FOR GLORY AND FOR BEAUTY
By C. L. Keefer
“And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent.” Exodus 28:32
This makes us think of the garment that Christ wore at Calvary, the one the soldiers gambled for at the foot of the cross.
This part of the garment had no seams. There was a hole for the head that had a binding of woven work around it and two holes for arms. It had no sleeves.
“And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: A golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.” Exodus 28:33-34
The pomegranate is a fruit grown not only in Israel, but several other countries in that area and the United States. I once bought one at the grocery store, brought it home,and cut into it. The fruit was moldy! That led me to conclude that the pomegranate either was long in transit or was in storage for a long time. Maybe the fruit doesn’t keep well. Either way, it is a fruit with seeds that float in a thick jelly-like liquid. Most scholars agree that this pictures a type of the seed of Abraham washed in the blood of the covenant.
If that’s true, Paul reminds us that those that are of faith are also as the children of Abraham because they too are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. They also fit under the covenant. Galatians 3:7
The colors add yet more meaning to this part of the garment. Again, the blue pomegranates point to the heavenly origin of Christ. He is the Lord from heaven who sits at the right hand of the throne of God. The purple wraps Him in Kingly apparel that reminds us of His former rejection as the King of the Jews and His future return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who reigns for one thousand years. We see the color scarlet depicts Christ as the One who suffered and shed His blood for us on Calvary.
“And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.” Exodus 28:36
When Aaron went into the holy place, the only sound heard outside was the tinkling of bells. God’s Word mentions bells in only three places. Two those places, Exodus 28 and 39, both refer to the priest’s garments. The only other scripture that mentions bells speaks of bells on horses that bear the engraved words of “Holiness unto the LORD.” Found in Zechariah 14:20, this refers to the time when Christ reigns on earth.
What significance were the bells on the priest’s garments? This verse provides the answer. Note what it says. “And his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.”
Aaron never wore these garments into the Holy of Holies, a place he entered only one day out of the year. He went in at least three times that day, maybe more. The purpose of Aaron’s entry involved burning incense, offering the blood of the bullock for himself and the offering for his people. Leviticus 16:12-13 Known as the Day of Atonement, Aaron wore other clothes on that day—not the garments of glory and beauty discussed in this book. It seems that special day was the only time Aaron failed to wear them!
Several years ago, a seminary student told me the bells placed on the bottom of the priest’s garments allowed the people the ability to hear them tinkle. The student went on to say that as long as they heard the bells they knew that the High Pries was not dead. Scriptural evidence seems to confirm this idea. Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, once offered strange fire before the Lord. As a result, God killed them. The people had no small difficulty removing the bodies of these two men from where they lay. This story appears in Leviticus 10. Yet, the scripture also points to something else. Verse 35 says, …that they die not.” Nowhere does it say, “in case he dies.” Picture Aaron going into the holy place with the blood of a bullock or some other animal for his daily work. The noise level outside increases. No doubt, commotion became greater when animal sacrifices found themselves slain at the altar. But God didn’t hear all the racket outside in the courtyard. As the High Priest enters the holy place, all God hears is the soothing sound of the tinkling bells. In that sense, it seems the bells somehow protected the High Priest by the pleasing sound they made in God’s presence.
The golden bells typified deity. Bells provide no protection for us today. Now we have the Lord Jesus Christ as our protector.
“And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” Exodus 28:36
A plate of pure gold with uncertain thickness and of unknown size denoted special authority. Our discussion in verse 38 goes into more detail on this feature.
“And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be.” Exodus 28:37
The mitre was nothing more than a headpiece made of fine linen. Though some think it was a bonnet similar to what women wear, it seems nearly impossible for a person to place any kind of metal plate on its front. In Exodus 28:40, Aaron’s sons had bonnets made for them, but not Aaron himself.
That brings us to the last solid blue item spoken of as part of the priest’s garments. The lace used here connects deity with earthly. While the gold plate stood for deity, the linen mitre woven of flax grown from the earth stood for earthly. Again, Jesus as the High Priest is as much man as God and as much God as man.
“And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.” Exodus 28:38
We find the gold plate on the mitre that declared “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” called a crown in Exodus 29:6, 39:30 and in Leviticus 8:9. Other portions of the bible also say the same thing about it. This engraving not only denoted the special authority associated with a crown but it set Aaron apart from the other priests. It also looked forward to the believer’s High Priest, Jesus Christ. “For of such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.” Hebrews 7:26
Aaron bore the iniquity of the holy things by the authority of God as symbolized by the crown.
Shortly before the risen Christ ascended into heaven, He said, “All power (or authority) is given unto me….” Matthew 28:18 Today, Christ bears the iniquity of our worship. Many argue, “I don’t sin in my worship!” How many church members enjoy singing praises to God in the song service with minds a “thousand miles away”? Christ bore the penalty or the iniquity of our worship. We need someone like that. He shed His blood on the cross to bring us into the family of God by salvation and present us before God without spot or wrinkle. Christ remains our perfect High Priest.
“And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.” Exodus 28:39
The coat found itself worn under the robe and the ephod. Only the sleeves were visible. What was the purpose for the coat? It covered the nakedness of Aaron! God is very concerned that men not show nakedness, though men today seem unconcerned about it. That which may find acceptance in man’s eyes often runs against God’s desires for men. When giving the pattern for the altar, God said, “Do not build steps up to it, that the people might not see the nakedness of the High Priest.” Exodus 20:26
The Hebrew word translated “embroider” means “to weave in checkered or plated work”. This is the same sense as the word found in Exodus 39:27.
Again, linen appears with blue between it and the gold, the blue robe almost hiding the linen coat. This was a beautiful picture of the heavenly overshadowing the humanity with the gold or deity interwoven in the ephod. Although Jesus Christ is God, we still have a man in the heavens making intercession for us. 1 Timothy 2:5
Woven throughout the priest’s garments were types of Christ. As the garments themselves were for glory and beauty, those terms also speak clearly of our own High Priest—Jesus Christ.