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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Exodus 28

 

 

Verses 1-15

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Exo . And they (the workmen) shall take] = Vehem yikchuh. These words imply that the workmen received all the costly materials for the priestly robes directly from the people. Thus those filled with the "spirit of wisdom" (Exo 28:3) were eminently trustworthy as men of God, and as such possessed the unlimited confidence of the people.

Exo . The breast-plate] = Choshen was of the same "cunning work," msey chosheb, as the ephod, and of like costly materials; being smaller than the ephod, and intended only to cover a span square "on the heart." It was also doubled in order to bear the weight of the twelve inserted precious stones arranged in four equal rows, and on each of which was engraven one of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There can be little doubt that the precious stones were types of the character and destiny of the individual tribes respectively, the interpretation, however, of which has been kept from human scrutiny. We find the same precious stones enumerated in the Apocalypse on "the foundation of the walls" of the celestial city (Rev 21:19). This correspondence is deserving of attention, and shows how the Old and New Testaments unite in their teaching respecting the glorious and encouraging fact of God holding His people in high honour, and of the manner in which He will beautify them.

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Exo

THE EPHOD: THE INTERCESSORSHIP OF THE HIGH PRIEST

The Lord Jesus is the Great High Priest, and this portion of the raiment of the Levitical high priest is full of suggestion concerning the Divine Mediator. It suggests—

I. The immediateness of His advocacy. "The ephod was made of the work of the skilful weaver, and is thus, at once, discernible as appertaining to the Holy of Holies, the vail of which was of the same distinguished workmanship. The high priest alone was allowed to enter into the immediate presence of the Ark of the Testimony; to the representative of the theocratical community alone could the privilege be granted of communing with the invisible King."—Kalisch. So Christ has "entered into the presence of God for us." Our great representative is in the Eternal presence. The vast distance between God and sinful man, exists no more between God and the Perfect Man who represents humanity. The moral perfection, the essential dignity of Christ, qualifies Him to sit down at the right hand of the Majesty on High. Christ brings us into the immediate presence. In the Aaronic high priest all Israel was brought into the presence of the Holy One, and Christ brings us into the heavenly place. In prayer it is so: we need no human priest; He brings us to God. In the whole Christian life it is so. "Our life is hid with Christ in God." In death it is so. We see God's face through Christ for ever.

II. The comprehensiveness of His advocacy. "And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth," Exo . The whole of the tribes were thus brought before God. And Christ the great High Priest represents the whole race—not Israel only, but all nations, tribes and people, and tongues. What a consolation to think, that for ignorant ages and generations He is pleading: "Father; forgive them; for they know not what they do." What a consolation to know that we who have transgressed against clearer light have an interest in His intercession! "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1Jn 2:1-2). None of us need hesitate to come before God with our sins and our sorrows. "My name is written on His hands."

III. The power of His advocacy. "And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial," Exo . Is there not the idea here of the priestly power carrying Israel and Israel's cause? This representation is full of the idea of the strength and sovereignty of the priest. "Besides the materials used for the vail of the Holy of Holies, gold threads were applied in the ephod, which, like the golden plate on the mitre, point to the sovereignty of the high priest, who was the spiritual king of the nation; for gold is generally the emblem of regal power. The garments of the high priest in general are called the "golden garments;" and, indeed, no part of them was without this metal."—Kalisch. Christ is a King as well as a Priest. His Priesthood is full of power and efficacy. Full of power as it is related to God; full of power as it stands related to the Church and the world. "He shall build the Temple of the Lord … and He shall be a Priest upon His throne" (Zeck. Exo 6:13). The whole of His Divine strength and majesty are engaged in the task of reconciling the world to God.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Scripture-Secrets! Exo . "The Bible can never be exhausted. The most learned commentators and eloquent preachers have but crossed the threshold of the magnificent temple. As in Nature, so in Revelation: the materials of every steam-engine, telegraph, microscope, and other mechanical and scientific contrivances, have been lying for countless ages under the dust of the earth undisturbed until a comparatively recent date.… And what yet may be fashioned out of the materials of nature no sagacity can prognosticate. Our present conquests form the starting-points of more dazzling victories. So, in reference to Revelation: generations yet unborn will group around its pages, and gather from them more sublime and radiant truths than those which have flashed on our intellect and cheered our heart—from the harps of the Hebrew bards they will hear a more elevating melody than ever charmed our spirits, and in the living words of the Divine Man perceive a depth, a grandeur, and a significance of which no conception can be formed. The ancient prophets have yet more to relate. Isaiah will reveal glories surpassing imagination, and Ezekiel unfold splendours which would overpower our visual organs. Intellectual perception will be quickened so as to penetrate the clouds which intercept man's vision of the truth. No NEW Revelation, however, will be granted; but from the present Bible will stream ‘a light above the brightness of the sun.' Never need we fear an exhaustion of the truth. It is sempiternal as God, and perennial as the springs of immortality."

"The Book of God! a well of streams divine!

But who would wish the riches of that mine

To make his own, his thirst to satisfy

From that pure well, must ear, eye, soul apply."

Mant.

Priest-Prefigurings! Exo .

(1.) The Mosaic Ritual was figurative throughout of the Gospel Dispensation yet to come. It typified, more or less directly, in all its parts, the person and the work of the Great High Priest of our profession.

(2.) This was especially true of the Jewish High Priest, who in his, 1, Person, 2, Priestly robes, and, 3, Priesthood functions, stood to all the other officials and offerings of the tabernacle as the Holy of Holies stood to all other portions of the material fabric.

