Friday, December 30, 2022

2022.12.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 28

Read Exodus 28

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom is Moses to take (Exodus 28:1)? From among whom, for what purpose? What is he to make for Aaron (Exodus 28:2)? To whom is he to speak for this (Exodus 28:3)? Who has filled them with what?  To make what? What will these garments do? So that he can do what? What six garments are they to make for him (Exodus 28:4)? Who will get holy garments? So that Aaron can do what? What are they to take in Exodus 28:5? To make what (Exodus 28:6)? In what manner? How will it be joined (Exodus 28:7)? What will be on it (Exodus 28:8)? Made in what way, of what material? What are to be engraved on what (Exodus 28:9)? In what arrangement (Exodus 28:10)? With what work and materials (Exodus 28:11)? What will be engraved upon them? Where do the stones go (Exodus 28:12)? With what accessories of what material (Exodus 28:13-14)? What else must they make (Exodus 28:15)? What is the breastplate called? Of what material and workmanship? In what pattern and signs (Exodus 28:16)? What should be set in it, in what arrangement (Exodus 28:17-20)? What will these stones have on them (Exodus 28:21)? What will the breastplate have at its ends (Exodus 28:22)? Made of what? And what will go in these rings (Exodus 28:23)? Made of what? Where will they put one end of the chains (Exodus 28:24)? And where the other end (Exodus 28:25)? Where do these four rings, for inserting the chains, go (Exodus 28:26-27)? What cord is used to bind the breastplate to the ephod (Exodus 28:28)? What does all of this enable Aaron to do (Exodus 28:29)? When he goes where? As what? Before Whom? When? What shall go inside this breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:30)? So that Aaron may do what? What else are they to make for the ephod (Exodus 28:31)? Of what material? With what primary feature (Exodus 28:32)? How is this opening to be made? Why? What were to be embroidered into the hem of this robe (Exodus 28:33-34)? Out of what materials? Who must wear it when (Exodus 28:35)? So that what will not happen? What are they to make in Exodus 28:36? Out of what? With what engraved upon it? attached by what, to what, on what side (Exodus 28:37)? Where would this put it (Exodus 28:38)? So that Aaron might bear what iniquity? With what result for Israel? What else are they to weave (Exodus 28:39)? Of what material? And what else? Of what sort of work? Who else are to get tunics, sashes, and hats (Exodus 28:40)? With what two features? Who is to put them on whom (Exodus 28:41)? And what two things is Moses to do to them? So that they may do what? What else are they to wear to cover what (Exodus 28:42)? Who must wear them, when they come where (Exodus 28:43)? So that what might not happen? For what duration of the Israelite priesthood?

Why does the Lord command such specific clothing for the priests? Exodus 28 looks forward to the p.m. sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these forty-three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the priestly garments indicated representation before God, return to paradise, and reversal of punishment, showing that God is restoring sinners to fellowship with God.

There is great comfort in the fact that the Lord Who gives us the tasks of our lives also gives us the ability to fulfill those tasks. Aaron and his sons would literally be “outfitted” with reminders that the Lord outfits us as needed. And the makers of the outfits were outfitted by the Spirit for their task (Exodus 28:3). 

There are six items commanded here: the ephod, the breast-piece, the robe, the turban with its plate, the tunic, and the sash. But the bulk of the ink is spent on the construction of the ephod and the breast-piece. The ephod seems to have been an apron type garment, tied behind the shoulders, and facilitating the attachment of the breast-piece. The breast-piece was a sort of ornamental pouch.

Representation before God. The ephod and the breast-piece have in common the emphasis upon the names of the sons of Israel, which will be borne before Yahweh as a memorial (Exodus 28:9-10Exodus 28:12Exodus 28:21, Exodus 28:29). These names would appear on the two onyx stones on the shoulders of the ephod (Exodus 28:12) and on the twelve stones in the four rows on the breast-piece (Exodus 28:17-21). 

