There were three offerings made on the High Priest’s behalf.
Foremost, he brought the bullock for the sin offering. The sin offering: He who knew no sin was made sin for us.1 Consequently, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ.2
Then, the first ram is taken for the burnt offering, reminding us that the perfect life of Christ was all for God’s glory. For us today, Paul tells us to ‘present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God’, Rom. 12. 1.
After that, the second ram was taken as the offering of consecration. When the ram was slain, Moses took of the blood of the sacrifice and applied it to Aaron in specific areas. It is applied to the ear, (sensitivity to God’s word), the thumb, (handling the things of God), and the great toe, (a balanced walk). Paul would remind us, ‘Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?’ 1 Cor. 6. 19.
What a resplendent figure the High Priest must have seemed as he stood before Israel clothed in garments of ‘glory and of beauty’. In a coming day our Great High Priest will stand before us, and, once we manage to gather our thoughts together, we will be able to say, ‘It was a true report that I heard in mine own land … and behold the half was not told me’, 1 Kgs. 10. 6-7.
As Aaron moved around the camp amongst the people, he would be observed by all, clad in his priestly garments, and they would know that they had been designed by God, and represented the dignity of his office. Hence, there would be nothing slovenly or casual about his demeanour or dress. Equally, we should be adorned with those characteristics and aspects of Christ which bring glory to His name. As one hymn-writer wrote, ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me’.
It would be very obvious to the people, as they observed Aaron, that the quality of his garments, whether it was the texture, or the material, or the workmanship, was the very best of its kind! It comprised fine linen, pure gold, precious stones, costly ointment, and all assembled by skilful workmanship that emanated out of ‘wise hearts’. Whilst Aaron’s garments are a picture of Christ, the principle that runs through the whole of scripture is that God expects His people to always bring the very best that they have to Him. How sad it is to read in Malachi’s prophecy the words of Jehovah to His people ‘Ye have robbed me’, as they gave of the second best of their tithes, offerings, and service to Him.
When Aaron was clothed with his priestly garments, they made him fit for the high office he had been called to fulfil. They covered him with a dignity which was not his own. Paul, as he writes to the Colossian believers in chapter 3, tells us how this can be achieved with us. In verse 10 we are enjoined to ‘put on’ the new man and his characteristics, v. 12, the whole to be enveloped in love, v. 14. Having done all this, as verse 15 states, we should let the peace of God rule in our hearts, and let the word of Christ dwell in us, v. 16.
In Exodus God details the priestly garments. He begins with the outermost, i.e., the breastplate of judgement, and then moves inward setting before us God’s standards. Then, as we move inwards through the articles of clothing, differing glories of the Christ of God are revealed. In the book of Leviticus, however, we find that the order begins with the innermost garment, and then moves outward. This is because it sets before us the practical order in which the priest dresses himself. The first article being linen, which reminds us that purity should characterize the believer.
Our God is a God of order and harmony. He is very jealous of His own glory. When we look at the garments, glory, and beauty of the priesthood, we see that the materials used in the Tabernacle were very similar in composition, and texture. The same materials were used, the colours were identical, and the workmanship was also to the same high standard. Nothing was out of harmony, and each blended together, and were complementary the one to the other. The simple lesson that we learn from this is that the house of God, and the child of God, should be in perfect accord, both blended together. As Paul writes to Timothy, ‘That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God’, 1 Tim. 3. 15. How vital to see the man of God, part of a royal priesthood, officiating in the house of God to the praise of His glory.