Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The High Priest’s New Clothes Part 2: The Robe and the Golden Plate”
“You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment,[c] so that it may not tear. 33 On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, around its hem, with bells of gold between them, 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. 35 And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he does not die.
Yesterday, I recounted coming across John 5:39 where Jesus asserts that the Old Testament bears witness to Him. Charmed by the notion, I was excited to be assigned to an OT passage so I could spend time learning how the Old Testament does just that. Previously, I discussed a bit of Exodus 28 and the specifications for Aaron’s garments. My conjecture is that the particularity with which the high priest clothes are made hold some significance that point to Jesus Christ. It seemed that way in Part 1—let’s see if it holds while diving into the rest of the priestly garments.
Exodus 28 also details the build of the ceremonial robe and an engraved golden plate that the high priest is to wear when performing his duties (Exod. 28:31-35; 36-38). It is in these descriptions that the idea of bearing guilt is introduced, and repeated in verse 43. The robe, for example, is fitted with a golden bell and a pomegranate. Verse 35 reads, “And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he does not die,” (Exod. 21:35 ESV). The golden plate has the words “Holy to the LORD” engraved on it, and is worn over the turban on Aaron’s forehead because Aaron is to bear the guilt of the holy things that Israel consecrated to God (Exod. 21:38).
Now, what’s going on here? Does God need to hear bells on Aaron’s robes to know he is coming to refrain from smiting him? Certainly not. Verse 43 injects the idea that these garments are to be worn by Aaron (and his sons), to prevent him from personally bearing guilt. In fact, if Aaron attempts to enter the tabernacle to minister without them, he will surely die. So what’s happening? The priestly garments are bearing the guilt for Aaron. It’s not so much that Aaron is awarded this beautiful uniform because he’s good enough to enter the Holy of Holies, rather, Aaron is given the priestly clothes because he is not good enough on his own. Aaron has his own sin to bear, and so the garments are put over him because they represent someone who is: Jesus.
The priestly garments are a physical picture of the coming Jesus. The all-white pieces boast of His purity, the extravagant pieces boast of His beauty and glory, the function of the garments tell of the function of the Son who bears the guilt of creation and the necessity of the garments speak to every person’s need for Jesus to cover their sins. Jesus did it, but despite this many people hurt deeply from constantly dwelling on their shortcomings. Can we rest and rejoice in what Jesus has done for us, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us?
Prayer: Father, we thank You daily for what You have done for us and continue to do. I pray that Your Spirit would minister to us and heal us, not only of the propensity to sin, but of the guilt and shame attached to it. Holy Spirit, it is promised that You would remind us of Jesus’ teachings and work. Please do so constantly, so we may find joy and rest in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Samuel 3
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 John 1:10: He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him;
1 John 2:1-2: My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
Questions to Consider
- What makes John’s statement in 1 John 1:10 particularly challenging?
- Discuss John’s teaching about Jesus in 1 John 2:1.
- While most people are more than happy to acknowledge they’re a sinner, the full weight of that status sometimes escapes them. Many people have a sort of “moral scale” in their minds, placing themselves somewhere between the best and worst people in human history (morally). Since they are somewhere in the middle, they conclude they are a good person. However even IF it’s true, the standard by which we are judged is of whether we have sinned, a test we all admittedly fail. Thus, the necessity and graciousness of Jesus’ work increase to infinitude.
- John establishes Jesus as our Advocate to the Father. It could be argued just as the high priest cannot enter God’s presence in the tabernacle without wearing the garments, neither can a person enter God’s presence without Jesus pleading to the Father on his or her behalf.
Searching for Jesus in the Old Testament is proving to be an enjoyable pastime for me, though I admit I’m a bit of a nerd. I realize while some will share in my newfound interest, others may not and that’s alright. We can all agree where we really need to find Jesus is in our personal lives. Maybe it means waking up a little earlier for prayer, or maybe it means setting aside the phone for a bit and picking up that Bible. Let’s challenge each other as a family in Christ to fix our gaze on Him.