Sermon by Pastor Ron Thomas

"The Tabernacle: Celebrating
The God Who Comes Near"

Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Preached 7/9/2008

The Tabernacle: Celebrating The God Who Comes Near
Lesson Twelve: The Priestly Garments, Dressed To Bless

Key Verse: Exodus 25:8. "And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them."

Text: Exodus 28:1-3. "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."

Introduction: Last year, according to a national trade group, Washington State Patrol troopers, are America's best dressed State Law Enforcement Agency. The patrol, has been wearing the peaked hats and distinctive bow ties for about 70 years. There are several variations of a Washington trooper's uniform, depending on the duty. One trooper said, "Uniforms are an integral part of police work. The uniform identifies the wearer as an authority figure, and as someone who the public can go to in time of crisis. When a citizen in need meets a trooper whose bow tie is straight and whose shoes are shined, they know right away that they're being assisted by a professional. We believe a positive first impression helps create a positive overall contact." If you are a "lead-foot," driving through the state of Washington, you have no doubt admired the trooper's uniform through your rearview mirror. It is some consolation to know that as you pull over and roll down your window, you will be handing your drivers license to one of the best dressed law enforcement officers in the nation!

In our study of the Tabernacle, we have learned that the Tabernacle is an expression of our God's sense of grandeur, beauty and glory. The Lord chose the most gifted artists and craftsmen, using the most exquisite materials to construct His earthly dwelling place. Psalm 96:4-6 reads, "For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: He is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary." The same God who designed and created a breath taking universe, inspired a house of worship that reflected His sense of beauty, and at the same time communicated the beautiful and glorious message of salvation.

But what about the priests who ministered in this magnificent structure? There must be priests to take care of the Tabernacle, to offer the sacrifices, to burn the incense, to trim the lamps, change the shewbread, and to do the many other things connected with the worship of the Lord. In this passage, we learn that Aaron and his sons were appointed by the Lord as priests. Aaron himself, who was Moses' brother, was appointed to be the first high priest. After Aaron died, his descendants, filled this office.

We will learn as we go through Exodus 28, that God was concerned with how Aaron and his sons were dressed. The Lord saw to it that holy clothes were designed and provided for the priests, as they performed their holy duties in this holy place. This priestly attire is given in detail in our text. Obviously, it has special meaning and significance. Just like the Tabernacle itself, these special clothes were made for glory and for beauty. God's priests were dressed to bless! As we leave our study of the Tabernacle, it would do us good to consider the priestly garments, especially those worn by Aaron the high priest. The Priests

All the priests, wore basically four items. In many ways the garments were like what Eastern people wear today. We will start with the innermost article and work outward.

First: A pair of "breeches." Exodus 28:42. "And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach." We might better think of these "breeches," as long, white linen shorts or underpants. It is obvious that God is concerned about modesty.

As we get dressed everyday, we need to remind ourselves that God was the very first clothing designer, and that as such, He stayed away from the skimpy and the risque! If we are to dress for beauty and glory, then we need to be modest in how we present our bodies. The holier parts of the Tabernacle, were the most concealed parts. Our bodies are holy onto the Lord. They are to bring God glory, not shame!

Second: A "coat." Exodus 28:39a reads, "And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen." Verse 40a, "And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats." We might think of this "coat" as a long, collarless, close-fitting shirt with sleeves, made of white linen. The "coat" or special shirt reached to the feet of the priests and was woven in one piece.

White is the color of righteousness. As we live our lives, we must do that which is right in God's eyes. Philippians 2:15 says, "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

Third: A "girdle." Verse 39b, "...and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework." Verse 40b, "...and thou shalt make for them girdles." In our day and culture, when we hear the word "girdle," we think of a form fitting or form altering undergarment! This "girdle" actually is more of what we would call a cloth belt or sash. It was made of embroidered linen. This "girdle" or sash was wound around the body, the end of which would hang downward to the feet, or would be thrown over the shoulder. The "girdle" was not so much for beauty, as it was functional. With it, they could gather their "coat," so that it would not restrict their movement in performing their priestly duties.

The "girdle" reminds us that we are to live our lives with a servant's spirit in the image of our Savior. As Christian leaders, we are to lead by example, rather than by coercion or intimidation!

Fourth: A "bonnet." Verse 40 ends, "...and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty." We might think of this "bonnet," as a turban. This holy head gear was made of white linen, and wound around the head into a tight-fitting linen cap.

The head covering speaks of being under authority. As Christians, we are to live our lives in reverence and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ!

There were no shoes designed or provided by God. It could be that the priests were barefoot, or could wear a common sandal.

These were the garments which were worn by all the priests. They were modest, and functional. Their clothes were befitting the priests of God, and identified them as such! What about your clothes, how you are dressed? Is it modest and functional? What does the way you present yourself say about you? Can people tell that you are a Christian? What message are you sending? What kind of first impressions are you making? How do you think Jesus dressed and presented Himself?

In addition to these articles worn by all the priests, there were articles worn exclusively by the high priest.

The High Priest

First: The "robe." Exodus 28:31-32. "And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon (coat of mail), that it be not rent." The "robe," was woven without seam of blue linen. The "robe" had no sleeves, but only holes for the neck and arms. The hole for the neck was re-enforced to make it strong, so that it would not stretch or tear. The "robe" reached nearly to the feet and its border or hem was lined with little pomegranates and bells of gold which sounded as Aaron went in and out from the Tabernacle.

