Exo 19:21 And Jehovah said to Moses, Go down. Command the people, lest they break through to Jehovah to gaze, and many of them perish.
Exo 19:22 And let the priests also, who come near to Jehovah, sanctify themselves, lest Jehovah break forth upon them.
Exo 19:23 And Moses said to Jehovah, The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. For You commanded us, saying, Set bounds around the mountain, and sanctify it.
God had indeed already said that, one day and 11 verses before. If Moses thought it was a wise thing to question the memory of God, he learned different next:
Exo 19:24 And Jehovah said to him, Away! You go down, and you shall come up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to Jehovah, lest He break forth upon them.
Here's the thing, God puts His faith in His own words. Man's words? not so much, a caution that would soon be born out. But it isn't about caution- God KNEW men would screw up. Think about this: The Ten Commandments took 17 verses to complete (Ex 20:1-17); but then, God added more specific rules that would have been unnecessary had He been able to trust the people who had agreed to the list. First, he added kind of a "Bill of Wrongs" that took another 105 verses across three + chapters- before He even told Moses to go down and get their agreement! Then He spends another 8 chapters just on how to set up the Tabernacle in which He would contact them. And at the end of that 8 chapters/40 days, what He KNEW would happen did- the people rebelled. Even though they could see the smoke and fire of God on the mountain, they said, "Well, Moses must be fried by now. Time to pick a new god and go back to Egypt."
A sermon I heard this week made the point that these people had seen God, had seen Him do amazing things, knew that He was there. But they didn't have FAITH.
God realizes that He is asking a lot out of sheep to have faith. And He knew we would screw up. RIGHT FROM THE START. How amazing that He is so understanding. As I read on, I finally got to the part about the High Priest's outfit. And I noticed five specific things that He required to come into His presence, even in so limited a way. And they have applications for us.
The first was a rather complicated breastplate, which bore in two separate ways the names of the sons of Jacob, "Over his heart as a memorial". You have no doubt heard that everyone should pick a life verse. Mine is 1 Samuel 7:12:
Then Samuel took a rock and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer [Rock of Help] and said, "Until now the LORD has helped us." To me, this means that we can look back at our lives, at ALL the places God has helped us, like memorial stones that have led us to where we are. A line of memorials that tell us He's always been with us. This breastplate was like that- a memorial to the men of Faith that brought them there.
Right after that, carried in a pocket inside the plate, against his heart, were the Urim and Thummim, which were basically a pair of dice that were used when they wanted God's decision on something. They represent God's judgement, His guidance of our lives.
Then, on the edge of the garment, were a series of gold bells and gold pomegranates to ring them.
Exo 28:35 And it shall be on Aaron to serve. And his sound shall be heard when he goes in to the holy place before Jehovah, and when he comes out, so that he will not die.
This was a reminder of the reverence required to approach the Lord. Two of Aaron's sons would soon learn that the cost of irreverence would be their lives. God wants us to talk to Him, to rant at Him, to question Him at times even as Job did- but as Job learned, you do it with respect and reverence.
The next one confused me a bit, as I wasn't quite sure of what it was saying:
Exo 28:36 And you shall make a plate of pure gold, and carve on it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO JEHOVAH.
Exo 28:37 And you shall put a ribbon on it, and it shall be on the miter; to the front of the miter it shall be.
Exo 28:38 And it shall be on Aaron's forehead, so that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which will sanctify the sons of Israel in all their holy gifts. And it shall always be on his forehead, so that they may be accepted before Jehovah.
"The iniquity of the Holy things"? As I dug into it, I learned that the concept was, even the best we can give was profane before God. For Aaron, it meant he was to bear the sins of even the best of intentions. For us, it is a reminder that works avail nothing without Christ to pay the price. All our righteousness is but filthy rags, remember?
And the final thing cuts to the core of the matter:
Exo 28:42 And you shall make them linen breeches to cover the naked flesh; from the loins even to the thighs they shall reach.
Exo 28:43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in to the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place; so that they do not bear iniquity, and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his seed after him.
Even with all the previous finery on them, they were naked. They had to be properly covered. This reminds me of the parable of the wedding feast:
Matt 22 11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
This final piece is acceptance of Christ's blood for your sins. Without that, you are still running around without pants. How much of the High Priests gear do YOU still need to put on?