THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ROBE OF THE HIGH PRIEST
We have already discussed that the robes worn by the High Priest in the Wilderness Tabernacle of Israel were more colorful and elaborate robes than the robes worn by the Ordinary Priests. The Ordinary Priest wore basically white linen garments and fewer garments than the High Priest.
On the Day of Atonement the High Priest dressed different from the way he dressed on other days. His robe that held the ephod was sky-blue. It was seamless and made of one piece, just like the robe that Jesus wore which the soldiers gambled for as He hung on the cross; although Jesus’s robe was probably white and would have been similar in nature to the garments of an ordinary priest. The hem of this robe for the High Priest was lined with special motifs and designs that bore meanings of great significance.
Thank you for joining in on our study today!
Specifically, we will be discussing the significance of the robe that the High Priest wore on the Day of Atonement. This is Part 3 of a series called THE DRESS CODE OF GOD in the COME AS A CHILD weekly on-line bible study. If you missed last week’s lesson you may find it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/understanding-ephod/ . Today’s scripture passage can be found in Exodus 28:31. Let’s begin by reading that passage together and ponder the words God gave to Moses about the garments of the priests of Israel:
“Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear. Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.”
TWO CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ROBE WERE THE SYMBOLS OF FRUITFULNESS AND THE USE OF SOUND
Why would there be a symbolic pointing to “sound” on the robe of the High Priest?
The sound that I am speaking of is the tinkling of bells attached to the hem of the robe of the High Priest as he went about his duties in the Holy of Holies on The Day of Atonement.
The sound of those bells was indicative of the fact that he was alive and moving and performing his duties before God.
If the people waiting outside heard the bells they knew he was okay. They could not enter this sacred place; only the High Priest went in once a year on The Day of Atonement. How else would they know what was going on inside the area?
If the High Priest entered without the proper garments, or if he entered without confessed sin; he would die.
The people, concerned about this fact, actually tied a rope to one of the legs of the serving priest; so if this happened; they could pull his body out without entering the sacred place themselves and putting themselves into the very same grave danger.
They would know the possibility of tragedy, if they stopped hearing the sound of the bells.
They would know that God had not been pleased and that the priest had not been able to function in his role before God if the bells were only followed with silence.
A MORE MODERN-DAY SOUND OF BELLS THAT IS QUICKLY DISAPPEARING IN THE LAND
This passage and discussion makes me think of church bells.
It has been traditional to hear the sound of church bells ringing across the land of America and other countries; signifying that it is time for the people to come into the Sanctuary and worship God.
Many nations have considered this fact to be of utmost importance and have implemented bells in steeples in churches all across their lands.
More and more today, this most important part of the week where people have traditionally sought the face of God together, is not kept at all, nor is the absence of this “ keeping” even given a moment’s thought.
The bells fall silent.
The people might feel something is missing; but they just can’t seem to remember what it is. There is no sound of God being worshiped in the land in the churches or the homes.
This tradition of ringing bells and calling the people to worship seems to be disappearing across our lands.
Does this fact not indicate the absence of true worship? I wonder.
I pray for the sound of the bells to return and ring out across the land again once more.
Here too, as well as in the days of the Wilderness Tabernacle, the sound of the bells would be very significant in the spiritual health and progression of our nation.
AN ACT TOWARD SAFETY THAT SHOWS RESPECT
Not only did the sound of the bells on the priest’s garment help the people of Israel to know the constant condition of their priest; it was a safety precaution; one that warned God that someone was approaching His Presence and seeking Him out for a specific reason.
The sound of the bells meant “I’m going to enter your Presence now; so please be merciful unto me because I’m only human. I need to speak with you about matters of grave importance.”
It was a way of showing respect and awe for the Presence of God in a Holy Place. For the sake of safety; you did not enter unannounced.
Would you go before a King unannounced? God is higher and holier than any king of any nation of the earth.
Of course this one fact makes me stop and ponder the story of Esther; but that is a lesson for another day.
EVEN THE SOUND OF ORDINARY COW BELLS CAN SOMETIMES REMIND US OF HOLY THINGS
While thinking of these facts about the bells; a funny thought comes to my mind. Having grown up on a country farm and having had a grandfather who owned a dairy; I immediately thought of cattle crossing a highway.
Most of the cows in the dairy had to come to the main barn at least once a day to be milked. This meant they had to cross a road from one pasture area to another. They were herded together and lead in a group to a gate where they crossed the road and entered another gate to get into the pasture that led to the barn where the milking was done.
