The High Priest in His Garments of Glory and Beauty (Exodus: 28)
The outer garment of the high priest is called the "Garments of glory and beauty". It was made of blue, purple, scarlet and white linen interwoven with gold. Aaron wore this garment when he went into the holy place for service. Aaron is a type of Christ as our high priest. Aaron was divinely appointed by God from the tribe of Levi. He has not taken this honor on himself (Heb 5:4). He was appointed as mediators between God and Israel. Aaron approached God on behalf of his people as their advocate and intercessor. High priests offered prayers and praise on their behalf. They also offered sacrifices for their sins. Only the priests were authorized to offer sacrifices. The high priest served generally for life. Once a year he was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place (Leviticus 16). First he had to offer sacrifice for his own sins then for the people. These sacrifices were pointing towards the perfect sacrifice of Christ. He offered animals that could not take away their sins but only cover them. These sacrifices foreshadow Christ and His atoning work on the cross. These sacrifices have no saving merit but accepted on the basis of the future work of Christ.
Christ is our high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5, 6, 10). Christ is our high priest after the character of Aaron (Heb 9). Christ is superior to Aaron. He was made like His brethren and in all points and tempted like us yet without sin (Heb 2:17; 4:15). By His death He made reconciliation for our sins possible (Heb 2:17). Aaron entered the man made sanctuary but Jesus has entered the heaven and the eternal sanctuary. Aaron entered the Moist Holy Place with blood of animals but Jesus entered the presence of God with His own blood. Old Testament high priest entered the Most Holy Place once a year on behalf of people. Christ entered the heavenly place once for all. When Jesus died, the veil was rent from top to bottom thereby opened the way for us to enter the presence of God always. Christ is superior to Aaron. He is able to sympathize with our infirmities forever because He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15). Christ was made like us (Heb 2:17. In all points Christ was tempted like us, yet without sin. He was touched with the feeling of out weaknesses (Heb 4:15). Christ made reconciliation for our sins (Heb 2:17). He is able to help us when we are being tempted. He ever lives to make intercession for us, so He is able to save us completely (Heb 7:24, 25). Christ is the only mediator between God and men (1 Tim 2:5). His intercessory ministry is an ongoing ministry in Heaven. Aaron’s sons are a type of believer-priests (1 Pet 2:9). Aaron’s garments are called the garments of glory and beauty. They gave them dignity and honor while serving in the Holy Place (Ex 35:19). The believers are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people to serve and worship Christ (1 Pet 2:9).There are six pieces of priestly garments (Ex 28:4). They speak of the glory of Christ (Heb 7:26).
The Ephod: Ex 28:6-8.
This was a sleeveless upper garment. It was made of gold, blue,Purple, scarlet and fine twine linen. The threads of gold have been worked through it by embroidery work. Gold speaks of Christ's heavenly glory. The ephod had two parts, a front and a back pieces that were fastened on two shoulder pieces with straps made of braided gold chains. The ephod was held close to the body with a belt at the waist. This speaks of Christ’s priestly service. He is the very God and man who makes intercession for us in heaven. Christ has gone through suffering and testing like us. So He is able to help us when we are being tested. He knows our difficulties and sorrows. He is our compassionate high priest who is willing and able to help us in times of need (Heb 4:15).
Two Onyx shoulder stones: Ex 28:9-14.
The ephod had two shoulder pieces on which the two precious stones rested in the gold settings. The names of six tribes were engraved on each onyx stone. They represent the twelve tribes of Israel. When high priest entered the holy place he carried the entire nation on his shoulder. Believers names are written in the book of life. Today the Lord carries all who belong to him on his shoulder. They are secured in His shoulder. No one can snatch them out of the hand of our good shepherd (John 10:28-29). The good shepherd is able to carry His sheep on His shoulders and bring them home (Luke 15:4-6; Isiah 40:11). These stones are encased in gold. This speaks of how precious we are to God!
The Breastplate: Ex 28:15-21.
