EXODUS 28: HOW CAN CLOTHES KEEP YOU ALIVE?
For the sake of glory and beauty, make special, holy clothes for your brother Aaron. Tell all those who have the skills, whom I have filled with real talents, to make clothes for Aaron to ordain him, so that he may serve Me as the high priest. (Exodus 28:2-3)
READING EXODUS 28
We don't have any trouble buying, making, and wearing nice clothes, but some have a mental block as to why priests wear "fancy" or "sacred" vestments. I know I have had that mental block, and sometimes still do.
Scot McKnight says you can nearly predict the way a male preacher will lean theologically by how he dresses: pleated slacks for fundamentalists, skinny jeans for progressives!
How can we think and value clothes so much but not think clothes matter to God? King David had a similar predicament. He lived in a lavish palace but the Lord did not have a lavish temple, only a tent. Granted, the tent is what God seems to directly design and call Israel to worship in, but David wants to make the holy place for God a permanent building.
The Exodus 28:2 impulse "for the sake of glory and beauty" is one we can recover and retain, even if we do not wear priestly vestments for worship.
Each of the precious stones of the breastplate (called the ephod) the priests wore represented the precious stones of the tribes of Israel. Have you ever seen any of these stones listed in Exodus 28? What a beautiful piece the ephod must have been.
Aaron wears on his head a turban with a golden piece with engraving that read, "Holiness to Yahweh." The ephod was a way of understanding over Aaron's heart as he enters the presence of God. He wears the names of Israel over his heart as he enters the holy place. No one really knows exactly what they looked like or exactly how they worked, but something called the Urim and Thummin were also stored inside the chest plate--two small objects for determining God's will (light and truth). The first mention of the Urim and Thummin is here in Exodus 28:30.
One more thing: here's how priests can stay alive, according to Exodus 28.
- Wear underwear (28:42-43), and this is not in the text, but I would add, "keep 'em clean."
- Wear a bell (28:35).
- Don't enter the holy place drunk (Leviticus 10:2,8-9), irreverently.
- Perform your duties as commanded.
In the town I grew up in is Windle's Rock Shop, and you can still find the shop on Highway 75 South of Bartlesville. Do they have any of these stones? I would like to see the ephod that the Windles could make with their stones. Bet they've done it before. Go there or another jewel or stone shop and ask to see some of the stones and precious gems listed in Exodus 28.
How do you speak to us today? We long to hear your wisdom, but then again you've given us so much wisdom that lays at our feet and we trample it. Lord, you spoke to the priests through the Urim and Thummin, in blazing fire and smoke, through Moses, through inspired Torah (Law), and other writings. Later you spoke through prophets and ultimately through Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-4), and New Testament writers, and the Holy Spirit. Give us ears to hear these words you have spoken and how to live them anew.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.