Chapter 23 The Holy Garments

Thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty (Exodus 28:2).

The priestly garments were designed to exhibit the glories and excellencies of the priesthood first invested in Aaron. They represent another picture of the glory and the beauty of the Lord Jesus as the High Priest of His people. They were “for glory and for beauty,” and were sparkling and dazzling in their bright display of colors and gems.

The inner garment was “a coat of fine linen” (verse 39)— clean and white, which speaks of a life of pure holiness and perfect righteousness in our Lord. The garment clothed the priest from top to bottom and thus displays our Lord in absolute purity from head to foot. This loose coat was fastened by a girdle (verse 8)—“a curious girdle,” and shows the Lord as equipped for skillful workmanship in His toil. It bound the priestly robe to the person of the priest and tells us that the Lord’s work will never be loosed or terminated, for His work on our behalf will engage Him forever.

The robe of blue came next (verse 31). It was shorter than the inner coat. Its chief feature was its blue color. This is the heavenly symbol, pointing to our Lord as “the Heavenly One” or “the One out of Heaven.” All His words and thoughts and deeds were heavenly in character, and His hands were laden with heavenly blessings. This robe had a rich fringe, and there hung from the broad hem pomegranates and golden bells. The richly woven pomegranates symbolized the multitudinous seed of our Lord’s life and sacrificial work—the great harvest of souls which were to be gathered in one as the fruit of His passion. The golden bells, which intermingled with the pomegranates, gave a sweet, melodious sound to every movement of the high priest. What comforting blessing was the sound of them as the high priest came out of the holy place! They gave sweet assurance he had been heard on their behalf.

Then came the ephod (verse 6). This was a short tunic radiant with diverse colors. This was the real priestly garment which made him fit to enter the presence of God on behalf of others. Two shoulder pieces held it in its place, and in sockets of gold were placed twelve stones with the names of the tribes. Thus we see our Lord bearing us up before God in relation to our every approach and exercise before Him. Believers are safe on such shoulders. None can reach to harm us. It is a place of perfect safety and security. He carries us all in remembrance before God.

The breastplate (verse 15) is a special treasure. Each name is written upon it. In this we see how the saints are borne upon the heart of the Lord Jesus according as God has placed them in relation to His testimony here. The Urim and the Thummin were adjoined, and the words mean “light” and “perfection.” By means of these God’s holy will was made known. In our Lord, then, there is a fullness of light and perfection of every virtue to lead and guide us in the way we should go.

The chains, the wreathen work, the ouches, the rings, and the lace of blue all show how indissolubly the breastplate is knit to the ephod. It tells us in its symbolic way that the saints can never be separated from the affections of their great High Priest. We are ever upon His heart. We are dearer to Him than ever we imagined.

Finally, there was the miter (verse 39). This was to crown the head. It was made of fine linen with a belt of blue encircling it. Upon this was affixed a golden plate inscribed with the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.” His Person, His work, His blood, His righteousness, His all, are of absolute holiness. What beauty! What glory! How wonderful it was to see the high priest in such garments! But how much more wonderful to see our Lord in all His garments of glory and beauty in their spiritual and heavenly reality. What a sight!

Join all the glorious names
Of wisdom, love, and power,
That mortals ever knew,
That angels ever bore:
All are too mean to speak His worth,
Too mean to set the Saviour forth.

Jesus, my great High Priest,
Offered His blood, and died:
My guilty conscience seeks
No sacrifice beside:
His powerful blood did once atone,
And now it pleads before the throne.

Should all the hosts of death,
And powers of hell unknown,
Put their most dreadful forms
Of rage and malice on,
I shall be safe, for Christ displays
Superior power and guardian grace.

Isaac Watts