Pretty much everyone in christendom knows that Aaron, the brother of Moses, was the first high priest. God placed him in that place to be the one who would make sacrifices for the people of Israel. In Exodus 28 you can read all the instructions God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai of how Aaron was to be attired when he entered the “the holiest of holies”. I want to address some of the attire he was to wear as he entered the sanctuary.
Here in Exodus 28 I want to address….
“And these [are] the garments which they make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and an upper robe, and an embroidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle; yea, they have made holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and for his sons, for his being priest to Me. And they take the gold, and the blue, and the purple, and the scarlet, and the linen, and have made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen, work of a designer; it hath two shoulders joining at its two ends, and it is joined. And the girdle of his ephod which [is] on him, according to its work, is of the same, of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen. And thou hast taken the two shoham stones, and hast opened on them the names of the sons of Israel; six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the remaining six on the second stone, according to their births; the work of an engraver in stone, openings of a signet, thou dost open the two stones by the names of the sons of Israel; turned round, embroidered [with] gold, thou dost make them. And thou hast set the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod — stones of memorial to the sons of Israel — and Aaron hath borne their names before Jehovah, on his two shoulders, for a memorial.”(Exo. 28:4-12 YLT)
In this passage, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel were written into the shoham stones. Six names were written in one stone, and six on the other stone. These stones were placed on Aaron’s shoulders to bear before God. Doesn’t this sound familiar to what Jesus did for us? Sure it does. Some may disagree with me here and that’s fine. I believe in what is called “Covenant Theology” and that God made a covenant with His sheep. The Jews were chosen as a people who would bring the Messiah to all His people, to give them eternal life. Once the Messiah came, He then extended the same blessings to the Gentiles as He had already given to the Jews(Gal. 3:14). So I am not into “Replacement Theology” because the NT church did not replace Israel, but was an extension of the Covenant of Grace that would be extended to both Jews and Gentiles through Christ.
In John 6 Jesus stated thusly; “all that the Father doth give to me will come unto me; and him who is coming unto me, I may in no wise cast without, because I have come down out of the heaven, not that I may do my will, but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of the Father who sent me, that all that He hath given to me I may not lose of it, but may raise it up in the last day; and this is the will of Him who sent me, that every one who is beholding the Son, and is believing in him, may have life age-during, and I will raise him up in the last day.”(vss 37-40 YLT)
Pay very close attention to what He stated. Jesus stated “all that the Father doth give to me”, so when were they, and consequently us, given to Jesus by the Father? In Romans 8, we can easily find that answer. It states in vss 28-30….“And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose; because whom He did foreknow, He also did fore-appoint, conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be first-born among many brethren; and whom He did fore-appoint, these also He did call; and whom He did call, these also He declared righteous; and whom He declared righteous, these also He did glorify.”
And also in Ephesians 1…”Blessed [is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did bless us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, according as He did choose us in him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love, having foreordained us to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He did make us accepted in the beloved.”(vss 3-6 YLT)
The choosing of His sheep, and giving them to the Shepherd was before the foundation of the world. That in this election, He would be their Surety, suffering in their stead. He bore their/our names on His shoulders before the Father when He hung, bled and died on the cross at Calvary.
Now further in Exodus 28 we can read…”And thou hast made a breastplate of judgment, work of a designer; according to the work of the ephod thou dost make it; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen thou dost make it; it is square, doubled, a span its length, and a span its breadth. And thou hast set in it settings of stone, four rows of stone; a row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle [is] the first row; and the second row [is] emerald, sapphire, and diamond; and the third row [is] opal, agate, and amethyst; and the fourth row [is] beryl, and onyx, and jasper; embroidered with gold are they in their settings, and the stones are according to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to their names, openings of a signet, each by his name are they for the twelve tribes.”(vss 15-21 YLT)
You can see that God told Moses to have the breastplate of judgment with stones in it. Not just any stones, but precious jewels. I am reminded of these two verses…”Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.(Malachi 3:16,17 KJV) I used the KJV here because it gives a better illustration of what I am conveying here. All of Aaron’s works, from the adorning of his apparell, to his priestly work, all were in the stead of Christ. He was the mediator betwixt man and God, as was the other high priests, until Christ came.
