Church of God, Carmichael, CA

Shadows of Good Things

Or the Gospel in Type

Russell R. Byrum, 1922

[Original Page Numbers]


CHAPTER IV

THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD

The "Golden Garments" of Aaron

  The clothing commonly worn by Aaron in his priestly ministrations was made by a divinely given pattern, and was called by Jewish writers the "golden garments" because of the much gold used in them and to distinguish them from the plain white linen garments which he wore in token of humiliation during the solemn services of the great day of atonement. These golden garments are described as "holy" and "for glory and for beauty." And they were indeed beautiful. Probably the dress of no potentate [68] of earth has surpassed them for beauty and richness. The vestments of the pope of Rome on great occasions, though patterned somewhat after these and those of the pontifex maximus of pagan Rome, doubtless would dwindle into insignificance if compared with this imposing attire of the high priest of Israel. Probably no grander sight ever greeted the eyes of an Israelite than that of Aaron with hands uplifted to bless his people, while fourteen large jewels on his breast and shoulders glittered in the bright light of the desert sun and the gold o f h i s garments gleamed and blazed in its glory. It was such as became the dignity of the representative of him whose "face shone as the sun" and whose "raiment was white and glistening."

  These holy vestments of Aaron are regarded by God as very important doubtless because of their typical significance. They are minutely described; almost two entire chapters of Exodus, twenty eight and thirty nine, being devoted to them. They consisted of seven pieces. In the order in which they were put upon him when he was consecrated they were: the linen breeches, the broidered coat, the robe of the ephod, the ephod, the curious girdle, the breastplate, and the miter.

  The White Linen Garments. —The linen breeches or drawers for Aaron are not listed in the Bible with the other articles of the high priest's garments, but with those of his sons, because they were similar to those of the common priests. The broidered coat was of fine white linen, having sleeves, and reaching probably nearly to his feet. It was embroidered with needlework, but this was likely also in white. It seems to have had a linen girdle other than the curious girdle or belt of the ephod (Lev. 8:7; 16:4). These white garments were similar to if not the same as those worn by the common priests. Also the white linen miter of Aaron was of the same material if not of the same shape as the bonnets made for his sons. These pure white linen robes, which were worn next to the flesh, were symbolic to them of purity, and probably typify the fine linen which is the righteousness of saints [69]—God's spiritual priests of the present. They are called the "holy garments." (Lev. 16:4).

The Robe.—Of the robe it is not mentioned what kind of material was used, but its color was to be blue, and it was to be woven in one piece with a hole for the head and doubtless holes for the arms. It reached probably somewhat below the knees, and it had hanging from its border pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet. Alternating with these were golden bells, the sound of which was heard as Aaron entered or came out of the sanctuary. The sound of these bells indicating the mediation of the high priest typified the proclamation of the gospel tidings, that Christ is now making intercession for our salvation before the Father. These are the antitypical gospel bells.

"The gospel bells in music tell
The story that we love so well,
Of 'Peace on earth good will to men;'
Ring out, sweet bells, ring out again."

The Ephod.—The ephod was of special importance. It was made of the kingly colors of blue, purple, and scarlet, because though the Israelitish high priest was not a king, yet he typified him who is Prophet, Priest, and King. Threads or wire of pure gold were woven into the ephod. It consisted of two pieces of such cloth, one of which covered the back and the other the front, being fastened together by the gold settings of the onyx stones on either shoulder. It was fastened together below by the belt or "curious girdle," which was made of the same material. But the two large gems, one on either shoulder, which were attached to it ( or rather to which it was attached, because it existed for them, not they for it), were the important part of it. These were held in place by settings of gold, and on them were engraved in raised letters the names of the twelve sons of Israel, six on the stone of the right shoulder and six on the left. These are said to have been for a memorial that Aaron might bear the names of the children of Israel before the Lord for a memorial. Aaron was their representative in [70] intercession for them. These stones with the names on them remarkably typify Christ's bearing his people before the Lord as their advocate with the Father today. On his mighty shoulders they rest. They trust in his unfailing power to save them, and they need not fear.

"Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on his hands."

The Breastplate.—The breastplate was attached to the ephod and seems sometimes to be reckoned as a part of it. It was made of cloth similar to that of the ephod, and was a span, or about nine inches, square when doubled. On this were fastened by ouches, or settings, of gold twelve costly gems of as many different kinds arranged in four rows, one above another, with three in a row. On these were inscribed in raised letters the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The names differed from those of the stones of the ephod only in naming the twelve tribes instead of the twelve sons of Israel. The names of Levi and Joseph, which appeared on the stones of the ephod, were omitted from the breastplate and the n a m e s o f Ephraim and Manassah, Joseph's sons, were substituted. But as Levi, the priestly tribe, belonged to all the tribes it was represented on the breastplate.

  It was important that all the Israelites be represented by the priest. And this was done by this double enumeration of them, so none needed to feel he was missed. The names on the breastplate were connected to those on the stones on the shoulders by golden chains, made of twisted threads of gold, which furnished a support for the breastplate, which was also tied to the ephod with blue ribbon below. As Aaron, Israel's representative before God, bore their names on his breastplate and on the stones on his shoulders, so our Representative before God ever bears us on his heart of infinite love and upon his shoulders of almighty power. Our cause is safe in his care. He will not fail as our Advocate because of lack of interest nor because of lack of ability. And all the [71] people of God are represented there. Reuben, "unstable as water," is represented as well as lion like Judah. Thanks be to God, each of us is there; our High Priest pleads my cause and yours, and all who will may have the benefits of his intercession for them.

  The Miter and Crown.—The head covering of Aaron was not a deeply cleft high cap such as has been worn by the Pope or other modern ecclesiastic, but rather a white linen turban, according to Josephus. But the important feature of Aaron's head covering was the holy crown, the plate of pure gold which was fastened to the miter by a band of blue cloth. On this plate of shining gold was engraved in raised letters, "Holiness to the Lord." Aaron not only represented the sinful people to God, but he also represented their holy God to them. He not only represented them by bearing their names on his breast and shoulders, but he represented God by the golden inscription that was so prominent on his forehead.

  Likewise our High Priest is both God and man. He partakes of sinful flesh to identify himself with us; but he retains the holy and divine nature of God, which identifies him with the Godhead. In interceding for the forgiveness of the sinner he does not ask God to disregard his own holiness. He upholds God's holiness and at the same time consistently asks pardon for the guilty. He reconciles justice and mercy. How wonderful! God's marvelous plan of saving sinful men is worthy of the infinite wisdom and perfection of Him who cloth all things well. And the typification of these wonderful Christian truths in those ancient vestments of Aaron likewise bear the same mark of divine wisdom in their remarkable resemblance to these truths.

  The Urim and Thummim.—What the Urim and Thummim were is not known. Some have supposed they were merely the stones of the breastplate. A more probable theory seems to be that they were objects separate from the breastplate that were deposited in the pouch formed by the doubling of the cloth of the breastplate. They [72] may have been similar to or identical with seraphim, which were images or other objects used in divination. Some ground is furnished for this view by those texts which connect seraphim with ephods (Judg. 17 :5; 18 :14, 17, 20) and also by the statement that Israel's desolation should consist partly in being deprived of the ephod and seraphim (Hosea 3:4). Also if the evil spirits can make things known through such means, there is no reason why we should not allow that God used such a device in connection with his chosen priest. While we may not be certain concerning the nature of the Urim and Thummim, we do know they were for the purpose of revealing the will and mind of God. David and others often applied to them for this purpose. And here again the high priest is like Christ, who reveals to us God's mind and will. [73 middle]

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Justification, Sanctification, Unity
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