Exodus 28:43 (HCSB)
43 These must be worn by Aaron and his sons whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the sanctuary area, so that they do not incur guilt and die. This is to be a permanent statute for Aaron and for his future descendants.
We read the final three pericopes concerning the clothing of the priests in these verses. Again, as throughout, there remains the expectancy of obedience to God’s commands. And lest we think this is all inconsequential and unnecessary, we are reminded of Aaron’s, and the other priests, true purpose: to minister. And this includes Aaron “bearing the guilt” of the Israelites, and gaining “acceptance” for them before God (Exodus 28:38).
There are interesting details provided in this passage, that do not necessarily have explanations.
- What might the bells and pomegranates be for on Aaron’s robe? We are told the bells will “be heard” as he moves in and out of the sanctuary, and that will prevent his death, but why? Perhaps it is a reminder that he is coming before God, a reminder of the severity and heaviness of the event and process, and the requirement of obedience in following the process as described by God.
- How does the gold medallion inscribed with “HOLY TO THE LORD”, worn on the forehead, secure acceptance? Perhaps a reminder for God that the offerings of the Israelites are acceptable, and just as Jesus bore our sin, Aaron bears the Israelites “guilt” covered by those sacrifices.
In the end, the main theme of the garments of the priests seems to be two-fold: obedience and honor. The two things sort of go hand-in-hand, but ultimately the priests are to be obedient to God, following the rules He has set in place, whether they agree with, or even understand, them. And the richness of the materials, the covering of man, and the bearing of sin, all point to honoring God. It is not the materials themselves that secure any favor from God, but the honoring of Him through employing the highest craftsmanship and using the finest of materials. God has surrendered His finest, his one and only Son, so that we may live eternally with Him, free from the shackles of our sin, and these garments are a symbolic gesture of surrendering our finest back to God.
Lord, thank You for Your best, for Your sacrifice, for us. I pray that we would not hold on to the best in our lives for ourselves, but surrender it to You, and to do so willingly. We thank You for the ultimate high priest: Jesus. Amen.