THE HOLY GARMENTS
"You shall make Holy Garments for Aaron your
brother, for glory and for beauty." Exodus 28:2
If ever eyes beheld an object in which splendor shone, it
was the high-priest in his Holy Garments. God planned each part 'for glory
and for beauty.' Hence every brilliant color sparkled. Hence richest jewels
cast back dazzling rays. The rainbow's varied hues, the sun's meridian
light, seemed to concentrate in a human form. Earth brought her best. Art
framed them with a Spirit-given skill.
Reader! such is the figure to which these humble pages
would now invite your gaze. But you will look in vain if you see nothing but
the costly robes. Here is delight for faith's enraptured heart. Jesus is
here! What is beauty, but His form, His grace, His work! What is
glory, but His manifested sight! This workmanship would never have seen
birth, except to show His all-surpassing worth.
Spirit of Truth, look down! We long for clearer vision of
the Lord. It is Your sovereign province to display Him. Cause, then, these
Holy Garments to fulfill their office.
First, there was the inmost coat. Its texture was
of finest linen. Exodus 28:39. It covered the whole frame. It clothed
the arms and flowed down to the ground. It thus showed purity from
head to foot. Do any ask—Where can such full-length purity be found? The
Gospel answers by revealing Christ. He is one blaze of spotless
righteousness. This truth is the firm pedestal of all our hopes. If one
defect had touched Him, He must have needed an atonement for Himself. But
being sinless, He can take the sinner's place. He hangs a sinless body on
the cross. He gives a sinless soul to bear God's wrath. Thus wrath is
This snow-white tunic exhibits, also, the
righteousness which Christ wrought out on earth. His active obedience
covers the whole surface of the law. Heaven's palace must have heaven-pure
garments. Christ weaves them. Christ bestows them. Faith takes them, and is
thus made fit for the throne of God.
Reader! think well; you must sink low in hell, except a
righteous Savior cleanses your guilt. You cannot stand before God's eye,
except you face Him righteous as He is righteous. You cannot breathe in
heaven, except a newborn nature love its holy climate. The hands of Jesus
hold all this mercy for you. His holy blood is perfect atonement for sin.
His full obedience is your royal robe. His Spirit can impart all grace.
Behold the High-priest in this inner tunic, and let its snow-white hue teach
you these truths.
The coat was tightly fastened by a belt. To gird
the loins was to prepare for toil. Activity is thus insured. This
sign, then, shows our Jesus equipped for all the labors of redeeming
service. It was no light task to save souls. Mountains of difficulty must be
overcome. Untiring strength must be put forth. He promptly exerts all of His
energy. He meets each foe. He clears each obstacle. He rests not until the
path from earth to heaven is free. Yet He will work until His flock is
safely gathered home. He worked on earth because He greatly loved. He works
in heaven because He loves as greatly.
Reader! see Jesus all activity to save. He never weakens
nor loiters nor desists. One thing He does. He girds His loins for labor.
Are you as earnest to be saved? Are you as active to seek Him? Are you as
zealous to subserve His cause? His persevering zeal should shame man's
listless indolence. His belt is reproach to our ungirded loins.
Above the coat a robe was placed. Exodus 28:31. In
measure it was less. It had no covering for the arms. It scarcely reached
below the knees. But its chief difference was its lovely hue, and the
magnificence of the bordering hem. The color was pure blue. It thus
reflected the clear canopy of heaven. The high-priest ministered in a
sky-blue robe. Thus Jesus brings all heaven to our thought. Heaven is in His
every word. His hands extend the gift of heaven. To see Him now is heaven
begun. To be with Him forever is heaven complete. Faith knows no heaven but
Him. Reader! see Jesus as your High-priest in azure robe, and you will die
to earth, and earth will die to you. A brighter scene will win you to love
This robe had a rich fringe. Its hem was a broad
belt of pomegranates and golden bells. These pomegranates were richly
worked in purple, blue, and scarlet. Of all the fruits, this is most rich
in seed. Therefore it is fit emblem of luxuriant shoots. Here
Jesus is portrayed, as the 'Everlasting Father' of a countless race. His
blood is sown on earth; a harvest of saved souls springs up. Mark the crowds
who throng the throne of glory. They all are produce of redeeming love. Mark
all who in the wilderness of earth show signs of new-imparted being. They
all derive existence from one stem; they all are fruit of one regenerating
Spirit. We see the ornamented edge, and we adore the truth, 'So shall your
seed be.' Gen. 15:5.
The pomegranates were intermingled with golden bells.
The high-priest could not stir but melody announced that he was near.
Israel's sons found special comfort in this ordinance. Their high-priest
passed the veil. He stood before the ark. It was a solemn moment. The spot
was tremendous in awe. The thought might rise, Can man draw near to symbols
of God's glory and not die? But a sweet note lulls all such fears to rest.
