I wonder how many relationships are destroyed because a couple purchases an item labeled with three words of doom, “Some Assembly Required”? My husband and I have spent many joyous (NOT) hours assembling various pieces of furniture and somehow, in spite of it, we are still together. I am sure the folks writing these pamphlets of torment THINK they are clear and easy to understand but I have never met assembly instructions that I could understand the first time. God’s instructions in the Book of Exodus are very clear and specific. In Exodus, Chapter 28 Moses is on Mt. Sinai and God gives him detailed instructions for the garments to be worn by the High Priest; he was to wear holy garments for beauty and for glory.
As I looked at the description of each item I was struck by the symbolism in each detail and how the pieces pointed to Jesus whose birth was still centuries away.
The ephod, was made of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet material. Two large onyx stones were engraved with the names of the sons of Israel, 12 names, 6 on each stone; the stones were set on the shoulders of the ephod. The ephod was also a sign of authority. Jesus bore the cross on His shoulders, thinking of us with every step. Jesus is the only just and final authority. The material used for the ephod was the same as the curtains in the tabernacle – you cannot separate Jesus from His church!
A breastpiece of judgment, the same material as the ephod it held 12 different stones, each one engraved with the name of one of the twelve sons of Israel. Each stone was unique but they were bound together in a common cause and purpose, as the church is to be unified by Christ. The names of the twelve sons of Israel (the twelve tribes) were engraved, cut into the stones. My name is engraved on Jesus’ heart! The ephod and breastpiece were worn over the heart. Jesus heart was stabbed on the cross to make sure He was dead; He was pierced for my transgressions. Jesus Himself lives in the hearts of those who love Him and acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior. The breastpiece held the Urim and Thummin so the priest would be reminded of God’s judgment continually, Jesus will judge all and He alone is a truly righteous judge who sees the hearts of people.
The Robe was a single, woven garment of blue. Jesus single possession, His one piece robe was given to a gambling Roman soldier. The hem of the priest’s robe was embellished with golden pomegranates and bells. Pomegranates are full of seeds, a fruit to bear much fruit, they separated the bells so they would not clang together but make a sweet sound. Jesus empowers us to bear fruit and He hears the sweet sound of every prayer.
A golden plate was worn on the priests turban. The plate was engraved with a seal, “Holy to the Lord”. The priest was set apart by God for service – I am a member of the royal priesthood – I am set apart for service! The priests head was covered by a turban, covering the head was a sign of humility and submission.
Linen breeches, undergarments – to cover the nakedness of the priest. My flesh nature, apart from God must be “covered” – Jesus blood covers my flesh, my sin nature! Integrity may be defined as “who you are when nobody is looking”. As a follower of Christ, I need to be a person of integrity, my walk needs to match my talk, especially when no one is watching. God cares more about our character, our inner hidden self than our reputation or comfort.
God repeats the purpose of all this – for glory and for beauty. Whose glory and beauty? The priests? Partly, the priest, as a minister to God was the only one who could offer the atonement sacrifice. He served as go-between for the people and God. God wanted His people to see the priestly intermediary as amazing and wonderful and to glorify, praise and worship God for this gift. Was it necessary? God clearly thought so. I believe He wanted the priest to be reverenced as God’s earthly representative and intercessor. I believe God wanted to people to say, “Look what we have” and be awed by the priests appearance, not proud but humbled by God’s greatness and thoughts of them. The priest was also a minister TO God and I am sure God delighted in gazing down as the priest went through his daily tasks.
How interesting that our great High Priest, Jesus is described as a most ordinary man, nothing remarkable in His appearance…”He had no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” Isaiah 53:2, 3 Jesus is our great and final High Priest, no other intermediary or intercessor is needed. Jesus completely and perfectly fulfilled the duties of the High Priest described here in Exodus and He Himself was the perfect sacrifice and offering once for all. Hallelujah, what a Savior!