Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On His Shoulders, On His Heart

Have you ever studied God's instructions for the clothing of Israel's high priest? First, does that seem like a crazy question? Yes, God told them what kind of clothes the high priest was to wear. In fact, God gave Israel a LOT of specific rules when he brought them out of slavery in Egypt. God was making them his own, special covenant-people who were different from all other nations: set apart to God. God gave them instructions for making the tabernacle and all the furnishings, a recipe for the kind of anointing oil and incense he wanted them to use, and detailed instructions for the various sacrifices.

But in the midst of these instructions, he tells them to make clothes for the priest, who will stand between Israel and God. The clothes were to be made "for glory and for beauty" (Exodus 28:2, ESV). And part of these instructions had to do with rocks. Yes, stones in his clothes!
You shall take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the other stone, in the order of their birth. ..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 28:9-10, 12, ESV
What a beautiful idea! The priest who is representing the people to God actually has their names on his shoulders as he approaches God on their behalf. He is 'carrying them' before God.

But further in the instructions God presents another rule, also involving rocks.
You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, in skilled work. ..You shall set in it four rows of stones... There shall be twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel.. So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpice of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD... Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.  Exodus 28:15a, 17a, 21a, 29, 30b, ESV
Remember, this is God's idea, not man's. God wanted his covenant people to know that their priest, the one who was representing them to God, carried them on his shoulders and had them on his heart!

This takes on a glorious meaning for believers in Christ. All of the Old Testament is about Jesus (John 5:39-40, 46-47; Luke 24:25-27, 44-48). It all points to Christ! Aaron the high priest was a type of Jesus Christ, our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14) who brings his new covenant people to God!

So in the instructions for the high priest's clothes, we learn that Christ, who has fulfilled the types and shadows of the law, carries us to God on his shoulders, as it were, and bears us on his heart. We cannot approach God on our own because of our sinfulness. But God has given us a priest - a mediator - who represents us to the Father in love. Hallelujah!
But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins... 1 John 2:1b-2a, ESV

No comments: