THE ROBES OF THE HIGH PRIEST
By D. M. PANTON.
God delights in the Types. He took three days to give the Decalogue; He took six days to create [restore] the worlds; but He took thirty days to give the ordinances in Leviticus (Exod. 40: 17 compared with Num. 1: 1), ordinances to which the New Testament refers forty times: for not in law, nor in creation, but in grace is the supreme pleasure of God. And the reason of this is clear. The things of the Law, says Paul, are a shadow of the things to come; but the body - the substance which casts the shadow is Christs (Col. 2: 17). The Old Testament not only died with Christ upon its lips, it also lived with Christ upon its heart; and as the shadow of our earth, passing across the face of another planet, will tell astronomers unknown secrets about our earth, so each type, a shadow, reveals in Gods beloved Son, the Body which casts the shadow, details otherwise unknown. The Types are the letters which, in our childish hands, always spell Christ, and ever with new and lovelier meaning.
Much of Gods truth sinks into the soul through the eye: so the details in the Types are not fanciful, but instructive; for whatever the Holy Spirit touches instantly becomes significant; and even colours and numbers, in His hands, utter forth glory. Take an example of numbering. Four are the colours of the Temple tapestry; four, the ingredients of its incense; four, the spices of its anointing oil; the priestly garments are four; and the High Priests additional garments, four more; for four is the earthly number - four elements, four winds, four divisions of mankind, four heads of the animal creation, etc. - and worship in the Temple was thus revealed as the perfection of earthly worship. Take an example in colouring. Gods judgment throne is white (Rev. 20: 11), for it is a throne of righteousness; the Form upon it is of Fire-colour (Rev. 4: 3), for it is a judgment throne: it is circled with an emerald bow (Rev. 4: 3), for in the midst of wrath God remembers mercy: and its foundation is sapphire (Exod. 24: 10), for the Lord has established His throne in the heavens.
We turn to the robes of the High Priest (Exod. 29: 5; Lev. 8: 7). That a deep significance lies in these robes is obvious because the High Priest alone in all Israel, alone in all the world, was clothed magnificently by Divine command.* God Himself ordered, and designed, his robes, and designed them for glory and for beauty. Why? Because Christ, of whom the High Priest was a type (Heb. 7: 28), alone among the sons of men was clothed with a magnificent righteousness. The High Priests robes show what God thinks of Christ: the robes are of Gods designing, and of Christs wearing, and, delineate the righteousness of the God-man. Her priests also will I clothe with righteousness (Ps. 132: 16).
[* The priests also had garments for glory and for beauty (Ex. 28: 40), but not the magnificent robes peculiar to the High Priest.]
The robes were made, not of silk, or wool, but of linen, the product
of a plant out of the ground. They shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon
them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court (Ezek. 44: 17).
Linen is the oldest textile fabric in the world; it is found in pre-historic
human remains; it wrapt the mummies of
The White Robe (or coat) was the tunic worn next the flesh. It is, if I mistake not, the righteousness of the Son of man. This is beautifully revealed in details. (1) It was a hidden garment. It fell from the neck to the ankles (so Josephus), but was completely covered by the Blue Robe, which also fell the full length of the figure. So our Lords spotless human character was seen by few: to myriads of eyes He was a deceiver, a breaker of the Law, a demoniac, or a blasphemer. By the magnificent robes themselves the White Robe was concealed. What does this mean? It was His assertions of Godhead, to the Jew, and confessions of royalty, to the Gentile - true assertions and confessions of fact - which blotted the White Robe from the eyes of both the Israelite and the Roman. (2) It was a full garment, for the righteousness of Christ covers the whole man; it was a white robe, for it was the spotless purity of the Holy One of God: it was the inner garment, for what God alone could see in Christ - the hidden man of the heart - was white as light. He had to be a spotless priest to the eye of God before He could be a glorious Priest to the eye of man. For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners (Heb. 7: 26). (3) A white robe, though not this White Robe of embroidered beauty, was the only one worn when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.* For all the garments depict Christs righteousness: but the active righteousness of His life disappears when, on Calvary, He presents Himself without spot, and so without colour, to God, in passive righteousness, a guiltless Man for guilty men. The purple robe and the scarlet robe in the judgment halls; the seamless robe, seamless, thus corresponding with the Blue Robe; the crown of thorns - the only gold earth ever gave her Lord - all are put off ere He makes atonement; and at last, in the grave, the apostles find the High Priests linen clothes lying.
[* But the embroidery itself,- woven in chequer work (Ex. 28: 39), which was confined to this Robe, seems indicative of the imprint of the nails, much as the pitch in the Ark cemented, as with blood, that massive structure of righteousness. It is the skin of the Sacrifice, with which, as of old (Gen. 3: 21), God clothes the fallen.]