The milk cows all wore bells around their necks so if one of them got loose from the herd as they were crossing and remained on the road; people in on-coming traffic would hear the sound of the bell and know the cow was in the road and they could take the proper precautions for safety in their on-coming vehicles.
This was not only for the safety of the people passing by; but for the safety of the cow also. The farmer did not want any of the cattle to get hit by a driver of a car that was not aware the cow was on the road.
Accidents are not good for dairy farmers and they were not good for the priests serving Israel either!
Accidents by the High Priest would be many times worse than the accidents of cattle crossing the road. The dairy might lose a good producing cow, and perhaps a person passing by might get injured too.
On the other hand, if a High Priest had a mishap when entering The Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement; a whole nation would lose its standing before God. The priest would die, and the people would become hopeless forever.
What the priest of the wilderness tabernacle did before God had eternal consequences.
SOUND IS IMPORTANT AND SIGNIFICANT TO GOD
So you see; sound was very significant in the life of a High Priest and for the people of Israel. Sound is important to God.
Hearing the sound was also very important to the people. They knew and realized that the high priest was inside offering up their sacrifice that would bring them atonement. If he failed in his mission; they were hopelessly lost to their sins forever.
The High Priest had to be very diligent to maintain his own holiness before God before offering the sacrifices for the whole nation. He had to be clean and confessed and covered in the proper robe in order to enter and offer the sacrifice for the people.
JESUS CHRIST STANDS BEFORE GOD AS OUR MOST RIGHTEOUS HIGH PRIEST
Today we know Jesus Christ as our High Priest. He is now at the right hand of God in the Temple of the Heavens offering up atonement for our sins every day as we give our prayers to Him.
Every time you pray a prayer of confession Jesus hears you and carries your prayer to the Father, who will forgive you because it has been offered up through Christ. There is nothing that God will hear straight from us. The listening to our prayers is made possible because God is hearing them directly from our Savior; Jesus Christ, who is hearing them from us.
THE ROBE OF CHRIST IS RIGHTEOUSNESS
This act alone shows us how important the righteousness of Christ is.
He walked the earth as a perfect man without sin. This makes Him a worthy High Priest.
Atonement for us as a body and a nation before God is only possible through Jesus Christ.
There is no reason for us to fear His death before God because of any unrighteousness. No sin or unrighteousness can be found in Him. Because of this He is able to offer up atonement for us, as individuals and as a nation.
CHRIST OFFERS A PLACE OF SAFETY TO US
Just as the bells on the hem of the priestly garment offered their form of safety for the priest and the people; Christ offers us a place of safety.
We are safe in the arms of His love.
Who else would be willing to die in our place?
He loves us more than anything.
We can know we are safe in His care.
SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER TODAY
Those ringing bells indicated that the priest was moving and doing his job; offering up prayers and incense before the throne of God for the people. The prayers were for God to know their hearts and guide and direct every move of Israel in the right direction that would bring them closer to God without spiritual death; and with holy life moving forward.
Are you the high priest of your own home?
Do you understand how important it is for you to stay spiritually safe?
Are you constantly offering up prayers before a Holy God for yourself and your own family?
A prayer is a SOUND; a way that God can know and hear you and direct you. It can resemble the sound of those ancient priestly bells.
If the priest obtained atonement for the people, the nation as a whole would continue to be fruitful. Thus; we begin to understand the use of the pomegranates on the hem of the robe that was designed by God for the priests to ware.
The pomegranate is considered to be the most fruitful of all foods that comes from the ground.
THE SYMBOLIC NATURE OF A POMEGRANATE
Are you aware that a pomegranate is symbolic of eternal life?
Eating a pomegranate is a very messy experience. If you cut one open, all the seeds inside explode and send their red juices trickling everywhere. This is a type of symbolic reminder of what the blood of Jesus has done for us.
The red juices of the pomegranate remind us that Christ bled and died on the cross for us. It was a very messy experience, and going through life in this world without Christ can also be a very messy experience too.
We need the life that Christ has to offer.
We need the fruitfulness of the pomegranate.
EATING A POMEGRANATE TAKES WORK AND TIME
The process of eating a pomegranate is messy, takes work and time, and is not an easy task to accomplish; but in the end – it is good and worth all the trouble.
This fact is comparable to the process we must all go through to obtain eternal life.
Jesus did the hard part for us; He died in our place; but we too have work to do. We have a responsibility and a duty to attend to the purposes that we were designed to live out. God has a purpose for each of us on this earth.
