Reading in Exodus this morning. And what catches my attention, and imagination, is a phrase repeated 4 times in the instructions concerning the priest’s garments.
The uniform to be worn by Aaron was, to say the least, pretty elaborate. And, I’m thinking it must have weighed a ton. No light weight, sweat resistant, high-tech stretch fabrics here. Instead, multi-layered garments of thick coarse yarn and fine linen. Supplemented with onyx stones for the shoulders and twelve precious stones interwoven within the breastpiece. Add to that chains of pure gold attaching this to that through rings of gold, and I’m thinking this is a pretty weighty garment.
But it’s nothing compared to the weight of what it signified. The weight born by the priest before the LORD in the Holy of Holies.
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.
(Exodus 28:29 ESV)
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.
(Exodus 28:30 ESV)
It shall be on Aaron’s 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)
Aaron shall bear.
Aaron was to carry, take, lift up, support, and sustain. The weight of Aaron’s garment had direct correlation to the weight of Aaron’s responsibility to bear the sons and daughters of the exodus before the LORD of their deliverance.
He would bear their names, on his shoulders and on his heart, before the Lord regularly. Bringing the people of Passover before the God who had made provision for them to be passed over. A reminder, a memorial, of the people God had redeemed through the blood of a lamb. Aaron would carry symbols bearing the names of the tribes of Israel. And when He saw them, God would look afresh upon the people — each one, name by name — who He had led out of Egypt with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God providing Himself a perpetual reminder of the people He had promised for Himself.
Aaron would also bear the judgment of the people. Not judgment as in divine punishment, but judgment as in divine discernment, determination, and direction for a set apart people. With a heart for their good and God’s glory, not only would Aaron bear the peoples names before the Lord, but would bear the LORD’s will concerning their ways.
Lastly, Aaron shall bear any guilt for the peoples’ less-than-holy holiness. With “Holy to the LORD” born on the front of his turban, he would compensate for the blemishes of well-intended sacrifices. He would stand in the breach of offerings which came up short, though offered sincerely. It was because he stood in the gap, that the worship of a less than perfect people could be a sweet-smelling savor to a thrice holy God.
God would remember His people. God would lead His people. God would look past His people’s imperfect worship. All because Aaron shall bear. All because the high priest would carry God’s people into God’s presence. He would take them, lift them up, support them, and sustain them as they sought to walk with God in their midst.
Jesus is our High Priest. A merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God (Heb. 2:17). A great High Priest who has passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14). One who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15) and bridge the gap because He is “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 7:26). Even now “seated at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 8:1).
Aaron shall bear . . . the remembrance of God’s people, on his shoulders, over his heart, and upon his head into the presence of God. A picture that, in like manner but to a far greater degree, Jesus shall carry His people too.
Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
(Hebrews 7:25 ESV)
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
What wondrous grace. To God be the glory!