The golden bells are heard. All hearts rejoiced. The high-priest faced the
mercy-seat and yet he lived. The golden bells still sound. Faith is no
stranger to their voice. Jesus, indeed, is no more seen by mortal sense. The
heavens hide Him. He prosecutes His work before a throne unseen by us. And
there He lives. The proof is clear and sweet as music from the golden bells.
Each tender whisper of His love, each soothing application of His word, each
sweet assurance of unfailing care, are sounds which evidence that Jesus
lives. The golden bells forever ring the joyful tidings, 'Because I live,
you shall live also.'
Believer, look often to the fringe of the blue robe.
Jesus is there, the fruitful author of your every grace. Jesus is there,
assuring that He lives to give you life.
The ephod was next added. Exodus 28:6. This was a
tunic, shorter in form than the preceding robe. But while the robe was
simple in one azure shade, this ephod was all radiant in diversity of hue.
They shall make it, said the Lord, 'of gold, of blue, of purple, of scarlet,
and fine twined linen, with skillful work.' Earth brought its choicest
produce. Art used its utmost effort. The purpose is most clear. We thus are
taught that all rare graces are combined in Christ. His person,
which is God and man; His work, which fills all heaven with glory;
His tender dealings; His loving heart; His faithful truth; these are the
perfection of all charms. None ever see true beauty until Christ appears in
His salvation's robes.
Two shoulder-pieces fixed it. No common skill
prepared them. Sockets of gold were formed. In each an onyx stone was
placed. These stones were engraved with the names of Israel's tribes.
O my soul, what streams of comfort issue from this sight! Your name, your
very name appears on high, uplifted on the shoulders of your Lord. How then
can foes work harm? They may assail, they will assail. But you are high
above their reach. Can they scale heaven? The thought is folly. Yet they
must lay Christ low before they can touch you. Your seat is safety. Your
prop is Deity. Rejoice, be glad. High is your Lord—are you less high? Thus,
weak in yourself, you soar above all peril, and sit as more than conqueror
on eminence of Almightiness!
Rich is this comfort. But the Lord of comfort yet gives
more. It is His will that joy unspeakable should fill His people's souls. A
breast-plate therefore is inserted in this ephod's front. No words
can show its matchless splendor. Richly embroidered like the ephod, twelve
precious jewels were set upon it. Each glittering stone exhibited the name
of one of Israel's tribes. This work is all arranged to prove how dearly
Jesus loves His own people. The world may scorn them as the vilest dust.
But Jesus guards them as His choicest treasure, and put them on as the
delight of His delights. Redeemed souls are His chief ornament. He wears
them on His heart.
Believer, look to Christ. Mark, He displays His very
heart. What do you read there? Your name! Your very name! Do you ask, And
can He love me? Surely the manger, the garden, and the cross are
proof. But lest such evidence should not suffice, His breast-plate is
shown as a scroll written with your name. Be then persuaded. His life is
love for you. His heart has never been, and never will be, without your
image. You dwell entwined amid His affection's fibers. Your High-priest ever
wears this precious breast-plate. He ever shows your name before God's
throne. You are inseparable portion of His heart.
This is not all. The breast-plate holds more wondrous
treasure yet. But here is mystery which we cannot scan. We know, and it is
much to know, that the Urim and Thummin were adjoined. The meaning of
the terms is clear. Their meaning is 'light and perfection.' Their holy use
is also known. By means of these the Lord revealed His will, and gave
responses to the consulting priest. The Gospel of the ordinance is likewise
clear. Christ is our light. He is our full perfection. Do we need wisdom? Do
we seek guidance? We may draw near. From His heart pure light will shine. Do
we mourn that imperfection cleaves as our very skin? He only can relieve.
His blood, His righteousness, His Spirit, His dealings, are perfect and make
Reader! seek Christ, and light is yours. Seek Christ, and
all perfection is your portion. Our Urim and our Thummin are His smile.
The Holy Garments are not yet complete. The head must now
receive its crowning grace. For this a mitre is prepared. Fair linen
is the substance. A belt of blue surrounds it. On this a golden plate is
fixed. And then the glorious name, 'Holiness to the Lord,' shines forth.
Exodus 28:36. My soul, look up to heaven. Jesus there ministers to
consummate salvation. What is it that His mitre declares? 'Holiness
to the Lord.' Adore Him—for such is His just title. His person is
'Holiness to the Lord.' Unspotted purity is His essence. If it were
otherwise, He could not take a Savior's place. His work is 'Holiness
to the Lord.' He came to set Himself apart, that He might do His Father's
will. His blood, His righteousness, His prayers, are
'Holiness to the Lord.' His people, in their souls, their walk, their
ways, are 'Holiness to the Lord.' He found them sinners. He made them holy.
He gave them new hearts, new lives, to be forever 'Holiness to the Lord.'
Such is our robed High-priest. Is He not glory? Is He not
beauty? Who will not love Him? Who will not praise Him? Who will not pray,
Glorify me in Your glory! Beautify me in Your beauty! for I am Yours!