The High Priest in His Garments of Glory and Beauty (Exodus: 28)
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. Only he is allowed to enter the Most Holy Place once a year (Leviticus 16). First they had to offer sacrifice for their own sins then for the people. These sacrifices were pointing towards the perfect sacrifice of Christ. They offered animals that could not take away their sins but only cover their sins. 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). 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 (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 Holy of holiest once a year on behalf of people. But when Jesus died, the veil was tent from top to bottom thereby opening the way for us to enter heaven permanently. Christ is superior to Aaron. He is able to sympathize with our infirmities because He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Heb 4:15). 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 of the Church age (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).There are six pieces of priestly garments (Ex 28:4). They speak of the glory of Christ.
The Ephod: Ex 28:6-8.
This was a sleeveless upper garment. It was made of blue,Purple, scarlet and fine twine linen. The threads of gold have been worked through it. Gold speaks of heavenly glory. The ephod had two parts, a front and a back piece 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. When high priest entered the holy place the high priest 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. They are secured in His shoulder. No one is able to able to snatch them out of His hand. The good shepherd is able to carry His sheep on His shoulders and bring them home (Luke 15:4-6; John 10:28, 29; Isiah 40:11).
The Breastplate: Ex 28:15-21.
The breastplate was made of the cloth as 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. It was square with 12 precious stone in gold settings mounted in four rows of 3 stones each. 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. He 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 gracious 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.
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. The high priest received enlightenment and perfect knowledge through Urim and Thummim from God (1 Samuel 28:6; 30:7, 8). Today Christ reveals His will through His Word. Christ never leaves us in doubt and He will make our path clear to us in His time (2 Pet 1:3; Psalms 119:105).
The Robe of Ephod: Ex 28:31-35.
Under the ephod the high priest had to wear the blue robe. Blue speaks of the heavenly nature of Christ. Pomegranates made of blue, purple and scarlet were attached to the hem of the 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 also of speak of Christ's teachings. They were gracious words and people marveled at His words. 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 and given for our spiritual maturity (2 Tim 3:15-17).
The Turban: Ex 28:36-39.
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 presenting their gifts to the Lord. Likewise our high priest declares His worth on our behalf when He presents our worship to God. We are unworthy to come to God to pray and worship on our merits. (Job 15:15: Zechariah 3:1-3). Now believers are sanctified and accepted before God through Christ our great high priest (Ephesians 1:6; John 17:17-19). 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). What a great and gracious Savior! (Rom 12:1, 2).