Aaron is going to be put in place as the first high priest. His four sons will be the first four priests.
The garments are to be made by skillful people, in whom the Lord endowed with the spirit of wisdom. Next week, we will see those people listed in chapter 31.
There will be seven things made for the high priest: the six listed here, plus the Urim and the Thummim, mentioned in verse 30.
The Ephod is basically an apron made of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet. It had two shoulder pieces with onyx stones on them, with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel engraved on them. The symbolism here is that the high priest bears Israel on his shoulders.
The breastpiece was a square pouch, a span's width (the distance between the thumb and finger - about 8"), with 12 stones on the front of it, each engraved with the name of a tribe of Israel. It was attached to the ephod by two gold cords.
The symbolism of the breastpiece was that Israel was near the high priest's heart.
It is called the breastpiece of judgment because the Urim and the Thummim were carried in it.
In the breastpiece was the Urim and the Thummim, meaning "lights" and "reflections." They were for determining judgments, but just how, no one knows. You see, we're not at all sure what these actually were. It is possible that they were stones - a white stone and a black stone. The priest could have prayed about God's will and judgment for something in a yes or no fashion, and pulled a stone out of the breastpiece. The color would be the answer. Or it is possible that these were lots for casting, to determine God's will or judgment.
Later, when Joshua was to be commissioned before all the people, God said,
Num. 27:18-21 So the LORD said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight. And you shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him. Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD...
In 1Samuel 28, the Philistines gathered together against Israel. We read,
1Sam. 28:5-6 When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets.
So the Umim and the Thummim were used to determine the judgment of God. But how, we do not know.
The high priest's robe was blue. It was all of one piece, with an opening for the head. It was never to be torn. Incidentally, this was one more illegal thing about Jesus' trial. You may remember in Matthew 26, when...
Matt. 26:63-65 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN." Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses?...
The hem of this robe also had pomegranates and gold bells alternating all around. Their purpose was to make noise. We discussed the danger of the priests' job when we looked ad Nadab and Abihu's quick judgment. Going before the Lord in the Holy of Holies was no small thing, and any defilement could mean the instant death of the high priest. It is said that they would tie a rope around the ankle of the high priest when he went inside the Holy of Holies to minister before the Lord. As long as the bells were ringing, everyone knew that he was still alive. But when the bells stopped, it would mean that he had been struck dead and would be pulled out with the rope.
Fastened to the turban with a blue cord was a plate of gold, engraved with the words "Holy to the Lord." This was a constant reminder that the high priest was to be holy, set apart for God.
Too bad that we don't all have headbands that read this - it might keep us out of trouble! Peter told us,
1Pet. 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."
We should always remember that we are called to be holy to the Lord.
The tunic was fine linen, checkered.
The sash was woven.
The other priests also had sashes, but had caps instead of turbans. They also wore linen breeches that went down to their thighs. This was to cover their bare flesh - with all of the physical things that the priests would do, they needed to be properly covered for decency's sake, and also to avoid the appearance of the pagan religions' priests, who often performed their ceremonies uncovered.
We should consider this when we stand up to minister before the Lord in public ministry. Whether we're leading worship, teaching Sunday School, or standing before the congregation, let us consider the bare flesh we are revealing, and as God if it is proper for a minster of God. Or even a stumbling block to His people.
This is the procedure that Moses is to follow to consecrate the priests to minister to God.
Notice that they had to lay their hands on the head of the bull and the rams before they were slaughtered. The laying on of hands indicates a transference of something. Sometimes of authority, other times it is a transference of healing. Here it is a transference of the guilt of sin.
Also listed here are the wave offering and the heave offering. The heave was to lift it up toward heaven, the wave was a repeated horizontal back and forth motion.
Here we see the purification of the altar of sacrifice.
Listed here are the continual sacrifices to be made: a lamb in the morning and a lamb at twilight, each with a grain offering and libation.
The altar of incense was about 18" square and three feet tall. It had horns and poles like the altar of sacrifice, although this altar went inside the tabernacle - in the Holy Place, in front of the veil.
Being inside the tabernacle indicates that it had a heavenly counterpart that it represented. Sure enough, we see in the book of Revelation the heavenly altar of incense mentioned in five different chapters.
We are told in Revelation that the incense was the prayers of the saints.
Rev. 8:3-5 And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer; and he filled it with the fire of the altar and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
The incense, representative of prayer, was to be burned on it perpetually - in the morning and at twilight. This is a good example for us to follow as well, for we are told to...
1Ths. 5:17 pray without ceasing;
We each must maintain our own altar of incense before the Lord.
Remember that David numbering Israel brought a terrible judgment upon the people.
1Chr. 21:1-4 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, "Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number." And Joab said, "May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?" Nevertheless, the king's word prevailed against Joab...
1Chr. 21:7 And God was displeased with this thing, so He struck Israel.
So the atonement money was the way to keep the Lord from becoming displeased and bringing judgment upon the people. It was called a ransom that there would be no plague for numbering. What a great reminder against the pride that can come from numbering a great people.
Notice that all adults, rich or poor, were equal before the Lord when it came to the atonement money. So too, each of our need for atonement with God is equal.
The use of the atonement money was for the service of the tabernacle.
The priests had to wash in this bronze laver before entering into the tabernacle, else they would die. This is a good picture of how necessary it is for each of us to be washed in the water of the Word when we come to God.
It is interesting to me that there are no measurements listed here for the dimensions of the bronze laver. This tells me that it is not the quantity of water that is important, but just the fact that the priests were washed. You don't need to read ten chapters each morning. Ten words of the Word of God can cleanse you just as easily.
Listed here are the ingredients, preparation, and use of the anointing oil. Don't try to make it yourself, as there is a judgment associated with that.
The same goes for the temple incense. Don't make any yourself.