Exodus 28: Priestly Garments

“Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments, to consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest. And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. So they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister to Me as priest.

-          The first priests were established through the line of Aaron. Aaron serving as the High Priest and his four son’s under him. Notice that it says (twice), “that he may minister to Me as priest.” God was not only providing a tabernacle for the people, He was providing the means by which to maintain it. How many times in your life has the Lord given you something, and then instead of relying upon Him for the maintenance of it, you tried to do the upkeep by ways of the flesh?

-          I think it is awesome how God had gifted artisans “filled with the spirit of wisdom.” James 1:5 tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask God because He gives liberally. I could use a continual dose of wisdom, couldn’t you? Ask him today to fill you with the spirit of wisdom.

“They shall take the gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and the fine linen, and they shall make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, artistically worked. It shall have two shoulder straps joined at its two edges, and so it shall be joined together. And the intricately woven band of the ephod, which is on it, shall be of the same workmanship, made of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen.

“Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: 10 six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall set them in settings of gold. 12 And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial. 13 You shall also make settings of gold, 14 and you shall make two chains of pure gold like braided cords, and fasten the braided chains to the settings.

-          The details of everything God has provided up until this point are so meticulous. The color of thread, how to join the material, and the intricacy of design. I love how I serve a God of details! If He was concerned with the particulars of a robe – an outward garment – how much more He is concerned with our heart.

-          The ephod is the first garment described. It was the outermost piece of clothing the priest wore. It was a short coat, without sleeves, and had a great deal of gold woven in it. The shoulder pieces were buttoned together with two precious stones set in gold, one on each shoulder, with the names of the children of Israel engraved on them. There was a girdle made also, of the same type of material. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

-          Linen ephods were worn by other priests (like Samuel), but only the golden ephod was worn by the High Priest. Revelation 1:13 says, “and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.” Jesus wears the golden ephod! In John 13:4, Jesus rises, girds himself with a towel, and washes His disciples feet. In Luke 12:35, He says to let our loins be girded (meaning, ready to serve!) and our lamps burning (fully of the Holy Spirit and shining His Light!). Wow. What spiritual garment are you wearing today? Are you clothed to serve and ready to shine for His glory? Do you have the garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3) about you? Just as we choose what we’re going to wear each day, so we choose who we will represent. Here’s to wearing godly clothing!

15 “You shall make the breastplate of judgment. Artistically woven according to the workmanship of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, you shall make it. 16 It shall be doubled into a square: a span shall be its length, and a span shall be its width.17 And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; 18 the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings. 21 And the stones shall have the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, each one with its own name; they shall be according to the twelve tribes.

-          The breastplate was the chief and most costly of the garments (Pink). It was a little over 10 inches wide and had precious stones set in it with the names of each tribe of Israel. This signified that God’s people were not only costly to Him, but also engraved on His heart.

-          Notice that in verse 15 it is called a “breastplate of judgment.” It was to remind the High Priest that he was to be just in his judgment toward the people of Israel. Interestingly enough, in Ephesians 6 where it talks about the armor of God, the word is “breastplate of righteousness.” Why is that same “breastplate of judgment” term not used in Ephesians? We can find that answer in Isaiah 59:17, which speaks of our Lord: “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon His head.” Christ is our righteousness because He was the once-and-for-all atoning sacrifice for our sins. The armor we are called to “put on” today is righteous armor because we no longer need an earthly, High Priest judge. Christ has become that for us.

22 “You shall make chains for the breastplate at the end, like braided cords of pure gold. 23 And you shall make two rings of gold for the breastplate, and put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate. 24 Then you shall put the two braided chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate; 25 and the other two ends of the two braided chains you shall fasten to the two settings, and put them on the shoulder straps of the ephod in the front.

26 “You shall make two rings of gold, and put them on the two ends of the breastplate, on the edge of it, which is on the inner side of the ephod. 27 And two other rings of gold you shall make, and put them on the two shoulder straps, underneath the ephod toward its front, right at the seam above the intricately woven band of the ephod. 28 They shall bind the breastplate by means of its rings to the rings of the ephod, using a blue cord, so that it is above the intricately woven band of the ephod, and so that the breastplate does not come loose from the ephod.

-          Outside of the message of redemption, the other continuing theme in Exodus is this: unity. Again, these verses speak of how the garments are connected. The breastplate was inseparably linked to the ephod (see verse 28: “…the breastplate does not come loose from the ephod”). Braided chains, gold rings, the shoulder straps – all were designed to help fasten and secure the garments together.

