BIBLE STUDY SERIES #170, 171 and 172

19 February, 1995

ORDERING PRIESTLY GARMENTS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies is following the Biblical outline of God's Great Plan which involves steps towards the renewal of His Creation to accord with His own perfect will. The Almighty has chosen to unfold His Plan through the development of a chosen line from Abram, whom He called apart, and on down through history in the lives of Isaac, Jacob (who was re-named Israel) and Jacob's descendants, later organized in the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Actually Thirteen Tribes were formed when we count each of the sons of Joseph who held the double portion of the Birthright as Heads of Tribes among their uncles. In The Exodus, they emerged from Egyptian bondage and they are, as we pick up the Scriptural account, now at Mount Sinai where Moses is receiving instructions for the construction of the national focus of worship, called "The Tabernacle."

We had read to the end of Exodus 27, and today our continuing Bible Study picks up at the start of Chapter 28 of that book. Pastor Maureen Gaglardi has devoted the entire contents of Volume 2 of her work "The Path of the Just", a work of some 361 pages, entirely to an examination of the priestly garments as described in Exodus 28 and 29, so it is obvious that there is much more which can be said than we can possibly include in our present investigation of the topic. However, let us begin with Exodus 28:1, and I shall insert comments drawn from various authorities along with some of my own as we continue to read through today's Scripture passage.

1. And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.

A. Widdison, in his "Outlines of Lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness" notes "The priest gave the prime of his life to God. An Israelite, other than a Levite, was a warrior at twenty years of age. A Levite was a priest by birth, but was not allowed to function in the priestly office until he was thirty; he was retired at fifty. Later the period was lengthened and the priest was allowed to serve at 25 years of age."

Of the Name, he continues, "Aaron means 'very high' and prefigures the exaltation of our Lord as Priest. Love and pity brought Him down, now He has gone through all heavens as the Representative of His people."

We might observe that Aaron was chosen from among the children of Israel by The Almighty God. He did not, it seems, simply decide on his own initiative that he would elbow others aside and occupy the exalted position of High Priest! Moreover a consensus drawn from the frailty of humanity by democratic process does not, in general, arise from a full appreciation of the inner qualities available in apparently unlikely people. In consequence such a consensus is almost guaranteed to result in the appointment of inferior leadership to fill an exalted post. The Almighty does not permit such process to deflect His purposes. Apparent exceptions, as when allowing the Prophet Samuel to anoint Saul as a king over Israel (I Samuel 8:4-9), are only an interim measure designed to instruct the citizenry concerning their own inadequacies. Positions of status in God's Kingdom are, in the final analysis, only held through appointment by God Himself. As Aaron was appointed, in the same manner Christ appointed "The Twelve" from among His followers, and even from among these, Peter, James and John to form an "inner circle" as when called to observe the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1).

We might also note that The Almighty, Who knew the hearts and the destinies of every potential candidate for the office, not only allowed, but actually ordered, the choice of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, as priests to Himself, and in so doing did not exclude them from the rest of their family, although, being omniscient, He would have known at the time that they would later "offer strange fire" before Him in that office and perish, as explained in Numbers 3:4. The Almighty knows our determined choices before they are made, yet He allows us to make those choices, though harmful, because to do otherwise would remove from us our ability to choose, and with that removal, cancel our essential ability to express love towards Himself and to one another. Continuing:

2. And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

Here, the word "holy" is, in Hebrew, "qodesh" and it means, according to Young's Concordance, "Separation, object set apart." A. Widdison, in his "Outlines of Lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness" devotes his twelfth chapter to "The Priestly Garments." He says "The Garments for glory and beauty indicate what is characteristic of Christ as Great High Priest." The Companion Bible cross-references this with Hebrews 2:9 and 2 Peter 1:17 which confirm the application of the words "glory" and "honour" to Christ, and to Matthew 17:1-8 which speaks of the Transfiguration, wherein Christ was, like Aaron, clothed and crowned for the same purpose of consecration as Priest.