(3.) In his duties and official dress Aaron and his successors pictured to the eye of faith the Redeemer Christ. He was to the Jewish devout worshipper a picture of One whom they might one day see, just as a portrait of the Queen or archbishop to an Indian subject or New Zealand Christian.

"See Aaron, God's anointed priest,

Within the veil appear,

In robes of mystic meaning dressed,

Presenting Israel's prayer."

Newton.

Holy Garments! Exo . Griffin notes that these were three in number, and symbolised the excellencies, merits, and grace of the Lord Jesus.

(1.) Snow-white! a vestment of fine linen, emblematic of Christ's purity. Some think that it also indicated penitence as well as purity, at least apparently so, when worn alone on the Day of Atonement.

(2.) Sapphire! an ephod of a light azure hue, reaching only to the knees, and adorned with bells and fruits—especially was it incumbent to wear this in the Holy Place.

(3.) Scarlet! This was a robe of magnificence, embroidered with gold and purple, and blue and scarlet, and fine twined linen. It was the garment of (a) Gladness and (b) Greatness. It prefigured the excellency and unequalled beauty of the Lord our Righteousness in the sight of Jehovah. Farr remarks that "If ever eyes beheld an object in which splendour shone, it was Aaron thus arrayed." God planned each part for glory and for beauty. Every brilliant colour sparkled, richest jewels cast back their dazzling rays, and the varied hues of the rainbow blended with the sun's meridian light.

"Lord of all that's fair to see,

Come, reveal Thyself to me;

Let me, 'mid Thy radiant light,

See Thine unveiled glories bright."

Silesius.

Art-Inspiration! Exo . In the Pacific Ocean there are lovely islands built entirely by coral zoophytes out of the profound depths of the ocean. Raised above the waves, floating germs of vegetation light on them, and speedily cover them with a fair clothing of verdure. Man comes and takes up his abode on these Edens, and makes their resources subservient to the purposes of human life. By and by the missionary appears, and by the preaching of the Gospel changes the moral wilderness into a garden of the Lord. The last great result is thus but the completion of a process begun by a tiny creature in the depths of ocean. Even so here are we told that Jehovah influenced certain to make Aaron's robes. Then followed the ministry of the Gospel, proclaiming those truths symbolised by the Spirit-inspired garments for the moral regeneration of humanity. The final issue is the accomplishment of a work begun in symbolic-raiment.

"Man hath his daily work of body or mind,

Appointed, which declares his dignity,

And the regard of Heaven on all his ways."

Milton.

Art-Aim! Exo . Most men look upon their work merely as the means by which they may earn money to buy the necessaries or luxuries of life. A day's labour is given solely for the purpose of getting a day's pay. Men value their work exclusively at its money-worth. Did these men so work? or was it to glorify God? When, asks a writer, shall men learn the great truth that the money which their labours earn is not the true reward of it? No workman can be paid by mere money. The money that is paid is only the means of living. The reward of the work lies in the moral good that it does to us and to others around. We need the inspiration of God's Spirit to rescue our work from the degradation into which it so easily slides, and make it what God meant it to be—conducive to His glory and human good. The motto which these labourers of God placed on the High Priest's mitre was only the reflection of the motive in their own hearts which prompted the labour. So should we work as labourers or lawyers, fishermen or farmers, engravers or engineers, ministers or miners—for GOD.

"Their bright example I pursue;

To THEE in all things rise;

And all I think, or speak, or do,

Is one great sacrifice."

Wesley.

Girdle-Glory! Exo . St. John tells us that on the day commemorative of his Lord's resurrection he was startled with a great voice as of a trumpet. He turned round, awestruck and astonished. It was no phantasy, no ideal voice, but the Living Presence of one clothed with a garment down to the foot. Macduff points out that the long flowing robe—partly sacerdotal, partly regal—suggests the first of many resemblances to the visions of Daniel, when on the banks of the Hiddekel he saw the man clothed in the long linen robe. In both cases they pointed to the Royal Priest—the Priest upon His throne, the God-man Intercessor—and He was girt with a golden girdle. This was the symbol alike of His Truth, His Unchangeableness, and His Love. Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and Faithfulness the girdle of His reins.

"Majesty combined with meekness,

Righteousness and peace unite

To insure Thy blessed conquests,

Take possession of the right;

Reign triumphant,

Decked in robes of perfect white."

Golden Girdles! Exo .

(1.) After the Vision of the Sea of Glass mingled with fire in Revelation 15—a vision which has most remarkable resemblances to the Morning Scene, when Israel's redeemed host stood on the borders of the Red Sea shore, in Exodus 14—the apocalyptic seer beholds the Holy of Holies opened, wherein, enshrined between the cherubim above the mercy-seat and ark of the covenant, was the Shekinah Pillar-Presence of God. Seven angels come forth. Like priests of the Most High, they were all clad in linen pure and white, and they had also golden girdles like that of their Lord.

(2.) The period just before 1792 was remarkable. The mighty spiritual movement of the Reformation (as depicted in the Vision of the Glassy Sea) appeared to have spent its force. The great lights which had irradiated the seventeenth century had sunk beneath the horizon. The eighteenth century rose, and passed on comparatively starless. Meteor lights of infidelity gleamed luridly. Over Christendom hung damp, chill November fogs. Everything living was dying, and every ray of light was fading. The Church herself was locked in slumbers deep, when

"The seven last angels seen by John in Patmos,

From heaven's sanctuary came forth

Arrayed in priestly robes of white, girdled with gold,

And bearing in their hands the Mystic Vials

Of the wrath of God."

Bickersteth.

Shoulder-Sardonyx! Exo .

(1.) The shoulders were the strongest part of the body.

1. Strictly! Aaron, as the representative of the Israelites, was to bear up the host before God mightily.

2. Symbolically! The True Aaron, as the forerunner of His redeemed Church, bears up with His mighty strength all who are His people.

(2.) If the onyx is really the sardonyx, it is a dark stone, variegated with bluish white, black, and red, lying in circles, as if inlaid by art. It appears in Rev as the fifth row of stones on which the apocalyptic city was seen to rest.

(3.) Thus, in mineral meaning, its use here for the shoulders, with the names of the twelve tribes, would indicate the heavenly and earthly natures of God's people—the admixture of the pure and impure: i.e., of the new man and old man, as in Romans

7. Though weak and unworthy, the offspring of clay, yet, borne up by Christ, believers soar above all peril, and sit as more than conquerors on eminence of almightiness.

"O Holy Saviour, Friend unseen,

Since on Thy arm Thou bidst me lean,

Help me through life's varying scene,

By faith to rest on THEE."

Elliott.


Verses 15-30

THE BREASTPLATE.—Exo

That the ephod and the breastplate were intended to form one whole, is evident by the chains and ribbon which connected them, but the breastplate has its peculiar teachings. It has a two-fold relation—to God and to Israel. Let us consider the suggestions of this prominent portion of the high priestly vestments.

I. As towards God the breastplate conveys the idea of representation.

Exo . The righteousness of this representation. The breastplate was to be the work of the skilful weaver; and it was to be made "of gold, of blue, of purple, of scarlet, and of fine twined linen," Exo 28:15. Is not the idea here, that the intercession of the priest rested on purity and righteousness? The breastplate that met the eye of God, and on which the names of the children of Israel were written, was of white, and gold and beauty. The intercession of Christ is based in wisdom and righteousness. The holiness of God, the holiness of the law, the holiness of Heaven, are fully recognised and guaranteed.

2. The individuality of this representation. "And the stones shall be according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve," Exo . Each tribe particularised. And must we not conclude that the individual jewels for the different tribes had a specific meaning? Our great High Priest knows our particular nature, infirmities, temptations, sins, sorrows. He brings us before God in our individual character and need.

3. The design of this representation. Did not these sparkling jewels on the priest's breast symbolise the fact that the end of his intercession was, the restoration of Israel to purity and glory? Thus Christ recognises the intrinsic preciousness of human nature, and ever pleads and acts, so that we may be cleansed from every defilement, and shine as a bride's jewels.

4. The sympathy of this representation. "And Aaron shall bear the names upon his heart," Exo . Christ bears us on His heart: His Priesthood is full of tenderness and sympathy.

II. As toward man the breastplate conveys the idea of illumination, Exo . "The Urim and Thummim are to be regarded as a certain medium, given by the Lord to His people, through which, whenever the congregation required divine illumination to guide its actions, that illumination was guaranteed, and by means of which the rights of Israel, when called in question or endangered, were to be restored, and that this medium was bound up with the official dress of the high priest, though its precise character can no longer be determined.—Delitzsch. Kalisch considers the Urim and Thummim to be identical with the precious stones, which is very probable. This oracle represents the Divine and saving light which Christ gives to His Church. The divine doctrines of the New Testament are the oracular gems to guide us into all truth. The Jewish legend declares, that during the flood the ark was lighted by the lustre of jewels; the Ark, the Church, is lighted by the clear shining of the doctrines of Christ. In Christ we have saving light; not for curiosity or earthly interest, but for the salvation of our highest nature. Sufficient light: the twelve gems indicate a fulness of illumination. Infallible light: it never leads astray. These precious stones indicate, then, precious truths (Isa 54:11-13). Let us be like unto "the merchant man seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it" (Mat 13:45-46).

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

But the children of Israel were represented in an entirely different order, and after a different manner, on the breastplate of the high priest. Each there had his own peculiar precious stone, and his own peculiar place. Judah was the head of the first row; and Dan took the lead in the last. The gorgeous colour of the ruby shone out from one; the soft refreshing green of the emerald was visible in another; the brilliant light of the diamond flashed out from a third; and the heavenly azure of the sapphire was displayed in a fourth. Thus, each had his own peculiar glory and beauty: each differed from, without rivalling the other; and each filled his appointed place in the order of God. There was unity, combined with diversity. God is able to create variety, without that variety involving inferiority. And so it is with the individuals that compose the Church of God. Each reflects Christ: and yet Christ is seen in each, with a peculiar beauty and glory, into which another does not intrude.

Soltau.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Scripture-Secrets! Exo . "The Bible can never be exhausted. The most learned commentators and eloquent preachers have but crossed the threshold of the magnificent temple. As in Nature, so in Revelation: the materials of every steam-engine, telegraph, microscope, and other mechanical and scientific contrivances, have been lying for countless ages under the dust of the earth undisturbed until a comparatively recent date.… And what yet may be fashioned out of the materials of nature no sagacity can prognosticate. Our present conquests form the starting-points of more dazzling victories. So, in reference to Revelation: generations yet unborn will group around its pages, and gather from them more sublime and radiant truths than those which have flashed on our intellect and cheered our heart—from the harps of the Hebrew bards they will hear a more elevating melody than ever charmed our spirits, and in the living words of the Divine Man perceive a depth, a grandeur, and a significance of which no conception can be formed. The ancient prophets have yet more to relate. Isaiah will reveal glories surpassing imagination, and Ezekiel unfold splendours which would overpower our visual organs. Intellectual perception will be quickened so as to penetrate the clouds which intercept man's vision of the truth. No NEW Revelation, however, will be granted; but from the present Bible will stream ‘a light above the brightness of the sun.' Never need we fear an exhaustion of the truth. It is sempiternal as God, and perennial as the springs of immortality."

