This week we learn about the clothing of the High Priest for service in the temple. This is one of those portions that, at first glance, is easy to be disconnected from. We don’t have a standing temple or a priestly service to physically see and experience in real time, which can make it hard to see the beautiful picture being painted by God.
I am a firm believer that what we read about the priesthood, especially the High Priest, can teach us about the Messiah! His character, mission, role, function, duties, etc. can be beautifully foreshadowed and seen by the description of the priesthood on earth. In fact, it is interesting to note that the only four times that the word “Messiah/Mashiach/Anointed One” is used in the Torah are in reference to priests! It is also very clear that Yeshua, our Messiah, came to carry out the duty of a priest; making atonement for the sins of mankind.
The author of the book of Hebrews says in Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore, in all things He[Yeshua] had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Yeshua also said, on multiple occasions, that the Law was written about Him! The New Testament authors also teach that what we read in the Torah serves as a picture to the Messiah and His redemptive work. But what about clothing? Are the priestly garments really of any significance?
I would say that, at the least, they are a huge encouragement and testimony to God’s amazing love for His people. How? Read with me in Exodus 28:11-12 where it says, “As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance.”
The High Priest bore the names of the children of Israel on His shoulders before God as a remembrance. However, that wasn’t the only place that the High Priest carried their names. We read that the High Priest would also bear their names on his breastplate in Exodus 28:29-30 where it says, “So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord. And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.”
The High Priest is literally clothed with the names of God’s children. It is also very important to note that it didn’t serve as a remembrance for the people but rather for God Himself. Every time the High Priest would go in to serve in the Holy Place, He reminded the Father of His people, His children. How beautiful is that!? Not only that, but their names were engraved in the most precious stones available. When Yahweh saw His children, He saw them through the precious gems that the Messiah… I mean, the High Priest would bear before Him; literally bearing them on his shoulders and on his heart.
Look at how the prophet Malachi uses similar terminology in describing God’s people in Malachi 3:16-18 saying, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”
God also says this about His people in Isaiah 49:16, “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.”
God emphasizes time and time again that He views His people as precious gems, that they are constantly before Him in remembrance, and that He doesn’t forget His people. This is due to the High Priest, the Messiah, bearing them before Him. The High Priest’s chief function was to make atonement for the people and to be the intermediary between God and man. When God sees His people, He sees them through the presentation of the High Priest, as precious gems and not as a sinful nation. This is such an incredible encouragement to me! We are beautiful, pure, and righteous before our King because of the ministry of our High Priest, Yeshua. How great is His love for us!? How lovely is it that He would put that much care and love into His people.
Paul says it better than I ever could in Romans 8:31-39 where he says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Messiah who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Messiah? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.”