Worn over the White is the Blue Robe, or robe of the ephod. It was made all of blue* This appears to be the righteousness of the Son of God. For blue is the colour of the heavens beyond all clouds, where God is; and, in the heavens, Ezekiel saw a throne as the appearance of a sapphire (Ezek. 1: 26). So Christ came out of the blue, from God, and went back into the blue, to God, and, throughout His earthly life, He was the Son of man, which is in heaven (John 3: 13). Wherever Christ went He carried a bit of heaven, an atmosphere of God: over the robe of the humanity fell the exactly conterminous robe of the Deity. (1) It was seamless, falling, as a whole, over the head upon the shoulders. As through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one righteousness,** - no patchwork quilt, but a seamless robe the free gift came unto all men to justification of life (Rom. 5: 18). (2) It was forbidden to be rent. The moment Caiaphas rent his robe, the high priesthood passed from Aarons sons: our Lords seamless robe was never rent, for His priesthood is eternal. He, because He abideth for ever, hath His priesthood unchangeable (Heb. 7: 24). (3) From the fringe of the Blue Robe hung alternate bells and pomegranates. Bells - confession; the faithful and true Witness: pomegranates - fruitfulness; Who went about doing good: sound and fruit, and as much fruit as sound. But why on the Blue Robe? Because the White Robe is faultlessness rather than fruitfulness, and the Blue Robe is fruitfulness rather than faultlessness: the White Robe is the negative perfection of spotlessness, rather than the positive perfection of heavenly activities: the White Robe is the passive righteousness of suffering the Law unto death, rather than the active righteousness of keeping the Law unto life. Both were necessary for the salvation of men. For the saved have obtained a like precious faith in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1: 1), - who combines, in Himself, the perfect righteousness of a man, and the perfect righteousness of God.
[* The flax bears a bright blue flower.]
The outermost garment is the Many-coloured Robe (or ephod). It was made of gold, of blue, and purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen.* A ray of light, on its departure from the sun, is white : as it travels through the blue, it strikes upon the world, and so breaks up into many colours. So our Lord, the light of the world, coming a white ray from God, and descending through the blue, had His life, by contact with earth, broken up into gold-glory, blue - heavenly-mindedness, purple - royalty, scarlet - blood-shedding, and white - holiness. He takes human relationships, and reveals latent excellencies: gold - God come into the world; blue - the Man whose mind was always in Heaven; purple - the Heir of the most sacred royalty in the world; scarlet - the Lamb for the sins of the world; white - the Holy One whom the tomb could not hold. So, in the transfiguration, when Christ goes up into a high mountain apart, back, as it were, through the blue, His garments became white as the light (Matt. 17: 2): the Light of the world became, once again, the white Ray from the throne of God.**
[* Samuel the prophet (1 Sam. 2: 18), David the king (2 Sam. 6: 14), and Aaron the priest, all wore the ephod: our Lord combined the three offices in His own Person.
** The cunningly woven girdle, of the same blending of colours and cut from the same piece (Ex. 27: 8), was the fourth and last garment peculiar to the High Priest; righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins (Isa. 11: 5).]
With cunning workmanship, the wisdom of the Holy Ghost, the gold - the Godhead - was wrought into every colour: through and through our Lords character, and through and through the holy life, gleamed and glistened the Divine. And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen. Take the Blue. Storm-tossed upon the lake, He sleeps; and He awoke ... and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4: 39). A tired human mind, asleep; a roused mind that can at once control the world: how cunningly the Gold is wrought into the Blue! Take the Purple. Wise men come out of the East to worship, as king, Where is He that is born king? for our Lord, in a sense, was born in the Purple; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was (Matt. 2: 9). A helpless, tender infant, in a manger; Gods star-crowned king: how cunningly the Gold is wrought into the Purple! Take the Scarlet. Across Kidron, with weapons and torches; came Judas and his band; when therefore He said unto them, I am, they went backward, and fell to the ground (John 18: 6). A harmless, sword-less Lamb for sacrifice; a cohort prostrate at a Name: how cunningly the Gold is wrought into the Scarlet! Take the Linen. A Body is laid, limp and dead, upon the rock. In three days the linen swathes have sunk empty, as the Divine Form has passed up and out: how cunningly is the Gold wrought into the fine twined Linen! So the righteousness of Jesus was threaded with the Divine: the righteousness of the Man was shot through and through with the righteousness of God.
The White Robe- atonement, the obedient Lamb offered without spot: the Blue Robe - ascension, the Son of God returning whence He came, where, as it were, we can overhear the tinkling of the bells of the interceding Priest; the Many-coloured Robe - glory, the King of kings, coming back crowned with many crowns. These robes - one righteousness- God offers to all: conversion is Christ putting on the robes of His glory in the eyes of the soul, as He then transfers them to the shoulders of faith. For the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ is unto all - as a universal offer and upon all them that believe (Rom. 3: 22) - a garment woven of God, and let fall out of the heavens upon the shoulders of faith. He is the Lord our righteousness: drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness [the incarnate Son of God]: let the earth open, that they may bring forth salvation, and let her cause righteousness to spring up together [the risen Son of Man] ; I the Lord have created it (Isa. 45: 8). It is the salvation of the soul. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; FOR HE HATH CLOTHED ME WITH THE GARMENTS OF SALVATION, HE HATH COVERED ME WITH THE ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Isa. 61: 10).
* * * * * * *
0 Saviour, I am Thine
By every right
Which can be ever claimd
Of love or might.
Saviour! the Law Divine
Thou didst fulfil
By holy act, and meek
0 Saviour, leave me not,
Or else I stray
Back to the sordid sins,
The weary way.
Saviour! my only pledge
Is Thy dear love,
Which, shrined within my heart,
Shall rich life prove.
My hope is all in Thee,
Thy promise sure:
I am Thine own to-day
- W. GRAHAM.