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In Exodus thirty-ninth, the sacerdotal garments are with great accuracy described, and the delineation exactly corresponds with that in the twenty-eighth. The twenty-ninth gives us the manner in which Aaron and his sons were to be arrayed in the holy garments, the anointing which was to succeed, and seems to present a kind of close to many particulars required by the ceremonial law, according as the LORD cominanded Moses, for Moses was, as a servant faithful in all his house.
In the first verse of the thirty-ninth chapter, we are informed that of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made clothes of service to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron, as the LORD commanded Moses.
The grand and principal material in those garments was linen. Linen was figurative of the righteousness of the saints; this is evident from various scripture testimonies.
The people of God were forbidden to construct a garment of linen and woollen; they should not mingle their own imperfect deeds with the immaculate robe of righteousness, wrought out for the saints by their common head, the man Christ Jesus. But these linen garments were ornamented with gold, the most precious of all metals, and with the most precious stones. But what were the colours of the clothes of service? blue, purple, and scarlet. Those who are learned in Hebrew lore, assure us that blue has, from the earliest times, been regarded as the figure of faithfulness. Purple is a mixture of scarlet and blue, and scarlet is a symbol of courage or true heroism. Thus the figurative garments seem complete in their base, and beautiful in their ornaments. We are told in the third verse of this chapter, that they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine twined linen.
The robe of the ephod was a short coat, made of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. They made shoulder pieces for it, to couple it together, by the two edges was it coupled together. And the curious girdle of his Ephod, that was upon it, was of the same materials, according to the work thereof; of gold blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, as the LORD commanded Moses. The next article to which our attention is led is the girdle. And the curious girdle of his Ephod, that was upon it, was of the same, according to the work thereof, of gold,blue,purple, and fine twined linen, as the LORD commanded Moses.
This girdle was to bind the garments to the high Priest. The breastplate was, and indeed considering the materials of which it was constructed, could not be otherwise than very weighty; and as the high Priest, when he entered into the holiest of all, clad in these garments, for the purpose of worshipping the supreme Being, did obeisance before the mercy seat, that mercy seat on which the God of Israel took up his rest, lest while bending before this mercy seat the plate on which the names of the children of Israel were engraved, should quit its station near the heart of the high Priest, it was fastened to his breast with a blue lace, so that in faithfulness and truth, they may be forever secured. And to testify the value which the God of Israel set on the people, their names were engraven upon precious stones, set in ouches of gold, as diamonds are set in a ring. We are not to form a judgment of the affection of the Creator, for the creature whom he hath called into being, from the character given by the spirit of truth, of the human family: but from the estimation in which they appear to be held, by their Almighty Parent, as thus manifested in this symbolic breastplate. They shall be mine, saith Jehovah, in the day that I make up my jewels. Be it known to you, not for your sakes do I do this, but for mine own name sake, saith the God who made us.
When I look at this part of the heaven directed dress, and compare it with Isaiah, xi. 5, “ And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins and faithfulness the girdle of his reins," and with the twenty-fifth chapter and first verse of this prophecy "O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name, for thou hast done wonderful things, thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth;" when I compare and consider these testimonies, gratitude, eternal and never ending gratitude, glows in my bosom. One of the characters of my God is faithfulness, even when adversity gets hold of me; it is in faithfulness, in very faithfulness, that God, the faithful God, afflicts the faithless children of
The spirit of God, by the prophet Jeremiah, informs us, xiii. 11. "That as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so saith the LORD, have I caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, to cleave unto me, that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory." Psalm lxxxix. 8. "O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? Or to thy faithfulness round about thee?"
Every one of these stones, these precious stones, were enclosed in ouches of gold, and when the high Priest entered into the holiest of all and stood before the mercy seat, the God who filled this seat of mercy saw and acknowledged the names, precisely in the order which he had directed; and lest it should, in process of time, be thought, by any of his family, that they were accepted in their own individual names, they were obliged to appear before the LORD, in and with the high Priest. Thus it is in the beloved that we are accepted.
But the names of the people were placed also upon the shoulders of the high Priest; here it is difficult to avoid a recurrence to the word of the LORD by Isaiah, ix. 67. “And the government shall be upon his shoulders." My attention is also powerfully turned to the evangelist, Luke, xv. 4, 5, 6, where the redeemer speaking of the lost nature under its appropriate figure, sheep, represents the good shepherd, after having sought for and found this lost sheep, as laying it upon his shoulders rejoicing, calling together his friends and his neighbours, and saying, rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost. Well then, if the lost sheep was found, his number was again complete.
