And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons will be consecrated.” (Exodus 29:21, NIV)
How could a detailed description of priestly garments from three and a half millennia ago be of relevance to our troubling situation today? But it is!
The Lord God had just rescued Israel from Egypt, and a whole chapter – Exodus 28 – is given to the garments that were to be made for the High Priest to wear. (To grasp the details, I found it helpful to look up a picture of the garments (lots online) and listen to David Suchet reading the passage on the NIV Bible app.)
With these in hand, listen to the wonderful significance of three details:
1. The high priest had the names of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved on gold plates on his shoulders. He was carrying them into God’s presence, as he went into the Tabernacle.
The book of Hebrews (chapters 7-10) tells us that Jesus is our high priest – who entered the heavenly presence of God for us, to open up the way to God for all who are His. He carries us on His shoulders to the throne of grace. At this time of crisis and uncertainty, those who have trusted Jesus can be sure of access to God the Father through Jesus.
2. The high priest also had the names of the twelve tribes written on twelve stones over his heart. It is not fanciful to say we are on our Saviour’s heart. We know that whatever He has for each of us, His intentions for us are good. He is truly working for our good in all things. He always lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).
3. The most surprising detail concerns what happened to these clothes. After weeks of careful weaving, and the inclusion of gold and precious stones, the first thing the high priest had to do after putting all this on was to have blood sprinkled on it! In normal circumstances we’d have been rushing to the cleaners! But it was God’s plan that the high priest – who wore clothes representing the glory of God – should be consecrated (fitted for the job) by having blood chucked on his robes.
In its original setting this symbolised that the priest himself needed to be cleansed by the sacrificial blood. But surely this is one of several places in the book of Exodus that looks ahead to Christ. For our Great High Priest comes to us with all the glory of God, yet soaked with blood – His own blood, shed for us on the cross. A man whose glory far outshone those Exodus garments, but who also was sprinkled with blood, for our sakes.
Could we possibly doubt His love for those who are His? Remember this today!
This Good Friday, have this song ringing in your ears:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great high priest, whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.