As such, this is not clothing only for the High Priest. It is clothing for all Israel. Their names are literally inscribed upon it. Not only will the people be atoned for by blood, but God Himself dresses their Mediator in clothing provided from heaven that looks like heaven. It is woven from the same materials as the curtains and veils. God’s heavenly answer to man’s earthly inability to make himself fit for presentation. In this way, it is similar to God’s giving Adam and Eve better covering for themselves, when all that they could muster is fig leaves (cf. Genesis 3:7, Genesis 3:21). 

The breast-piece would have the Urim and the Thummim inside it, behind the names of Israel. From the few times these are mentioned again, they seem to have been used in a similar way to casting lots, to obtain specific guidance from God (cf. Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8; 1 Samuel 14:41; 1 Samuel 28:6; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65). 

The Scripture highlights that it is particularly over the High Priest’s “heart” (Exodus 28:30), implying that it is the Lord Who controls the mediator’s heart for the sake of the people. Though small by comparison, this is a lovely picture of how our Lord Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost because He always lives to intercede for us by the power of His indestructible life. His heart is always engaged in mediating for us according to the perfect will of God toward us!

Return to paradise. The next item whose fabrication is descried is the robe of the ephod (Exodus 28:31). It was to be made of all blue, with a reinforced, hemmed opening for the head. The all-blue would have contrasted with the ephod, thus highlighting both. 

The pomegranates (Exodus 28:33-34) at the bottom bring the Edenic theme to the forefront, and the golden bells produce not only sight but sound (Exodus 28:35) as a sensory indication that the loss of paradise is partial and temporary, and the restoration to come is full and inevitable. Some have read verse 35 as provision for if the High Priest should die (then the bells would stop being heard), but the text reads more like prevention (literally, “and he will not die”). God has atoned for sin by blood; now He is giving visual display of His determination to protect His people from the penalty that has been consumed upon the Substitute Whom He provided.

Reversal of punishment. God’s provision of restored paradise and protection from punishment now comes to a “head” (pun intended!) with the turban. As the High Priest stands before the ark, his headwear will be somewhat plain in itself (fine linen, so not colorful, Exodus 28:39), against which the gold plate and its inscription, “Holy to Yahweh” stand out. 

The priest and the people are not merely clothed from heaven, they are marked by heaven as belonging there. They are marked by the Lord as set apart from the world, as uniquely and especially His own (cf. Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6, Deuteronomy 14:2; Psalm 135:4). This dressing of the priest comes to an even greater fulfillment with Christ as our Priest, and His people dressed in His works and His praise as their holiness in the world testifies to His having saved them for Himself as a special treasure (cf. Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 19:8; Ephesians 5:27). 

How needful was this reminder until the coming of Christ! For, even the sacred things that Israel consecrated as sacred gifts (to pile the language as Exodus 28:38 does) still have iniquity and need atoning. But God passed over these former sins in light of the perfect Sacrifice and Priest Who was to come (cf. Romans 3:25–26). Now, we have a sinless High Priest Who leads our worship from heaven. What we do on earth still requires atonement, but it is actively presented by Him Who has both atoned for us once for all and leads our worship from Heaven (cf. Hebrews 2:10–10:39… really, the whole book). Hallelujah!

As the passage draws to a close, the connection to this reversal of man’s sin and guilt in the fall is made even more explicit. The commands for fabricating tunics and sashes not only for Aaron but also for his sons is specifically to “cover their nakedness” (Exodus 28:42) so that whether inside the tabernacle or close to the altar, they will not be there in guilt and death (Exodus 28:43) but in the covenantal love and salvation that the Lord has instituted as long as priesthood shall stand. Aaron “and his descendants” belonged to a priesthood that would expire, but our Lord’s (“Melchizedekian”) priesthood continues forever as the perfection of this covering and forgiveness.

Who is your High Priest? How is He “dressed”? How does He “dress” us? Are you wearing it?

Sample prayer: Lord, we thank You and praise You for providing for us such a Great High Priest as our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us for forgetting that in Him, we are already dressed with perfect righteousness and holiness. Forgive us for forgetting that for Him, we are to be dressed more and more with His character and His works as He prepares us for everlasting glory. And grant to us the work of Your Spirit, Who continues to outfit us for that glory we ask, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH275 “Arise, My Soul, Arise”

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