In Exodus 25-27 we see how God goes out to sinful man.
In Exodus 30 we see how sinful man can approach God.
In Exodus 28-29 we see the way in which man can approach God, and that is only by the priest.
1 Who Minister as a Priest
1 “Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me—Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
Not everyone should approach just like that. God Himself chooses which of the people may do so (Heb 5:4). Everything must meet God’s demands. Only the priest may approach. Not all the people are priests, although God has said: “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests” (Exo 19:6).
There is a clear application to Christianity. Not that in Christianity there is a category of people who have been specially called by God as priests. That is one of the serious errors of the roman-catholic church. For the believers of the church there is a general priesthood, they are “a holy priesthood” (1Pet 2:5). The application is that only those who actually approach God exercise this priesthood. Many believers do not make use of this privilege. Unfortunately, they often do not know this privilege, often because of wrong teaching.
2 - 5 Aaron’s Garments
2 You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me. 5 They shall take the gold and the blue and the purple and the scarlet [material] and the fine linen.
Aaron’s garments serve to give “glory and … beauty””. The is quoted in Hebrews 2 in application to the Lord Jesus (Heb 2:9). By this we see that Aaron is a picture of the Lord Jesus as High Priest.
The garments consist of six parts: “A breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash”. The material and colors are the same as those from which the tabernacle is made. This closely links Aaron’s priestly service to the service in the sanctuary, God’s dwelling place.
The garments must be made by all the skillful persons or all who are wise of heart. For us, the garments express who the person is. As said, Aaron as high priest is a picture of the Lord Jesus. In Aaron’s garments we see the glories of the Lord Jesus reflected. If we are wise of heart, we will discover more and more glory in Him.
6 - 14 The Ephod
6 “They shall also make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple [and] scarlet [material] and fine twisted linen, the work of the skillful workman. 7 It shall have two shoulder pieces joined to its two ends, that it may be joined. 8 The skillfully woven band, which is on it, shall be like its workmanship, of the same material: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet [material] and fine twisted 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, according to their birth. 11 As a jeweler engraves a signet, you shall engrave the two stones according to the names of the sons of Israel; you shall set them in filigree [settings] of gold. 12 You shall put the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, [as] stones of memorial for the sons of Israel, and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for a memorial. 13 You shall make filigree [settings] of gold, 14 and two chains of pure gold; you shall make them of twisted cordage work, and you shall put the corded chains on the filigree [settings].
The first garment described is “the ephod”. This dress is the most characteristic feature for the high priest. By means of a band, made of the same material as the ephod, the ephod is fastened. On each of the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod comes a precious stone. On one stone are, in order of birth, the names of the oldest six sons of Israel; on the other stone, also in that order, are the names of the youngest six sons.
The colors speak of the different glories of the Lord Jesus, as seen in the four Gospels. The band shows the same delicacies (colors). The band speaks of service (cf. Lk 12:37).
In the stones on the shoulders of the high priest we see in the picture how the Lord Jesus carries all God’s people, all God’s children, all those born of God, on His shoulders to bring them into remembrance before God. His power, of which the shoulders speak, supports us in our journey through the wilderness. God sees all His own united with His Son. The Lord Jesus represents His people to God.
Christ carries His own on His shoulders. He also carries the lost and found sheep on His shoulders, plural (Lk 15:5). He carries the dominion of creation on His shoulder, singular (Isa 9:5). One shoulder is enough for Him to carry the creation, while He uses both His shoulders to carry His own.
15 - 30 The Breastpiece
15 “You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, the work of a skillful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet [material] and fine twisted linen you shall make it. 16 It shall be square [and] folded double, a span in length and a span in width. 17 You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row [shall be] a row of ruby, topaz and emerald; 18 and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree. 21 The stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel: twelve, according to their names; they shall be [like] the engravings of a seal, each according to his name for the twelve tribes. 22 You shall make on the breastpiece chains of twisted cordage work in pure gold. 23 You shall make on the breastpiece two rings of gold, and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breastpiece. 24 You shall put the two cords of gold on the two rings at the ends of the breastpiece. 25 You shall put the [other] two ends of the two cords on the two filigree [settings], and put them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, at the front of it. 26 You shall make two rings of gold and shall place them on the two ends of the breastpiece, on the edge of it, which is toward the inner side of the ephod. 27 You shall make two rings of gold and put them on the bottom of the two shoulder pieces of the ephod, on the front of it close to the place where it is joined, above the skillfully woven band of the ephod. 28 They shall bind the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a blue cord, so that it will be on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece will not come loose from the ephod. 29 Aaron shall carry the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment over his heart when he enters the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. 30 You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.