"The Book of God! a well of streams divine!

But who would wish the riches of that mine

To make his own, his thirst to satisfy

From that pure well, must ear, eye, soul apply."

Mant.

Stones and Symbols! Exo . The breastplate here means literally the "ornament" Jewels formed its prominent characteristics. Students may observe:—I. SYMBOL-STONES! The ancients attached special virtues to these gems. But notice here:—

1. Their Shining, as indicating their

(1) purity, and

(2) preciousness.

2. Their Setting, as directed in the pectoral, and over the heart. 3 Their Stability, as implied in the four-square and solid forms.

4. Their Service, as bearing the names of the twelve tribes. II. STONE-SYMBOLS! A prophecy of the infinite grace of the Great Mediator, bearing on His very heart all His own. So notice here:—

1. Their Shining, as speaking of the

(1) purity, and

(2) preciousness of the saints.

2. Their Setting, as signifying that Christ lets out His precious blood to make room for them in His heart.

3. Their Stability, as suggesting the strength of His Church, and that He gathers together in one all His people far and near.

4. Their Service, as symbolising His fervent love for all who hope in Him. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up My jewels." And then,

"A perfect satisfaction,

A fulness of delight,

A sense of gliding onward

Through regions ever bright."

Adams.

Gem-Formation! Exo .

(1.) In nature there is hardly a stone that is not capable of crystallising into something purer and brighter than its normal state. Coal, by a slightly different arrangement of its particles, is capable of becoming the radiant diamond. The slag cast out from the furnace as useless waste, forms into globular masses of radiating crystals. The very mud on the road, trampled under foot as the type of all impurity, can be changed by chemical art into metals and gems of surpassing beauty.

(2.) God can make jewels out of the most worthless moral rubbish. Let the cases of John Newton, of the woman that was a sinner, of the thief upon the cross, of Augustine, of John Bunyan, of Colonel Gardiner, and of thousands more, bear witness to the almighty power of the Alchemy of Divine Grace. It only requires a supreme surrender of ourselves into the hands of the Holy Spirit to ensure the Scripture assurance, "They shall be Mine in that day when I make up My jewels."

"Creator! let Thy Spirit shine

The darkness of my soul within,

And lead me by Thy Grace Divine

From the forbidden paths of sin."

Burleigh.

Breastplate-Symbolism! Exo .

(1.) Each jewel in the four rows of precious stones shone by its own coloured light, and yet contributed to the brilliancy of the whole. So in the Christian character all the graces should blend in such a way that the effect of the whole may be to the eye what melody is to the ear.

(2.) There is, says Macmillan, harmony in colours as well as in sounds; and when the proper hues are associated together, the complementary ones harmonising and contrasting with one another, the effect is exceedingly pleasing. Every one who has observed nature at all must have been struck by this distinguishing feature.

(3.) Such a symmetry of graces is rarely observed in the Christian character; for only too often graces that charm us by their beauty lie close by the side of defects that repel. The sapphire of love may be placed side by side with the sickly green of envy and jealousy; and the purple of humility with the red and angry glare of passion. As Jesus says, "Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee."

"My God! how fearful is the fight

Within my heart two spirits wage;

One seeks alone Thy heavenly light,

And every thought with thee t'engage;

The other scorns Thy sovereign will,

And dares revolt against it still."

Racine.

Precious Stones! Exo . The New Jerusalem above will be a glorious city, because there shall be gathered together, in varied but harmonious splendour, the brightness of the diamond, the ruddy glare of the topaz, the deep green of the emerald, the shining gold of the jasper, the milk-white filmmess of the onyx, the heavenly blue of the sapphire, the lovely violet of the amethyst, the burning changes of the opal, and the soft beauty of the pearl!

"The city had no temple, for itself

From wall to wall, from base to pinnacle,

Was one harmonious veilless sanctuary,

One Holiest of all.

Bickersleth.

Urim and Thummim! Exo .

(1.) Gesenius and others imagine that these were small oracular images, like the teraphim, by which revelation and truth were personified, and which were placed in the inner cavity of the breastplate.

(2.) Spencer and others fancy that the ornament was derived from the Egyptians, whose chief priest, being also supreme civil judge, wore such suspended from a golden chain round his neck. But this jewel was wholly judicial.

(3.) Kitto says that the Urim and Thummim were not so much judicial as sacerdotal and oracular; and that there is really no resemblance to the Egyptian practice, except in the substance, a jewel.

(4.) In Exo Aaron is directed to wear, the names upon his heart before the Lord; and here he is directed to wear the Urim and Thummim upon the same place, and before the same Being. They are thus identical; at least such is a reasonable presumption.

(5.) Some think that they were the two tables of the law inscribed in some way on the breastplate, while others consider them to have been the precious stones. It is impossible to say with certainty.

"Urim and Thummim near his heart

In rich enchasings worn,

The sacred light of truth impart,

To teach and to adorn."

Light and Perfection! Exo .