29 “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually. 30 And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually.

-          The Urim and Thummim are one of those mysteries of the Bible. God conceals and reveals certain things, as the Urim and Thummim are one of those items we simply don’t have a full understanding of right now. Psalm 19:13 says to “Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins.” So, I’m not going to even touch this one other than giving you other instances in the Bible when it was used:

  • Numbers 27:21, “And he shall stand before Eleazar the priests, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in…”
  • Samuel 28:6, “And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.”
    • From these verses, it seems as though the Urim, in certain instances, would convey the mind of the Lord. But, we’ll just leave the uncertainty as an uncertainty and meditate on the fact that in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul talks of how we have spiritual wisdom because of the Holy Spirit at work within us! We have the mind if Christ!

31 “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 There shall be an opening for his head in the middle of it; it shall have a woven binding all around its opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it does not tear. 33 And upon its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, all around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around. 35 And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord and when he comes out, that he may not die.

-          The intricacy involved in the garments is so amazing. This is the first time the word “robe” is found in scripture. We talked in Exodus 27 of the clothing that you chose to wear each day and how that is similar to what we “put on” as Christians. Do we wear the garment of praise? Do you wear a spiritual robe, such as this? One that makes noise and tells of the wonders of Christ as you walk to your job, your school, or to the grocery store. Can people “hear” you coming and know when they look at you that you serve Christ.

36 “You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet:

HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

37 And you shall put it on a blue cord, that it may be on the turban; it shall be on the front of the turban. 38 So it shall be on Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.

-          It’s really hard to miss a big sign on someone’s forehead, isn’t it? Think about it this way: if a foreigner saw a High Priest (not knowing what one was), they would first realize that this was a person of royalty, given the glorious garments they were wearing. But if they looked them in the eye, they couldn’t miss the big gold plate on their head that is stamped: HOLINESS TO THE LORD. That probably would’ve been a dead give-away that this wasn’t just someone of royal descent, but a representative of a deity. Friends, when you choose to follow Christ, He puts the “sign” on your forehead (see 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 where it talks of us being sealed, like with a signature ring). You are His! Sometimes though, through poor choices, we choose to take the sign off our forehead and we stick it in our pocket. Or, maybe we let it get a little mud smeared on it. But does it change the fact that the Lord has given us the sign to wear? Nope. The decisions we make don’t change the fact that we are His, but it does change that fact that people can tell we are His. Bottom line: Where’s your sign today and what does it look like?

39 “You shall skillfully weave the tunic of fine linen thread, you shall make the turban of fine linen, and you shall make the sash of woven work.

40 “For Aaron’s sons you shall make tunics, and you shall make sashes for them. And you shall make hats for them, for glory and beauty. 41 So you shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him. You shall anoint them, consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister to Me as priests. 42 And you shall make for them linen trousers to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs. 43 They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they come into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place, that they do not incur iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his descendants after him.

-          All of the garments were for the “glory and beauty” of the Lord. By the time Jesus came on the scene, the priesthood was corrupt and a far cry from the original establishment. Think about how Jesus felt when He heard that jingling of a priest coming and saw the gold plate with “Holiness to the Lord” engraved on it. It brings about perspective as to why Jesus said in Matthew 12 to the Pharisees, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” These Pharisees, who were to be representatives of Christ, were a far cry from His original plan. Praise God that He sent Christ Jesus to be the perfect High Priest! Today, be sure the glory and beauty you bestow is for the Lord. Remember who your High Priest is! Amen.

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2 Responses to Exodus 28: Priestly Garments

  1. Angela says:

    I love that the priest bore the people symbolically on his shoulders and over his heart…today at school, as part of his “royal priesthood,” I’m praying to happily bear my kids on my shoulders and over my heart and intercede in prayer on their behalf!

  2. lindsaysueq says:

    So many good, heart-pricking nuggets!

    “How many times in your life has the Lord given you something, and then instead of relying upon Him for the maintenance of it, you tried to do the upkeep by ways of the flesh?”

    I’ve really been dealing with Spirit vs. Flesh and Grace vs. Legalism. Real, not “cheap” grace is something I’ve never really learned until here recently and it’s kind of a culture shock. My natural response is to do, do, do and have God base my life on my performance but it’s very humbling and freeing to know that through his grace, I don’t have to rely on my flesh. All I need to do is rest in His grace and His Spirit!

    Amen, sister! Needed this. Thanking God for you :)

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