3. And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
4. And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.

God never assigns a task to anyone that is beyond his or her ultimate capability to meet and to accomplish it, and He always furnishes the required physical means to do so. Sometimes we may think that our God-assigned tasks are beyond us. The explanation of our failure, should that appear to be developing, may lie in some part of our life's interest, or commitment that we have not totally yielded to Him. If our priorities are properly assigned with prayerful constancy, He will use our commitment to His purposes effectively. When, at the Burning Bush, Moses himself had demurred, using various arguments, upon learning that his assignment was to face arguably the most powerful king of his day, the tyrant Pharaoh of Egypt, while being himself admittedly "slow of speech" he had to learn that God would provide every need to accomplish this great task.

Those whom The Almighty had "filled with the spirit of wisdom" were no doubt recognized in the community as greatly skilled and talented people by any standard. The added requirement, however, was that they be devoutly willing to co-operate in God's plan for His people. That the matters assigned were indeed accomplished to God's specifications goes without saying as the products of their skilled labours were received and used. The products of their workmanship must have been prepared by individuals every bit as devout as the nature of holy things required. If the Priest's gloriously beautiful garments were acceptable at his dedication, surely those who were called to prepare the garments would not have had impure minds or proud, or avaricious hearts. They would probably be found among the most God-fearing of the families of Israel, and worthy to their calling.

An introductory note regarding verses 6 to 38 in The Companion Bible points out that "Aaron's garments (are) described first. There were in all eight: (1) the mitre (with its plate); (2) the breast-plate; (3) the ephod; (4) the robe of the ephod; (5) the turban; (6) the girdle; (7) the drawers; (8) the coat. Eight is the Dominical number, or number of the Lord."

5. And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.
6. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
7. It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.
8. And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
9. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

The AV translators used the word "curious" in verse 8 to describe the girdle which the Companion Bible explains as "embroidered." Again we find those same colours, gold and purple, red, white and blue, which were also used for the curtains of the Tabernacle itself. The Priest's garments, beautiful and costly, were to match the place of worship in materials and colours. Again, we see those prominent national colours associated with Israel in Sinai as are later found with equal prominence among the descendants of these same Israelites, in The British and American peoples and those generally associated with them in the mainly north-western portions of Europe. Israel, though blind to her identity, nevertheless continued to preserve those colours of the Tabernacle, hearkening back to their glorious Patriarchal ancestry.

In subsequent studies we shall be examining each of the articles which is to be worn by the High Priest and the other priests of The Tabernacle, and searching for meanings in their peculiar designs. As we are about at the end of our time for today, may I leave with you the thought that comes out of a short passage found in Revelation 19:11-14. It says:

11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and true, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Our Great High Priest is to return, setting all governments and all religious and social and financial turmoil into proper accord with His mighty purposes. It is to happen, and by every signal it is to happen very soon. May all who "love his appearing", as St. Paul expressed it in II Timothy 4:8, rest their hearts in this certainty. We shall continue this series on our next programme.

26 February, 1995

LINEN AND STONE - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been following the Scriptual account of God's unfolding Great Plan for the restitution of all things back into perfect agreement with His ultimate purposes after Adam's fall. In Genesis 11:31, the present series of studies began with the call of the aged, childless Abram apart from his city and country; from Ur of the Chaldees, in order to begin a special insertion into history of a people designed to serve God's Plan in a very special way.

We have traced the descent of Abraham's seed through Isaac and Jacob (re-named Israel) to the tribes descended from him as they entered Egypt, and later emerged from that land when they were placed under bondage there by "a new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph." We followed Israel through the Exodus experience to Siani where the nation has been meeting with God and receiving a covenant of national unity with Himself.