(1.) Urim means light; Thummim means perfection. By means of these the Lord revealed His will and gave responses to His consulting people. In what way they were consulted is quite uncertain.

(2.) Josephus says that probably the stones gave out an oracular answer by preternatural illumination. But it seems to be more natural to suppose that the answer was given simply by the word of the Lord.

(3.) Law says that the gospel significance of these is clear; that they tell us Christ is our light and our perfection, and that He is made unto us the light of wisdom and the perfection of righteousness.

(4.) Dr. Smith points out the idea of justification, which is often expressed in actual Oriental life by the nature of the robe worn. He directs attention to Isa as a good illustration of this.

"In Him a holiness complete,

Light and perfection shine;

And wisdom, grace, and glory meet,

A Saviour all Divine."

Revelation! Exo . In the fabulous records of Pagan antiquity we read of a mirror endowed with properties so rare that, by looking into it, its possessor could discover any object which he wished to see, however remote, and discover with equal ease persons and things above, below, behind, and before him. Such a mirror, but infinitely more valuable, do we possess in the breastplate of the Bible. Here, on its very forefront, are the Urim and Thummim of the Eternal Divine Mind. Yet, as Revelation is a communication from an Infinite Mind to a finite capacity, it may be expected to mingle shadow with its splendour; for what finite comprehension can grasp Infinity?

"Therefore the sacred page

With deep attention scan! If on thy soul,

As thou dost read, a ray of purer light

Break in, oh check it not, give it full scope."

Hayes.


Verses 31-35

THE PRIEST'S ROBE.—Exo

A robe is the badge of office, and the robe here described marks out the high priest as one whose function it was to preserve and declare divine truth. And Christ, the great High Priest, is also the Apostle of our confession. Consider what this robe suggests concerning the truth as it is in Jesus.

I. The colour of the robe suggests, that our great High Priest is the source and guardian of truth. The robe was to be entirely of blue. "That this is significant cannot be doubted, if we consider, that (Num ) the Israelites are commanded to wear on the borders of their garments fringes with a thread of blue, ‘that they might see it and remember all the precepts of the Lord;' we may, therefore, safely infer that the robe, with its only blue colour, represented the high priest as perfectly and entirely under the command of God, as the instrument and guardian of His laws."—Kalisch. Christ is the grand source of spiritual and divine truth. He declares the laws of God to mankind. It is the highest truth: blue, the colour of the lofty firmament. It is the purest truth: the deep blue sky is an image of purity—free from all stains and defilements. It is the infinite, eternal, truth: the blue unchanging sky is the image of eternity.

II. The integrity of the robe suggests the integrity of the law and truth of Christ. The robe was of one piece, it was entirely woven without the use of the needle; and the robe was of one colour, all of blue. The Gospel of Jesus is no patchwork, as some would assume, partly true and partly false, partly human and partly divine, partly obligatory and partly obsolete, partly beautiful and partly unseemly. The Gospel of Jesus is not a thing made from scraps and shreds gathered from various sources, Jewish and Pagan,—it is of one spirit, one beauty, one authority throughout. Let us not attempt to tear it asunder. "There was to be a binding of woven work round about the hole for the neck, like the opening of an armour, that it be not rent," Exo . Let us make no schism in it. The Gospel of Jesus is the unfolding of God's heart and God's mind, and let us be careful and preserve the whole counsel of God.

III. The ornaments of the robe suggest the sweetness and virtue of the truth as it is in Jesus, Exo . "We find allusions to the Word and Testimony of God in the pendant of pomegranates and bells attached to the fringe of the high priest's robe. The simile in Pro 25:11, where the word is compared to an apple, suggests the idea that the pomegranates, with their pleasant odour, their sweet and refreshing juice, and the richness of their delicious kernel, were symbols of the Word and Testimony of God, as a sweet and Pleasant spiritual food that enlivens the soul and refreshes the heart."—Delitzsch. The music of the golden bells we may also regard as the delightful harmony of Gospel truth—sweet alike to God and man. The truth as it is in Jesus is full of richness and beauty—it speaks of pardon, reconciliation, and immortality.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him."

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Scripture-Secrets! Exo . "The Bible can never be exhausted. The most learned commentators and eloquent preachers have but crossed the threshold of the magnificent temple. As in Nature, so in Revelation: the materials of every steam-engine, telegraph, microscope, and other mechanical and scientific contrivances, have been lying for countless ages under the dust of the earth undisturbed until a comparatively recent date.… And what yet may be fashioned out of the materials of nature no sagacity can prognosticate. Our present conquests form the starting-points of more dazzling victories. So, in reference to Revelation: generations yet unborn will group around its pages, and gather from them more sublime and radiant truths than those which have flashed on our intellect and cheered our heart—from the harps of the Hebrew bards they will hear a more elevating melody than ever charmed our spirits, and in the living words of the Divine Man perceive a depth, a grandeur, and a significance of which no conception can be formed. The ancient prophets have yet more to relate. Isaiah will reveal glories surpassing imagination, and Ezekiel unfold splendours which would overpower our visual organs. Intellectual perception will be quickened so as to penetrate the clouds which intercept man's vision of the truth. No NEW Revelation, however, will be granted; but from the present Bible will stream ‘a light above the brightness of the sun.' Never need we fear an exhaustion of the truth. It is sempiternal as God, and perennial as the springs of immortality."

"The Book of God! a well of streams divine!

But who would wish the riches of that mine

To make his own, his thirst to satisfy

From that pure well, must ear, eye, soul apply."

Mant.

Pomegranates! Exo .

