Exodus 27:20–30:10: High priest foreshadows Messiah Yeshua’s redeeming humanity

The garments of Israel’s High Priest, detailed in Torah reading תצוה Tetzaveh (“you shall command,” Exodus 27:20-30:10), mark him as the highest representative of the people before God. Messiah Yeshua, equally God and equally man, is uniquely qualified to fill that role completely.

The connection between the menorah, the altar of incense and the people of Israel is equally profound as the work of their hands and their prayers are lifted to God symbolically by Aharon the High Priest and literally in Heaven by Messiah Yeshua, our eternal High Priest.

“You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.” (Exodus 28:30 NASB)

Israel’s High Priest was required to wear a garment called an ephod. There was a onyx stone on each shoulder, with the names of the tribal patriarchs on each shoulder. The priest is carrying their names was a reminder of their successes and their failures. Those successes and failures were a burden carried by the high priest.

On top of the ephod, was a breastplate and two stones which were called Urim (Light) and Thummim (Truth). The ephod was designed like a pouch in which the Urim and Thummim were carried when not in use.

We don’t know the substance of the Urim and Thummim. Were they stones? Were they pieces of glass? Were they plain rocks? We only have theories. What the Urim and Thummim actually looked like doesn’t matter. Just as truth or light don’t have a specific look, I am fine with not knowing exactly what the Urim and Thummim looked like.

The light and truth carried by the High Priest were a judgement of Israel that Aaron and his heirs carried when they were exercising their holy office. When God sees the High Priest in his full garment, He sees redeemed humanity.

The colors in the Tabernacle and the High Priest’s garment are symbolic:

  • Blue: up (God)
  • Red: down (Man)
  • Purple: royal (Messiah) who was a mix of God and Man
  • Linen: bright and pure
  • Gold: holiness, belongs to God

The closer one gets to God, the holier one becomes. We want our inside and outside to match, we want both to be righteous and holy. Anything that is missing and mismatched needs to washed away in the atonement process. Atonement makes these errors go away.

The basic priestly garment is a tunic with a sash. The tzizit would have been on the bottom of the linen tunic. All the priests would have worn a white linen turban as well.

Pomegranates are a “royal fruit.” The blood red juice from its abundant seeds represents the blood of Messiah Yeshua. (Photo by Alex Ringer, Freeimages.com)

The bottom of the priests garment had bells interspersed with pomegranates. The top of the pomegranate has the appearance of a Star of David, a perfect 6 pointed, symmetrical star. Another unique quality of the pomegranate are its blood red seeds. Each pomegranate carries anywhere from 250 to over 900 seeds.

The pomegranate is a royal fruit, that represents Messiah Yeshua. When you cut open a pomegranate, it “bleeds.” Messiah bled and allowed Himself to be opened up for us.

We can’t partake of Him without his blood.

“So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:53–56 NASB)

The ringing of the bells attracts people’s attention. The people can hear the bells as the High Priest walks about the Tabernacle. They knew without seeing him that he was working.

The priest’s garments symbolize loving the Lord with our heart, soul, mind and strength:

  • Ephod: Outer covering, carries the breastplate
  • Breastplate:Heart
  • Robe: Outer garment
  • Tunic: Inner garment
  • Sash/belt: Inner garment
  • Turban: head-covering and carries a gold plate with the High Priest’s title

This how God wants us to love Him.

In Ex. 30 the altar of incense and the menorah are connected. The olive oil for the menorah is brought to the tabernacle by the common people, not the priests. The people who made the olive oil were lifting up their oil, the work of their hands, to God.

Olives are shaped like eyes and the oil from these eyes comes from His people. This oil feeds the menorah and fuel its light. The menorah when it is lit, represents God’s eyes looking on His people.  The purpose of the menorah is for God to look and watch over us. He watches our works all the time.

This is why we pray, we are asking God to look upon us with favor. We see this imagery more blatant in Zechariah.

If we are doing right, we want God to see and be pleased. If we are doing wrong, we want God to see us so He can correct us and improve us.

Those of us who believe in God pray and the menorah and its oil represents those prayers.

The altar of incense was used twice a day. Incense was burned on it in the early morning and early evening.

“When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” (Exodus 30:8 NASB)

There is a reason that God pull the altar of incense is connected to the work of the menorah. The answer is in the book of Revelation.

“After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened, and the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in linen, clean and bright, and girded around their chests with golden sashes.” (Revelation 15:5–6 NASB)

We have seen this before. Each angel is carrying a bowl, filled with oil, which is the wrath of God. These angels are wearing garments identical to the priestly garments. The oil, which comes from the people, is either good or corrupt. If the oil is good, God uses it to spread light, but if that oil is corrupt, it is discarded and becomes the wrath of God. In Revelation, this oil represents humanity’s wickedness that the angels have witnessed. That is judgement.

“Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” (Revelation 15:7–8 NASB)

The altar of incense produces a lot of smoke and in Revelations, the smoke of the altar is connected to the wrath of God.

Summary: Tammy


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