Yesterday we saw how God carefully designed a home that would be his dwelling place among the people of Israel. He would no longer make sporadic visits, but would live among them. Today we read about the doormen for his sanctuary: the priests. Like any good doorman they have a uniform that sets them apart. Like doormen they open the building to allow the people to enter into God’s presence. But going far beyond the usual responsibilities of a doorman, they take the guilt of the people upon themselves as they make offerings to God to remove the guilt.
“Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD. Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.” Exodus 28:36-38
God says that the priest bears the guilt. He carries the guilt from the people and lays it before God. God in turn disposes of the guilt in exchange for the offering the priest brings. This exchange is a foundational principle in the relationship between God and mankind. God is holy and just. He keeps a strict accounting of sin and guilt.His holiness requires the removal of sin. His justice requires payment for the sin. But he is also merciful. He has provided a way to remove the guilt; only it is not without cost. The exchange must be made.
Fifteen hundred years later, Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep…. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture…I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:7-11). Jesus compared himself to the shepherd who lay down in the opening of the sheep pen each night, serving as door and doorman. Jesus laid down his life for us as a good shepherd would do in order to protect his sheep. By giving his life, he made the exchange that was necessary to meet God’s qualities of holiness and justice. He became the ultimate priest, bearing our sins to God who then mercifully disposed of them in exchange for the life of his son.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? … But when this priest (Jesus Christ) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God … For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:1-2, 12, 14
For more discussion about the priestly garments, read this blog.
“That’s who Jesus Christ is. He became the final Priest and the final Sacrifice. Sinless, he did not offer sacrifices for himself. Immortal, he never has to be replaced. Human, he could bear human sins. Therefore he did not offer sacrifices for himself; he offered himself as the final sacrifice. There will never be the need for another. There is one mediator between us and God. One priest. We need no other. Oh, how happy are those who draw near to God through Christ alone.” John Piper
“There He stands, clothed not now with linen ephod, not with ringing bells, nor with sparkling jewels on His breastplate. But arrayed in human flesh He stands; His cross is His altar, His body and His soul the victim, Himself the priest. And lo! before His God He offers up His own soul within the veil of thick darkness that has covered Him from the sight of men. Presenting His own blood, He enters within the veil, sprinkles it there, and coming forth from the midst of the darkness, He looks down on the astonished earth and upward to expectant heaven and cries, ‘It is finished! It is finished!’ That for which you looked so long is fully achieved and perfected forever.” Charles Spurgeon