The Robes Make the Man

Alec Motyer

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“Aaron must burn . . . incense . . . when he tends the lamps.” (30:7 NIV)

What was Aaron’s priesthood for? This question touches you and me because under Jesus, our Great High Priest, we are made part of the priesthood of all believers. This long Exodus passage, all about the priesthood, is bracketed by the priests’ double duty of tending the lamps (27:20ff.) and burning incense (30:1ff.). The priests were to keep the light of the Lord’s presence shining and to keep the cloud of prayer ascending. To let our light so shine that people may see his glory and to make sure that “the voice of prayer is never silent” is our priestly work.

The priestly garments (28:1ff.) mattered more than the priestly person (29:1ff.) because Aaron and his sons were just as much in need of a sin offering as anyone else (29:14). The glory (28:2) of those ancient vestments with their breath-taking colors—the gold of deity, blue of heaven, purple of royalty, scarlet of atonement, linen of purity (28:6)—shows us the kind of High Priest we really need: One who is able to carry his people (28:11-12) and hold us in his heart before God (28:29), One who is truly fit to wear the insignia of holiness (28:36). Who but Jesus?

PRAYER

Thank you, Jesus, our Great High Priest!