Instructions for the Priestly Garments
Open Your Bible
Exodus 28:1-43, Ezekiel 44:15-19, Ezekiel 44:23-29, Psalm 29:2, 1 Peter 2:4-5
BY Lindsey Jacobi
To this day my grandmother still puts out the Christmas throw pillows that I made for her when I was a kid. When my mom taught me how to use the sewing machine, everyone got a pillow because it was the only thing I could make. Sew four straight lines; add batting; adorn with sparkly puff paint. Done. I was very proud. Alas, that’s about where my sewing prowess ended.
I don’t think anything I produced was much in the way of either glory or beauty. But it was made with enthusiasm and enough nearly-straight seams to hold it together.
The skilled artisans called on in Exodus 28 not only had skill, but a spirit of wisdom given by God. Needless to say, these weren’t any old clothes they were tasked to make.
But why did it even matter what the priests wore? After all, God doesn’t care what packaging we wrap ourselves in. He sees the heart, not the outer trappings. Here, God’s holy, set-apart people were represented with these holy, set-apart garments.
Every piece of the priests’ garments had a specific purpose. The ephod was made to carry the names of the tribes of Israel before the Lord. The breastpiece was designed to help the priest make decisions as he carried the twelve tribes symbolically over his heart. The robe would be lined with bells, so the priest could be heard at all times, and retrieved if he died in God’s presence. The turban, worn on the head, was to represent an offering “HOLY TO THE LORD” (Exodus 28:36) for the sins of all of Israel. Every thread and stitch was designed for a reason—for glory and for beauty.
What a beautiful example of what it means to bring God our very best. Not because He needs it. Not because He wants to see us all dressed up. It’s because the priests putting on these garments was a physical act of “ascrib[ing] to the LORD the glory due his name” (Psalm 29:2). Theirs was a high and holy calling, and everything from their head down to their toes was supposed to reflect that. The splendor of these garments wasn’t to glorify the priests. They pointed to God’s glory and God’s beauty.
The problem occurs when we take God-given gifts that are supposed to point us to Him and use them to shine a spotlight on ourselves. We’ve adorned ourselves with the gifts and glory that were never ours to begin with. We’ve longed to be beautiful to the world instead of reflecting back to God His own beauty that He put within us.
Those homemade pillows don’t still have a place of prominence because of their intrinsic beauty. My grandmother loves the one who made them. They point to another. So too, did the beautiful and intricately crafted priestly garments lift the eyes of Israel to another—the most glorious and beautiful One Himself.
28 thoughts on "Instructions for the Priestly Garments"
“We’ve longed to be beautiful to the world instead of reflecting back to God His own beauty that He put within us.” Speaks volumes about the world today.
God help me to always reflect back to you!
23 They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. – Ezekiel 44:23 This verse stood out to me, I’m praying that I would be wise and live out the difference between holy and common. Common in my mind isn’t necessarily bad, but it isn’t as good as holy, which is what the Lord wants for me.
23 They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. – Ezekiel 44:23
Father let my life and gifts glorify you. And forgive me when I don’t…
“We’ve adorned ourselves with the gifts and glory that we’re never ours to begin with.” Ooph— this is convicting in a way I need it to be. I am guilty of forgetting this some times, not even on purpose. But there it is. And we need to continue to reflect on how in everything we do, we point to God.
There are so many details in this passage!
When I was reading Exodus 28:38, I thought of Revelation 22:4 NKJV: “They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” Our unrighteousness replaced with His righteousness. It is amazing. I love that they Lord instructs a hem for the tunic so it won’t tear and a band for the breastplate so it stays put on the ephod. All these details matter because the garment is holy to the Lord.
I thank You Lord for Your word. It delights my soul. May we Shes and Hes stay near to You and be holy as You are holy.
Amazing how reading a passage all about the garments can make so much sense after the devotion. I thought holding the 12 names over the heart was absolutely beautiful
As believers and followers of Christ Jesus, we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Revelation 19:7-8). His righteousness makes us glorious and beautiful (Revelation 21:9-27). This is not only true of each individual believer, but it is even more true of the collection of believers from all times and all places, the Body of Christ, the church. Therefore, as God’s people, clothed with Christ’s righteousness, and part of His Body the Church, we are His priests representing Him to others and representing others to Him. We are imitating Jesus in this role. It is important to remember that like Aaron and the other priests throughout the Bible, and like Jesus (our Great High Priest), we are to:
-Glorify God by showing forth the beauty of His righteousness and holiness (Exodus 28:2)
-Intercede for others by carrying them to Jesus, reminding Him of them and their needs (Exodus 28:6-12)
-Use discernment in making wise decisions, using God’s Word as our foundation and praying to God for the gifts of wisdom and discernment (Exodus 28:29-30)
-Make noise as we minister: keep doing the work that God has called us to do and continue to pray faithfully and persistently concerning that work (Exodus 28:35)
-Remember that we are holy to the Lord because of Christ’s sacrifice and that we are therefore called to be holy (Exodus 28:36-38)
-Serve God and others (Ezekiel 44:15)
-Teach people the difference between holy and the common, clean and the unclean (Ezekiel 44:23)
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