Lent 2018: See the Lord's Salvation: Day 24

Instructions for the Priestly Garments

by

Today's Text: Exodus 28:1-29, Ezekiel 44:15-19, Ezekiel 44:23-29, 1 Peter 2:4-5

Scripture Reading: Exodus 28:1-29, Ezekiel 44:15-19, Ezekiel 44:23-29, 1 Peter 2:4-5

I’m not married, and I’m not getting married any time soon, but I think about my wedding dress a lot.

Not in a weird way. And from what I’ve gathered from my married friends, I know that if I do get married someday, I won’t think much about the dress on the actual day anyway. But as a twenty-something girl raised in the South, I’ve been attending a lot of weddings lately, and inevitably, they lead to dreams about my own.

I think it says a lot that we take the time to get dressed up to partake in this covenantal ceremony before God. The bride, the groom, the wedding party, and the guests—everyone puts on their Sunday best to celebrate.

In Exodus 28, God gives Moses intricate instructions for how to make the clothes that his brother, Aaron, will wear as priest. The entire chapter is full of beautiful descriptions of the garments that the artisans are instructed to create. God tells Moses that these garments should be made for Aaron and his sons “for glory and beauty” (v. 2).

The priests were mediators between God and the Israelites. They were the only ones allowed to enter into the holy place of the tabernacle, God’s sanctuary, where His spirit dwelt (Ezekiel 44:16).

It is fitting, then, that the instructions for the priestly garments are so detailed and delicate. The clothes the priest wore to enter into the presence of God deserved the utmost beauty, the utmost glory. The priests were set apart from the rest of the Israelites to be called holy. The garments they wore should have been their Sunday best.

I wonder if Aaron and the other priests were giddy with excitement to enter into the presence of God. I wonder if they felt the weight of their responsibility every time they put on these garments—the responsibility to be set apart as holy, as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2).

God’s holiness is always connected to glory and beauty. His holiness is stunning. As God’s people, we are called to be holy, too.

Thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are able to come before God without wearing the intricate garments of the priests (1 Peter 2:4-5). Christ clothes us in righteousness and gives us the ability to participate in the royal priesthood of the kingdom of God. May we live each day in the glory and beauty given to us by Christ.

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Ellen Taylor was born and raised in sweet home Alabama, but has called Nashville home since 2013. When she’s not working as the editorial assistant at She Reads Truth, you can find her enjoying good food and good conversation with her friends and family. She is a lover of cozy sweaters, ugly dogs, and the Oxford comma.

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  • Lindsey Bailey

    Whether we dress up or dress for comfort when we worship on Sundays is irrelevant in my eyes. We can error on either side. Drawing attention to ourselves or focusing too much on physical things or forgetting the holiness of God and not approaching Him with a respectful heart. The Old Testament was all out about the outward and the new was more focused on the inward. There is no black and white. God meets us wear we are.

  • Thank you! They are my new favorite pants.

  • Peony Noirr

    ❤️

  • Barbara Thompson

    I am glad to hear about the Priestly garments and I still dress for church it’s a part of my heritage.When I lay out my personal priestly garments it gives me pleasure to know that I am going before a Holy God,the King of Kings and He deserves the best in all things.

    • Kari

      Me too Barbara! Although it isn’t required, since Christ has already clothed us in righteousness, I still dress up for church! Like you said, we’re laying out our “priestly garments” to go into God’s house. There’s just something about doing that that feels right, maybe it’s because of chapters like this one!

  • Jo Gistand

    How humbling! Christ clothes us in righteousness so we don’t have to wear these garments before the KING! Amen!!!!!

  • Sabrina Michelle

    Praise God and give Him our best!!❤️❤️

  • Having on my Sunday’s best is something I was thought growing up. I will be a mess all week but on Sunday I will get myself together and make sure I look my utmost best for Christ. The reading today puts it all in perspective for me that God loves things beautiful. I am thankful for his grace and mercy.

  • Amy Munoz

    Remember in the Old Testament the gap between God and Man was filled by man’s doing- sacrifices, atonement, etc. a lot of striving.

    In the New Testament, Jesus fulfilled the strive for us, so there isn’t a need for the pageantry represented here. In God’s eyes looking through Jesus, we are already clothed in glory and beauty (praise The Lord!)

