Exodus 28-29 are seemingly monotonous chapters that describe the garments of priests and some rules on sacrificing animals. However, there are some interesting nuggets found within these passages.
1. Suiting up for the priesthood is similar to putting on the “whole armor of God” denoting that the priest was going to spiritual battle just as an army of soldiers would enter into physical battle. There are specific undergarments, a headdress, and a breastplate with shoulder pieces. The breastplate of Aaron was incredibly beautiful. It was made from gold and covered in precious gemstones.
I noticed that the gemstones in the breastplate, according to Exodus 28:17-20 (sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper) resemble the stones covering Satan, the anointed cherub (sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, and gold) in Ezekiel 28. Notice Exodus 28 and Ezekiel 28. Interesting.
2. The priest was to stand out from the crowd. These garments were incredibly ornate, and all the priests had a variation of it, though the HIGH priest’s garment was the most beautiful.
This is something we have lost in our churches. Some may call it “legalistic” to desire a pastor to wear a suit and tie, but there is something refreshing about seeing a pastor wear the nicest possible attire, rather than jeans and a polo shirt. A jacket and tie cannot compare with a golden, gem encrusted ephod, but it would be nice for a pastor to dress like they are entering the house of God, rather than an International House of Pancakes.
3. What in the world is the Urim and Thummim? The Bible is incredibly vague in their origin and use. Notice there is no command to make them, unlike all the other pieces of the priestly garment. They were just…there, and put in the breastplate near the heart. Urim (light) and Thummim (perfection) seems to act as an oracle of sorts and is related to God’s judgment (Exodus 28:30). Numbers 27:21 provides additional evidence for the priest, “who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim.”
The judgment of Urim? The Urim is not a person, and the greatest judge is God. 1 Samuel 28:6 gives a little more clarity, “And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.”
It seems that God uses the Urim and Thummim to communicate His judgment. It is sort of like a Ouija board or Magic 8 Ball that only God could communicate to the priests through. I have never in all my life heard a preacher broach the subject of this supernatural device.
4. Consecration of the holy garments using blood. This is a perfect picture of our sanctification through the blood of Christ.
As beautiful and ornate as these priestly garments were, they could not be considered holy until they were covered by the blood of a sacrifice. Even the most moral and wonderful human being cannot be considered holy until covered by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice.
You can be a “good person” though the Bible says that “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), but “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
We must accept Christ’s gift of salvation paid for with his blood upon the cross. This is represented by a seemingly mundane ritual performed by Israelite priests 1400 years before Christ lay down his life.