The Priestly Garments reflected attributes of God and set the wearer apart for his special role.
Let’s go back to the beautiful concept we looked at in the first lesson – in Gan Eden/the Garden of Eden when the LORD covered the nakedness of Adam and Chava/Eve with animal skins. God is the Divine Dresser!
We move on past the drama of calling out a people to Himself, redeeming them from slavery and establishing a nation which would reflect His holiness to the world. The standards He gave them to live by were high, but grace was extended to the one who fell short of the mark. A channel of redemption was provided through the sacrificial system of the tabernacle and later the temple, and a priesthood was established to help the repentant sinner find forgiveness. Every detail of that system of grace was spelled out to Moshe/Moses including the priests’ clothing. Later in Leviticus 8:13 the priests were clothed by Moshe as God’s representative. The Talmud (Zevochim 19) states: ‘that nothing was permitted between the prescribed garments and the flesh, not even a bandage. He and his garments were one vessel performing the Divine will’.
Adornments were added to the high priest’s attire in accordance with the commandments given to Moshe. An ephod, a skillfully woven tunic, a turban, and a sash and he bore gemstones on his breast and shoulders that represented the twelve tribes when he went before the LORD.
The tunics, breeches, sashes and caps were made from fine linen. Sometimes described as ‘shining linen’ because of its whiteness and smooth look, like marble, which bears the same Hebrew word. And like Aaron’s garments, those of his sons were for the same reason, for glory and splendour.
The term kavod/glory is found many times in the Torah, and generally refers to God’s manifestation on earth, especially in the Tabernacle. However, tiferet/splendour appears only one other time in the Torah (Deuteronomy 26:19) but is used in other books of the Tanakh. The clothing of the priests which reflected something of the attributes of God, set them apart as His representatives. In Matthew 17:2 in the heavenly encounter which the disciples were privileged to witness, Yeshua was “…transfigured before them, and his face did shine as the sun; and his raiment was white as the light.”
His shining garment is in line with appearances of heavenly messengers in Scripture, including at the end of the age in Revelation 19:14, “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
White garments in the Bible also speak of purity and in Revelation 19:8, our Divine Dresser grants that the wife of the Lamb be “… be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
Our Father dictated the physical clothing of Adam and Chava/Eve, and His Levitical priests. Each painted a picture. And just as physical clothing set a person apart and usually spoke of his role in the community, spiritual ‘clothing’ is essential to fit us for the roles to which we have been called.