On the ephod “a breastpiece” is visible. On this breastpiece are four rows of three precious stones placed and inlaid in gold, in total twelve stones. Each stone represents a tribe. Aaron must carry them on his heart and thus bring the whole people in memory before God. The breastpiece must be inextricably linked to the ephod with gold chains and rings. The Urim and Thummim must be placed in the breastpiece. By this God will make His decision clear to questions of His people.
The breastpiece is placed on the heart of Aaron. The heart is the place of love. On the shoulder stones are the names of two groups of six tribes. That places more emphasis on the whole people of God. On the breastpiece there is a place for each tribe separately. Thus each individual believer has his own place in the heart of the Lord Jesus.
Every believer is a unique precious stone with its own glory and shine. It speaks of the preciousness that every believer has for the heart of the Lord Jesus: ““Since you are precious in My sight, [Since] you are honored and I love you” (Isa 43:4a). He also knows each of his own by name, which also means that they are his property: “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine!” (Isa 43:1b).
We can also apply a tribe to a local church. In the New Testament letters, we see that each local church has its own shine for the Lord Jesus. The heart of the Lord Jesus desires that it is made visible. That is why the letter addressed to each local church speaks about what prevents this shine.
The breastpiece also contains the Urim and Thummim. With personal and common problems we can turn to the Lord Jesus. The decision which He brings forward comes from His heart. If we think about that, it will make us accept the decisions that we think are unpleasant as proof of his love.
31 - 35 The Robe
31 “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 There shall be an opening at its top in the middle of it; around its opening there shall be a binding of woven work, like the opening of a coat of mail, so that it will not be torn. 33 You shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet [material], all around on its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around on the hem of the robe. 35 It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the LORD, so that he will not die.
The “robe” is completely blue, the color of the sky. The Lord Jesus is the Man from heaven (1Cor 15:47). The opening at its top is made so that it cannot tear. This indicates that nothing can undo the high-priestly work. The Lord Jesus is High Priest “according to the power of an indestructible life”; He “holds His priesthood permanently” (Heb 7:16,24).
He exercises His high-priesthood in heaven. The results are being felt on earth. We see that in the hem of the garment. At the hem are a golden bell and a pomegranate. A Divine testimony is given (bell) and there is fruit for God (pomegranate). The sound is heard when entering the sanctuary. After the Lord Jesus entered heaven, the Holy Spirit came to earth to testify and form the church. The coming of the Holy Spirit has been accompanied by “a noise like a violent rushing wind” (Acts 2:2).
If the Lord Jesus comes out again, it will be for Israel. This too will be accompanied by a noise, for the Holy Spirit will then be poured out over the faithful remnant (Joel 2:28-32).
36 - 39 The Turban with the Plate of Gold
36 “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ 37 You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD. 39 “You shall weave the tunic of checkered work of fine linen, and shall make a turban of fine linen, and you shall make a sash, the work of a weaver.
There is not only weakness in the people, where the people need the strength and love of the high priest. There is also sin. With this in mind, he wears the plate of pure gold on his forehead. The Lord Jesus, as High Priest, ensures that all iniquity that clings to the actions of the people is disposed of before God. He is holy and through and in Him is His people sanctified.
The “tunic” is not visible to the people. We can apply this to the feelings of the Lord Jesus when exercising His high-priesthood. He is not occupied with His people as standing above them, but He is closely involved. He lives through everything together with His people (Isa 63:9).
The “turban” as head covering speaks of submission (1Cor 11:2-16). As a High Priest, the Lord Jesus is submissive to the will of God. The white linen speaks of His perfection as Man. The multicolored sash is reminiscent of His glory in any form of service.
40 - 43 The Garments for the Sons of Aaron
40 “For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics; you shall also make sashes for them, and you shall make caps for them, for glory and for beauty. 41 You shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him; and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests. 42 You shall make for them linen breeches to cover [their] bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs. 43 They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die. It [shall be] a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him.
The garments for Aaron’s sons are more limited than those of the high priest. They are the same as Aaron’s ordinary clothes. But also these clothes give them “glory and … beauty” (verses 2:40). We may appear before God as priests in the same perfection as the Lord Jesus. He is our perfection. Only in Him are we pleasing to God. Without Him, our bare flesh, our nakedness, becomes manifest. Then God cannot maintain us in His presence.
The ordination of Aaron and his sons will be discussed in detail in the next chapter. It is emphasized here that the priestly ministry is held before God. The high priest is “appointed on behalf of”, but it is “in things pertaining to God” (Heb 5:1).