Verses 31–39

Here is, 1. Direction given concerning the robe of the ephod, Exod. 28:31-35. This was next under the ephod, and reached down to the knees, was without sleeves, and was put on over their head, having holes on the sides to put the arms through, or, as Maimonides describes it, was not sewed together on the sides at all. The hole on the top, through which the head was put, was carefully bound about, that it might not tear in the putting on. In religious worship, care must be taken to prevent every thing that may distract the minds of the worshippers, or render the service despicable. Round the skirts of the robe were hung golden bells, and the representations of pomegranates made of yarn of divers colours. The pomegranates added to the beauty of the robe, and the sound of the bells gave notice to the people in the outer court when he went into the holy place to burn incense, that they might then apply themselves to their devotions at the same time (Luke 1:10), in token of their concurrence with him in his offering, and their hopes of the ascent of their prayers to God in virtue of the incense he offered. Aaron must come near to minister in the garments that were appointed him, that he die not. It is at his peril if he attend otherwise than according to the institution. This intimates that we must serve the Lord with fear and holy trembling, as those that know we deserve to die, and are in danger of making some fatal mistake. Some make the bells of the holy robe to typify the sound of the gospel of Christ in the world, giving notice of his entrance within the veil for us. Blessed are those that hear this joyful sound, Ps. 89:15. The adding of the pomegranates, which are a fragrant fruit, denotes the sweet savour of the gospel, as well as the joyful sound of it, for it is a savour of life unto life. The church is called an orchard of pomegranates. 2. Concerning the golden plate fixed upon Aaron’s forehead, on which must be engraven, Holiness to the Lord (Exod. 28:36, 37), or The holiness of Jehovah. Aaron must hereby be reminded that God is holy, and that his priests must be holy. Holiness becomes his house and household. The high priest must be sequestered from all pollution, and consecrated to God and to his service and honour, and so must all his ministrations be. All that attend in God’s house must have Holiness to the Lord engraven upon their foreheads, that is, they must be holy, devoted to the Lord, and designing his glory in all they do. This must appear in their forehead, in an open profession of their relation to God, as those that are not ashamed to own it, and in a conversation in the world answerable to it. It must likewise be engraven like the engravings of a signet, so deep, so durable, not painted to be washed off, but sincere and lasting; such must our holiness to the Lord be. Aaron must have this upon his forehead, that he may bear the iniquity of the holy things (Exod. 28:38), and that they may be accepted before the Lord. Herein he was a type of Christ, the great Mediator between God and man, through whom it is that we have to do with God. (1.) Through him what is amiss in our services is pardoned. The divine law is strict; in many things we come short of our duty, so that we cannot but be conscious to ourselves of much iniquity cleaving even to our holy things; when we would do good evil is present; even this would be our ruin if God should enter into judgment with us. But Christ, our high priest, bears this iniquity, bears it for us so as to bear it from us, and through him it is forgiven to us and not laid to our charge. (2.) Through him what is good is accepted; our persons, our performances, are pleasing to God upon the account of Christ’s intercession, and not otherwise, 1 Pet. 2:5. His being holiness to the Lord recommends all those to the divine favour that are interested in his righteousness, and clothed with his Spirit; and therefore he has said it was for our sakes that he sanctified himself, John 17:19. Having such a high priest, we come boldly to the throne of grace, Heb. 4:16. 3. The rest of the garments are but named (Exod. 28:39), because there was nothing extraordinary in them. The embroidered coat of fine linen was the innermost of the priestly garments; it reached to the feet, and the sleeves to the wrists, and was bound to the body with a girdle or sash of needle-work. The mitre, or diadem, was of linen, such as kings anciently wore in the east, typifying the kingly office of Christ. He is a priest upon a throne (Zech. 6:13), a priest with a crown. These two God has joined, and we must not think to separate them.