Sunday May 27th
A little boy went up to a priest, stared at his white clerical collar and asked, “Why do you dress so funny?”
The priest replied, “This is kind of like the uniform that I wear when I go to work.”
The child pointed to the collar and asked, “Do you have a boo-boo on your neck?”
The priest pulled out the white plastic insert and showed it to the little boy and said “No I’m just fine. Do you know what this is for?”
The little boy stated, “I sure do.”
The priest said, “OK then, you tell me what it’s for.”
The little boy then replied, “It kills fleas and ticks for up to six months.”
In Chapters 28 and 29 of Exodus, God establishes a “uniform” for the priests of Israel and then he sanctifies them for His service. We aren’t going to read every verse within these two chapters, but let’s see how things start out in Exodus 28:1-4 as God gives these instructions to Moses:
“Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me—Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 2 You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me.
There were six specific articles of clothing for the priests. Each one had to be made of woven gold, with blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.
And God wanted these items made by “skillful persons” who had a God-given gift of wisdom to make beautiful things. So don’t ever think that the ability to make or create something isn’t a spiritual gift. It most certainly is a gift from God, just as much as prophecy or preaching.
The breastplate had two onyx stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel. Below those were four rows of stones; ruby, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx and jasper.
The breastpiece also contained the Urim and the Thummim, which were stones that the priests used to seek the Lord prophetically.
Around the hem of the linen garment there were bells of gold and a pomegranate. And those bells were very important!
Because verse 35 says:
“It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the Lord, so that he will not die.”
I don’t know about you, but I think I would be jingling those bells of a regular basis just to remind God that I was there on official business!
Then verse 36-38 tell us about the turban:
“You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ 37 You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.”
You could say that the turban was there to keep the priest’s minds focused on the things of God.
That clothing for the priests is the main focus of chapter 28 and then chapter 29 focuses on the consecration, or ordination of the Priests, starting with these verses:
“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and two rams without blemish, 2 and unleavened bread and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil; you shall make them of fine wheat flour. 3 You shall put them in one basket, and present them in the basket along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 You shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod; 6 and you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. 7 Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.8 You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. 9 You shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and bind caps on them, and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. So you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”
The remainder of the chapter is instructions regarding the offering of sacrifices for all of the priests, along with one more mention of the garments in verses 29-30
“The holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, that in them they may be anointed and ordained. 30 For seven days the one of his sons who is priest in his stead shall put them on when he enters the tent of meeting to minister in the holy place.”
This is all very interesting from a historical perspective, but is there any correlation between this discussion of priestly garments and our status as New Testament followers of Jesus? I think there is.
For starters, we are told in 1 Peter 2:9
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
We, as believers, are clearly seen as a part of the priesthood in God’s Kingdom. But does our priesthood have a “uniform” like the Old Testament priests? Yes it does!
Let’s go to Ephesians 6:10-17
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
How many pieces made up the clothing of the priests of Israel?
There were six: “a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash.”
How many pieces make up our armor? There are also six:
Those priests were girded – We are girded!
They had a breastplate – We have a breastplate!
Keep in mind that this breastplate of righteousness isn’t our own righteousness, it’s the righteousness of Jesus!
Look at Romans 4:2-8“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
So there are some similarities in our garments, but there are also a few differences:
They had a turban – We have a helmet!
We also have a sword and a shield. These differences should remind us that we are not just priests before the Lord– we are also warriors for His Kingdom!
And we also have the Gospel of Peace on our feet because we are not meant to stay standing still – we are meant to be moving!
Sometimes it’s hard to see ourselves as deserving such a lofty title or role like “priest” or “priestess”, especially if we’ve experienced rejection and condemnation from others somewhere in our past.
But let me assure you that God sees you as a precious part of the priesthood of believers, no matter what other people have ever told you about yourself!
Look at 1 Peter 2:4-5
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Does it matter if you have been rejected by men?
Absolutely not! Jesus was rejected by men too!
Look at Psalm 118:22
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.
Who is that speaking about? Jesus! How do we know that? Because Jesus quotes it back to the chief priests and scribes in Mark 12:10
Have you not even read this Scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone?”
In Isaiah 53:3 we see that the Messiah was not only going to be rejected – He was going to be DESPISED!
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
I want you to grasp this today:
It doesn’t matter what people think of you – only matters what God thinks of you!
You are not who other people say you are – You are who God says you are!
Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul explains it in 1st Corinthians 1:26-31
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
If you never considered yourself to be wise, or mighty, or noble – If you’ve always thought of yourself as weak, or foolish, or despised by other people – then according to what these verses are saying you are just the person that God wants for His priesthood!
By choosing people who are not as strong, not as brilliant, not as popular as what the world admires, God is giving us an opportunity to proclaim that it’s all Him, and therefore He gets all the glory! Can we be okay with that?