Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Thus far we have covered certain garments worn only by the high priest: the ephod, the shoulder-pieces, the breastplate, and the long robe with the pomegranates and golden bells. The breastplate and shoulder-pieces were attached to the ephod, and the ephod was upon the robe. Underneath the long robe was the tunic, which was the same as that worn by the other priests.
Exodus 28:36 says, “And you shall make a plate of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engravings of a signet, Holy to Jehovah.” Exodus 39:30 refers to this plate as being “the plate of the holy crown of pure gold.” Leviticus 8:9 also speaks of “the golden plate, the holy crown.” The Hebrew word rendered plate in 28:36 can also be translated blossom. This plate is a blossom, and the blossom is a holy crown. This plate, this crown, was placed upon the turban (28:37).
The turban worn by the high priest was a kind of headgear or headtire. On his head the high priest wore this particular head covering made of linen. The plate of pure gold was upon the turban, the linen head covering. Therefore, the plate and the turban go together.
According to 28:40, tunics were made for Aaron and his sons. This indicates that the tunics were worn by the high priest and also by the other priests. The tunic was a long coat or robe, probably a little shorter than the robe worn by the high priest. For the high priest, this tunic was an inner robe. But for the other priests, it was an outer robe, since they did not wear the long robe over the tunic.
Verses 39 and 40 also indicate that the high priest and the other priests wore girdles. Verse 39 speaks of “a girdle, the work of an embroiderer.” Verse 40 says that girdles were to be made for Aaron’s sons. Verses 42 and 43 speak of the linen breeches worn by Aaron and his sons: “And you shall make for them linen breeches to cover the naked flesh; from the loins even to the thighs they shall be. And they shall be upon Aaron and upon his sons when they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near to the altar to minister in the holy place, that they may not bear iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever for him and for his seed after him.” These linen breeches were trousers, short pants, reaching down to the knee, so that they covered the naked flesh from the loins to the thighs. Therefore, they signify Christ covering the nakedness of the fallen flesh. The fact that these linen breeches were to be upon the priests whenever they functioned indicates that we need Christ to cover us whenever we function as priests.
In 28:36-43 we have five items: the plate, the turban, the tunic, the girdle, and the breeches. Only the high priest wore the plate of gold, but all the priests wore turbans, tunics, girdles, and breeches. The high priest wore a tunic, the long robe with pomegranates and bells, the ephod, the shoulder-pieces, the breastplate, and the crown. All the other priests wore a tunic, a turban, a girdle, and breeches. In foregoing messages, we have considered the significance of the ephod, the shoulder-pieces, the breastplate, and the long robe with the pomegranates and golden bells. We have yet to see the significance of the golden plate on the linen turban. Furthermore, we need to know the significance of the clothing worn by all the priests—the linen turban, the tunic, the girdle, and the breeches.
If we would understand the significance of the various aspects of the priestly garments, we need to see the principle that all these garments are for expression. They are signs, symbols, expressions. As we carefully read the account of the priestly garments and study this account, we see that these garments are signs. Not only are they for beauty and glory, but they signify, express, symbolize, something. Furthermore, it is important to realize that 28:36-43 is the final word concerning the priestly garments. Usually a concluding word gives us the exact meaning of a certain thing. When we first begin to talk about something, our word may be somewhat unclear. But our concluding word makes the matter very clear. This principle also applies to the description of the priestly garments in Exodus.
The conclusion of the record of the priestly garments involves holiness and righteousness. Holiness is clearly signified in the golden plate with the inscription “Holy unto Jehovah.” Suppose a high priest clothed in all his garments were standing in front of you. You would see the long robe, the ephod, the shoulder-pieces, the breastplate, and the turban. Upon the turban would be a golden plate engraved with “Holy unto Jehovah.” Surely you would be impressed with the matter of holiness. Holiness was the mark of the high priest’s garments, and was even branded on the golden plate. Thus, the full view of the high priestly garments signifies the holiness of God.
Second, the turban, the tunic, the girdle, and the breeches were all made of linen. According to the typology in the Bible, linen signifies righteousness. For example, Revelation 19:8 says that the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints. Therefore, the golden plate is a sign of holiness, and the turban, the tunic, the girdle, and the breeches, all made of linen, are a sign of righteousness.
As we consider the garments worn by the high priest, we see gold in the shoulder-pieces, in the breastplate, and on the head plate. Gold is the main element of both the shoulder-pieces and the breastplate. But even more significant, the head plate was made entirely of gold. Another primary element of the priestly garments was linen. As we have pointed out, gold signifies divinity, and linen signifies humanity. With divinity we receive an impression of holiness, and with humanity, an impression of righteousness. Holiness is not a matter of sinless perfection. Rather, holiness is the divine nature. Divinity in nature is holy. Therefore, holiness is always related to divinity. Righteousness, however, is a virtue of humanity. The most important human virtue, the virtue that includes all others, is righteousness. If you are not a righteous person, you do not have any other virtues. But if you are righteous, your righteousness will include other virtues. Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, holiness and righteousness are emphasized.
The Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, divinity and humanity. We who believe in Him also have two natures, the human nature and the divine nature. Both we and the Lord Jesus possess the divine nature for holiness and the human nature for righteousness. Therefore, we are both holy and righteous, both divine and human. Holiness is the main divine attribute, and righteousness is the main human virtue. In Ephesians 4:24 Paul says that the new man, the church, is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. On the one hand, we are holy in the divine nature; on the other hand, we must be righteous in our humanity.
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