“Serving God and Man”
II.) Vs. 1-4 Dressed for the occasion
III.) Vs. 5-39 Fitted for service
IV.) Vs. 40-43 Everyday clothes
Examining the uniforms of the soldiers of both the Continentals and British wore reveals the style of the warfare at that time did as clearly both armies were not trying to blend into their surroundings as they didn’t ware camouflage. Can you imagine today’s armies warring bright red uniforms to do battle? Prior to Desert Storm the U.S. Army had to redesign their uniforms to match the desert terrain instead of European or Asian.
My Point? What a person wares ought to match their terrain! There are many people who work at jobs that the clothing they ware is designed to fit the job they perform. Here God gives Moses the specific design for the uniforms that the priest, as well as the High Priest, will ware before Him. And just like the furniture in the sanctuary represents Jesus so to will what the Priests are clothed in. When you get right down to it all our Christian experience is about worship. We even describe our Sunday mourning time as a “worship service”. But worship is what we are to do every minute of every day one person put it this way. “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the Holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.” These priestly garments then were to establish a life style of worship!
II.) Vs. 1-4 Dressed for the occasion
In Exodus we have seen God’s design for the sanctuary, now we take an interesting break from this as God shows Moses the clothing and consecration of the Priests. This chapter and the next (28-29) depart from the logical progression of the furniture in the sanctuary. The last two pieces of furniture to be described are the bronze laver and the altar of incense (both described in Chp. 30). Why does God stop the logical progression?
God has been giving Moses a view of the tabernacle from inside out. Everything has been pointing to God coming to man so they have all dealt with the person and work of Christ. Now the last two pieces have to do with us coming to God. The altar of incense deals with prayer while the bronze laver was where the priests washed before going into the Holy of Holies thus it speaks of being without spot or blemish. In these two chapters the focus is man coming to God. How can sinful man come to a holy God? GRACE! Scripture tells us in Isa. 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” Not only does God provide the means for salvation, “the death of the Lamb of God”, He provides the approach as well. Have you ever wanted to get some where? You have a place to stay when you get there but you can not get there? I want to come into the presence of God and He has provided a way for me to do so but more than that he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and has covered me with the robe of righteousness”
Vs. 1 We see whom it was that God was preparing to enter into His presence, Aaron and his four sons. Remember that Nadab (nay-dab) and Abihu (a-by-hu) are going to die during the 40 years of wondering for trying to worship God on their terms. So to will Aaron which will leave the two younger boys Eleazar (el-e-a-zar) and Iythamar (ith-a-mar). Of these two Eleazar (el-e-a-zar) and his descendants will become the High Priests and his younger brother Iythamar (ith-a-mar) and his descendants, we are told 38:21, will be in charge of taking care of the structure of the tabernacle.
Only these four and their descendants were allowed into the sanctuary, other then the Levites this was it! Oh how thankful we can be now that all can enter into the presence of the Lord. With that said I want you to notice some thing about this Aaronic priesthood. The priesthood was not earned by merit neither was it something that you could get by way of degree. No, it could only be obtained through birthright. You had to be born into a priestly family. What this did was make sure that those that were priests had no room for ambition or self-glory for they were called into the priesthood by way of heritage. Hey folks nothing has changed for you or I today. 1 Peter 2:5 says that you and I are “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” That means that we have inherited this from new birth in Jesus Christ. That is what Paul reminds the Corinthians of in 1 Corin. 4:7 when he declares, “what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” There ought to be no boasting now for you or I about our service to the Lord for we have obtained it through a birthright!
Vs. 2 Here Moses is told to make special clothing for Aaron, as he will become the High Priest. We don’t have to wonder about the reason for the special clothing for God tells Moses the reason, “for glory and beauty”. This can also be rendered, “dignity and honor”. In the next verse we are told that the purpose of the priests was to serve the Lord and later on in the description of the clothing we realize that the priest was to serve the people. But serving was NOT to be ugly or dull. It is glorious and beautiful full of dignity and honor. It was heavenly so the garments ought to reflect this fact. To go through this chapter is to appreciate the beauty and color on the clothing of the High Priest. I mean these guys were warring bright clothes, makes you wonder where those religious folks got the idea that black stood for glory and beauty in clothing?