  • Heidi Ducey

    This passage about putting on our best before God has convicted me to re think what I wear to church. Sadly to say I’ve become accustom to dressing for comfort and ease, and just throw on what I can wear throughout my Sunday (nap and all). I realize He desires our best in all things everyday. I’m thankful for today’s passages.

    • Jen Jennings

      But that’s the good news shown here in Exodus and then through Christ! We don’t need to wear anything extravagant to come before God! Christ is our holy and beautiful garment! We are made holy and beautiful in HIM . So, permission granted! Wear comfy and embrace the glory you wear already in Christ!

    • Natalie

      My first thought was like yours: am I presenting my best self to God on Sundays by choosing the right clothes? But Jesus emphasized the internal more than the physical. What’s in our hearts when we’re worshipping God? Are we bringing him our love, devotion, and service? Or are we thinking about what’s for lunch, looking at our watch during the sermon, wishing we could sing different songs, and on and on. The Pharisees sure looked good on the outside, but their hearts were corrupt. May we give God our best “spiritual sacrifices” (I Peter 2:5) and remember the outside is secondary to the inside.

  • Caroline Smith

    Sisters, It’s me here again. Your hot mess express friend that is going through a very hard week. Can I ask for your continued prayers once again? It means the world to me! Today, marks a VERY important day in my life in which I am PRAYING SO HARD that God gives me the desires of my heart!

  • I love the ceremony to all the priestly garments, how they are to approach God and how they are to consecrate themselves to God. I’ve been around the church world for a long time and have seen many pastors and church employees throw in the towel and say “this just isn’t my thing.” But that’s just it, God calls, God ordaines, God sets these people apart and promises to be their inheritance. I think it’s beautiful. And there’s no promise is here that says it will be easy.

  • Alissa Craig

    Oh my gosh! I was feeling like a horrible person for being so annoyed by how much scripture they had!! I read from Exodus 28-38 and just had to stop. I’m glad to hear it was a glitch of some kind!

  • JJ Arthur

    I love the closing sentence, “may we live each day in the glory and beauty given to us by Christ”. What a beautiful statement! This will be my prayer for the day!

  • Katherine Chan

    I was struck with your line, “God’s holiness is always connected to glory and beauty. His holiness is stunning.” I was marveling because, in a world of supermodels, and sexy body glorification, holiness is absent. But what if women in particular demonstrated beauty and glory with holiness? Think how our culture would change. What if we, as christian women didn’t crave a beauty and a glory for ourselves, but rather a holiness so beautiful, it shocks the world. What if we captured the essence of being set apart, as being so distinctly beautiful, that it challenges the view of modern culture, because it is actually so incredibly strikingly beautiful?

  • I was really struck by Ezekiel today. The note that the priests should take off their special garments before going out into the people so that the holiness from the garments doesn’t transmit to the people. This paired with the commandment that they teach people what is holy and not holy really speaks to the importance of symbolism and ritual. If the priests wore the special garments all the time, they wouldn’t be special anymore (and people might at first assume that everything they did even when they were off duty was holy). We need a distinction between holy and not holy or nothing feels special or elevated. To go with the wedding dress metaphor, if we wore them all the time they wouldn’t have any meaning anymore.

    This all feels really tied to the commandment to the priests that they should teach people about the holy festivals and sabbath. Days set apart as special and full of symbolism and holy things. Things that create sacred space in our lives. In this era of everything being casual and rejection of ritual as old fashioned, I’m thankful for this reminder that these things serve a holy purpose. I plan to try harder to make a demarcation between the holy and mundane in my own life (and what better time than to celebrate Easter fully!)

    • Ro

      This is so good! It gave me a new perspective on the whole study! Going off of this, I think in our own lives, because Jesus died for us we are no longer common but holy. BUT I think we forget this. I think we forget that we are holy because we do not have to wear special garments to be holy or do something that really shows people we are holy. This seems like kind of a wake up call to me to remember that Jesus died to make us holy! that’s a huge deal! so, how can we live life everyday remembering we are holy? how do we set apart the mundane and the holy in our own lives/hearts?
      I actually would like some advice as to how we can better live life knowing we are set apart and made holy!