On the most recent programmes we were following God's instructions for the nation, and most recently, the instruction regarding the focal point of national worship, The Tabernacle. Last week we saw how the garments of the priests were to be ordered. We shall pick up today's Bible passage in Exodus 28, at verse 10, in a few moments, but first I think we might review the passage from the start of that chapter to refresh our minds as to the picture conveyed to Moses at this point. The passage reads as follows:

1. And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
2. And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.
3. And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
4. And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.
5. And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen.
6. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
7. It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together.
8. And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
9. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

It may clarify the Scriptural account somewhat if I mention that Exodus 28 covers chiefly a description of the various garments and symbolic accoutrements which are to be prepared by skilled workers, and which are then to be worn by the High Priest as he serves in the Tabernacle. Each part of this assemblage has a symbolic meaning connecting the garments with the work of Jesus Christ for His people. By comparison Exodus 29, the chapter which follows, treats of the ceremony of induction of the High Priest and of service which the High Priest is to perform, and again there will be, in this, a symbolic portrayal of Christ's work on behalf of Israel.

A. Widdison, in his "Outlines of Lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness" has some notes concerning each of the garments which were to be prepared for Aaron. He writes of these, listing them in a different order from that of verse 4. The record of the actual preparation of these garments is found later, in Exodus 39. As our reading has not covered all that he describes, I shall confine myself momentarily only to a quote from Mr. Widdison's notes on the "Fine Linen Coat", because it indicates the relationship of Jesus Christ's person and work to that of the High Priest. He says this:

"Let us commence with the 'inside' garment. It was worn next to the person of the priest. All rested on this, forming as it were a moral basis. It was the personal clothing of the priest. It points us on to the spotless life and personal worth of our Lord. Tested under every conceivable condition - weighed in God's Balances - yet not found wanting. His enemies said, 'no fault': others, 'nothing amis,' etc. apart from this moral fitness He could not be a priest. See Exod. 29, 37."

Although not mentioned until verse 42, and there only briefly, the "breeches" would actually be the first article of clothing to be put on. Pastor Maureen Gaglardi, in her Volume II of "The Path Of The Just" mentions this, as she introduces all the articles one by one, in the order in which they would be put on by the High Priest. She draws attention to the reference in Leviticus 16:4, in which Aaron's order of dress is indicated. However as our practice is to take the Scriptures in orderly progression, we shall examine each reference in due course.

At this point it would be appropriate to quote a passage from The New Bible Commentary, which says "The significance of the High Priest's robes cannot be understood without reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, whose perfections they typify. ...this objective is surely implicit in the phrase (')for glory and for beauty(') (2); i.e. not to glorify Aaron but to display the glory and beauty of God, only fully revealed in the Person of His Son." The Commentary further adds, concerning the words "to consecrate him", in verse 3, "Aaron's fitness for the priesthood lay not in himself but in those qualities which were represented and typified by the robes."

Actually one might best collect the comments concerning the ephod for treatment on a later talk, but one cannot move forward to examine the two stones which were positioned upon the shoulder pieces of the ephod without at least making a brief examination of the form of the garment which held them.

This ephod was, according to Keil and Delitzsch, almost undoubtedly "of two pieces which were connected together at the top upon (over) the shoulders;..." and "reaching to about the hip, one hanging over the breast, the other down the back, and that it was constructed with two shoulder pieces which joined the two together. These shoulder pieces were not made separate, however, and then sewed upon one of the pieces; but they were woven along with the front piece, and that not merely at the top, so as to cover the shoulders when the ephod was worn, but according to ver. 25,... reaching down on both sides from the shoulders to the girdle (ver. 8)... There was to be a girdle upon the ephod, of the same material and the same artistic work as the ephod, and joined to it, not separated from it." They continue "This girdle, by which the two parts of the ephod were fastened tightly to the body, so as not to hang loose, was attached to the lower part or extremity of the ephod, so that it was fastened round the body below the breastplate."

Perhaps we ought to read the next verses in our study portion before we comment further. We shall pick up our passage by reviewing verse 9 and continuing to verse 12.

9. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:
10. Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth.
11. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold.
12. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.

Keil and Delitzsch continue: "It was upon the shoulder-piece of the ephod that two beryl stones were to be placed, one upon each shoulder." Indicating their source as Josephus, Keil and Delitzsch explain that the names were "by their generations", or in other words, ranked by seniority, "so that the names of the six elder sons were engraved upon the precious stone on the right shoulder, and those of the six younger sons upon that on the left."

