Christ's Glory: Pictured by the Old Testament High Priest
I love to go tidal-pooling by the ocean with our grandchildren. If you look at the rocky seashore, you do not see any animal life. But when you search underneath the stones along the water’s edge, you observe how many rock crabs and other creatures live there. Every rock you look under reveals life of some type – much to the delight of the searchers!
In a similar fashion, when we “turn over and look under the stones” of Old Testament portions of Scripture and carefully search its texts, knowing where and how to look, we will discover rich pictures and teachings about the Lord Jesus Christ everywhere in the Old Testament.
A wonderful illustration of this truth is the Old Testament high priest. In Exodus 28, we read God’s instructions for making all the clothing of the high priest; in Exodus 39, we see again how they made it all, including the breastplate and shoulder stones, the hem on the blue garment, and gold forehead piece of the head covering.
The Old Testament high priest wore a breastplate. The breastplate was tied to the ephod, chest height on the high priest. Twelve stones were mounted in settings of gold on the breastplate. The name of each of the twelve tribes was engraved in one of the twelve stones. The same twelve names were engraved in two onyx stones (six names on each stone) carried on the shoulders of the high priest and attached to the breastplate by chains of gold. Twelve is the number that often refers to God’s church, His people, in Scripture. (For example, His church was organized under 12 tribes in the Old Testament, 12 apostles in the New Testament, and 12+12=24 elders in heaven [the Old and New Testament church]. The heavenly Jerusalem is pictured with 12 gates, 12 angels, 12 foundations, and 12 names. Its length, width, and height are 12,000 furlongs, the wall is 12x12=144 cubits thick and the inhabitants number 12x12x1000=144,000.)
Dear believer, when you feel discouraged or forsaken, look to your gracious High Priest. His entire church is bound upon His heart. His children are tied to Him with a heavenly cord of blue. And His entire church is carried upon His strong shoulders! They are chained to Him with royal chains of gold. Your name is also there; His entire church is included without one missing. And your name is not written there in pencil, to be easily erased. It is engraved in stone, to abide forever.
The Old Testament high priest wore a long garment of blue – the color of the sky, a heavenly color. Along the hem of this garment were attached alternating golden bells and pomegranates. Pomegranates picture fruitfulness in Scripture, and bells we know are rung to proclaim special events and times of day. With every step he took, you would see the pomegranates swinging back and forth and hear the golden bells ringing.
Dear believer, consider your walk and how self-serving instead of God-honoring it often is. Think of your talk, how sinful rather than edifying it can often be. And meditate on how earthly and spotted your garments are instead of heavenly. But do not be downcast. Do not end in despair. Lift your vision; look to your beautiful High Priest dressed in this totally blue garment, heavenly from top to bottom. He perfectly balanced the sinless testimony of His talk (golden bells) with the sinless fruitfulness of His walk (pomegranates). And He did so par excellence with every step of His life. Reach out to touch the hem of His garment!
The Old Testament high priest wore a mitre (an official head-covering) of white. Tied to the mitre by a ribbon of blue was a plate of pure gold with the engraved words “Holiness to the LORD.” This plate covered the high priest's forehead (Ex. 28:36-37).
Dear believer, when you are so ashamed of your thoughts, when you cannot believe that a saved person could ever think such sinful thoughts as you do, when you loathe the impurity of your own thoughts – then look to our glorious High Priest whose thoughts were purely and persistently “holiness to the LORD.” His holy thoughts were engraved in pure gold. What He accomplished and upholds for you secures your salvation, not what you do or do not do for Him.
What a glorious and perfect High Priest Christ is! Why would you look for another way of salvation?