      • Rhonda

        This is so good!! Thank you both for such good insight!!! It is a wake up call!! We nowadays go to church in a mundane way…wearing whatever….rather than making it a special, holy event!! We drink our coffee, and talk…, we should be in a holy state to realize how amazing it is to come to God and worship together in such an amazing way! Not that church can’t be fun, but maybe it has become “too common,” too simplistic?! I used to love to dress up on Sundays and get out of my normal weekday clofhes, and now, I wear my normal weekday clothes….hmmm. I have taken the glorious and beautiful feelings of going to church and made it nothing special. I love this study. I have skipped over these chapters so many times..

        • Elle

          I also didn’t expect get so much out of these “boring” Exodus chapters. Goes to show that God is in the details sometimes!

          I totally agree that we should think of ways to make the holy more obvious and clear in our lives. Someone below said that God doesn’t really care if we dress up for Church or not, and I think that’s true. But maybe the point is that we dress up because we as humans can benefit from it because it helps us to appreciate how special it is. I think in the past we’ve maybe taken that to unhealthy and unholy places (judging people who didn’t dress up, etc.) and it’s a relief that we’ve moved beyond that. On an individual level though, maybe we’ve lost something meaningful in the process. My plan is to try to wear jeans to church less often (if I do cause I’m having a tough morning, that’s OK too, but if I can make it more special, even better!), actually make an Easter dinner (which is big when you don’t have kids, cause we pretty much never eat actual dinners), and maybe decorate a bit more around the house for holidays so I really feel how special they are. It’s nothing huge, but it’s a start!

  • Erika Hess

    There is unfortunately a glitch. After reading several chapters of Exodus, I went over to the website and found the readings. Today’s readings are supposed to be Exodus 28, Ezekiel 44:15-19 & 23-29, and 1 Peter 2:4-5

    • Sarah Wohlgamuth

      Thanks for doing that extra step for us, Erika!

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re so sorry about that Erika! It should all be up and running now, thanks for your patience! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Kymyetta Turner

    Erika, excellent question! I definitely think that God wants our best. And we should not mind giving Him such. It is God who gives us the power to get wealth, so ALL that we have ultimately belongs to Him and we have what we have because of Him. Also, anything that we do for God should be done with a spirit if excellence, so giving away gold and the finest fabrics and luxuries to God should be a drop in the bucket, considering all that He has and continues to give and do for us.

  • Meredith Ashley

    I have read (and loved) the SRT studies for a long time, but this is my first time participating in the community with a comment! Hi everyone! Here’s what stood out to me as I read today’s Scripture:
    Exod. 28: 1 – Aaron became a prominent leader of God’s people, but only after he was Moses’ sidekick and served faithfully. Perhaps God is preparing each of us for spiritual leadership by giving us opportunities to serve others and submit to authority first!
    Exod. 28:12 – Aaron carried the weight of stones on his shoulders as a reminder of the Israelites, the people he was leading. I love this because sometimes caring for God’s people (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) feels like carrying a ton of bricks! When the load seems heavy, we can be reminded that our burdens reflect our service to the Lord and to His people.

  • Erika Jaeger

    I’m always confused by the seeming contradiction between Jesus’s focus on humility and this passage about the extravagant robes and tabernacle design we’ve read over the last two days.

    Is it that God wants us to be willing to give away our best to Him?

    • Kaitlyn G

      This has seemed sort of confusing to me too sometimes. I think the huge difference between these two situations is that this extravagant tabernacle and all that went into it was solely to glorify and honor God. When Jesus instructs us in humility (as does Paul quite a few times), it’s in reference to how we draw attention to ourselves. If what we do, wear, have, or say brings us earthly glory and attention, we need to step away from it. But God is totally worthy of all of that glory and majesty!

    • Kim Pullman

      I would love to hear thoughts on this as well!!

    • Olivia Wolfe

      I think what this part of scripture is trying to illustrate is the importance of being priest and the responsibility that Aaron and the other priests had to lead the Israelites according to God’s law. It’s not necessarily about the extravagance of the robe, but what the robe meant for those that wore it. They were God’s chosen people; they wore the “breast-piece of decision” and choose to follow him. The extravagance of the robe illustrates the extravagance of God’s love for them and how he sees them as their best. I think their humility is show by the fact they are choosing to obey God instead of going about things their own way considering they were a people who constantly strayed and returned to the Lord. I’m not sure if I’m totally right on this, but this is my understanding of it!