Commenting on verse 10, The Companion Bible shows us that the two stones which are placed, with six names upon each, are thus placed collectively,"on the shoulders, the place of strength", while, as we shall see shortly, the names are placed, one on each stone, individually, on the heart, the place of love. The New Bible Commentary gives a similar explanation, stating of the words "bear the names...upon his heart" in verse 29, "The stones on his shoulders show that the true High Priest has strength to support his people, those on his heart that he holds them close in his affections. It is thus that they are brought before the Lord."

We shall have to leave the remainder of our explanations of these garments to the next programme. In closing, may I again point to the necessity of appearing before The Almighty in robes of His appointment. Too often, it seems, people try to make their own, but no matter how beautiful they may seem, they do not match the place of God's appointment, in the case of the Old Testament High Priest, that of the Tabernacle. There is a passage in Matthew 22:11-13, in the parable of the wedding feast, which says "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Not only did the guest not use the garment which the king had provided, to match his surroundings, but his inability to answer was insulting and therefore punished, May we all be dressed for the occasion when bidden to the feast!

5 March, 1995

LINEN AND STONE - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We have been following the Scriptual account of God's unfolding Great Plan for the restitution of all things back into perfect agreement with His ultimate purposes, and in this ongoing series of Bible Studies, we had traced the family of Abraham, through his son, Isaac and grandson Jacob (who received the new God-imparted name "Israel"), and onward through Jacob's descendants, the children of Israel, as they passed into Egypt under Joseph's protection.

Later we watch as they fell under Egyptian bondage, and afterwards emerged though God's divine interventions at The Exodus by appointment as to prophecy and time, into a new life in the Wilderness of Sinai, where they were assembled at Mount Sinai in order to meet with The Almighty God, Whom they would henceforth know by the name "Yahweh" or "Jehovah". God was their national Saviour and now to become, in a sense, by agreement, their national husband. The nation is to be prepared to enter into The Promised Land as a nation married to, and as an honoured servant of, The God of the whole earth.

We have had recently in view the particulars of The Tabernacle and its furnishings, and before that study can be completed, we find the insertion of Exodus 28 and Exodus 29; two chapters in which The Almighty, relating His instructions to Moses, takes up the matter of the priesthood which must officiate therein. We have seen from Exodus 28:1-12 that Aaron and his four sons are to be called apart to officiate, and for the purpose, they are to be clothed in garments of splendid appearance. Every detail of these robes is important because all has significance as a sort of dramatisation; perhaps we might term it a teaching aid, concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. We had listed before us in Exodus 28:4 "a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle", and "holy garments."

Regarding this whole chapter, a useful note introduces the further comments found in The New Bible Commentary (Revised). It states: "With the law given, the Tabernacle planned and the requirements for its use in worship outlined, the necessity arose for a priesthood to officiate in these matters and to bless and guide the people. The high priest and every other priest acted as intermediaries between the people and God for such purposes. This is made evident in the description of the garments of the priests, and particularly by the fact that the names of the tribes were to be engraved on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, and on the stones of the breastplate of judgment (28:29-30). Aaron was selected for this purpose because he was Moses' mouthpiece. The ministry of the high priest adumbrated that of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:1-10:39)." The dictionary defines the word "adumbrate", incidentally, as "to give a faint shadow of: to exhibit imperfectly" from Latin "- ad, to, umbra, a shadow" so the word is well chosen in this context.

We had given some attention to the form of the ephod, and also mentioned some other articles, like the two shoulder jewels upon which were to be engraved the names of each of the tribes of Israel. Regarding the words "The names ... according to their birth" in verses 9 and 10, The New Bible Commentary adds: "As there were twelve names on the stones, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh must have been represented by the one name of Joseph. They were arranged in order of seniority."

Pastor Maureen Gaglardi in her The Path Of The Just, Volume II, gives careful and detailed comments regarding these individual stones and the meanings she reasons to be attached thereto.