(1.) The tree, or rather shrub, which bears this beautiful and delicious fruit, has its habitat in Asia and North Africa. Its leaves are dark green, in shape of those of the myrtle. The flower is a rich, brilliant red, and the fruit like an orange in shape, somewhat darker red in colour. The flavour is almost identical with that of a man darin orange. The pomegranate was exhibited by the Israelite spies at Eshcol. When cut open, it reveals juicy red seeds, arranged symmetrically in rows parallel to the core. Hence in Son , the Church of Christ, at the time of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, is likened to an open pomegranate.

(2.) Is it more than a mere coincidence that in Son ; Son 6:11; Son 7:12, allusions are made to this fruit! The first of these allegorical prophecies refers to the closing scenes in the life of Christ during the Last Supper; the second is inseparably connected with the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; while the third links itself with the subsequent Evangelisation of the Samaritans and other Gentiles. It was then that our Lord passed within the veil after "His Exodus" accomplished at Jerusalem, and when arrayed in the gorgeous high-priestly apparel He presented His fragrant and fruitful intercessions before the Throne of Mercy and Grace above.

"And He gathers the prayers as He stands,

And they change into fruits in His hands,

Pomegranates of purple and red;

And beneath the great arch of the portal,

Through the streets of the City Immortal,

Is wafted the fragrance they shed."

Longfellow.

Golden-Bells! Exo . The sound of these bells was very pleasant to the worshippers in the court of the tabernacle—telling, as they did, of the Advocate within the veil who was acting for them, and prevailing according to the will of God. We have a better High Priest, One who can never die, and who, having entered into heaven itself, now appears in the presence of God for us. May we not well believe, suggests Wood, that the golden bells on His robe are those melodious declarations of love—those alluring promises which give life and gladness to the soul, and which have all their value and significance only as they are connected with Him who is the Substitute and Surety of sinners! Trapp, however, says that they shadow out the prophetical office of Christ here and His perpetual intercession in heaven.

"Hark to the bells among the fruits, low, surging deep,

Falling in tender minors, now once more

Blending in heavenly harmonies, as creep

The rippling wavelets on the shelving shore."

Shipton.

Conscience-Chimes! Exo . Years ago, one lovely Sabbath morning, eight young law students were strolling along the bank of one of the tributaries of the Potomac River. They were going to a secluded spot in a grove to murder the precious hours of that holy day by playing whist and drinking wine. Each of them was the son of a praying mother. As they were sauntering along, and amusing each other with idle jests, the court-house bells—used for calling the people to their house of worship—commenced to ring. Suddenly one of them stopped, told how the bells recalled his mother's farewell assurance that every Sunday morning, when the church bells rang, she would pray for him, and expressed his determination to go back to church. "Silently," says the ringleader, "we all followed. Each of us managed to throw our cards and flasks into the stream, and not one of us now lives without a new heart"—each a monument to a mother's prayers.

"How soft the cadence of those village bells

Falling at intervals upon the ear

In cadence sweet!"

Cowper.

Pomegranate-Prefigurations! Exo . If the joyful sounds of grace to sinners were prefigured by the golden bells on the robe of the ephod, it has been suggested that we shall not be far wrong in supposing that these fruits were types of the results which always follow a right hearing of the sweet melody. As every golden bell was followed by its pomegranate, so every Gospel message is, when welcomed, succeeded by its appropriate fruit. The pomegranate is not only

(1) beautiful to the eye, but

(2) richly luscious to the taste. It is also

(3) full of seed, to extend the blessings already possessed by itself. So, says a Glasgow merchant, is it with the fruits of grace. Not one of them but is lovely to the sight of God and man. In themselves refreshing and delightful, they carry spiritual seeds for the propagation of the same rich joy which they enwrap. Blessed in themselves, they give forth blessing to others. These are the fruits of the Spirit detailed by St. Paul. It is hinted by Trapp that these pomegranates shadow out the duty of ministers, which is to live sermons—to be fruitful as well as painful teachers.

"Oh! then sustain me, Holiest! I am vowed

To solemn service high;

And shall the spirit, for Thy tasks endowed

Sink on the threshold of the sanctuary!"

Aaronic-Bells! Exo .

(1.) This verse shows their use and intent. The sound of the numerous bells that covered Aaron's robe, gave notice to the assembled people that the most awful ceremony of their religion had commenced. When arrayed in this garb, he bore into the sanctuary the vessel of incense. This was the signal to prostrate themselves before God, and to commence those fervent ejaculations which were to ascend with the column of incense to the Throne of Heaven. The music of the bells was here, then, a signal to wrestle with Jehovah to bless the intercession of Aaron.

(2.) Talmage suggests that the Gospel has many bells:

(1) Golden Bells, signifying the preciousness of the glad tidings of salvation;

(2) Inviting Bells, summoning the servants of God to worship Him in His holy temple;

(3) Warning Bells, saying that delay in serving God is attended with danger;

(4) Cheering Bells, setting forth the possibility of pardon to all anxious sinners; and

(5) Triumphant Bells, singing, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

(3.) Wood says that the sound of the bells outside attested Aaron's being alive and active, and accepted in the intercessory work to which he was appointed. When the worshippers learned from the ringing of the bells that their advocate within the veil was prospering in his appeal on their behalf, they were emboldened to blend their supplications with those of Aaron.

"Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,

The land of spices, something understood."

Herbert.


