The High-Priest: His Clothes The Clothing of the High Priest
The consecration, the duties, and the regulations of the High Priest point to the Lord Jesus and His work, and so the dress of the High Priest also points to the only Saviour for lost sinners. The High Priest was dressed with seven articles of clothing.
The Linen Breeches and Linen Coat
The first two articles of clothing worn by the High Priest were the linen breeches and the linen coat. Both were made of white linen, woven without a seam. White is the symbolic color of purity, of cleanliness. This is a type of Christ's righteousness and perfect holiness during his entire human life. His sinless life was perfectly knit together, it was woven without a seam. In Heb. 7 we read of Christ, "For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners..." (Heb. 7:26). It is interesting to note that on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest was to carry the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle it on the mercy-seat, that he had to remove his outer garments and enter only wearing these white under garments. So, also Christ, when He presented His own blood, to pay the full price for the sins of His people, to His Father, had His clothes also taken from Him; but the purity, the whiteness of His sinless life was still seen by His Father.
The Robe of the Ephod
The Robe, or Robe of the Ephod, was the third article of dress. It was woven of blue yarn in one piece, without a seam. Blue is the symbolic colour of the heavens, and so we see this blue, seamless robe, the perfect heavenliness of Christ. This is the first time the word robe is used in the Bible. A robe speaks of authority; it is a kingly dress. Here the seamless blue robe directs us to the King of Kings, the one Heavenly King. On the hem of this robe were attached golden bells and pomegranates in an alternating manner. The bells speak of testimony. The pomegranate was a sweet refreshing fruit in the wilderness. The pomegranates speak of fruitfulness. Here we see a type of the perfect testimony and fruit in the life of the Lord Jesus. The bells and pomegranates were equal in number, placed alternately. So it should also be in our life, our testimony should be balanced with fruits in our walk. In the life of the Lord Jesus, His talk and His walk both balanced perfectly.
The fourth article of clothing was the ephod. The ephod was made of "gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work". These colours point to the offices and the natures of Christ. Blue is the heavenly colour showing Christ as the heavenly prophet. Scarlet is the blood colour referring to Christ's sinless human life. Therefore in the blue, scarlet, and purple we may see the offices of Christ portrayed: prophet, priest, and king. In the gold and white His two natures, divine and human. These colours were all sewn together in a most intricate way in the ephod; the Bible says "with cunning work". So, also, in the life of Christ, His offices and natures are intricately connected; they are without mixture and change, and yet without division or separation, one person. Christ's human nature is not mixed with His divine nature, and yet His divine nature is not separated from His human nature. Both are woven into the one person, Jesus Christ. The ephod testified of this great mystery and beauty.
The front of the ephod was connected to the back at the shoulders with two shoulder stones. These shoulder stones were two onyx stones, with the names of the twelve tribes engraved in them, six on each stone. The shoulders are the place of strength and security. The strength and security of God's people is not in themselves but rather that they are carried on the shoulders of that Great High Priest. Israel is often a type of God's elect as God's chosen people. All twelve tribes are engraved in the stones. None are forgotten. They are not just written, but engraved in stone. It is permanent. This, then, is the security of God's elect. Jesus Christ, the living High Priest, shall not forget one, not even the least; for each name is engraven in stone; they shall be carried on His shoulders eternally. Christ, Himself, testified "...they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand". (John 10:25)
The fifth article of clothing, the Girdle, was made from the materials and in the same manner as the ephod. The girdle was a long wrap-around belt. It spoke to the people of that time, ... of work; of being prepared for service. When a man had to work hard or run a great distance he would gather up his long, flowing garments and bind them up with his girdle. We read of this several times in the Bible with this expression "gird up your loins"; in other words, girding up your long garments to your loins so that they are not bothersome. The High Priest's girdle held the ephod close to his body, so he could do his work efficiently. This ephod testifies in a symbolic way, of the work of Christ. Christ gathered his natures and offices into One and completed that great work of reconciling a lost sinner with a holy God. The ephod, which spoke of His natures and offices, was not only on Him for beauty, but as the High Priest, he gathered these together with his girdle, to do his work. Christ alone, could complete the work of reconciliation, and on the cross of Calvary, he could proclaim "It is finished".
The sixth item was the Breastplate, which was mounted over the top of the ephod. It was made of the same material as the ephod, but doubled to form a pocket inside, one span across. On the breastplate were 12 different stones set in gold, arranged in four rows. The name of a tribe of Israel was engraved on each stone. On each of the four corners was a ring of gold. The top two rings were attached to the shoulder pieces with small chains of wreathed gold. The lower two rings were attached to the ephod with blue laces. Three times we read in Exodus 28 that Aaron should bear the breastplate upon his heart. The heart is the seat of affection. So Christ, bears His people not only on His shoulders for strength but also binds them upon His heart. Each tribe was there. Even though each stone was different; each stone was an expensive gem. To Christ each one of His children are most precious and He carries them on His heart. From their side they view themselves as castaways, but God in His great mercy views each of His children as precious in His love for them. They love Him because He first loved them and carried them on His heart. Christ's love for His own is eternal; their names are engraved in stone. No love can be greater than that love of God in Christ, to humiliate Himself, to suffer, and to die to save rebellious sinners.
Inside the pocket of the breastplate, the Urim and the Thummim were placed. The Bible does not tell us exactly what they were or how they functioned. Most Biblical scholars believe them to have been two stones, one light — meaning yes; and the other dark — meaning no; they were drawn out in a manner similar to casting lots, to determine the Lord's will in a certain important matter. We read of seven different occasions that were used in the Old Testament; each time to receive guidance from the Lord concerning a national matter or decision. The Hebrew words Urim and Thummim mean light and perfection. So, Christ is light and perfection to His people and He reveals unto them something of His light and shows them which way they should go.
The last, or seventh article of the clothing of the High Priest was the mitre. The mitre was a hat of white fine linen. Attached to the front of the mitre was a gold plate with the words "Holiness Unto the Lord" engraven on it. This plate was held in place by a blue ribbon which was connected to it and ran from the front over the top of the mitre to the back. The white hat speaks of Christ's sinless and humble life. A hat in public worship is a sign of subjection. Christ subjected Himself completely to the will of His Father, even to the cursed death of the cross. But also, this mitre had a gold crown attached with the blue ribbon. This speaks of Heaven and the crown of His divine glory; and so, Christ is that highly exalted One, who sitteth at the right hand of God, to Whom all things are in subjection. The gold plate hung over the forehead of the High Priest, and the words "Holiness Unto the Lord". He alone fulfilled the law, living completely holy in thought, word, and deed.
The number seven in the Bible speaks of Divine completeness; and so we may observe in the seven articles of clothing, but also in the consecration, duties, and regulations of the High Priest how fully the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented in this history. May it be our desire to continually follow the instruction given by Jesus Himself, "Search the Scriptures ... for they are they which testify of me."