Edited by Eugene Higgins
In this article, we have an introduction to the garments of the high priest and their typical significance.
Typical significance: (Heb 7:23-28)
Notice that in Leviticus 8:7-9, when Aaron is being consecrated to the office of High Priest, the order of the garments is reversed because he is actually being dressed; therefore, the description commences with the inner garments. Let us begin there as well.
The Linen Coat
The embroidered linen coat was the innermost garment. Made of fine linen, which is the symbol of righteousness (Rev 19:8), it typifies the personal righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we have His essential character brought before us, His impeccable righteousness, His sinless perfection. Ample testimony to His sinlessness is provided by the following:
a) The testimony of Pilate John 18:38; 19:4.
b) The testimony of Pilate’s wife Matt 27:19.
c) The testimony of Herod Luke 23:13-15.
d) The testimony of the thief on the cross Luke 23:39-41.
e) The testimony of the centurion Luke 23:46, 47.
f) The testimony of Stephen Acts 7:52.
g) The testimony of the Apostle Peter 1 Peter 2:22.
h) The testimony of the Apostle John 1 John 3:5.
i) The testimony of the Apostle Paul 2 Cor 5:21.
j) The testimony of demons Mark 1:23-24.
k) The testimony of the Holy Spirit John 1:32.
l) The testimony of the Father Matt 17:5.
m) The testimony of the Lord Himself John 8:46.
The Linen Girdle
The linen girdle, which was bound under the linen coat, was a means of strengthening the loins, and is a symbol of service (Luke 17:8; Isa 22:21). Notice the seven statements about Jehovah’s perfect Servant as He performed that great act of service for His own in John 13:4-5:
a) He riseth from supper
b) He laid aside His garments
c) He took a towel
d) He girded Himself
e) He poured water into a basin
f) He began to wash the disciples’ feet
g) He wiped them with the towel wherewith He was girded.
God says, “Behold My Servant” (Isa 42:1). Paul said, “He … took upon Him the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). He said, “I am among you as He that serveth” (Luke 22:27).
The Robe of the Ephod
The robe of the ephod was next put upon Aaron. It was of one piece from top to bottom. It was of one color – blue. It was of woven work, beautifully ornamented around the hem with bells and pomegranates. A robe is the symbol of position, office, and character (Job 29:14; Isa 59:17; 61:10). This robe embodied the color of the heavens and portrays the heavenly character of our Great High Priest, as well as the place where He ministers on our behalf (Heb 3:1; 4:14). The pomegranates are a fruit of earth, displayed here on a heavenly robe (blue). They suggest Christ’s fruitfulness as the seed which produces much fruit through death (Isa 53:11; John 12:24; Heb 2:13). The golden bells upon the hem of the robe sounded each time the priest walked. The sound of the bells is equivalent to words – they mean speech or testimony. The sound was activated or produced by the walk. Christ’s words and walk were always consistent (John 7:46; Mark 7:37).
The ephod, with its curious girdle or belt, was the outer garment worn by Aaron. The two materials from which the ephod was made are specified as gold and fine twined linen with colors of blue, purple, and scarlet emblazoned thereon. (The significance of the colors has been noted elsewhere). The way in which this was done is described in Exodus 39:3. You could not separate the gold from the linen without rending and ruining the linen. Neither could you separate the linen from the gold without bending, twisting, and ruining the gold. Likewise, you could not separate the two materials without destroying the ephod. So you cannot in any way separate the two natures of Christ – His Humanity and His Deity are perfectly blended together. He is “Jesus, the Son of God” (Heb 4:14).
The two pieces of the Ephod – front and back – were joined at the shoulders, and two onyx stones in their settings were fastened upon the shoulder pieces. These onyx stones were engraved with the names of the children of Israel, according to their birth, six on each stone. Thus Aaron was able to bear their names before the Lord upon his own two shoulders for a memorial.
The precious stones on the shoulders were of the same kind; they were alike. They each had the same value. They were equally held up by Aaron. The names were there by birth. They all enjoyed the same support. By birth, by regeneration, as believers, we are all alike before God – we are children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:26).
The shoulder is the symbol of strength (Luke 15:5; Isa 9:6). It tells us of Christ’s omnipotence, which is engaged on behalf of His people. “Kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5). See also 2 Timothy 1:12. As children of God, we are presented by the Lord Jesus to the Father and He holds each of us up with the same divine strength.