I possess the Old Testament robes of the high priest and can do a presentation where I place each piece on a model and give it New Testament application. Jesus became the final high priest and the final sacrifice for sin, bringing to completion or fulfillment the Old Testament system.
Can I suggest a book to you? It is only 92 pages and entitled: The Fulfillment, Jesus and the Old Testament. It is impossible to truly understand the New Testament without a sufficient grounding in the Old. While this book does not cover the robes of the priest, it does have a chapter on the priestly ministry of Jesus.
UPDATE: I finally have a video recording of this presentation: See HERE.
In this post, I will share photos of each piece of the robes featuring my good husband as the model. With each photo, I will share bullet point notes of the key points I make when I do this presentation. I speak in a more conversational way than how the notes may come across. I tweak what I share depending on the audience, but the essence is the same. Sometimes I think it is a bit of an overload of information, but it only takes about 30 minutes. I pray it will be helpful to you.
MORE about my SPEAKING ministry HERE.
I begin with an introduction:
- We could go chapter by chapter through Hebrews, from chapter 2 through 10, and there is a repeating theme: Jesus is our great high priest. I read a sample of these verses, such as 2:17, 3:1, and 4:14.
- The Old Testament high priest foreshadowed the ministry of Jesus Christ.
- The Old Testament system was one of mediation. The people brought animal sacrifices to the priest, and the priest offered these sacrifices to God. The priest mediated between man and God.
- This system of mediation was fulfilled or completed in Christ. Jesus became our mediator. Jesus became our priest. Jesus became our once and for all sacrifice for sin through his death on the cross (and resurrection).
- We as New Testament believers can approach God the Father directly through Jesus Christ, God the Son. I think we know this, but we can take it for granted today, and we should not! Through first century Jewish eyes this would have been amazing! Direct access to God was impossible under the old system, but a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:19-20) was opened through Christ.
- We, who are believers, are priests too. We are not the great high priest, that is Jesus, but the Bible says we are priests. (1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6.) We are priests because we can go directly to God through Christ.
- We do not have to go through a saint or an angel or Mary. (Why would we want to go backwards into an old way of mediation?) We can go straight to Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5 says that Jesus is the only mediator.
- As priests, we are to offer spiritual sacrifices. Our life is to be a living sacrifice to God through holy living. Recite Romans 12:1.
- But we need to get to these robes of the high priest! There are 3 chapters in the Old Testament (Exodus 28,39 and Leviticus 8) that focus on the garments of the high priest. It is described in detail, therefore it can be reproduced by a modern seamstress.
- Since the Old Testament high priest and priestly system foreshadowed the ministry of Jesus – as we look at the outfit the high priest wore, it can remind us of things about Christ.
- This can remind us of the sinfulness of the high priest.
- I walk through Genesis 3, looking at verses 7, 9-10, 21 and make brief comments.
- Adam and Eve sinned and became spiritually naked before God. And in verse 21 God made coats from skin – animals were slain to clothe them. Here begins the great highway of blood redemption in the Scriptures.
- We see it here in Genesis 3, in the Passover (Exodus from Egypt), in the Leviticus sacrificial system, and finally in Jesus shedding his blood.
- The idea of blood sacrifice can sound primitive or even offensive to our modern ears, but it is a critical Christian teaching. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. Thanks be to God that Jesus completed this for or us. As Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished.”
- This first garment reminds us of the sinfulness of the priest, and each of us, and our need of a covering.
- This represents the sinlessness of the high priest.
- It is made of fine linen, and I make explanatory comments about linen since we live in an age of cheap and synthetic clothing.
- Revelation 19:7-8. The lamb is Jesus, and the wife is the church. This is the second coming of Jesus which we await in the future. Linen here represents the righteousness of saints. Our good deeds bring glory to God.
- But in Matthew 22 we have another wedding. This is a parable Jesus told. Someone came in without a wedding garment (not properly dressed for a wedding) and they were cast out into a place of darkness and weeping. You cannot be a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ until you put on a garment of righteousness. But how do you get a garment of righteousness? This poses a problem for us because…
- We can’t make ourselves righteous. No matter how good we try to be, we still sin. Recite Romans 3:23. And this is precisely why Jesus died on the cross for us. If we could be good enough, we don’t need Jesus.
- The only way to get a garment of righteousness is to place our faith or trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Righteousness is a gift given to us by faith. Recite Ephesians 2:8-9.
- Our good deeds bring glory to God, but they can not earn us salvation, or make us righteous. If we could make ourselves righteous, that would be self-righteousness. And usually we are not too fond of self-righteous people. It is not admirable to come across as self-righteous, right?
- So…make sure you are trusting in the right thing. It is not about our works, but the work of Jesus for us. We need Christ-righteousness.
- When the high priest wore this garment, he appeared sinless before God, but Jesus our great high priest actually was sinless. That is an important truth. Jesus was without sin. Recite 2 Corinthians 5:21.
- Depending on the audience, I may share stanza 4 of the old hymn: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. Are you clothed in the righteousness of Christ, faultless to stand before the throne?
(Note the colors of purple, blue, and scarlet which will eventually be considered.)
- The belt can remind us of the service of the high priest. The high priest served God in the Tabernacle and the Temple.
