Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Nugget: Out From Among Them

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(You need your Bible on your desk opened to Exodus 28 to appreciate today’s sanctification message. I hope you love this chapter as much as I do today!)

This month’s Digging Deep Study is packed with significant implications about those of us who are distinguished from the world by our adherence to the One who has called us out. In fact, in the very first verse of the study, we read about some people who were to be taken out “from among” the children of Israel. Hear the calling from Exodus 28:1:

And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.

Now, let’s take a look, from the rest of the chapter, at the necessary characteristics of the priests. (As we do so, we should remember, from the rest of our study, that Jesus is the High Priest and we, as Christians, are the priests of today.)

1. They were to wear holy garments for glory and for beauty.

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty (verse 2).

Great detail was forthcoming to instruct the particulars of making and wearing these garments. But isn’t it interesting to notice that they were for two purposes: beauty to behold and glory for God? So, we, as priests of God today, the ones who serve in God’s temple are to wear special garments that are still for beauty and glory. Notice Revelation 7:14,15:

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

2. Aaron, the High Priest was to bear the names of the children of Israel before the Lord.

And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial (verse 12).

I love the fact that verse 29 adds that he bore the names of the children of Israel on his heart, in addition to bearing them on his shoulders. This was because the ephod (shoulder piece) was never to be detached (verse 28) from the breastplate (cover for the heart). Praise God that today we have a new High Priest Who’s got our names in his book of life. It’s called the Lamb’s Book of Life and it will be opened before the Father. In a very literal sense, He bears our names before the Father. While I do not want to stretch the analogy, it could even be said that he bears my name on his shoulders (He paid the physical price for our sins at the cross.) and on his heart. (It was intense love that purchased the line for my name in that book (Romans 8:36-38).

3. Aaron, the High Priest, was to wear an engraved plate on his forehead. It was to say, “Holiness to the Lord”.

And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD (verse 36).

Verse 38 tells us that it was this plate was worn so that Aaron could bear the iniquity of the holy things and the gifts of the children of Israel, and so that the people themselves could be accepted. Isn’t it amazing that we have a High Priest who doesn’t need the plate? He doesn’t need anything engraved on His forehead for He is the embodiment of holiness. He goes before us, so that, God can commune with us. He makes us holy, so that we, too, can be accepted before the Lord.

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens (Hebrews 7:26)…

I Peter 2:5 tells us that, because of the work of the great high priest, we are made a holy priesthood and are acceptable to God. Do you love this as much as I do?

4. Though this one may be more of a side note than a major characteristic, I find it worth mentioning: The priests were to have their nakedness covered.

And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach:
And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him (verses 42-43).

Why did God put this modesty safeguard right here at the close of this blockbuster chapter on consecration? I do not know all of the reasons, but I believe it says something huge about how God views the responsibility of humans to cover their nakedness. Here, nakedness represented iniquity. When the priests ministered, they had to be covered so that they would not bear iniquity and die. Whatever the reasons were, they were accompanied by some pretty serious implications. Does this command have a figurative implication? Does it mean that there was a sense in which the covering of the priest’s body was to hide the carnality of the priest, who was, after all, a mere man? Perhaps God was to see the “Holiness to the Lord” engraving and not to see the carnal or fleshly man. But I believe this admonition had more to do with the fact that God did not want others to see the nakedness of his priests. I believe Exodus 20:26 bears this out because, in this passage, God required this covering of all of his people and the reason stated was “that thy nakedness be not discovered.” Since God does not “discover” anything (all is naked before his eyes [Hebrews 4:13]), I believe this command was about modesty in front of other people.

At the very least, we can discern from this passage that God has always believed that nakedness was something that should embarrass his people. I’m still not sure why we have such a problem figuring this out today. So many times today, our facebook pictures of vacation at the beach or honeymoon in the tropics reflects that we have no shame whatsoever about our nakedness before others. We rather flaunt it. While I do not believe these verses give us a hard, fast rule for how much of our bodies must be covered today to be modest, I believe they say a lot about the sobriety with which we must be characterized as we strive to keep what is the New Testament injunction about modesty and chastity (I Timothy 2:9,10; Titus 2:3-5).

One final question. Considering the shoulder covering (ephod), the breastplate, the forehead plate, the turban, the crown, the robe with its bells and decorated hem, the coat, and the girdle that Aaron was already to be wearing, do you think that the “nakedness” that God wanted covered in verse 43 was just about not being totally nude? “Well,” you say, “Of course not. The breeches were in addition to lots of other coverings and nudity was nowhere in the proverbial ballpark of what God was addressing here.”

Then why, pray tell, do we today believe we are not naked in the eyes of God when we have on the very next thing to nothing at the beach?

It’s a fascinating Old Testament chapter with New Testament and even 2012 ramifications. Put it together with II Corinthians 6:17-18, another “from among them” passage, and the wisdom of God calls us mightily to be sanctified and separate. It’s in this process that we become not only priests, but daughters. I want to be his daughter.

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

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