The phrase is repeated four times in Exodus 28. Said it before, said it again, repetition is God’s way of saying, “Listen up!” Also discovered that the phrase is used nowhere else other than in this chapter . . . this portion of Scripture detailing the LORD’s instruction to Moses about the garments of the high priest. And as I hovered over these verses I felt compelled to highlight them with one of my colored pencils. But which one? I don’t have a color for high priest . . . or do I? And so I highlighted these four occurrences of the phrase with the same highlighting I use for Jesus, the Christ. For He shall bear . . .
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. (Exodus 28:12 ESV)
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 Aarons 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. (Exodus 28:29-30 ESV)
You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aarons forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD. (Exodus 28:38 ESV)
The LORD is giving Moses instruction for the building of the tabernacle. The tent of meeting where, above the mercy seat, God would meet with Moses and speak with him. The place that would be sanctified by God’s glory and where, in condescending grace, He would determine to meet with the people of Israel. He would dwell among His people and His people would know He is the LORD their God, their Deliverer who brought them out of Egypt that “I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God (Ex. 29:42-46).
And integral to the operational dynamic of the tabernacle would be Aaron the high priest. While Moses would be permitted direct access, the people’s access would be through Aaron. He would be their conduit. He would be their advocate. He would be their intercessor. And the LORD declares, four times, “Aaron shall bear . . . “
He would bear their names on His shoulders. He would bear God’s judgment and God’s will for them over his heart. And he would bear their guilt upon his head. All that the people might be “accepted before the LORD.”
And while I know that there are depths to be plumbed here, even just dipping my toe into the water’s edge of this shadow of our great High Priest stirs the heart with awe and adoration.
We have such a high priest. One who bears our name before the throne of God in heaven. On His shoulders, the great Shepherd carries those He has called by Name, and who, by grace through regeneration, know His Name. On His heart, He brings His people to remembrance, interceding for them. The great Shepherd leading them in the ways and will of the Father. Leading them beside still waters and to green pastures.
And on His head, the Great Shepherd having humbled Himself to become the Lamb of God, has borne our guilt once for all. The sacrifice of atonement having been offered on Calvary’s cross . . . the blood able to cleanse us from all sin. And through, and in Him, we too are permitted access into the holy of holies.
That the LORD God might be our God . . . and we, His people . . . He shall bear.
To Him be all glory.