Exodus 28

Exodus 28 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson

            Some aspects of the Bible I will never understand.  Hermann Witsius in a book published in 1712 wrote, “God created the world in six days, but He used forty to instruct Moses about the tabernacle.  Little over one chapter was needed to describe the structure of the world, but six were used for the tabernacle (Misc. Sacrorum I, p. 394 ff).  This chapter is given over to the attire of the high priest and his sons (28:40).  Why so much attention given to this?  Not sure I can answer that.

            If you think of Aaron and the golden calf incident and that is all, consider how important the high priest was in Israel.  Priests held a special place within Israel.  The office of priests could not be purchased (II Chr. 13:9-10)  or taken by reason of power or influence (II Chr 26:16-21) or by popular election or any other means.  Only God could make someone a priest; it was not a human choice (New American Commentary. Exodus.  Douglas K Stuart).

            Vestments signified authority in the ancient world (Ibid.).  There is no king at this time, so the high priest is the leader of the nation.  As an aside, clothing signifies authority even now.  Think of a policeman, a judge, or a doctor.  I still am puzzled when Christians struggle when a minister dresses differently for a worship service.  Being partial to formality, I wonder who decided that being casual is the way to worship God?  In some churches casual does not mean business casual but jeans and a flannel shirt.  Stuart again, “Because Israel was begun as a theocracy rather than a monarchy, the sort of vestments that conferred dignity and authority that a king might have worn in other cultures were worn by God’s high priests in Israel as a way of confirming the high priest’s role as representative of Yahweh for purposes of worship.”

            In vs. 9ff and 21ff, 29ff, these verses reference parts of the vestments that remind the priest who He is serving and representing.  The Priest clothing includes the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.  We know that the priests are serving one person: The Lord but they are directing their service to the people of Israel.  Back to this in a moment.

            The next piece I like is the plate of God engraved with `Holy to the Lord’ in vs. 36ff.  Holy means set apart so on one hand the priests are set apart from the other tribes for this special work.  But there is another sense that holiness refers to – the moral quality of purity.  God is holy intrinsically.  We are holy by virtue of the  power of the Holy Spirit. 

            These two aspects of being a priest corresponds to being a Christian.  First, we are determined to be God-centered.  We live for the glory of God.  Our eyes are on God.  We exalt in knowing God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.  The never ending fountain of eternal joy who gives us more joy than we could ever expect.  We live in His presence every moment of our existence, submitting to His Lordship, seeking His will, obeying His perfect law, and rejoicing in the forgiveness we have in Christ. As Paul writes, “For the love of Christ controls us,”  II Cor 5:14

            That single-focused vision for God directs us to serve people.  We do not serve people to make us feel or look better.  We do not concern ourselves with what others say or think about us as we serve people.  We are focused on serving people.  We may not have any jewelry that reminds us of people but as Paul writes in I Thes. 2:20 “For you are our glory and joy.”  We pray for and think about people.  We ache for people as they endure hardship.  Our feelings are tender to those who are lonely, hurting, or suffer.

            This sums up our calling.  We are called to be overwhelmed by the glory of God.  We are humbled by His majesty, beauty, glory, holiness, love, and kindness.  We are also called to serve one another as Jesus taught the disciples when he washed their feet. 

            Regarding the service we are to give to others, I will never forget the help we received when we moved here.  I can still see people carrying boxes in.  I will never forget the shower Nancy received at Knox church for Evan’s birth.  Seth Dyrness in his kindness to me during a very difficult time.  I have had so many people in my life care for me in practical, tangible ways that impacts me to this day.  God has been far better to me than I could ask for.

            Express your love to God by caring for someone today.  So many of you do this to people as a normal part of your day.  You drive people places, you send cards, you call those who need a reminder that they are special, you drop off food, watch children, invite teens over for an overnight, or you teach,  or lead groups, volunteer, and the list goes on.  Your prayers, your concern, your practical expression of your faith matters.  God bless you for all your efforts. 

You may not be dressed like a high priest, but as Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”  I Peter 2:9.