Tuesday, January 23, 2018

In God's Service? What Are You Wearing with Honor?

The garments and other accessories of the High Priest and other Priests
Exodus 39:1-31:
This is an account of the following:
Verses 1-7, the making of the ephod or sleeveless garment as specified earlier in Exodus 28:5-14.
Verses 8-21, the making of the breastplate for the high priest as specified earlier in Exodus 28:15-29.
Verses 22-26, the making of the robe for the high priest as specified earlier in Exodus 28:31-35.
Verses 27-29, the making of the tunics, turbans, sashes, trousers, for all the priests as specified in Exodus 28:39-43.
Verses 30-31, the making of the turban for the high priest as specified in Exodus 28:36-38.
Thoughts on the Passage
As I have been studying these chapters describing all the work done on the Tabernacle and how it followed the earlier instructions given by God to Moses, I can’t help but think about the fact that God wants us to follow His instructions about life in general. He has given us a combination “designer’s and manufacturer’s manual” in the form of His Word, the Bible. God knew that there was no way that man could follow the “maintenance schedule” required which was given in the form of the hundreds of Old Testament Laws. So, in the New Testament, He provides for each of us, a means by which we could have life and have it more abundantly and eternally – He gives the Ultimate Care package in the person of His own Son, Jesus Christ.

With respect to our current passage in Exodus, Robert Jamieson points out that gold metal was actually beaten with a hammer in thin plates or sheets (verse 3), then cut somehow into long strips, and rounded into filaments or threads.  (This has been observed in the presence of cloth with which ancient mummies have been wrapped.)

In verse 30, we read of the inscription on the plate of the holy crown. It was the text says like the engravings on a signet-ring worn both by ancient and modern Egyptians. The inscription contained the owner’s name along with a sacred symbol intimating that the wearer was the servant of God and/or expressed his trust in God. Jamieson believes that what we have here alludes to that practice and he invites us to compare the thought with what John wrote in his gospel, chapter 3, verse 33.
Matthew Henry has several things to say about this passage.

He points out the fact that the priests’ garments were called “clothes of service” or “for ministering in the holy place” (vs. 1). Several thoughts come to mind here.  First, are we should we have special attire for those that minister in our local church?  Second, is our local church (if it is represented by the Tabernacle), a “holy place” as referred to here? Clearly our modern thinking, as a result of our interpretation of the New Testament and the New Covenant through Christ, would lead us to say that the answer to both those questions is ‘no’. Many congregations today struggle with both these questions even though they may feel they don’t. However, the fact that “anything goes” is not readily the modus operandi with respect to what a minister wears or does not wear (there is a limit) or with respect to what can be done in the church building (there is a limit here as well).

Henry points out that what is more important is that these clothes are clothes of honor and we need to remember that “upon whom honor is put service is expected.” He quotes Revelation 7:13,15 which says that those that are arrayed in white robes “are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple.”  He reminds us that holy garments were not made for us to sleep in, but to do service in, and that the Son of Man Himself “came not to be ministered to, but to minister”.

Secondly, Henry reminds us that given the repetition and the emphasis on everything being constructed or made exactly as God had earlier specified, everything was by divine appointment. And he says, this “is an intimation to all the Lord’s ministers to make the Word of God their rule in all their ministrations, and to act in observance of and obedience to the command of God.”  That’s the bottom line.

Given the richness and splendid of these garments, it is easy for us to see how this was carried over into garments of not only more modern services of the Jewish faith, but also in our Roman Catholic, Greek and Eastern Orthodox, and the Anglican or Episcopalian traditions. In all these cases, the church tried to copy the material or physical aspects of worship.  Now, however, as we are under the Gospel and the ministration of the Spirit, following such traditions is certainly not necessary and perhaps inappropriate. To Henry, doing so, that is following such habits may “betray ‘the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free’, and to entangle the church again in the bondage of those carnal ordinances which were imposed only till the time of reformation.”  Well, we certainly know where he stands.  Each of us will have to make up our own minds of course, but for me, this is certainly not a hill I want to die on.

Matthew Henry does take us back to the main foreshadowing of this chapter’s contents. “Christ is our great high-priest; when He undertook the work of our redemption, He put on the clothes of service – He arrayed Himself with the gifts and graces of the Spirit. . ..  And (lastly) He crowned himself with ‘holiness to the Lord’, consecrating His whole undertaking to the honor of His Father’s holiness.”
But there’s a message for us as well. “True believers,” he says, “are spiritual priests. The clean linen with which all their clothes of service must be made is ‘the righteousness of saints’ (Rev. 19:8), and ‘Holiness to the Lord’ must be so written upon their foreheads that all who converse with them may see, and say, that they bear the image of God’s holiness, and are devoted to the praise of it.

How are our clothes of service? Are we wearing them with honor? What do others see when they talk with us? Whose image are we bearing? What are we devoted to?

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

No comments:

Post a Comment