The breastplate was square and made of the cloth as of the ephod. The breastplate was fastened to the stones on the shoulder of the high priest by chain of gold. It was to be two spans in length and one span in width. A span was about 9 inches. 12 precious stones in gold settings mounted in four rows of 3 stones each on it. The names of the twelve tribes were engraved on them. The breastplate was attached to the ephod by four gold chains. The breastplate rested on the heart of the high priest and fastened to his shoulder with gold chains. This speaks of Christ’s love for the church and how we are kept by His power (Rom 8:38, 39). On His shoulders He carries us collectively but in his heart He carries us individually. He values us as precious jewels because we are redeemed by His blood. Christ carries the church collectively on his shoulder. But He knows us individually in the breastplate. Christ knows our value, work and weaknesses (Rom 8:1; Heb 6:10; 4:15). Christ bears us in His heart before God constantly as trophies of His redeeming work on the cross (Ephesians 2:7). How comforting to know that Christ carries us individually on His loving heart. We are precious in His sight (Isaiah 49:5). Our names ever be erased from the engraved stones. Christ ever lives to make intercession for us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Roman 8:39).
Urim and Thummim: Ex 28:30.
The breastplate was folded double to form a pocket for Urim and Thummim. Most likely these were jewels and their names means lights, and perfections. They were used to seek God’s will on special occasions. When someone had to make an important decision but did not know what God wanted him to do , he sought the help of the high priest. The high priest received enlightenment and perfect knowledge through Urim and Thummim from God (1 Samuel 28:6; 30:7, 8). Our high priest is in heaven and by means of prayer and his Word Christ reveals His will to us. We have a direct connection with Christ and we can approach him with every problem. In his time Christ will make his plan clear to us. He will never leave us in doubt. His Word reveals His will (Psalms 119:105).
The Robe of Ephod: Ex 28:31-35.
Under the ephod, the high priest wore the blue robe. It was made entirely of blue thread. Blue speaks of the heavenly nature of Christ. Pomegranates made of blue, purple and scarlet were attached to the hem of this robe. Between each pomegranate there was a golden bell to make sound when Aaron went into the holy place to minister. Christ is our great high priest. The bell makes sound to make sure that the high priest is alive. They speak of Christ's teachings and character. Mere talk is not enough. There are fruits in between. Just as much as teaching the life is also important (Matt 5:16). His teachings were gracious words and people marveled at His teaching. Jesus was mighty in deeds and words. His teaching and works were always in perfect balance (Luke 4:22; 24:19). His robe should not be rent or disrespected. It would result in death (Ex 28:35; Matt 26:65). The Word of God makes us wise unto salvation. It is given for our spiritual growth (2 Tim 3:15-17).
The Turban: Ex 28:36-39.
Upon the forehead of the high priest attached a turban or hat. The turban of the high pries's garment was made of linen. This speaks Christ’s purity, wisdom and eternal existence (Rev 1:14). A plate of pure gold, engraved with the words “Holiness to the Lord” was fastened in front of the turban with a lace of blue. As the representative of Israel he bore their guilt when presented their gifts to the Lord. God saw the plate of gold with its inscription and accepted Israel's sacrifices. Likewise our high priest declares His worth on our behalf when He presents our worship and prayer to God. We are unworthy to come to God on our own merits. (Job 15:15: Zechariah 3:1-3). Now believers are accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6). Christ sanctifies us before God by His blood (John 17:17-19). He is our great high priest. We are exhorted to offer the sacrifice of praise to God through Christ (Heb 13:15).
The Undergarment of fine Linen: Ex 28:42, 43; Leviticus 16:4.
In Exodus 28:42, Moses was instructed to make linen undergarments for the priest to cover their nakedness. Since God is holy, the priests should approach Him with dignity and honor. Otherwise it would bring judgment on them (Ex 28:35). When believers come to worship the Lord they would show dignity and reverence to God. This would also increase people’s appreciation for the Lord and to our gatherings. On the great day of atonement, Aaron first bathed himself with water then was to put on the holy linen garments (Leviticus 16:4). This speaks of the "washing of regeneration" and covering of righteousness (Titus 3:5; 1 Cor 1:30). This was to show his servant status before the Lord. Then a young bull was offered as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering for him and his family. They were consecrated for the ministry by Moses. Aaron is a type of Christ as our mediator who consecrated himself on our behalf. All believers are sanctified by Christ to serve God (John 17:17-19). We are exhorted to present our bodies a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1, 2). Jesus has become our eternal High Priest according the order of Melchizedek. Praise be to God!