Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The High Priest’s New Clothes Part 1: The Ephod and Breast Plate”
“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. 7 It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. 8 And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. 9 You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, 10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. 11 As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. 12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance. 13 You shall make settings of gold filigree, 14 and two chains of pure gold, twisted like cords; and you shall attach the corded chains to the settings.
and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39) [ESV].
In the first century, to refer to the Scriptures would be to refer to the Old Testament. If the books of the Tanakh (i.e., Law, Prophets, Writings) testify of our Lord, then they ought to be studied and enjoyed with every bit of fervor as the New Testament, right? Thus, studying Exodus 28 was an opportunity to have some fun looking for Jesus in the Old Testament. Here’s some of what I found.
In the latter half of Exodus, God instructs the Israelites to function as His representatives on Earth. This includes protocols for worship and the priesthood, down to the clothing of the high priest (Aaron, brother of Moses). Exodus 28 covers the details of Aaron’s attire, seemingly painting a picture of the coming Jesus in the process. Painstakingly made, the priestly garments are “… for glory and for beauty,” (Exod. 28:2 ESV). Aaron’s coat, undergarments and turban are all white, signifying purity. The ephod is made of gold and woven skillfully with blue, purple and scarlet yarns matching the inside of the tabernacle (Exod. 26). On its shoulder pieces, the ephod has two onyx stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel. The breast piece is made in the style of the ephod, with the same blue, purple and scarlet yarns. On its front, the breast piece contains four rows of stones, each engraved with the name of the sons of Israel (Exod. 28:15-21).
Now, Aaron, as the high priest, is tasked with bearing the tribes of Israel on his shoulders and his heart (Exod. 28:12, 29). Apparently, only once a year Aaron would shed the breast piece and the ephod, and that was on the Day of Atonement. On this day, Aaron was simply to wear the all-white coat, turban and undergarments; this is to say, he was to shed his glorious clothes, and enter the tabernacle dressed humbly and pure.
Interestingly, Jesus is called our High Priest numerous times in the Book of Hebrews. To perform His work of atonement, Jesus entered creation without extravagant garments, temporarily setting aside His glory and standing pure within Himself. However, rather than bearing the weight of just Israel on His shoulders and heart, Jesus bore the weight of all His people when completing His work. Could it be the Aaronic priesthood and its garments were a glimpse of the true High Priest to come? If all of creation speaks to God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:20), then is it possible Jesus can be found in much more of our lives than what we currently perceive? I challenge us all to look, and then worship Him and serve Him.
Prayer: Father, Your Word speaks of Your works and wonders from beginning to end; thank You for leaving us pictures of Your Son to look forward to as we spend time in Scripture. Holy Spirit, as You dwell within us, I pray You would open our eyes wider, giving us daily reminders of the Son, His work and the cost of our atonement. Thank You, for everything. In Christ, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Samuel 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 4:14-16: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of nee
Questions to consider
- What are some differences between Jesus and the Aaronic priests?
- What makes Jesus a better High Priest for us?
- Think about the last time you were comforted and encouraged by our high priest.
- While the Aaronic priests needed priestly attire to outwardly display themselves as God’s priests on Earth, under the garments stood, still, a sinful man. By contrast, Jesus’ outward appearance was humble, being that of a simple carpenter. Jesus carried the necessary glory and purity to serve as God’s Priest on Earth within Himself.
- I think Hebrews 4:15 hits this one on the head: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (ESV). We do not serve a God who arbitrarily makes rules for us to follow and punishes those who cannot keep to them. Rather, our God leads by example, having been tempted in the same way as we are, yet walked among us without sin. What’s more, our God provided Himself as the final sacrifice for His people to draw near to Him.
- Personal response.
Clearly there are parallels between the garments of the Aaronic priesthood and the true High Priest, Jesus. Sometimes people refer to the parts of the Old Testament where specifications of the tabernacle are described, or the Law is given to the people, as the “dry” sections of the Bible because the narrative of the story is somewhat paused. Professor Dave Talley (Talbot) once remarked, “…it seems everyone likes watching the dominoes fall, but not so much watching the dominoes get set up,” while commenting on the Old Testament. I had never thought of it that way. So, if we love Jesus, then we should love the whole Old Testament as well, dry stretches and all, because Christ is all over it.