Sunday, April 13, 2014

Exodus 28:1-5 Garments and Duties of the Priests of the LORD

"Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites,
along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, 
so they may serve me as priests.

Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor.

Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters
that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration,
so he may serve me as priest.

These are the garments they are to make:
a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash.
They are to make these sacred garments
 for your brother Aaron and his sons,
so they may serve me as priests.

Have them use gold and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen."

Exodus 28:1-5 (NIV)
In this passage, Aaron and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar are set apart as priests of the LORD.  The garments which they are going to be given will help indicate their position of dignity and honor -- not so that they will exalt themselves, but so that the people will recognize that God has set these men apart to serve Him as priests.  In fact, three times in this very passage similar statements are repeated: " they may serve me as priests"/ "so he may serve me as priest".

The garments which are to be made are the following:  a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash.  In the following posts which deal with verses 6-43 of Exodus chapter 28 we will take a closer look at each of these items.

First, though, let's take a moment to see what Scripture says about the duties of the priest of the LORD.  The NIV Study Bible notes on these verses mention these three duties:

1)"to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins"  Hebrews 5:1-2

2)"to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray"  Hebrews 5:1-2

3) to read the law of Moses to the people and remind them of their covenant
    obligations                Deuteronomy 31:9-13  

      "So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.  Then Moses commanded them:  'At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.  Assemble the people -- men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns -- so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.  Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.' "
                                                                              Deuteronomy 31:9-13 (NIV)

"...all the people assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate.  They told Ezra the scribe to bring out the book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded for Israel.

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand.  He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand.  And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law."
                                                                              Nehemiah 8:1-3  (NIV)

Note:  Later verses in Nehemiah chapter 8 (v.4) indicate that Ezra read from a high wooden platform which enabled everyone to be able to see him.  Also, the Levites instructed the people and explained things so that the people could understand what was being read. (v.7-8,12)  Hearing God's Word brought both joy (as they understood the meaning of the law) and the realization of their own sins (as they realized that they had not kept their covenant obligations).

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