Exodus 28, Hebrews 7:24-25, Hebrews 8:1-2, 1 John 2:1-2
The Idea of a Priest
In the beginning, man acted as his own priest. An example of this can be seen through the story of Cain and Abel. Later in human history we find the father, head of the household, offering sacrifices to God. An example of this can be seen through Abraham. Still later, we find a man chosen of God to act as the high priest for the nation (Aaron). Finally, God chose Christ as priest for the whole world. Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
The priest with whom we are particularly concerned is Aaron. He was called of God to serve as high priest for Israel. He was not only called (see Exodus 28:1 and Hebrews 5:4-10), but he was cleansed and totally prepared to perform his sacred duties. Aaron, the high priest, was immaculately clothed and wonderfully consecrated. Aaron is a type of Jesus Christ, our High Priest.
The Priestly Garments
Let us now consider the clothes with which the High Priest was dressed.
The Ephod (Exodus 28:6-7)
This was the outer garment of linen and gold. The gold represents the deity of Christ. The linen represents His infinite righteousness. The colors speak of His glorious attributes. In the rest of his garments (shoulder stones, breastplate, urim and thummim, and curious girdle), we see the majesty of Christ’s kingly character, the mystery of His divinity, and the picture of His humility (particularly in the colors of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet).
The Curious Girdle of the Ephod (Exodus 28:8-39:5, Luke 17:8, and Isaiah 22:21)
The girdle gathers us unto itself, all the justice of Christ as Son of man and Son of God. It was made of the same material as the ephod. It depicts His high priesthood. A girdle denotes service or action. The Lord girded Himself with a towel (see John 13). In Ephesians 6:13-18, believers are admonished to “gird themselves about with truth.”
The curious girdle appears to be an integral part of the ephod. In this, we see Christ as a servant of God and mankind. It depicts that Christ, our High Priest, is able to “keep us,” “love us,” “guide us,” and “serve us.”
The Shoulder Stones/The Onyx Stones (Exodus 28:9-14)
These were placed on the shoulders of the priest. They were attached to the ephod. On each stone was engraved six of the names of the twelve tribes. Shoulders are for bearing burdens. This is exemplified by the lost sheep (see Luke 15). The high priest was to bear the burdens of the twelve tribes and the engraved stones constantly reminded him of this.
Christ is our High Priest and burden bearer. Our names are not on His shoulder but in the Lamb’s book of life. The names were engraved in chronological order, according to birth (see Exodus 28:10). Our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, because of our rebirth. “On His heart our names are graven. On his shoulders we are born.”
The Breastplate of Judgment (Exodus 28:15-29)
This name literally means “ornament of decisions” (see Ephesians 6:14). In the O.T. we have the breastplate of judgment. In the N.T. we have the breastplate of righteousness (see Ephesians 6:14). The breastplate was foursquare as was the brazen altar (9 inches squared).
The Precious Stones
The breastplate displayed twelve precious stones set in pure gold and placed uniformly in rows. Every stone was different, but there was only one breastplate. Each stone had the name of a tribe engraved on it; Israel was carried close to the heart of Aaron. Believers enjoy this happy position as well. For, just as the precious stones were set in gold, so are we set in Christ, placed there by God Himself. John 15:16 says, “Ye have not chosen He, but I have chosen you.” And just as there was one breastplate, but many stones, so there is one Church, but many believers.
The Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30 and Numbers 27:21)
These words mean lights and perfections. These seem to have been precious stones (i.e. black and white - see Numbers 27:21). These were used to assist in making important decisions. See 1 Sam 28:6. For us today, they could represent the Old and New Testaments. Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a light to my path.”
The Robe (Exodus 28:31-35, Isaiah 61:10, and Job 29:14)
This is the first time we find a robe mentioned in the Scriptures. The robe is a symbol of dignity (see Ezekiel 26:16), of royalty (see Matthew 27:28-29), and of righteousness (see Isaiah 61:10). This garment was blue and had bells and pomegranates attached to its hem. Blue speaks to us of the heavenly One, of whom the priest was a type - the heavenly One, the kingly One, the only Savior. The pomegranates were blue, purple, and scarlet.
The golden bells reminded Israel of the One who interceded for them. As they heard the bells ringing, they rejoiced that their High Priest was alive and representing them before a holy God. We should thank God for our great High Priest now appearing in the presence of God for us. We do not hear bells ringing, but we know from the Scriptures that He is “alive in the power of an indissoluble life.”
On the Day of Atonement, the bells were not worn, nor any of the garments of beauty and glory; only a white garment. The Day of Atonement was a day of humiliation. It is a picture of the sinner going to Christ for salvation.
The Golden Plate (Exodus 28:36-38)
This was a golden band that was worn around the head. This band was held in place by a ribbon of blue. Inscribed on the band were the words “Holiness to the Lord.”
The Coat (Exodus 28:39, Revelation 19:8)
This coat was made of linen and cunningly embroidered. The linen speaks of God’s divinely imputed righteousness. The Scriptures tell us that “Christ is our righteousness,” 1 Corinthians 1:30. The linen coat reminds us of our Lord Jesus: holy, harmless and undefiled.
The Miter (Exodus 28:39)
Only the high priest wore the miter. The other priests wore bonnets (see Exodus 28:39-40). The miter and the bonnets were coverings for the head. This is a symbol of obedience. The priests were obedient to God. We, as priests, should be obedient to Him also. Jesus is the perfect example. We should follow His example.
The Study of the Priesthood
The Study of the Priesthood is Rewarding and Important
I hope that this study has brought Christ before you as:
- The Human and Divine One
- The Serving One
- The Sinless One
- The Loving One
- The Strengthening and Sustaining One
- The Righteous One
- The Heavenly and Gracious One
- The Obedient One
The Word declares in 1 Timothy 2:5 - “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus Christ is our High Priest today. He is unique and alone in His office. There is no other. In life He was incorruptible. He has done all things well. No man ever spoke like this man. Of Him was said:
“I find no fault in Him.”
“Truly this was a righteous man.”
“Truly, this was the Son of God.”
Mark’s testimony by revelation, “Thou art the Christ, it’s my Lord, and my God.”
Demons added their testimony, “Thou art the Holy One of God.”
“Jesus, Thou Son of God most high,” and
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of God”
Further testimonies from the inspired writers include: Paul - He knew no sin, Peter - He did no sin, and John - In Him was no sin. Jesus Himself said: “The men of this world cometh and findeth nothing in me.” Our Lord stands alone in solitary dignity, perfectly holy, impeccable, there is no other like Him; there is no other.
The Perfect Deity and Humanity of Christ
Consider the perfect deity and humanity of Christ as seen in the contrast of the glory and majesty of the Holy Mount – and the humiliation of Calvary’s Mount:
On the Holy Mount, His hands and face shone as the Son.
On mount Calvary, His visage was marred more than any man’s.
On the Holy Mount, His raiment was white as light, exceedingly white and glistening.
On mount Calvary, His garments were taken from Him, and the soldiers gambled for its possession.
On the Holy Mount, there stood by Him two men – two of the greatest.
On Mount Calvary He was crucified between two thieves.
On the Holy Mount, He was wrapped in Shekinah glory.
On Mount Calvary, He was enveloped in darkness.
On the Holy Mount, from the cloud there came the voice of infinite pleasure. “This is My beloved Son […]”
On Mount Calvary, from the darkness came the anguished cry of desolation, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
In both scenes it is the same Christ. Let us bow our hearts and worship Him.
Now unto the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Let us join in the eventual universal worship of the King. Blessing and honor and glory, and power be unto Him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever, Amen. See Revelation 5:13.