This would make some Halloween or costume party outfit. God told Moses to have
gifted men create a set of clothing for Aaron, the High Priest. It was to be an elaborate, and to us, bizarre set of clothing, that the High Priest would wear as he entered in the Holy Place of God. Imagine a guy walking around with a big gold, blue, and purple vest with two onyx stones, a breastplate made of gold that has twelve precious stones, a robe with gold designs, and a big hat with a plate strapped to it. You’d probably crack up at the guy, and ask him where he did his shopping.
Now, to understand the importance of this get up, we must first realize the role that the high priest played in the people’s relationship with God. The High Priest was not primarily like a preacher in a church. Actually, he served as the go between for God and the Hebrew people. The High Priest would put on this clothing and go into this inner room in the Tabernacle, called the Holy Place. As he wore the clothing, the people would see him and be reminded that he would go into the presence of God on their behalf. This room was where God’s presence dwelled, and the priest would take the blood from the sacrifices into this room to seek forgiveness for the sins of the people. When the High Priest entered the presence of God, it was important that he came there with his sin covered and in a worthy manner. Each piece of this clothing represented the role of the priests, and their relationship to God.
∙ The ephod – A vest that covered the shoulders and back of the priest. On this vest were two stones that served as a sort of name tag, but instead of having his name, he had the names of the tribes of Israel. This was a sign that he had come there to represent the entire nation. The ephod, like all of the other pieces was made of gold and other expensive and pure materials. All of the beauty served as a reminder of the holiness and the beauty of God.
∙ The Breastplate – First of all, the breastplate covered the heart of the priest. All men are sinful, and the breastplate signified a covering over his own sin. Second, there were twelve precious stones, each representing one of the tribes. Again, the priest came to God as a mediator for all of the people. He represented the people to God with the sacrifice, and God to the people in offering forgiveness.
∙ The robe – This garment covered everything that the other pieces did not. It signified the fact that when the priest entered the Holy Place, God saw the covering, and not his failure. When Jesus forgives our sin, it is like he put a robe over us that covered all of our failures. The robe had bells around the base, so that when the priest was in the Holy Place, others could hear him. If the bell stopped ringing, the people would know that the priest had not confessed his own sin, and God had taken his life.
∙ The turban – This hat wasn’t like a baseball cap, but was an elaborate decoration on the head of he priest. By covering the head, the priest was indicating that it was the wisdom of God, rather than their own wisdom that they entered into this place. A plate of gold on the hat with an engraving, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD”, was a reminder of God’s holiness and purity.
Jesus is our high priest (see Hebrews 4:14-5:5). He is our go between, who stands before God the Father to offer the sacrifice of His life to obtain forgiveness for our sins. And he covers our sinful life with the robe of His grace. The clothing of the priest reminded the people that God was holy and they needed forgiveness. Jesus reminds us that God demanded a payment for our sin, but the perfect Savior paid the price to give us access into the presence of God.