And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. — Exodus 28:2
My five-year-old grandson has quite an imagination, and one of his interests at the moment is discussing the job he will do when he grows up. Since two houses are under construction just across the street from his home, his intention (this week at least!) is to be a builder. Recently I came across a book entitled Jobs People Do that I think will expand his horizons when it comes to potential occupations. Each page shows children dressed in clothes representative of various professions, giving a cheerful introduction to the world of work. Firemen, policemen, mailmen, nurses — and yes, builders — are all pictured. However, I don’t think my grandson has explored the possibility of becoming a diver, a baker, a pilot, or a surgeon. Seeing the attire for those occupations will likely catch his attention. Who knows? They may even start him on a whole new career path!
Not every occupation requires a certain type of clothing, but in today’s text, we learn of one occupation for which the attire was ordained by God himself. In our focus verse, God told Moses to make “holy garments” (special clothing) for Aaron to wear as he ministered in the office of the high priest. God carefully spelled out the details of these garments, which included an ephod, breastplate, robe, and turban. They had to be constructed exactly according to His instructions. Aaron’s clothing distinguished him and his role as priest from the rest of the people, and was a visual indicator of the job assigned to him. It reflected his special calling.
As God’s children, we have a special calling from Him. What distinguishes us from individuals in the world around us? It probably will not be our physical clothing (though what we wear should be in keeping with the principles of modesty and appropriateness outlined in His Word). But there is some special “attire” for Christians — Scripture tells us that we can be clothed with the garments of salvation and covered with the robe of righteousness. These garments are designed to indicate the glory and beauty of His holiness.
Like Aaron of old, let us put on the special garments designed for us and wear them to the honor and glory of the Great Designer!
This chapter concerns the priests’ apparel, and closes with the priests’ anointing. God chose Aaron and his sons to minister in the priesthood; they did nothing to earn or deserve this position.
One of the requirements for serving God in this role was the wearing of priestly garments. Those who ministered in the priesthood — the high priests, priests, and the Levities — were to be attired in specific clothing when they performed their appointed services in the worship ceremonies. The costly, specially designed garments mentioned in this chapter are described again in Leviticus 8:7-9.
The ephod was a sleeveless outer garment of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, held together by an onyx stone clasp on each shoulder. The names of the tribes of Israel were engraved on the stones (six names on each) according to their birth order. The breastplate, which was affixed securely to the ephod, was a piece of beautifully embroidered fabric, nine inches square when folded in half. On the breastplate were twelve gems, each stone representing one of the tribes of Israel. Thus, whenever the priest wore this ceremonial robe, he carried his people before the Lord.
The high priest’s robe had golden bells and pomegranates (signifying fruitfulness) alternating along its hem. Without these, any priest who entered into the Holy Place would die.
The mitre (a headpiece or turban) of the high priest was engraved with the words “Holiness to the Lord.” This was a constant reminder of the priest’s acceptance before God and of his holy ministry on behalf of the people.
Before Aaron and his sons could perform their duties in the worship ceremonies, Moses was instructed to anoint and consecrate them. This ceremony took place at the door of the Tabernacle. They were washed with water (indicative of cleansing) and outfitted in the new priestly attire. They were anointed with oil, which represented the Holy Spirit. A sin offering was made; then a second ram was slain and its blood applied to the ear, thumb, and toe of Aaron and his sons, as a token reminder that they must listen to God’s Word, do God’s work, and walk in God’s way.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
V. The construction of the Tabernacle
B. The instructions for the building
13. The priests
a. Their family (28:1)
b. Their dress (28:2-43)
(1) Summary (28:2-5)
(2) The ephod (28:6-14)
(3) The breastplate (28:15-30)
(4) The robe of the ephod (28:31-35)
(5) The turban (28:36-38)
(6) The other garments (28:39-43)
Let us be sure that we are robed in righteousness, because that is what will distinguish us as followers of Christ!