Day 39

Making the Priestly Garments

from the Exodus reading plan

Exodus 39:1-43, Psalm 110:1-4, Hebrews 5:1-10

BY Erin Davis

I believe with all my heart that these detailed descriptions of the construction of the tabernacle in Exodus are as much the inspired Word of God as my favorite psalm. But for a free-spirited, color-outside-the-lines kind of girl like me, the sheer number of details recorded in these chapters gives me flashbacks to my freshman accounting class.  

Why did the Lord instruct Moses to build altars and tables, lampstands and basins, tunics and turbans with such extreme attention to detail? Why were these details recorded so meticulously? All these centuries later, what do they have to teach us about the character of God and our relationship with Him?

Let’s zero in for a moment on Exodus 39, where we find the description of the priestly garments. This was more than a garment. With gold and stones, bells and crowns, this was an ensemble made to take our breath away. But why? Aaron’s robes weren’t designed to turn heads at Fashion Week. They wouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder. So why was such detailed extravagance needed? 

Peel away the layers, and we find the answer in a single thread. The scarlet thread mentioned over and over in Exodus 39 is the same thread that is stitched throughout all of God’s Word. It is the thread God used to sew together garments of grace for Adam and Eve after the fall (Genesis 3:21). It is the thread that signaled salvation from Rahab’s window (Joshua 2:18). And most significantly, we see it at the cross, as trails of blood stream down our Savior’s face as evidence of His atonement for our sins. 

Aaron’s priestly garments were woven with red thread, a picture of the gospel illustrated by the thread of salvation woven throughout all of God’s Word. The weight of the robe covered with stones was symbolic of the burden of sin; as Aaron slipped it on, I imagine its heaviness reminded him of the weight of his own sin and of ours. The crown on the priest’s head was a shadow of the crown of salvation purchased for us at Christ’s cross. 

The garment maker couldn’t have known it, but he was preaching the gospel. Stitch by meticulous stitch, he was proclaiming salvation was near. Through the lens of the cross we see these extravagant robes showcase an extravagant gospel. 

It’s possible the craftsmen tasked with the minutiae of the tabernacle felt overwhelmed and even belabored by the tedium of so many details. Obedience can often feel like that. As we shepherd our own children, or serve in other often thankless ways, or pull out our Bibles listening for God’s voice again and again, there are times when we all wonder, Why does all of this matter? 

The answer rarely seems to come in the moment, but in hindsight we see that routine obedience to the Lord always reveals the gospel thread. He is using our seemingly small acts of surrender to transform these filthy rags into robes of righteousness. As we trust and obey, we can look back and sigh with gratitude saying we have “done just as the LORD commanded” (Exodus 39:43). 

Post Comments (34)

34 thoughts on "Making the Priestly Garments"

  1. Nitz . says:


  2. Portia Strange says:

    I’m reminded that even though it may take less than an hour to read of the construction of the temple in Exodus 36-39, that doesn’t mean that that is also the timeline in which it was constructed. I’m not sure if Scripture really says so. This work could’ve taken hours, days, weeks, months, even years.

  3. Cindy Hanna says:

    I was drawn to verse 3. The gold thread used to make the priestly garments was made by hammering out a sheet of gold leaf and then cutting it into thread! How time consuming and delicate that task must have been. Amazing craftsmanship to ponder.

  4. Sarah Ritchie says:

    Tina, you are a treasure to us. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  5. Claire B says:

    Tina, you always inspire me to look deeper.

  6. Rhonda J. says:

    @Rebecca Fuller-Good to have you back, and that you are committed to SRT daily and the community! I recently (3 years now!) moved to a new city! I had prayed that I would carry out God’s purpose for my life, to serve, find a home church, and find good friends. Well, I can say Praise God,I have found all that and more! God is so faithful and true and is so wonderful to see the thread of God working so amazing and beautiful in my life! No matter what shall come, He is my Lord and Saviour and He gets all my praise, on the mountain and in the valley. Anyway, I know you will find good friends and be used for His Glory if asking!

    There were just so many good insights from all of you this week! It will be sad for Exodus to end, it has been such a rich and powerful study! But of course, all of them have been since I found SRT back in 2015 or so!
    TINA loved your story! So powerful when we keep opening ourselves up to God’s voice and lesson!

  7. Rebecca Fuller says:

    As Eugene Peterson said (and I paraphrase), the Christian life is about long obedience in the right direction. Each day, choosing to follow Christ, in the big and small things. Today’s passage reminds me of that!

  8. Krystle Scott says:

    “For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them.” – Hebrews 6:10 This verse was in my other devotional today. God will not forget our obedience to Him. ❤️

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