I cannot pass this section of the Scriptures without quoting a passage from the book by the late Mr. W. H. Bennett entitled "Symbols of our Celto-Saxon Heritage." It contains some information which is publicly available, but of which the average Christian may not be aware. I am quoting from Chapter Nineteen of his book, a chapter entitled "The Crown of St. Edward." He writes: "Among the many priceless symbols and objects used in the Coronation of British sovereigns, the ancient Crown of St. Edward undoubtedly holds the pre-eminent place. Though there are other crowns used or present, it is the placing of this Crown on the head of the sovereign which is the central act and purpose of the whole ceremony."

After some further points regarding its history, Mr. Bennett continues "...no two crowns are alike. Each nation has its own design, for just as flags and coats-of-arms are emblematic of nations and peoples, so also are crowns. At first glance, however, St. Edward's Crown appears to be an exception to this rule, for neither in its design, symbolism nor ornamentation is there anything to show that it is the Crown of Britain or to connect it with the British people. On the contrary, it is wholly Israelitish for, among its adornments, it displays the jewelled emblems of the Twelve Tribes, and in its form it is a replica of the Camp of Israel." Mr. Bennett then explains: "In considering this Crown as an emblem of Israel, let us again turn our thoughts to the Breastplate of Israel's High Priest. As described in Exodus 28, this Breastplate was of pure gold, having twelve openings in which were set twelve jewels, one for each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Further, these jewels were of twelve kinds, each with the name of one of the Tribes of Israel ('like the engravings of a signet'(Exodus 28:11)). Thus, in addition to its own tribal emblem or ensign under which it camped and marched, each of the Twelve Tribes also had a jewel as an emblem. Here we should note that on certain occasions the duties of the High Priest required that he go into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle (and later in the great Temple in Jerusalem) there to present himself before that visible Presence of God called the Shekinah or the Glory of the Lord, and that on these occasions he was required to wear the Golden Breastplate. This was undoubtedly the most solemn moment in the life of a High Priest. Yet, as the bible clearly shows, this service was not for himself as an individual. On the contrary, he was allowed to enter the Presence of God only because he came on behalf of the Twelve Tribes of Israel; a fact which is clearly attested by the requirement that he wear the Golden Breastplate on which were the jewelled emblems of the Twelve Tribes.

It is here that the Crown of St. Edward offers irrefutable evidence of our (Mr. Bennett writes as a Canadian) Israelitish identity. For, in the most solemn moment of their lives, the sovereigns of our ancient Royal House enter into our national (racial) House of God, there to be crowned with the Crown of St. Edward, around the golden base of which there are twelve jewels which are identical, at least in kind, with those which were on the Breastplate of Israel's High Priest." Mr. Bennett explains further the fact that, due to some names varying through the centuries for certain of the stones, they may not all be so named as in Exodus 28, but all are as close in type as it was possible to ascertain these when the first St. Edward's Crown was made, and by every available evidence, these same jewels were used again after Cromwell's destruction, with the restoration of the Crown Jewels. The implications of Mr. Bennett's statements are far reaching, and we, of the British-Israel-World Federation desire that more people should know of such things, for it is important to any people to discover their roots and such evidence is extremely important in this connection. Although we are nearing the end of today's programme, I shall read the passage starting at Exodus 28:13, which speaks of the jewels of the High Priest's Breastplate, so that you may contemplate the details.

13. And thou shalt make ouches of gold;
14. And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen chains to the ouches.
15. And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
16. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.

The "ouches" of verses 11, 13 and 14, The New Bible Commentary explains, were "probably a kind of brooch of figured work to form settings for the stones and fastenings for the chains." Continuing:

17. And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.
18. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
19. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
20. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.
21. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.
22. And thou shalt make upon the breastplate chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold.
23. And thou shalt make upon the breastplate two rings of gold, and shalt put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate.
24. And thou shalt put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate.

We shall take up some of the comments given by various sources on the Biblical passage which details these jewels on our next programme.

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