Notice Exodus 28:33-35. "And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: 34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. 35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not."

Already, we can see that the high priest outfit was more colorful and noisy! The pomegranates represent our deeds, the bells represent our words. This is how we are known to the lost word, by our deeds and words! It is called our testimony! What kind of testimony are you setting before the world? Blue is the color of heaven. Is your testimony of this world or above this world? Are you conformed or transformed?

Also, everyone knew the location of the high priest. They knew where he was all the time! All they had to do was to stop and listen! Accountability is a good thing! Lies and deception are shrouded in secrecy!

Second: The "ephod." Exodus 28:6 reads, "And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work." The "ephod" was a kind of apron or vest that reached down to the thigh. (Obviously, God's clothes design was the layered look!) It was made of fine white linen, and opened at the sides. The fine white linen was the foundation fabric, and it was embroidered with the same colors that were used in the three veils of the Tabernacle, blue, purple, and scarlet. In addition to colorful fine, embroidered linen, gold thread was interwoven with the other colors.

The front and back of the "ephod," were fastened together by shoulder pieces. Exodus 28:7 reads, "It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together." On these shoulder pieces, there were set two onyx stones engraved with the names of the children of Israel, six names on each stone. Exodus 28:9-14. "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 (intricate designs) 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. 13 And thou shalt make ouches (intricate designs) of gold; 14 And two chains of pure gold at the ends; of wreathen (wreath-like) work shalt thou make them, and fasten the wreathen (wreath-like) chains to the ouches (intricate designs) ."

Everyday, as a high priest, Aaron carried with him a reminder of his purpose. The names of the tribes of Israel were continually on his shoulders. On his shoulders, was the weight of responsibility that came with his office! His office was to represent the people before God.

The "ephod" also had a "girdle" or belt. Exodus 28:8 reads, "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." The word "curious" speaks of intricate work, or beautiful work. This beautiful belt secured the "ephod" at the waist.

The "ephod," reminds us that we are not to live for ourselves, but for others. Life is not about us! We are to live responsible, accountable lives before the Lord!

Third: The "breastplate." Exodus 28:15-25 reads, "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. 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 (lig'-yure), 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 (wreath-like) 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 (wreath-like) chains of gold in the two rings which are on the ends of the breastplate. 25 And the other two ends of the two wreathen (wreath-like) chains thou shalt fasten in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod before it." Verse 28 continues, "And they shall bind the breastplate by the rings thereof unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod. 29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually." The "breastplate," was fastened upon the front of the "ephod."

Like the "ephod," the foundation fabric was fine white linen, which was embroidered with the same bright colors, and interwoven with gold thread. It was square, a span each way (the length from the tip of the little finger to the tip of the thumb when the hand is spread out which is about eight inches). In the "breastplate," were placed twelve precious stones in four rows; three in a row; each in a gold setting and each engraved with the name of one of the tribes of Israel. The stones in the first row were of warm, fiery colors; those in the second row were of cooler colors; the third row was again warmer like the first, and the fourth row cooler like the second. There were rings of gold upon the "breastplate," which were fastened by chains of gold, and by blue lace to gold clasps and rings in the shoulder pieces of the "ephod." The "breastplate" was never loosened from the "ephod."

The names of the twelve tribes of Israel, were not only upon Aaron's shoulders, they were upon his heart! This was more than a job! This was a calling!

The "breastplate" was folded double to form a pocket. Inside the pocket, was kept what is called the "Urim and the Thummim." Exodus 28:30 reads, "And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually." The word Urim means lights, and the word Thummim means perfections. Just what this was, we cannot say with certainty. It is mentioned seven times in the Scriptures. It was probably a precious stone(s), which by its changes in color or flashes of light, gave God's answers to various questions referred to Him by the high priest.

In the Urim and Thummim, we are made to see the Spirit of God and the Word of God. This is where we get our direction and guidance.

Fourth: The gold plate. Exodus 28:36-38 reads, "And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. 37 And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. 38 And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD." Like the other priests, Aaron wore a turban made of white fine linen. Attached to his turban however as the high priest, was a "gold plate," which was secured by blue lace. On the "gold plate" was engraved the words, "Holiness to the Lord."

The high priest had the great privilege of representing the Lord. This privilege of representing a holy God, brought a great responsibility. We are to live holy lives before the world. Peter in I Peter 1:14-16 says, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."

These were the holy garments made "...for glory and for beauty." In the priestly garments, we are made to see our blessed Savior! Jesus was dressed to bless!

As our High Priest, Jesus is the perfect union of humanity and deity. Jesus knows what it means to serve and to suffer; to live in this world and to die; to be under authority and yet to be a leader of men; to love a world of sinners, even when they deny and betray you; to be fully human, yet fully God; to be strong in spirit, and yet agonize in prayer!

As our High Priest, Jesus is our burden bearer. Jesus carries the names of all His redeemed on His big, strong shoulders. Jesus says to us today in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

As our High Priest, Jesus has us on His heart. John 10:27 reads, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

As believers, we must be dressed to bless! Peter tells us in I Peter 2:5, that as believers in Jesus Christ, we are a holy priesthood. As priests, our clothing is not necessarily material, but spiritual as well! Romans 13:14 says, "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." Everyday, we represent our blessed Savior! What kind of priests are we? Are you dressed to bless? God needs to be glorified in everything we say and do! Are you covered in His blood?

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