In his poem “How to Be a Poet,” Wendell Berry says, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
Because God created all things—the heavens and the earth—we know this is true. All is inherently sacred. Only sin and evil can destroy and desecrate. All humans bears the imago dei, the image of God. However, today’s passage in Exodus also shows us the importance of consecration to God. The Faithlife Study Bible describes how the Hebrew word used in Exodus 29:1, qadash, “refers to being holy or making something holy.” “The concept of holiness fundamentally indicates separation,” says Faithlife. “Someone or something is set apart for sacred use, as opposed to ordinary use.”
We might think about it this way: Redwood forests stretching along the Pacific Northwest are made by our creator God. They stand as sentinels for us to feast our eyes on. They house birds and other living organisms. They contribute to the flourishing of the Pacific Northwest ecosystem. Each tree, needle, and pine cone has mostly ordinary uses.
But when God instructs His people with a specific task, like preparing a sin offering or ordaining someone to the priesthood, ordinary things are suddenly used for sacred purposes, as we see in today’s act of consecration after the establishment of the Mosaic covenant. Bread cakes and burnt rams become a holy, “pleasing aroma” (Exodus 29:22–25). Garments become holy after being sprinkled with blood (v.21). An altar becomes “especially holy” (v.37).
When Aaron and his brothers are selected as priests, they are now ordinary men set apart for sacred use. They are holy. “The priesthood is to be theirs by a permanent statute,” Scripture tells us (v.9). This new role is meant to be a lasting one, the evidence of God’s redeeming work making its way through His people, moment by moment, beginning in Scripture’s opening pages to the very end. Jesus now holds this role of the High Priest, the One “exalted above the heavens” and the only One truly capable of removing our sin (Hebrews 7:26).
Being set apart by God is not something we take lightly but a sacred and holy calling. Thankfully, we have the testimony of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us walk this calling out faithfully. Thanks be to God.