- The sash for the priest was more for beauty than function, but with regular robes a sash or belt was practical. In Middle Eastern culture, men wore robes, and a robe could get in the way if you were trying to work. A robe could be tied up or tucked into the belt, or be used to hold a tool or weapon.
- Several references in the Bible refer to being girded for action or service, and this was referring to getting your robe out of the way to get to work. Today we might say “roll up your sleeves” and let’s get to work.
- As the belt reminds us of the service and work of the priest, it can remind us of the service and work of Christ. Mark 10:45 says that Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life a ransom for many.” Christ was a servant and ultimately gave his life for us. This is referred to as the “substitutionary atonement” – We deserve punishment because we are sinful, but Christ was innocent and died in our place.
- This is also an example for us. If Jesus was a humble servant, we as Christians should be humble servants too.
- The ephod is something like an apron. Exodus 28:31-34 describes it.
- Blue can remind us of obedience to God. A passage in Numbers (15:38-40) refers to a blue cord that the Israelites were to place on their garments to remind them of God’s commandments and that they were to obey them.
- In this blue color, we can think of the steadfastness or obedience of the priest. They were steady and loyal in their service of God.
- We can be reminded of the Lord Jesus Christ who was obedient. Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus humbled himself, and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. We don’t usually know how we are going to die, but Jesus knew exactly what was ahead of him. Remember how he kept telling his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to die – and they did not get it. Peter even contradicted Jesus. But Jesus was steadfast in his purpose.
- Across the bottom of the blue ephod were sewn pomegranates – which are a fruit. The pomegranate is mentioned many times in the Bible. It grows in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It has numerous seeds; one fruit can have over 600 seeds. Thus it can remind us of fruitfulness.
- Are we as believers bearing spiritual fruit? Are we steadfast and obedient in the service of our Lord? I recited Ephesians 2:8-9 a few minutes ago, but verse 10 is important too. It says: “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- This is an elaborate ephod. Exodus 28:6-30 describes this piece in detail.
- The breastplate has 12 stones, and it says that this represents the 12 tribes of Israel. These were all gemstones like emerald, sapphire, and amethyst. The plate was of pure gold.
- This outfit in the original was expensive. It was worn only by the high priest – Aaron and his successors. Other types of Levites wore simpler clothes as they assisted and served God in the Tabernacle and Temple.
- On both shoulders are onyx stones, each engraved with 6 of the tribes of Israel on each side, according to their births.
- What can this remind us of spiritually? The chest can remind us of affection. The 12 tribes of Israel were precious to God, and we as believers are precious to God too. Our great high priest Jesus knows us, loves us, and gave his life for us. We are like precious stones to him.
- The tribes were also on each shoulder. The shoulders remind us of strength. Remember how Jesus told about the shepherd who went out looking for the one lost sheep, and when he found it he put it on his shoulders and carried it home. This is Jesus, our great high priest, who represents us before God and carries us on his shoulders. I’m so thankful he does. The Lord is my shepherd, and I trust he is your shepherd too.
- We have seen gold, blue, purple and scarlet in this outfit. It also says that it was woven with threads of these colors. Overall, this can point us to the royalty of Christ. Christ would not only fulfill the priesthood of Israel, but the Kingship of Israel too. Jesus was a descendant of David, making Jesus both the High Priest and the High King.
- GOLD: When Jesus was born, they brought him gold, frankincense, and myrrh – these were gifts for a king.
- PURPLE: The color of royalty. Purple was reserved for kings in ancient times, because only kings or wealthy people could afford it. (The source of purple dye in the ancient world was the murex seashell and it was a labor-intensive process.) Jesus came the first time as a humble servant to give his life, but when he returns the second time it will be in power and glory as a conquering King. Revelation 19 describes Jesus as “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
- SCARLET: represents redemption. Isaiah 1:18 says “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Red covered red. Christ’s blood covered our sin.
- Look close, as this belt is the same fabric as the elaborate ephod. It went around the middle and seemed to secure the ephod in place.
- This can remind us of the security we have in Christ. The well-known gospel verse of John 3:16 says that those who believe have eternal life. That is security. We don’t have temporary or conditional life; it is eternal life.
- The gold piece had “holiness unto the Lord” engraved on it.
- This represents the separation of the high priest. He was dedicated exclusively to Jehovah or Yahweh.
- The Lord looked upon the high priest as holy, and thus the priest could serve as mediator between man and God. Again, this points us to Christ, our sinless mediator.
- If we have accepted Christ as our Savior from sin, God looks at us through Christ. We are seen as sinless, even though we are works in progress. We have that wedding garment of righteousness through Christ.
- We as believers are called to live holy lives. Remember Romans 12:1. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” We are set apart to live a life that brings glory and honor to Jesus.
And Jesus is there to help you. Jesus is not against you, he is for you. I’ll close by reading Hebrews 4:14-16 in the The Message. The Message is a paraphrase of the Bible, but it can offer a fresh reading of a text:
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
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⇒ I have a speaking ministry. See HERE. Available to speak in the Greenville, SC area and other nearby areas such as Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA.
A great overview of the book of Hebrews HERE from Chuck Swindoll.