Vs. 3 In chapter 39 we are told the name of the two head craftsmen Bezalael (bez-a-lel) and his helper Oholiab (oh-o-lee-ab). God says that He has not only gifted these men but He has filled them with the spirit of wisdom. Further more we are told that the garments they are to make are to sanctify Aaron that he may serve the Lord. These cloths set Aaron apart for the work of serving the Lord. Four times in this chapter God tells Moses that the purpose of the priest was to serve the Lord. There is some real practical stuff here on servant-hood!
- Giftedness: When God calls people He gifts them to what He has called them.
- Filled with the Spirit: When He gifts them He also fills them with the Spirit so that they will be lead by the Spirit of wisdom.
- Sanctified: When they are filled with the Spirit of wisdom they are set apart for service.
- Minister to the Lord: Lastly all that are gifted, filled with the Spirit of wisdom and set apart for service need to realize that their primary service is a relationship to the living God. All of ministering to others comes from me sitting at the feet of the Lord!
When Jesus restored Peter He did not ask him if Peter loved the ministry neither did He ask Peter if he loved the people. No, He asked, “Do you love me!” Peter’s failure is that we love what we do for the Lord more then what He has done for us! Ministry flows out of our relationship with Jesus.
Vs. 4 There are three sets of clothes worn by the priests:
- Clothes worn only by the High Priest.
- Ordinary clothes worn by priests during the time they served in the tabernacle.
- Special clothes worn by the High Priest during 10th day of the Jewish 7th month, which would be our September, October, which is Yom Kippur or the day of atonement. These clothes could only be worn once and then they were to be set aside and stored never to be worn again.
In this section we are only going to be looking at two sets.
1.) From verse 5-39 we are given the High Priests garments. In verse four God gives Moses 6 items of clothing then in verse 30 God tells Moses to add another piece to it. So there are seven pieces to the High Priests out fit. But he also wore the linen trousers of verse 42 along with the ordinary priests. His clothes could never be destroyed or torn at all. In fact, we read in Lev. 21:10 that the High Priest “shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes.” If they did he became of no use in service at the temple. This is an interesting fact in light of what we read in Matt. 26:65. This was at the trial Jesus right after He said, “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes! God allowed this to show that the Aaronic priest-hood was of no further use.
- The ordinary priest’s clothes are given in verse 40-43. If their clothes became dirty they could not be washed but instead were torn into small pieces and became the wicks on the golden lampstand. They could not be cleaned they were instead to be used to brighten a room. Folks, that is what we are! We ware the righteousness of Christ and we can not clean up His righteousness, no we are to allow it to burn the brightness of His glory!
III.) Vs. 5-39 Fitted for service
Vs. 5-14 The first thing we notice is that of the material, gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread woven in to fine white linen. The gold was not thread but finely beaten gold kind of like gold wire. This was made out of the best of the material and supplies that they had to offer! Which tells me that we are always to offer the best of what we have to the Lord. What we offer the Lord must never be the leftovers of out time, talent and treasures. Whenever you think of these clothes we are reminded to serve the Lord with the best of what you have not the leftovers!
Vs. 6-14 The ephod (e-fod) was an ornate apron like garment. It came down just below the waste and had a front and a back. They were attached at the shoulders by two straps which had two polished gemstones with the names of the 12 tribes engraved on them six on each shoulder. Verse 12 tells us that Aaron was to bear their names before the Lord. All of this was held together by a solid gold braided chain. Whenever the High Priest wore this he was carrying the people on his shoulder before the Lord. As beautiful as the ephod was the people never saw its beauty. In fact, what was the most precious part of the ephod was the polished jewels on his shoulders baring the names of the 12 tribes. He was not there before the Lord for himself. He was there to bare the most precious things to the Lord, the people! It was the High Priest’s privilege to bare or carry the people before the Lord. That is our responsibility as well to bare each other before the Lord. Man does that not picture Jesus as well as He cares us before the Father! A good leader always carries the people on his shoulders.
