by a tent and priesthood that testify of Christ. Don’t shun knowledge of the tabernacle. Don’t think a study of the priest’s consecration moot. All of this is so that you might know Jesus, whose name means “Yahweh Saves.”