    • Taylor Landers

      Yes, I agree Olivia! It had to be extravagant, intricate, and perfect to fore shadow what Jesus would later become for us. Because of Jesus, God now sees us (his sons and daughters) clothed in this glory and beauty just as Aaron literally was. I think it’s all part of God’s plan for His Word to parallel perfectly!

    • Lauren Hultz

      Remember the role of the high priest – it is to intercede on behalf of the people through prayer and sacrifice. Can you imagine just how HEAVY that priestly getup was? I see this as less about extravagance vs humility, and more of an example of how the priest – and eventually Jesus – took the peoples’ sin burdens to God. It’s easy to get lost thinking of beauty and glory and to forget the symbolism behind that beauty and glory.

    • Mellie ChildsJordan

      I would encourage y’all to read Francis Chan’s Multiply, his walking through the Old Testament really enlightened me and helped me finally get it. Old Testament— the laws, all these details, sacrifices etc. were needed for a sinful people to be able to have a relationship with a Holy God. And it does foreshadow what is to come in the New Testament — Jesus — the ultimate sacrifice and the fulfillment of the law. His sacrifice and the Holy Spirit are how we are able to be in relationship with such a Holy God. The moral/ethical laws still apply (the 10 commandments) to us but we no longer need the civil laws to have a relationship with God. It’s ultimately not about the ritual it’s about the heart behind it then and now.

  • Kara Gerringer

    I couldn’t finish reading all the scriptures . I like this app for it being quick . Then maybe have something else lined up for the evening . Today was not good for that. Now we’re late and the kids wouldn’t stop taking my phone because it took so long to get through the scriptures .

    • Erika Jaeger

      I wonder if there wasn’t some kind of glitch. I also had a bunch of repeating verses at the end. It seems the part about Moses coming down from the mountain deserves its own reflection… Sorry your running late! ❤️

    • Sarah de Putter

      This selection was difficult. I panned through most of it. And it didn’t complete as usual. Maybe a glitch today?

    • Lizzieb85

      I don’t have the app. The scriptures listed on the website were not particularly long. They are listed as follows:
      Exodus 28:1-29
      Ezekiel 44:15-19, 23-29
      1 Peter 2:4-5

    • Sarah

      Hello Kara! If you have been going through the entire Lent series, today was actually one of the shorter days. Some of the earlier days had 3 chapters from Exodus instead of just 1. I think today might have seemed longer to you and your kiddos because the Scripture is not as easy to read through as the earlier chapters in Exodus. There are many other apps out there that offer easy quick studies, but I love how She Reads Truth focuses on Scripture instead of commentary, and has passages from both the OT and NT to help connect all of God’s Word together. I would suggest doing more difficult passages such as this one in the evening, when you may have more time to look up commentary and understand the Scriptures better.

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re so sorry for the inconvenience Kara! We were experiencing a problem earlier, but it should all be up and running now. If you continue having problems just let us know and we’d be happy to help you further! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • Marcie Smith

      Yes, it was just a glitch of some sort. It’s fixed now.

  • Kelly Chataine

    For those who have been praying for me and my husband. His vestibular therapy continues. He continues to deal with dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, especially after therapy and church. His daily arm, leg, balance, and eye exercises are crucial. I am praying about my return to teaching on a half day basis until he has completed his therapy. Thank you for praying. We have been on this journey for 21 weeks. God is good all the time!

  • Kelly Chataine

    Thanking God that I am no longer common but holy due to Jesus Christ!
    Thanking God that I am no longer unclean but clean due to Jesus Christ!

  • Isaiah 61:10 ” I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

    • Margaret Todd

      Thank you, Abby, for that reference! After today’s reading, it has even more significance.

    • Gina Glennon

      Oh yes, what a perfect verse! Thank you!

  • We are called to be a Holy people set apart because of Jesus! May we walk our calling out and show His love today! God please help us to show Your love, mercy, and grace today. May we speak truth in love bc we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us. Please put Your divine protection on us and our families and order our footsteps. You are so good and we can trust You to be with us In all today as we do your will. Thanks God! In Jesus’ Powerful Name. Amen.

  • What does it mean when God says in Ezekiel 44:19: “And they shall put on other garments, lest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments.” This just seems so strange to me. Isn’t the whole point to show God’s holiness to everyone? And even still, the holiness was in the clothes themselves? This, to me, seems like another level from just Sunday best. Thoughts?

