It may not be the crisp white tee, the dark wash skinny jean, or the perfect black dress--but Exodus 39 teaches us about the priestly garments and the meaning behind what they wore. Only one week left in our verse-by-verse study of this book! Keep a watchful eye for the Messiah, Not Mayhem Advent study I'll release soon!
1 From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made woven garments for ministering in the sanctuary. They also made sacred garments for Aaron, as the Lord commanded Moses.
2 They made the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 3 They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen—the work of skilled hands. 4 They made shoulder pieces for the ephod, which were attached to two of its corners, so it could be fastened. 5 Its skillfully woven waistband was like it—of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen, as the Lord commanded Moses.
6 They mounted the onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel. 7 Then they fastened them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel, as the Lord commanded Moses.
- The details God has provided of everything 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!
8 They fashioned the breastpiece—the work of a skilled craftsman. They made it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 9 It was square—a span long and a span wide—and folded double.10 Then they mounted four rows of precious stones on it. The first row was carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 11 the second row was turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 12 the third row was jacinth, agate and amethyst; 13 the fourth row was topaz, onyx and jasper. They were mounted in gold filigree settings. 14 There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
15 For the breastpiece they made braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 16 They made two gold filigree settings and two gold rings, and fastened the rings to two of the corners of the breastpiece. 17 They fastened the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, 18 and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 19 They made two gold rings and attached them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 20 Then they made two more gold rings and attached them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod.21 They tied the rings of the breastpiece to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband so that the breastpiece would not swing out from the ephod—as the Lord commanded Moses.
- The breastplate was the chief and most costly of the garments (Arthur 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.
- Isaiah 59:17 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.
- 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.
Other Priestly Garments
22 They made the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth—the work of a weaver— 23 with an opening in the center of the robe like the opening of a collar and a band around this opening, so that it would not tear. 24 They made pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen around the hem of the robe. 25 And they made bells of pure gold and attached them around the hem between the pomegranates. 26 The bells and pomegranates alternated around the hem of the robe to be worn for ministering, as the Lord commanded Moses.
27 For Aaron and his sons, they made tunics of fine linen—the work of a weaver— 28 and the turban of fine linen, the linen caps and the undergarments of finely twisted linen. 29 The sash was made of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn—the work of an embroiderer—as the Lord commanded Moses.
- 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!
30 They made the plate, the sacred emblem, out of pure gold and engraved on it, like an inscription on a seal: holy to the Lord. 31 Then they fastened a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban, as the Lord commanded Moses.
- 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?
Moses Inspects the Tabernacle
32 So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses. 33 Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; 34 the covering of ram skins dyed red and the covering of another durable leather and the shielding curtain; 35 the ark of the covenant law with its poles and the atonement cover; 36 the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; 37 the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the olive oil for the light; 38 the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; 39 the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; 40 the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; 41 and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests.
42 The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 43 Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.
- Such great work and detail went into the building of the tabernacle. I can’t imagine how Moses felt as he looked upon each item that the Lord had instructed him to build. To actually see, touch, and smell the vision that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai was probably an indescribable moment. It was finally finished. John 19:30 reminds us of the work Christ did for us. Not in a temporal, physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” All the work for the tabernacle – the work designed to provide a temporal covering of sin for the Israelites – was in one moment, finished. Today, are you operating under the law – that list of regulations and rituals that you feel must be performed in order for you to be closer to God? Or, are you operating under the grace of Christ Jesus…the unmerited favor you have at your disposal because of what He did on Calvary? Amen.