Vs. 15-29 The breastplate, also called the breastplate of judgment, was a nine-inch square embroidered fabric like that of the ephod, that was doubled to make a pouch. It was worn over the ephod and over the heart of the High Priest. Fastened in the breastplate were four rows of three engraved stones each with a name of a different tribe of Israel. It was chained to the ephod so that it could never be loosened. The names were chained to the High Priest. In this way the people of God were forever linked to the heart of the High priest.
Each stone was unique and yet each was precious and they were in gold setting so they could never fall out. We are all unique yet of equal value to the Lord. Paul says in Rom that “we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Neither can we be lost nor miss placed.
It was not enough that the priest carried the burdens of the people before the Lord he also carried them over his heart. In other words, he did so in love. We have already seen that the priest had to have a heart for God but he need to have a heart for the people as well. Think of this for a moment linking this together with what we have already noticed in the ephod. God’s power towards us is always linked with His love towards us.
Now in this we see the twofold ministry of all of us, “A heart for God and a heart for people”. I pray that you always carry each other before the Lord that we never forget how precious each other are before God. Ministry must always be cared out from a heart of love towards God and His people.
Vs. 30 Here Moses is told to place two objects in the pouch the Urim (lights) and Thummim (perfection’s). These words were translated into the Greek as manifestation and truth. According to scripture not much is known about these objects but it is thought that they were two stones that were to provide away for determining God’s will. They would ask the High Priest a question and he would then reach into the breastplate of judgment and pull out a stone. Sort of like a yes or no answer. Obviously this is obsolete today as we have the Word of God, but when you consider that most Christian’s use to make decisions, their feelings, these would be superior.
Now the location of these two objects ought to reveal a powerful truth to us seeing that Jesus is our Great High Priest. The will of God for you and I is always near the heart of God. So if you are not sure of the direction God may be leading always draw near to His heart. Remember what Ps. 37:4 says? “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Vs. 31-35 Under the ephod was a seamless blue robe with an opening for the head it came to around the shins. On the hem of the blue robe was alternating embroidered pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and then a gold bell. The fact that it was seamless speaks of integrity. The pomegranate is a fruit that it’s seed floats in liquid. This speaks of the need for us to be fruitful for the Lord. The bells were to be a witness to the other priest’s that the High Priest was still faithfully serving on behalf of the people. A long as they heard the bell’s jingling they knew everything was alright. The idea is that of fruitfulness and faithfulness both of which Jesus was and we are to be as well. Folk’s you can not be fruitful in service unless you are faithful.
Vs. 36-38 Moses was told about the turban, which was a wound headpiece. On the forehead was an engraved plate of pure gold, which said “Holiness to the Lord”. Notice that it was to be placed on the forehead, which speaks of the mind. We are told in 1 Corn. 2:16 that we ought to have “the mind of Christ” and what this speaks to me is that of proper motivation in service, which is always that God would be seen through our actions and life style as Holy. Peter reminds us that we are to “Be holy, for (God) I am holy.” The most important thing we are to be before the Lord is Holy. In fact, if you want to be happy be Holy!
IV.) Vs. 40-43 Everyday clothes
Vs. 40-43 These garments were for the everyday priest’s. They were of fine linen and were also under the blue robe of the High Priest. The main point of these is that they were to cover their nakedness. Being that they were of linen they would have to be quite comfortable. Now what this speaks to me is twofold:
- God does not want our nakedness or flesh in service to Him or His people.
- God does not want us to sweat in the energy of our own strength in our service as well.
The purpose of these clothes was so that we can serve before the Lord and carry His people before Him. I pray that you will find ways to do just that this week.