    • Kristine Loughman

      It sounds like holiness is a disease, ha! In all seriousness though, I think it goes along the lines of why Moses had to tell the people to stay off the mountain when he went to meet with God at get the Ten Commandments. God is SO holy and perfect that we humans literally can’t take it in these imperfect, mortal bodies. I think the priests were taking a risk every time they stepped through the veil.

    • Regine

      I was wondering about that passage as well. The clothes itself seem to be holy, maybe because God gave the excact instructions on how to make them. But why shouldn’t normal people become more holy, too? When I continued to read the other passages I noticed how much of a responsibility it was to be a priest, set apart for God. Only the priest was meant to be that holy (and all Levites to some extend), to carry the weight of this responsibility.

    • ERB

      I don’t know exactly what this scripture in Ezekiel means either, Molly. But, maybe it was a form of protection.. We can’t transmit holiness to those who don’t seek it, their “eyes” aren’t opened yet so no matter how much we are projecting God and His Son and the Holy Spirit they just won’t see the fullness of it! Maybe the changing of the garments is something similar..like, if you haven’t allowed the eyesight of Christ into your heart and spirit, you will never be able to see the FULLNESS of what God has done, in other words when we don’t have Christ as our focus and center what we see of Him is tainted by our own thoughts and judgements. The Holiness of God is POWERFUL (I don’t think our human minds will ever fully understand or comprehend how powerful) and is definitely NOT something to be dumbed down or played with, it is to be RESPECTED and HONORED!! …this might be another way to look at this scripture.. God was protecting those that couldn’t or didn’t have the “eyes” to see His GREAT and MIGHTY FULLNESS. …but, these are just my initial thoughts. I am going to pray more about it and see what God reveals. Thank you for asking this question I truly appreciate it!! May God Bless you and continue to shower you with His wisdom and light!! Xoxo

    • Jo

      Hi, Molly. I’m a horticulturist, and definitely not a seminary-trained scholar, so this is just my layman’s take on this—I see the precise detail specified by God for the priestly garments and the specific rules for when and where to wear them as a way to communicate His “otherness” and absolute holiness to the priests and to the people. And likewise, how consecrated and “other”, if you will, his priests were supposed to be. I remember a minister explaining once that if, when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies, he had not followed his preparation instructions to the letter he would be struck dead—not as any punishment—but from encountering that utter holiness in an unsancitfied (? right word) state. All of this to say that the specificity and regulations were necessary to unequivocally demonstrate how Holy God is. It definitely seems to me that these garments were another level from Sunday Best also, but perhaps that is some of the basis for how that tradition or practice came to be. As I said, these are just my thoughts…

    • Rachel

      Molly all the below statements are all food thoughts on your question. But also remember this was PRE JESUS! Now the veil is torn and we are able to enter into his presence and the Holy Spirit can dwell IN US! Making us priests and vessels to be used for his glory! We are made holy by him! Big calling but through Christ he accomplishes the work he started in us!

      • Rachel

        Above statements* & good thoughts* – though food for thought works too ;)

    • Molly

      Great thoughts, ladies! Thank you so much for your thoughtful and prayerful responses!

  • Churchmouse

    There are clothes that seem more appropriate for the occasion than others. Sometimes a dress code is even made known. The Scriptures tell me that the attire I need to enter eternity is only one – the robe of righteousness. It is attained by faith in Jesus. There are a lot of clothes I want but only one I need.

  • So I remember growing up my parents having us wear our best for church and Sunday school, so I wanted to keep going with that when my sons were going to church. I was doing real well until one Sunday when the minister’s daughter-in-law did a children sermon about how it doesn’t matter what you wear to church. She made a point to say that as long as you “walk the walk and talk the talk” that matters. I guess that is when I realized it didn’t matter what I wore as long as I was worshiping God and Christ. Most weddings I have been to are formal events but I have a friend whose daughter had a country wedding where they put on the invitations to wear casual or jeans. The wedding was to take place on a farm outside in the barn.

    • Dot Hardin

      God deserves our best…that’s why we wear our “Sunday best” clothes to church. But HE deserves our best in all things we do and at all times in our lives. Not an easy task, but what I strive to do daily.

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