Exodus 28-31: More Instructions to Prepare to go Before the Presence of God

God described to Moses how to build the tabernacle. Next, He describes how the priests — Aaron and his sons — should be clothed. The priestly garments are rather ornate, but each piece serves a purpose or represents something. God goes into a lot of detail here, so I’ll skip and summarize through it, and let you read the rest for yourself. Let’s dig in….

Exodus 28 – Priestly Garments

“Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests. Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful. Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service. These are the garments they are to make: a chestpiece, an ephod, a robe, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother, Aaron, and his sons to wear when they serve me as priests. So give them fine linen cloth, gold thread, and blue, purple, and scarlet thread.

Design of the Ephod

“The craftsmen must make the ephod of finely woven linen and skillfully embroider it with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. It will consist of two pieces, front and back, joined at the shoulders with two shoulder-pieces. The decorative sash will be made of the same materials: finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread.

“Take two onyx stones, and engrave on them the names of the tribes of Israel. 10 Six names will be on each stone, arranged in the order of the births of the original sons of Israel. 11 Engrave these names on the two stones in the same way a jeweler engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in settings of gold filigree. 12 Fasten the two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod as a reminder that Aaron represents the people of Israel. Aaron will carry these names on his shoulders as a constant reminder whenever he goes before the Lord. 13 Make the settings of gold filigree, 14 then braid two cords of pure gold and attach them to the filigree settings on the shoulders of the ephod.

Design of the Chestpiece

Image by Rev. Yves Langevin for FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

15 “Then, with great skill and care, make a chestpiece to be worn for seeking a decision from God. Make it to match the ephod, using finely woven linen embroidered with gold and with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. 16 Make the chestpiece of a single piece of cloth folded to form a pouch nine inches square. 17 Mount four rows of gemstones on it….(I won’t bore you with the details, but you can read them here….)

21 Each stone will represent one of the twelve sons of Israel, and the name of that tribe will be engraved on it like a seal.

Exodus 28:1-17, 21 NLT

Aaron had the names of the 12 tribes of Israel, not just on the shoulder pieces, but on each gemstone in the chest piece. It was to remind him that he represented all of Israel before God. That was a heavy responsibility.

The chapter continues with the description of the decorative robe with gold bells and pomegranates. The pomegranates were symbols of beauty and abundance. The bells announced when Aaron was in the tabernacle.

36 “Next make a medallion of pure gold, and engrave it like a seal with these words: Holy to the lord. 37 Attach the medallion with a blue cord to the front of Aaron’s turban, where it must remain. 38 Aaron must wear it on his forehead so he may take on himself any guilt of the people of Israel when they consecrate their sacred offerings. He must always wear it on his forehead so the Lord will accept the people.

Exodus 28:36-38 NLT

Exodus 29 – Sacrificing

“This is the ceremony you must follow when you consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams with no defects. Then, using choice wheat flour and no yeast, make loaves of bread, thin cakes mixed with olive oil, and wafers spread with oil. Place them all in a single basket, and present them at the entrance of the Tabernacle, along with the young bull and the two rams.

Exodus 29:1-3 NLT

The rest goes into gory detail on what to do with each sacrifice. You can read if for yourself here.

Jesus in Exodus

Again I read from Jesus in all of Exodus — a Video Devotional…(which you can get on the free YouVersion Bible App

A priest is an individual who represents others before God. The laws in this passage detail what the priests are supposed to wear, especially when they enter the tabernacle (Exodus 28:2). 

Each piece of clothing serves a point and communicates a truth. For example, the 12 precious stones that are set in the priest’s chest piece represent the 12 tribes of Israel. This was a symbol to all the people that the priest was entering into God’s presence on their behalf. 

But the clothing is not only symbolic, but protection. God says the clothes would bear the punishment the priests deserved (Exodus 28:30). So, if a priest went into God’s presence without these garments on, they would bear their own punishment and die (Exodus 28:35). 

The same is true of the sin and food offerings. They pay for the sins of the priests so that they may enter into God’s presence. That is why the priests were commanded to lay their hands on these sacrifices before they were offered (Exodus 29:19). It was a visible sign of their sin being transferred. 

But the sacrifices were not only there to pay for the priest’s sins. They were also part of the priest’s ordination, their swearing in (Exodus 29:1). These special sacrifices set them apart to do the work God laid out for them to do. 

The good news here is that God is making a way to live with his people (Exodus 29:45). This is all worth it because of God’s presence.

