Amid the detailed description of the priests’ clothing, we find the calling of every believer and the supply of all we need in Christ. There are two ways we can try to present ourselves to God.
I. By Holiness
The only way we will avoid God’s judgment is by holiness. Our moral bankruptcy is only highlighted by the garments prescribed for the priest. While the people were not required to dress like the priest, the personal holiness graphically represented by his clothing was required. God called every member of the community to be a priest in terms of personal holiness (Ex. 19:6).
- Shoulders (vv. 1-14): the priest bore on his shoulders the welfare of the people of Israel. He was not only responsible for their right worship, but their relationships with one another, their public health, and their economic needs. To be holy before the Lord requires holistic caring for our neighbors. To love them so selflessly, their burdens become our own.
- Chest (vv. 15-30): No one is quite sure what the Urim and Thummim were. Their description is not as important as their place on the priest’s body. They were to be “on Aaron’s heart” because he bore their “judgment on his heart before the Lord” (29-30). This was not just a job for the priest.
- Robe (vv. 31-35): The image here is that the priest only survives in the presence of God on behalf of others because he is robed in righteousness. To be holy is to sanctify oneself on behalf of others.
- Head (vv. 36-41): The high priest’s turban was distinguished by a gold plate inscribed with the words, “Holy to the Lord.” This plate born on Aaron’s forehead sacramentally reminded him of his grave responsibility to intercede on behalf of his people. To be holy is to bear the cross for our brothers and sisters, especially by interceding for them in prayer.
- Hidden (vv. 42-43): Through the decoration and detail of temple worship, the Lord was teaching his people he is beautifully pure to his core. By requiring the priest to “gird his loins” was to remind the priest and his people they were to be pure not only sexually but in all the secret places of one’s life and heart. To be holy is to have every secret place in one’s life open to the holy eyes of the Lord.
Which of these priestly functions do you most naturally gravitate toward? Which of these was convicting to you?
II. By Christ
These standards for holiness are impossible to attain. We need a Savior who will protect us from God’s judgment and make us legally holy by substituting his righteousness on our behalf. However, we also need him to make us personally holy because “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Christ is our great high priest who not only provides that substitution but makes us priests.
- Shoulders (Luke 15:5): When we reflect on Christ constantly bearing us up ever so tenderly and generously, we will be motivated to bear our neighbor’s burdens. And being carried on
his shoulders, we will have the divine resources to enable us to do it.
- Chest (Revelation 1:13): In Revelation 1:13, John sees Jesus moving in and out among the churches, scrutinizing their motives, and across his chest, his heart, is a golden sash, not just revealing what is true inside, that his heart is as pure as gold, but reflecting outside, before the Lord, that his heart is pure for our sakes.
- Robe (Revelation 19:8-9): The fine linen representing the righteous acts of the saints was given her to wear, this passage says. Admission to the wedding supper of the lamb is not something we gain through our own righteous acts but by receiving the righteous acts Christ performed in our place.
- Head (Colossians 1:18): Our minds are futile in their thinking (Romans 1). We don't think properly about the world, others, or even ourselves. We let other’s estimation of us or our own failures determine our identity rather than thinking accurately about Jesus’ new identification of us. He is our head, which not only means he is our Lord, but he is also our source of life and identity.
- Hidden Place (Hebrew 9:22-25): Finally, we need not only Jesus’ outward covering, we need him to replace the most hidden and shameful parts of our heart with his righteousness. The Bible says our consciences are evil. Every motive of our heart is twisted. Christ, according to Hebrews 10:22, must take out our heart and replace it with his. He must give us a true heart, sprinkled clean that we might worship him.
Which part of the armor of God fulfilled for us in Christ was the best news to you? How did you see the gospel in this passage?
“Aaron’s Drest” by George Herbert
Holiness on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons dressed.
Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest.
Poor priest thus am I dressed.
Only another head
I have, another heart and breast,
another music, making live not dead,
without whom I could have no rest:
In him I am well dressed.
Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me even dead;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in him new dressed.
So holy in my head,
Perfect and light in my dear breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ, (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest)
Come people; Aaron's dressed.