“And thou hast made on the breastplate wreathed chains, work of thick bands, of pure gold; and thou hast made on the breastplate two rings of gold, and hast put the two rings on the two ends of the breastplate; and thou hast put the two thick bands of gold on the two rings at the ends of the breastplate; and the two ends of the two thick bands thou dost put on the two embroidered things, and thou hast put [them] on the shoulders of the ephod over-against its face. And thou hast made two rings of gold, and hast set them on the two ends of the breastplate, on its border, which [is] over-against the ephod within; and thou hast made two rings of gold, and hast put them on the two shoulders of the ephod, beneath, over-against its front, over-against its joining, above the girdle of the ephod, and they bind the breastplate by its rings unto the rings of the ephod with a ribbon of blue, to be above the girdle of the ephod, and the breastplate is not loosed from the ephod. And Aaron hath borne the names of the sons of Israel in the breastplate of judgment, on his heart, in his going in unto the sanctuary, for a memorial before Jehovah continually. And thou hast put unto the breastplate of judgment the Lights and the Perfections, and they have been on the heart of Aaron, in his going in before Jehovah, and Aaron hath borne the judgment of the sons of Israel on his heart before Jehovah continually.”(vss 22-30 YLT)
Christ bore our judgment for us. He was the only One who could do this for us. If we bore it, we’d die eternally lost, cast headlong into the lake of fire. It took Christ to do that which we couldn’t…atone for our sins. I can read…”for even the Christ did not please himself, but, according as it hath been written, The reproaches of those reproaching Thee fell upon me;”(Romans 15:3 YLT) Then the Psalmist wrote…”Many bulls have surrounded me, Mighty ones of Bashan have compassed me, They have opened against me their mouth, A lion tearing and roaring. As waters I have been poured out, And separated themselves have all my bones, My heart hath been like wax, It is melted in the midst of my bowels. Dried up as an earthen vessel is my power, And my tongue is cleaving to my jaws. And to the dust of death thou appointest me, For surrounded me have dogs, A company of evil doers have compassed me, Piercing my hands and my feet.”(Psalm 22:12-16 YLT) Then the Hebrews’ writer wrote…. “For such a chief priest did become us — kind, harmless, undefiled, separate from the sinners, and become higher than the heavens, who hath no necessity daily, as the chief priests, first for his own sins to offer up sacrifice, then for those of the people; for this he did once, having offered up himself; for the law doth appoint men chief priests, having infirmity, but the word of the oath that [is] after the law [appointeth] the Son — to the age having been perfected.”(Hebrews 7:26-28 YLT) Aaron and any other high priest, when they were performing the mediatorial works, had to also offer up a sacrifice for themselves. Christ, being sinless, offered Himself to be sacrificed, and in His sacrifice, He also bore our judgment for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us.(2 Cor. 5:21)
I will close with this passage in Hebrews 8…”And the sum concerning the things spoken of [is]: we have such a chief priest, who did sit down at the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens, of the holy places a servant, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord did set up, and not man, for every chief priest to offer both gifts and sacrifices is appointed, whence [it is] necessary for this one to have also something that he may offer; for if, indeed, he were upon earth, he would not be a priest — (there being the priests who are offering according to the law, the gifts, who unto an example and shadow do serve of the heavenly things, as Moses hath been divinely warned, being about to construct the tabernacle, for `See (saith He) thou mayest make all things according to the pattern that was shewn to thee in the mount;’) and now he hath obtained a more excellent service, how much also of a better covenant is he mediator, which on better promises hath been sanctioned.”(vss 1-6 YLT)
The Hebrews’ writer was stating that the pattern which was given to Aaron by God through Moses was the very same pattern that Christ used, and still is using. He is now our High Priest, our Advocate(1 John 2:1), our Mediator(1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, & 12:24), our saviour, and our King.
I pray that this feeble attempt will uplift someone in their walk with God.
Willis Fletcher, Jr.