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Scripture reading – Exodus 27-28

The LORD had commanded Moses, “Come up to me into the mount” (Exodus 24:12), and he and Joshua ascended Mount Sinai into the presence of the LORD. They remained there, on the mount, for “forty days and forty nights” (24:18). The LORD then gave Moses “tables of stone, and a law, and commandments” (24:12). He was instructed in the preparations that were necessary for the people to worship the Lord with their offerings (Exodus 25-31). Finally, the LORD, leaving nothing to chance, gave detailed designs for the sanctuary that would serve Israel as a perpetual reminder that He was in the midst of Israel (25:8).

Exodus 27 

An Altar of Brass, The Outer Court of the Tabernacle, and Oil for the Lamp

The preparations for worship and sacrifices continued with a description of the altar of brass that would serve as the place of sacrifice. The altar was made of wood, covered in brass, and was seven feet square and four feet high (27:1). The four corners of the altar, described as “horns,” were made with rings and poles (staves), allowing the altar to be carried as the nation sojourned (27:4-8).

The Tabernacle was located within a courtyard that measured seventy-five feet on the west and east sides (27:12-13) and one hundred and fifty feet on the south and north sides (27:9-11). The outer court would have measured some ten thousand square feet.

Pure olive oil was required for lighting a lampstand that would give light “from evening to morning” (27:20-21) and serve as a perpetual reminder that the LORD was in the midst of His people.

Exodus 28

 The Office and Garments of the High Priest and His Sons (28:1-3)

The brother of Moses, Aaron, and his sons were chosen by God and were to be sanctified (set apart) to serve as His priests on behalf of Israel (28:1). The garments that Aaron, the High Priest, would wear when ministering was described as “holy…for glory and for beauty” (28:2). They were “holy” because they were set apart, sanctified, and dedicated to ministry. The “glory” and “beauty” of the garments reflected the dignity of the high priest’s office.

The Garments of the High Priest (28:4-8)

Exodus 28:4-8 introduced the garments of the High Priest that consisted of a “breastplate” (a vest), an “ephod” (a ritual vest), a long one-piece robe, a coat described as “broidered,” a “mitre” (a cap), and a girdle (sash or belt that wrapped around the waist and held the breastplate in place).

Great detail was given of the High Priest’s garments, but I invite you to consider especially the breastplate and its significance (28:9-30).

Two precious stones, described as “onyx stones,” served as buttons for the front and back of the breastplate, and upon them were the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel written (28:9-12). In addition, two stones rested on the shoulders of the High Priest and were a reminder that he was Israel’s mediator. Finally, twelve precious stones, each different from the other, were engraved with the names of each Tribe and were an ever-present reminder that the High Priest carried the children of Israel upon his heart (28:13-29).

The High Priest wore upon his forehead a plate of gold, and engraved upon it was “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” (28:36), a visual sign that he belonged to the LORD, and through the blood of sacrifices, he was Israel’s mediator (28:38).

Closing thoughts:

The garments of the High Priest gave specific evidence that there was meaning and purpose in every detail, from the breastplate over his heart that represented God’s judgment (28:15-30) to the bells about the hem of his robe whose sound gave witness to his movement within the Tabernacle, and the LORD’s acceptance of his offering on behalf of Israel (28:31-26).

Remember, the Tabernacle, the Ark, the Mercy Seat, and the Altar were types or pictures that Jesus Christ, our High Priest, ultimately fulfilled.

Hebrews 9:24, 2824For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:…28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Questions to consider:

1) What can the 21st-century church learn from the LORD’s attention to detail in the design and construction of the Tabernacle, its implements, and the High Priest’s garments?

2) Whom did God choose to serve Him as His high priest and priests to Israel? (28:1)

3) What names were engraved on the stones of the high priest’s breastplate? (28:9-12, 29)

4) What purpose did the bells on the high priest’s robe serve? (28:33-35)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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