When I see the same materials that were on the breastplate, with the names of the children of Israel, placed also upon the shoulders of their high Priest; when I follow this figure to the New Testament and behold the lost nature upon the shoulders of the true high Priest of our profession, carried home rejoicing; when I hear the Redeemer calling upon those whom he met on his return, to rejoice with him inasmuch as he had found that which was lost; when I consider that our Emmanuel ultimately lost nothing, (if we except the son of perdition ;) a view of this consistent plan, of this complete whole, satisfies my understanding, and my soul magnifies the LORD and rejoices in his finished salvation.
It seems to be the design of God to teach the people, by a multitude of figures, that he will lose nothing which he hath made. The woman possessing ten pieces of silver, is another figure, another proof; she had lost one of them, but with a lighted candle she diligently searched the house, until she had found it; when she called her friends and her neighbours together requiring them to rejoice with her, for she had found that which was lost. Thus were her riches restored as at the beginning, and her real friends could not but congratulate her on the success of her diligent search..
Thus will the LORD of all worlds gather home that which is bis, thus will he seek and save that which was lost. Placed by the restitution of all things, in the situation which he filled in the beginning. In such a catastrophe, his friends will have great occasion for rejoicing; yea, and they will rejoice, and be exceeding glad, uniting in full chorus, to say, Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, and ever, Amen and Amen.
"And he made the breastplate of cunning work, like the work of the Ephod; of gold, blue and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
"And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name according to the twelve tribes. "And they made upon the breastplate, chains at the ends of wreathen work of pure gold.
"And they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings, and put the two rings in the two ends of the breastplate.
"And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings, on the ends of the breastplate. This breastplate, thus engraven, could not, as we have observed, be removed, and therefore the names of the people could never lose their places." This is indeed a soul satisfying consideration, they never did, they never can, they never will lose their places. For although Aaron and his lineal successors are now no more, although the symbolic plate, with its precious stones, having done their office, have long since become private property. Yet the antitype of this figure, our great high Priest, ever lives for the people, and they are still near his heart, within the veil, where he hath entered for us, ever living to make intercession for the people.
"And they did bind the breastplate by his rings upon the rings of the Ephod, with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the Ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the Ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.
"And he made the robe of the Ephod of woven work, all ofblue." The Ephod being a short garment, this robe hung over it, and was made all of blue. We have seen of what this colour was figurative.
"And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole that it should not rend.
"And they made upon the hems of the robe, pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.
"And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe round about, between the pomegranates.
“A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe, to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses."
These bells, and these pomegranates, are replete with information which is truly divine. When the high Priest, habited in his holy garments, including in figure all the people of God, entered within the vale, as much, very much depended upon the reception given to the high Priest, and as being within the veil the people without, however deeply interested, could not by the testimony of their sight, ascertain the situation of their priest whether he existed or not, and as their lives depended upon the event, their torturing apprehension must have been extreme. But although they could not behold his person, they could listen to the report, which the bells upon the hem of his garment made, as he moved, thus announcing his safety, and the people upon hearing these bells, shouted with exceeding great joy.
The fruit too, mixed with the bells, is strikingly symbolic. The pomegranate is not a beautiful fruit, it is rough and unpromising in its appearance, but when opened it is truly delicious; it is filled with seeds, which are connected and united together by a thick glutinous pulp, which seems to confine the seeds: this pulp is of a sanguine hue, and the whole strikingly describes the many gathered into one, and in that one preserved, and presented.
Thus, as we have already observed, when the high Priest passed before the mercy seat, the motion of his body caused the bells to sound, this sound the people both heard and felt, it was a joyful sound; the intelligence it conveyed, revived their hopes, and banished their apprehension. It seemed to say, "Because I live, ye shall live also," they knew that they were accepted in the person of their high Priest.
And our glorious high Priest hath entered into the holiest of all for us he hath ascended far above all heavens, that he may fill all things. The gospel trumpet is blown with a steady sound, its bells make a joyful noise, there is nothing equivocal in its report. and when we hear, and hearing receive, when we believe the glad