Verses 36-38

THE DIADEM OF THE PRIEST.—Exo

The words on the priest's mitre, Holiness to the Lord, signify that he who wore it was entirely devoted to God, and that it was his mission to elevate the people to the same sanctity. Thus is Christ pure, and thus does He seek to sanctify all who seek His aid. Consider the sanctity of the priest—

I. As personal. The inscription on the priestly diadem signified:—

1. That the priest was altogether separated to God. The inscription was on his brow, declaring the giving up to God of his whole personality.

2. The priest was always separated to God. "It shall be always upon his forehead." Thus the Israelites saw in their high priest the ideal of a true humanity—life altogether and always given up to God. In Christ we see the glorious actuality—an absolutely pure humanity. See Heb . All other men, even the greatest, the wisest, the best, have been marked by imperfection and sin, but in Christ we have a great High Priest of absolute sinlessness, and in Him we may safely and fully trust.

II. As official. It was the duty of the high priest to raise others to his own sanctity, Exo . He had to bear away the iniquity of the sacred things. The high priest was an atoning mediator of the whole nation, and in his intercession the sin of the people was blotted out. Thus Christ is a High Priest to take upon Himself and to bear away the condemnation of all sinful but penitent men. Christ declares in His teaching the holiness of God; in His own life He gives us the grandest illustration of that holiness; and in His ever-living advocacy, He seeks to elevate all His people to share His glory.

Lessons:—

1. Man at his best is a sinful creature. "The iniquity of the holy things." Our best works, feelings, hours, are tainted, and mixed and imperfect. What of our ordinary works, feelings, hours? What of our worst?

2. That God will only accept us and our gifts when we and they are pure. The priest had to purify the givers and the gifts; for so long as these were infected by iniquity they were unacceptable to God. Here we see the need of a mediator. How presumptuous are those who venture to go into the presence of God on merely natural grounds, and offer Him their spotted selves, and spotted lives, gifts, prayers, services! All sacrifices, prayers, oblations, services, are an abomination to God if they are not perfectly sincere and pure; and how can these clean things come out of our erring, passionate, perverse nature?

3. That in Christ we have full redemption and sanctification. He can make us pure and our offerings. He can purge the iniquity of our holy things and our unholy. We need seek no other priest; we need add to Him no other priest; His royal power and eloquent advocacy save to the uttermost all who come unto God through Him.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Scripture-Secrets! Exo . "The Bible can never be exhausted. The most learned commentators and eloquent preachers have but crossed the threshold of the magnificent temple. As in Nature, so in Revelation: the materials of every steam-engine, telegraph, microscope, and other mechanical and scientific contrivances, have been lying for countless ages under the dust of the earth undisturbed until a comparatively recent date.… And what yet may be fashioned out of the materials of nature no sagacity can prognosticate. Our present conquests form the starting-points of more dazzling victories. So, in reference to Revelation: generations yet unborn will group around its pages, and gather from them more sublime and radiant truths than those which have flashed on our intellect and cheered our heart—from the harps of the Hebrew bards they will hear a more elevating melody than ever charmed our spirits, and in the living words of the Divine Man perceive a depth, a grandeur, and a significance of which no conception can be formed. The ancient prophets have yet more to relate. Isaiah will reveal glories surpassing imagination, and Ezekiel unfold splendours which would overpower our visual organs. Intellectual perception will be quickened so as to penetrate the clouds which intercept man's vision of the truth. No NEW Revelation, however, will be granted; but from the present Bible will stream ‘a light above the brightness of the sun.' Never need we fear an exhaustion of the truth. It is sempiternal as God, and perennial as the springs of immortality."

"The Book of God! a well of streams divine!

But who would wish the riches of that mine

To make his own, his thirst to satisfy

From that pure well, must ear, eye, soul apply."

Mant.

Mitre-Medallion! Exo .

(1.) Dr. Kitto says that the mitre was a turban of fine linen, furnished in front with a plate of pure gold, on which were inscribed the words, "HOLINESS TO THE LORD," and which was attached to the turban by a blue lace. The word translated, "plate," signifies a flower, and is rendered petalon, i.e., a petal, by the Septuagint. This seems to show that the plate was wrought with flowered work, or was itself in the form of a flower or petal.

(2.) In the prophecies of Zechariah (Exo ) it is foretold that in the coming millennial days there is to be inscribed upon the bells of the horses, "HOLINESS TO THE LORD." Until the recent introduction of tram-cars there was little of such a custom in England, though in some continental cities almost every horse employed for draught purposes bears a bell round its neck. Russian and Canadian sleighs are always furnished with these bells.

(3.) Contrast the one inscription on the Messiah's frontlet with this inscription everywhere visible in the latter days. It tells us that so efficacious will the intercessions of our Great High Priest in heaven for 2000 years prove, that every kind of traffic shall be carried on in a manner becoming the Gospel, and that, whatsoever men do, each and all of their works shall be done with a single eye to God's glory, i.e., shall be "HOLINESS TO THE LORD."

"And all the holy race of Abraham

Be clothed in priestly robes, spotless as snow."

Bickersteth.

