THE garments worn by the ordinary priests were of white linen, a fit emblem of the Spotless One of whom their ministry was a type The outer robe was white woven in one piece, and extended nearly to the feet. It was confined at the waist with a white linen girdle, embroidered in blue, purple, and scarlet. A white linen miter or turban, covered the head. These articles, with the linen breeches which were worn by all officiating priests, completed the costume of the common priest. These garments of white linen were made for "glory and for beauty." (Ex. 28:40-42)
Only the family of Aaron could wear the rich garments of the priest; but there are robes of "fine linen, clean and white," in store for every overcomer, (Rev. 19:8) Even in this life, Christ clothes His faithful ones with "the garments of salvation" and "the robe of righteousness." (Isa. 61:10)
The pure white garments were worn by the high priest on ordinary occasions, but when he entered the most holy place to make atonement for the people, he was clad in gorgeous robes, which fitly represented our High Priest as He confesses the names of His people before the judgment-seat of the Judge of the whole earth.
The high priest always wore the long white linen robe of the common priest, but over this was a robe of blue woven in one piece, and beautifully ornamented around the skirt with golden bells and pomegranates of blue, purple, and gold. The ephod, a sleeveless garment of white linen, beautifully embroidered in gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, was worn over the blue robe. This was shorter than the other garments, and was confined at the waist by a richly embroidered girdle of the same color.
On the gold embroidered shoulders of the ephod were two onyx stones, on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, six names on each shoulder, thus typifying the Mighty One who bears the perplexities and burdens of His people upon His shoulders. (Isa. 9:6)
While the robe of blue with its golden bells and the handsomely embroidered ephod were beautiful, yet the crowning feature in all the gorgeous dress of the high priest was the breastplate worn over his heart as he officiated in the holy of holies before the Lord. The breastplate was of the same material as the ephod. It was in the form of a square and measured a span. In it were set in gold twelve precious stones, arranged three in a row. On each stone was engraved the name of one of the tribes of Israel. Around these was a border of a variety of stones. The stones in the breastplate were the same as those that form the foundation of the New Jerusalem. (Ex. 28:2-39) The breastplate hung from the shoulders of the ephod and was fastened at the waist by a blue cord through gold rings.
Set in the breastplate, one on either side, were two brilliant stones, called the Urim and Thummim. By means of these stones the mind of the Lord could be ascertained by the high priest. When questions were asked, if light encircled the precious stone at the right, the answer was in the affirmative; but if a shadow rested on the stone at the left, the answer was negative.
The breastplate being attached to the ephod, David, in calling for the priest to bring the ephod when he was undecided as to what course to pursue, was really asking for the breastplate, by which he might know the mind of the Lord. (1 Sam. 23:9-12)
There was one other article belonging to the high priest's garments, the miter, or bonnet, (Ex. 28:36,37) A gold plate bearing the inscription, "Holiness to Jehovah," was fastened by a blue lace to the front of the white bonnet, or turban, worn by the priests.
No priest was allowed to wear the priestly garments except when officiating in the sanctuary or court. (Eze 44:19)
There is a touching significance in the high priest's wearing the names of all Israel on his shoulders and over his heart as he performed the work which typified the judgment, when the case of every one will come up in review before God. The breastplate was called "the breastplate of judgment." (Ex. 28:15) Those names engraved on the stones were a type of the names of the overcomers, which Christ will confess before His father and the angels. Stone is an enduring substance, but far more enduring is the book of life, where the names which Christ has confessed, are written to remain forever. (Rev. 3:5)
Ex. 28:32. Garment all of one piece.
John 19:23. Christ's earthly garment was woven
in one piece.
Ex. 28:15-21. The breastplate of judgment
contained the names of the twelve tribes, and
was worn over the heart of the high priest as
he performed the work which typified the work
of the judgment.
Rev. 3:5. As each individual name comes up in
review before God in the judgment Christ will
"confess" the names of the overcomers, and
their names will remain in the book of life.