OBSERVING THE ARIL
The aril is what we call the little seeds that exist inside the pomegranate. You have to work to get them out.
These little aril/seeds are full of nutrition and good health, so you want to be sure to get every single little seed that you can.
These little seeds have to be handled carefully though; or they rupture. You can’t force them.
OUR LIVES ARE SIMILAR IN NATURE TO THE ARIL OF THE POMEGRANATE
We come before Christ sometimes similar to this process of removing the arils of the pomegranate.
We can’t be forced; least we break; but God gives us free-will and God’s Holy Spirit carefully guides us to come to Christ. Christ, again working through God’s Holy Spirit, carefully loves us until we come to know and believe the source of our salvation and we then begin to trust and become obedient to God. At that point, we are nurtured and cared for like a well-watered garden as we grow and ripen into something fruitful for the kingdom of God.
Each little aril seed has the potential to grow into a wonderful tree in God’s garden.
Each little seed has potential to bear many more seeds.
THE FRUIT OF A GODLY NATION IS MORE NUMEROUS THAN WE CAN COUNT OR IMAGINE
No other plant has as many seeds as the pomegranate. This fact reminds us of the great number of God’s children on this earth. “As many as the stars of the sky and the sands of the sea;” isn’t that what God promised Abraham his people would grow into?
The pomegranate represents the multitudes of people who will spring from the seed of Israel and become the children of God for The Kingdom of God.
THERE ARE 613 SEEDS IN EVERY FRUIT
If you open up a pomegranate and count the seeds inside you will find that each and every one contains exactly 613 seeds. The count will never be off; there will ALWAYS be 613 seeds in each and every fruit.
This amazing fact became a symbolic reminder to Israel to keep the laws of God.
The Jewish people have the commandments divided into 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. This is why many Jewish tables serve pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah, which is a festival that is also called The Feast of Trumpets; once again mixing the pomegranates with SOUND (represented by the bells on the priest’s robe and/or the trumpet sound of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.)
THERE IS ONLY ONE PROCEDURE THAT WORKS TO REMOVE THE STAIN FROM POMEGRANATE JUICE
Pomegranate juice will cause a permanent stain; unless it is bleached.
This too can be symbolic of the cleansing of our baptism when we come to know Christ and receive salvation.
Our sins that were scarlet are now washed as white as snow.
A CONSTANT REMINDER TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS
When the people saw the pomegranates on their High Priest’s robes they were reminded of the fact that God wanted them to always remember and keep His laws.
He wanted them to stand clean and pure before Him. This was the whole reason for seeking atonement.
THE AMAZING QUALITIES OF A POMEGRANATE WORK PHYSICALLY LIKE THE SPIRITUAL QUALITIES OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
The pomegranate is one amazing fruit!
It contains antioxidants that fight free radicals which can damage DNA and cells.
Pomegranates and their juices help to fight against many deadly diseases.
Pomegranates are a very good defense from hardening of the arteries and they help to protect the heart.
Scientists have found the ingredients of pomegranates fight breast cancer and prostate cancer. They cause the cancerous areas to heal without harming the parts of the body that are untouched by the disease; thus can sometimes be used as an alternative to chemo.
Pomegranates are believed to have originated from eastern Iran to northern India, growing in deserts and/or very dry places. They are drought tolerant and can survive well even when the water supply is low.
Pomegranates are typically in season during the months of September through November which just happens to be the time period of God’s Fall Holy Days.
The pomegranates especially remind us of The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot. Many people place pomegranates inside their temporary dwellings called a “sukkah” and they share them together during their feasts at this festival. This luscious fruit serves as a strong reminder of the importance and the fruitfulness of keeping the commandments of God.
THE ALTERNATION OF PRAYERFULNESS AND FRUITFULNESS AND THE RESULTS OF SUCH A COMBINATION
The bells and the pomegranates alternated around the hem of the priest’s robe.
There was a bell, then a pomegranate, then a bell, then a pomegranate.
That is how the order of our life should be lived before God; prayer, life, prayer, life, prayer, life.
It is through our constant prayers to God that we are kept spiritually fit and alive and able to perform the righteous acts of daily life that are demanded by a Holy and Righteous God.
Keep your bells and pomegranates in place; keep them active and serving. Don’t ever forget to use these tools of prayer and remember how they remind you that keeping the commandments of God always bring fruit and life.
It all matters in the dress code of God.