I find the pace of the Bible to be fascinating. Here’s what I mean: in Genesis and early in the book of Exodus, it feels like everything is speeding along—there’s a lot of ground covered in each chapter. But once you cross the halfway point in Exodus, it feels like everything comes to a screeching halt. The narrative slows way down and all of a sudden the author spends much more time elaborating on the finest of details.
Such is the case in Exodus 28-29. The author spends an entire chapter expounding on the priestly garments—what Aaron and his sons were to wear as they fulfilled their duties. Following that is another chapter on the consecration, or setting apart of the priests for that duty. On the surface, the attention to detail feels a little extensive. Did it really matter what the priests wore? Was the whole consecration ceremony really necessary?
The short answer is yes.
The garments mattered and the consecration mattered because their role and responsibility mattered. It was the priests who would make atonement for the sins of Israel. That’s a task that mattered. And a priest that was not adequately prepared to enter God’s presence could not make the appropriate sacrifices required to provide atonement for the sin of God’s people. And where there was no atonement for sin, there was no forgiveness of sin. And where there was no forgiveness of sin, there was no hope of eternal life.
But as significant and weighty as all this was, it was but a shadow of a better priest to come: Jesus, the high priest who clothed himself not in fine garments but in humility. Jesus, the high priest who needed no consecration, for he knew no sin. Jesus, whose humility and sinlessness collided at the cross, where he made atonement for God’s people “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).