Cover to Cover
Reading: Exodus 28:1-30:16
Focus: Exodus 28:1-30
In life, there are those who represent us at a corporate, government, and international level. We have managers, politicians, ambassadors who represent our cause (whether you agree with them or not); they promote and defend our cause and rights at the various levels in life. Yet, however, we rarely appreciate or recognise the work that they do for us.
Likewise, in the lives of the Israelites, there was one who represented the cause and plight of the people before God. Beginning with the line of Aaron, the priests were anointed and ordained for the cause of the Israelites, to offer prayers and sacrifices before God. Just as we have uniforms to mark particular professions (police, ambulance, doctors, etc.), the priests were adorned with clothing that would give him dignity and honour.
In the description of the priests’ garments, the ephod, and the breastpiece, the turban, there are details which make the priestly role all the more significant. The ephod was adorned with two onyx stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel (28:9), this was so that Aaron would bear the names of Israel upon his shoulders (28:12). The breastpiece was adorned with 12 gems, each one engraved with each of the tribes of Israel (28:17-21), this was so that Aaron would bear the names of Israel over his heart for making decisions (28:29-30); this was furthered by the inclusion of the Urim and Thummim, known to represent the practice of the prophets in seeking guidance from God. The turban was also adorned with a plate, engraved “Holy to the LORD” (28:36), this was to represent Aaron’s intercession and representation of the Israelites before God.
Just as the Temple found fulfilment in the person of Jesus, so does the priestly garments. As each element of the priestly outfit represented the people of Israel, so does the person of Jesus bear elements which represent the people who call upon God’s name. There are four key elements, all related, which should be highlighted. The lashes from being flogged (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:22; John 19:1); marks of the crown of thorns (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17); the nail marks of crucifixion upon his hands and feet; and the piercing in the side of his body (John 19:34). The flogging and the marks of crucifixion are the punishments which should have been dealt for our sins, and the piercing reflecting his association with humanity in the flesh and in death.
We have before us a perfect high priest able to fulfil every aspect of intercessor and atonement before the throne of God which “let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-5:10) The remainder of the passage contrasts the human priest against Jesus, the perfect high priest—thank God, with Jesus as our representative, we can now approach Him with no fear or restriction. Amen.
Next Reading: Exodus 30:17-33:23