Priest as New Creation

In Exodus 39, the priestly garments are made with the echoing refrain: “… as the Lord commanded Moses.”

It’s no accident that this refrain is repeated 7 times, mimicking the seven days of creation:

Day 1: Light & Darkness: 39:1: Holy garments for service

Day 2: Firmament: 39:2-5: Ephod

Day 3: Dry Land, Seas, Seed bearing plants: 39:6-7: Onyx stones for the shoulders w/ the names of the children of Israel

Day 4: Rulers in the Firmament: Sun, Moon, & Stars: 39:8-21: Breastplate with 12 precious stones bearing the names of the sons of Israel

Day 5: Birds & Fish: 39:22-26: Robe

Day 6: Man & land animals: 39:37-29: Coats, hats, pants, and sash of linen

Day 7: Holy Sabbath: 39:30-31: Gold crown bearing the inscription: Holiness to the Lord

In general, the point is that the priest is a “new creation” as much as the tabernacle itself is the beginning of a new world breaking out in Israel. The instructions for the building of the tabernacle are given to Moses in 7 speeches (Ex. 25-31). And these 7 responses match or enact those authoritative/creative words. Only now it becomes clear that the priest is an embodiment of the tabernacle. Much of his uniform matches or mimics the colors, shapes, details of the tent. The priest is a walking, talking tabernacle.

This is part of why it’s not strange for John to say that the Word became flesh and “tabernacled” among us (Jn. 1:14). The tabernacle was already a person in the high priest. Or, to put it another way, the tabernacle (and temple later) always represented a person, typified by the priest: Immanuel: God with His people.

But in Christ, God’s people have been renewed and remade in order to fulfill the corporate dimensions prefigured in Israel. The Church is a new Israel, a new tabernacle, a new priesthood. We are the new temple with the Holy Spirit dwelling with us, a walking talking spiritual house, living stones, offering spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:4-5).

  1. Luke Welch November 23

    The personification of tabernacle triggers this passage in my mind (Ex 3.21-22):

    “21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.””

    Since the objects that became the tabernacle were clothing for the children first, as a command of God.

    • That’s really cool. Thanks, Luke.

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