A Short Study of Exodus 39:1-43
As the tabernacle was concluded, Moses was inspired of God to give us a description of “the holy garments” that were made for Aaron, those garments Aaron was required to wear whenever he went into the tabernacle doing service before the LORD God as Israel’s high priest. They are called “clothes of service.”
These “clothes of service” were very significant and highly symbolical. They are listed three times by Moses (Exodus 28, Exodus 39 and Leviticus 8). Aaron was not allowed to appear before the LORD God as Israel’s priest to do service in the holy place without these “holy garments,” without these “clothes of service.” They were vital to his priestly work; and we are specifically told that they were “garments of consecration,” “for glory and for beauty.”
These garments were made specifically for Aaron, to show forth the glory and beauty of His work as Israel’s high priest. But they show more than that. These garments were made for and put upon Aaron to show forth the glory and beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, of whom Aaron was but a type and picture.
Actually, Aaron had two sets of priestly garments: This glorious apparel, which he wore before Israel and before the LORD in his common, daily functions in the tabernacle, and those holy linen garments mentioned in Exodus 39:28, and more fully described in Leviticus 16:4, which he wore only once a year on the day of atonement. On that great day of atonement, when he went in with the blood of the paschal lamb before the LORD God in the holy of holies, Aaron was robed only in spotless white, portraying the infinitely meritorious obedience and personal righteousness and holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which He was worthy and able to undertake and accomplish the stupendous work of putting away the sins of His people by the sacrifice of Himself.
The garments described in Exodus 39 were specifically ordained of God to show Aaron’s glory and beauty to the people he represented and served as a priest. These garments are described in great detail for us, so that we might see and be assured of the glory and beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ, as our great High Priest. Aaron wore seven specific, highly symbolic garments.
An Ephod – The priestly apron, with the Urim and Thummim, representing the light and perfection of Christ.
A Girdle – “Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins” (Isaiah 11:5).
A Breastplate – The breastplate on Aaron’s heart, bearing the names of God’s elect, was secured to his apron by God’s order.
A Robe – The priestly robe representing Christ’s righteousness.
A Coat – The coat was actually an undergarment, for the covering of the priests’ nakedness, representing Christ who covers all our sin by His blood and righteousness.
A Miter – The miter symbolized both honor and humility.
A Holy Crown — The crown, emblazoned with “Holiness to the LORD,” speaks of the acceptance of all our works as God’s priests in this world, through the blood and righteousness of our blessed Saviour (Ecclesiastes 9:7-8).