The garments of the high priest in the Old Testament sanctuary system teach us about the character of our true and only High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Bibles, paper, pencils, a picture of the clothing worn by a high priest in the Old Testament sanctuary system
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Think about the most sophisticated set of clothing you have ever worn. What was the outfit like? What was the occasion? How did you feel when you wore this clothing?
- Listen carefully to the stories from members of your group. What are the similarities in the stories? What are the differences? What do you learn about clothing from what you hear?
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- If you were to design an outfit that describes the character qualities you would most like to have in your life, what would it look like? In the margin of this study guide, list a set of clothing and indicate what each piece represents. For instance, a white shirt or blouse might symbolize pureness of heart.
- Thought Questions
Read Exodus 32:1-6. These verses describe the sad story of Aaron, the future high priest for the Old Testament sanctuary who behaved badly. What does this story teach us about Aaron, God, and the role of the future high priest?
- Leaders can succumb to pressure from the people they are leading.
- Aaron wanted to please the people more than he wanted to please the Lord.
- When Moses asked Aaron what happened, Aaron gave excuses.
- Moses interceded on behalf of God’s people.
- Aaron was eventually restored and given the opportunity to become the high priest of Israel.
The Lord provided Moses with specific guidelines for priests in the Old Testament sanctuary system (read Leviticus 21; 22:1-8). What application might these requirements have for spiritual leaders in today’s church?
- “Priests must not shave their heads or...the edges of their beards or cut their bodies…” (v. 5)
- “They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced…” (v. 7)
- “[They] must not let [their] hair become unkempt or tear [their] clothes…” (v. 10)
- “The woman...must be a virgin…” (v. 13)
- “No man who has any defect may come near to offer the food of his God” (vs. 16-23)
The clothing worn by the high priest in the Old Testament sanctuary system was intricately designed, colorful, and highly symbolic. As you read about these garments in Exodus 28, think about what each might represent in relationship to the characteristics of Christ.
- The ephod
- The breastpiece
- The robe
- The headpiece plate
- The linen undergarments
The Old Testament high priest represented Jesus Christ, our true High Priest. Read Hebrews 4:14-16. As you reflect on the attributes of Jesus in this passage, which qualities do you find especially meaningful in your walk with God right now?
- We have a high priest in heaven right now, ministering on our behalf.
- We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.
- Our high priest has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet the high priest remains without sin.
- Because of Jesus, we may approach God’s throne with boldness.
- We will find mercy and grace in our time of need.
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to the larger group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: Do you have loved ones (children, parents, friends) who weigh upon your heart? On a piece of paper, write down the names of 12 or more people whom you love. Place this list in your Bible. During your quiet time, take this piece of paper and pressit against your heart as you pray for these people, just as the high priest bore the names of Israel on his heart.
- Option 2: Look at a picture (from the Internet or a Bible dictionary) of the garments worn by a priest from the Old Testament sanctuary system. Choose one aspect of this priest’s clothing and dig deeper in the Bible to learn about its meaning. Look up cross-references, check out your concordance, or read Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 347-348.
- Option 3: Read Revelation 21:12-14. The foundations for the New Jerusalem are each made of a precious gem. Take a moment to identify a precious gem that represents each member of your class. Affirm each person’s value, worth, and contributions.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Close your eyes for a minute and picture your High Priest, Jesus, ministering to you right now. Perhaps you see Jesus standing beside you while you face a difficulty in your life. Maybe you see Christ holding you while you weep over a loss. Maybe you just long to see your Savior smiling into your face.
- Share your reflection experience from Part A with the group. Then pray together that each person will remember in the coming week that we truly have a great High Priest who ministers on our behalf in garments of grace.