As we saw last week, the High priest in the Old Testament was a shadow of Jesus, the Great High Priest who was to follow.
This week we will see that even the clothes that the High priest wore had aspects and shadows of the life and ministry of Jesus.
The garments were designed and skilfully put together under God’s specific instructions as described in Exodus 28 and other passages.
They remind me a lot of the ‘Armour of God’ as set out in Ephesians 6 especially as each piece represents a different quality.
The garments were also to “consecrate the priests” Exodus 28 3. Here is a real application of the saying “it is clothes that make a man”. Neither Aaron nor his sons would dare to appear before God in their own clothes which in God’s sight would be as filthy rags. The only things he could receive them in were His own designed clothing. In the same way we can only appear before God clothed in the garments of Salvation which Jesus has provided for us.
Let’s have a look at each piece in turn;
You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work. In the style of the ephod you shall make it of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen shall you make it. (Exodus 28:15)
The breastplate is a shadow of Jesus representing us before God. It contained twelve precious stones, four rows of three in a row, which represented the twelve tribes of Israel (all God’s chosen people).
There shall be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They shall be like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes (Exodus 28:21)
So the High Priest carried the names of God’s people on his heart when he went into God’s presence to intercede for them. This of course typifies Jesus Christ our Great High Priest bearing our names before the Father.
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. (Hebrews 9:24).
The Urim and Thummim of the high priest typify the guidance we receive from Jesus through the Holy Spirit
And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly. (Exodus 28:30).
The word Urim means “light,” and the word Thummim means “perfection.” These were a part of the breastplate and were the means of determining God’s will.
By following Jesus; praying, reading His word etc, we find out what God’s will is for our lives.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).
This guidance is received through the work of The Holy Spirit.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13).
The ephod, or outer garment, of the high priest typifies Jesus’s qualifications for being our Priest.
He made the ephod of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. And they hammered out gold leaf, and he cut it into threads to work into the blue and purple and the scarlet yarns, and into the fine twined linen, in skilled design. (Exodus 39:2, 3).
The fine twined linen, picturing Jesus’s holiness, was the first essential of His high Priesthood. As we have seen before, the various colours have significance in their symbolism;
The gold pictures His divine glory; the blue, His deity; the purple, His royalty; and the scarlet, His humanity and death.
The ephod had two shoulder pieces or straps which joined the front and back parts together. There was an onyx stone on each shoulder piece, and on each stone was engraved the names of six of the tribes of Israel. The names of the tribes were therefore carried on the shoulders of the high priest when he went into the presence of God in the Holy of Holies. This is a shadow of believers today being carried on the shoulders of Jesus Christ our great high priest, who is the one responsible for our salvation. Shoulders symbolise power and responsibility.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:6)
Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)
The robe of the ephod of the high priest is a shadow of Christ interceding for us.
You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. (Exodus 28:31).
It was worn between the coat and ephod. The material was of blue, with a hole at the top for the head, like a jumper. Around the lower hem were balls of blue, purple, scarlet—shaped like pomegranates —and also there were small golden bells. The pomegranates typified fruit, and the bells typified testimony. The bells were to let the people know that the High priest was still alive when he entered the Holy of Holies and that his offering was accepted.
Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know His sacrifice has been accepted. He now stands before the father and represents and prays for us.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25).
The embroidered coat or inner garment of the high priest represents the inner life of Jesus, which was pleasing to God.
You shall weave the coat in checker work of fine linen (Exodus 28:39).
This garment was made of fine linen woven in checker work. It was the first garment to be put on so served as an undershirt. The fine white linen typifies the righteousness of Christ. The checker work, which was well pleasing to the eye, indicated that the inner as well as the outer life of Christ was well pleasing in God’s sight.
Jesus said: And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him. (John 8:29).
The turban typifies the holiness of Jesus as our Great high Priest.
You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. (Exodus 28:36-38).
This was a headband wound around the head. It had the words engraved “Holy to the Lord” This symbolises the holiness of Jesus in representing believers. His holiness becomes ours, “that they may be accepted before the Lord.” Without the holiness of Jesus we would not be able to enter into the presence of God.
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. (Hebrews 7:26).
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. (Exodus 28:8).
This girdle was made of the same material and of the same piece as the ephod.
In biblical times, the sash symbolised a readiness for service. Jesus was the majestic king who became a servant. He delights to serve us and do all he can for us. He typified this by serving His disciples and washing their feet on the same night he was to be betrayed;
He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:4-5).