The Good News

But Jesus is our better priest in so many ways.

Jesus did not need any special garments to enter God’s presence because he was already perfect. On the contrary, he gives us his garments of perfection so that, like the priests here in Exodus, we can enter into God’s presence when we are clothed in Christ (Galatians 3:27). 

When we wear the clothes of Christ through faith, he takes our punishment and brings us into the presence of God unharmed. 

Jesus did not need to offer a sacrifice for his own sins because he was sinless. So he gave himself as the perfect sacrifice to be our sin offering before the Lord so that we might enter in. 

The priests had to constantly offer sacrifices for their own sins (Hebrews 10:11). But Jesus offered one sacrifice for all so that we could have one priest forever interceding for us (Hebrews 10:12). 

And as the priests here were appointed to their role through specific sacrifices, Jesus was appointed to his eternal role by the merit of a better offering – his own flesh and blood. 

Through Jesus we are made acceptable and holy before God. Now we can dwell with God and be his people. 

Furthermore, through this one high priest, Jesus, all believers are made into priests as well (1 Peter 2:9). Because we are now filled with the presence of God – the Holy Spirit. We are now called to represent God to the world, shining the light of his holiness by sharing the good news that made us clean. 

Jesus In All Of Exodus – A Video Devotional:

Exodus 30 – More Details

“Every morning when Aaron maintains the lamps, he must burn fragrant incense on the altar. And each evening when he lights the lamps, he must again burn incense in the Lord’s presence. This must be done from generation to generation. Do not offer any unholy incense on this altar, or any burnt offerings, grain offerings, or liquid offerings….

Exodus 30:7-9 NLT

God then gave Moses more details on…

  • The Incense altar
  • Money for the Tabernacle
  • Plans for the washbasin
  • The Anointing oil
  • The Incense itself

Read the whole chapter here…

Exodus 31 – Craftsmen & the Sabbath

Here God names craftsmen to whom He has given special skills to build and create everything. Then He reminds them that though they are expected to work hard, they have to take a day of rest each week. (And so do we!)

15 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death. 16 The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. 17 It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed.’”

18 When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God.

Exodus 31:15-18 NLT

All this took 40 days and 40 nights. And the people were getting impatient. Next, we’ll see what happens when Moses finally comes down the mountain. But, first, I have one more reading from “Jesus In All Of Exodus – A Video Devotional”…

It truly is amazing how God set up this whole system to show us more about himself, and ultimately show us more about Jesus. 

We can see Jesus in the altar of incense. The true and final pleasing aroma before the Lord is Jesus’ sacrificial death (Ephesians 5:2). Unlike the tabernacle’s smoke, Jesus is not the symbol of God’s presence, but God’s presence itself. Only by entering through the fragrant aroma of Christ’s work for us on the cross can we be allowed into the presence of God. 

Christians carry the aroma of Christ with us everywhere we go (2 Corinthians 2:16). We take God’s presence out of the tabernacle and fill the world with it. 

We can also see Jesus in the atonement price paid for each member of the Israelite congregation (1 Timothy 2:6). This time, if we took a census of everyone in the world who needed their sins paid for it would total the earth’s entire population. 

But, for those of us who have Jesus as our high priest, we can come to Christ without price (Revelation 21:6). Jesus’ work isn’t started, supported, or sustained by our contributions. He pays it all and gives it freely to us out of his grace. 

Jesus also fulfills the bronze washing basin. He is the living water in which we wash and are made white as snow (Ephesians 5:26). We don’t wash ourselves and then come and make a sacrifice at the altar. He puts himself on the altar and meets us at the basin to cleanse us. 

Jesus is also like the tabernacle’s perfume. We are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). Like the anointing oil, the Holy Spirit enters the people of God, making each part of us holy.

Jesus In All Of Exodus – A Video Devotional:

Jesus is our High Priest. We don’t need an earthly priest to intercede for us. We also don’t need to confess to a priest. Any human priest can’t do what Jesus did once and for all, taking our sins away forever. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross satisfies our ransom to God for our sins. Jesus also washes us clean, pure with His blood. Only through Jesus, our High Priest, are we made pure enough to enter Heaven.

Jesus didn’t die so we could have religion! He died so He could have a Relationship with YOU!

Do you have a relationship with Jesus?

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him.
  • Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of
Eternal Life…

Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Top image by Image by Rev. Yves Langevin for FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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