Mitre-Moral! Exo . During Alexander the Great's career of conquest, he was opposed by the Jews, who remained faithful in their allegiance to Darius the Persian. Having wreaked his vengeance on Tyre by giving it to the flames, and crucifying 2000 of its citizens along the seashore, he marched against Jerusalem. Rollin gives an interesting account of the event. Jaddus, the high priest, interceded with God to aid His people, and was answered in a dream that he must cause flowers to be strewn about the city, set open the city gates, and go forth with the priests in festal procession, wearing his pontifical robes. He accordingly arrayed himself, and leading the procession, marched forth to meet the "fiery scourge of God." Alexander, struck by the sight of the high priest, on whose mitre and forehead a gold plate was fixed bearing the name of God, bowed low before the august name of JEHOVAH. All were surprised, and one of the conqueror's favourite generals asked for an explanation. The conqueror having given it, entered Jerusalem, and offered up sacrifices to the God of the Hebrews. Thus the proud head of earth's mightiest warrior bent before the mitre-motto, "Holiness to Jehovah." And before Jesus, the great High Priest, on the forefront of whose earth and heaven life is inscribed this title, shall all the mighty ones of the world be at last constrained to bow.

"Exalted high at God's right hand,

And Lord of all below;

Through Him is pardoning love dispensed,

And boundless blessings flow."

Barbauld.


Verses 39-43

THE KINGDOM OF PRIESTS.—Exo

Aaron was the high priest, but all his sons were priests also, and in the text we have given more particularly the garments of the common priests. Let us notice these as suggestive of the character of the kingdom of priests created by Christ Jesus.

I. The holiness of the garments. Not only are Aaron's garments called "holy," Exo ; but the garments for his sons are called "holy" also, Exo 28:4. He who wore these garments was separated to God, doing God's service. The sons of Christ are thus holy unto God. These garments indicate the completeness of their sanctification. The garments of the priest in several parts indicate that he is entirely clothed in holiness. Does not the coat of fine linen or the tunic, Exo 28:39, indicate the sanctification of the heart which beats beneath it? Does not the girdle, Exo 28:39, which is a symbol of readiness and service, indicate the sanctification of the active life? Does not the bonnet or turban, Exo 28:4, indicate the hallowing of the intellect? Do not the linen drawers, Exo 28:42, indicate the sanctification of the flesh? The whole nature and life for God. These garments indicate the thoroughness of their sanctification. The tunic above the drawers, the girdle around the tunic. Our purity must be deep and thorough. "Thou desirest truth in the inward parts." Are we thus sanctified to God?

II. The beauty of the garments. The workmen were to "take the gold, and the blue, and the red, and the crimson, and the fine linen," Exo . The tunic was of fine linen, the girdle was the work of the embroiderer, and the turban was for glory and beauty. Holiness is beauty. Is not this the grand idea of the priest's gorgeous apparel? Purity causes the whole man to shine, and touches his whole life into beauty. Many aim to make themselves beautiful, but it is a mistake to aim at beauty; we must aim at purity, and purity transfigures all. What beauty about a true heart! A noble mind! A chaste body! A sincere and transparent life! Holiness is the highest beauty. Gold, blue, crimson, red, fine linen—here you have the richest material, the finest fabric, the highest colours. Holiness of heart and life reveal the highest beauty. Physical, intellectual beauty are alike inferior to the beauty of holiness. "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; He hath covered, me with the robe of righteousness" (Isa 61:10). Notice—

III. The indispensability of these garments, Exo . "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Without this holiness our worship will not be acceptable; our services for society not be efficacious; our spirit shall not stand acquitted in the judgment It is the wedding-garment of the Gospel.

ILLUSTRATIONS

BY

REV. WILLIAM ADAMSON

Scripture-Secrets! Exo . "The Bible can never be exhausted. The most learned commentators and eloquent preachers have but crossed the threshold of the magnificent temple. As in Nature, so in Revelation: the materials of every steam-engine, telegraph, microscope, and other mechanical and scientific contrivances, have been lying for countless ages under the dust of the earth undisturbed until a comparatively recent date.… And what yet may be fashioned out of the materials of nature no sagacity can prognosticate. Our present conquests form the starting-points of more dazzling victories. So, in reference to Revelation: generations yet unborn will group around its pages, and gather from them more sublime and radiant truths than those which have flashed on our intellect and cheered our heart—from the harps of the Hebrew bards they will hear a more elevating melody than ever charmed our spirits, and in the living words of the Divine Man perceive a depth, a grandeur, and a significance of which no conception can be formed. The ancient prophets have yet more to relate. Isaiah will reveal glories surpassing imagination, and Ezekiel unfold splendours which would overpower our visual organs. Intellectual perception will be quickened so as to penetrate the clouds which intercept man's vision of the truth. No NEW Revelation, however, will be granted; but from the present Bible will stream ‘a light above the brightness of the sun.' Never need we fear an exhaustion of the truth. It is sempiternal as God, and perennial as the springs of immortality."

"The Book of God! a well of streams divine!

But who would wish the riches of that mine

To make his own, his thirst to satisfy

From that pure well, must ear, eye, soul apply."

Mant.

Holy Wholly! Exo . In the raiment of Aaron, as in all the tabernacle appurtenances, every part was holy throughout. Not a carven pomegranate—not a bell, silver or golden, but was holy wholly. The table and its lamps, with flowers of silver light, tent and stones, fluttering curtains and ascending incense, altar and sacrifice, breastplate and ephod, mitre and gem-clasped girdle, wreathen chains and jewelled hangings, were holy. This signified not only

(1) the entire holiness of God, with whom we have to do, but also

(2) the absolute necessity for thorough sanctification of heart and life in ourselves. This is the will of God; and to accomplish this He sets His jewels in the fires that they may be purified, and like Himself in holiness.

"No spot or wrinkle on their holy brow,

No film upon their robes of dazzling white,

Most beautiful, most glorious; every saint

HOLY in individual HOLINESS."

 


Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 28:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/exodus-28.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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