How does the High Priest's robe point to Jesus' righteousness?

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Question / Comment -  How does the High Priest's robe point to Jesus' righteousness?


I am looking for information on Jesus as our high priest. I am interested in using the garments of the high priest to reveal the coming Messiah.
Is there an article on your website e.g The High's Priest Robe is be viewed as Jesus' clothing us in His righteousness.


JPN Reply:


there isn't a specific study on the site but there are a few references to the robes of the High Priest in different studies. Most point to Jesus and His righteousness, but obviously believer's are clothed in that righteousness. The quote from Zechariah about Joshua the High Priest and his filthy garments goes more in this. Here are a few comments from different studies and then some thoughts on Exodus 28 from A.C Gaebelein at the end. 


The high priestly garments


The high priest who alone could go into the presence of God is a type of the Lord Jesus. He had specific garments as instructed here: 

Exodus 28:3-6 Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest. (4) These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests. (5) Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen. (6) Make the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen--the work of a skilled craftsman.

The sacred garments were made of fine linen and were made from gold, blue, purple and scarlet thread. This is all pointed to the nature and character of our high priest Jesus. Fine linen in the Bible speaks of righteousness (Rev 19:8). Each colour is instructive of Jesus: 

  • Gold speaks of the divine nature and shows that Jesus was God. 
  • Blue speaks of the heavens thus showing the origins from which He came. 
  • Purple speaks of kingship and shows that this priest is also a king! 
  • And lastly scarlet speaks of a blood sacrifice. Though divine and the king of kings, the one from Heaven was willing to lay down His life as a sacrifice.

The garments of the high priest on the day of Atonement were different however. He did not come in with the rich colours of gold, blue, purple etc. On the day of Atonement he only wore white. The other priests also wore white. This symbolized the need for forgiveness and purity that governed this holy day.

The white garments are also prophetic. During the sacrifices required on this day the garments of the high priest would be stained with blood. This is a pointer to the ultimate fulfillment of this day when the true high priest comes from heaven as glimpsed in Revelation 19:

Revelation 19:11-14 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. (12) His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. (13) He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (14) The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  


Jesus as our High Priest


Rev 1:13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.

The 'son of man' title goes back to Daniel 7:9-14 and was used by Jesus of Himself when He stood in trial before the High Priest (Matt 26:62-66). When John sees the glorified Christ he says He is 'like a son of man' but different... He is a man... but a glorified man! The robe with the golden sash is a pointer to the High Priest in the Old Testament. (Exod 28:4-6) The High Priest's sash had threads or thin strips of gold in it (Ex 39:1-5) yet this One has a sash of complete gold. The gold speaks of divinity and it shows that the Old Testament High Priests were imperfect types of the real High Priest, Jesus! This helps us understand why He walks among the lampstands (churches) - He is performing His role as the High Priest. It was the High Priest's task alone to make sure the lampstand was burning and producing good light. So they would have to inspect it daily, checking the oil supply, removing soot and trimming the wicks. This is how Jesus is seen here as the High Priest inspecting the churches for the light they give. How is the light of the church you go to? How is your light for that matter? Always remember that the lamp requires oil to burn brightly and you cannot be the Christian you even want to be without Him!


Why the High Priest tore his clothes at Jesus' trial

From a footnote on

Mat 26:57-66 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. (58) But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. (59) Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. (60) They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, (61) and said, "This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'" (62) The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?" (63) But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." (64) Jesus *said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN." (65) Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; (66) what do you think?" They answered, "He deserves death!"

In what way did Dan 7:13 seal Jesus' fate and send Him to the cross? Matt 26:57-67 has a dramatic courtroom prosecution Jewish style. Jesus quotes a combination of Psalm 110:1 and Dan 7:13 concerning Himself before the High Priest... And for speaking the truth, they announce the death sentence! There is also a very interesting picture in this act from the High Priest. In recoil and disgust at what Jesus said (which was the truth) we read that the High Priest 'tore his robes'. You might think, 'ok, he tore his robes... so what?' You need to remember that this was the High Priest whose robes were specifically designed and instructed from God Himself. That is because each part of the robe spoke of Him who was coming who would be the true High Priest - Jesus Christ. That is why God gave the instruction in His word that the High Priest could NOT tear his robes (Lev 21:10). There is something very symbolic happening here. The High Priest (probably without knowing it) was invalidating himself from being High Priest. He was disqualifying himself from the role of High Priest. Why? Because there could only be one High Priest from God's perspective and that was Jesus! - the One who stood condemned before this false trial!


Why did Joshua the High Priest have filthy garments?


There is a great illustration of this truth in the book of Zechariah. It has it all really... Satan the accuser, the accused and the work of God through the gift of righteousness that stops all accusations. 

Zec 3:1-5 NKJV Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. (2) And the Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" (3) Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. (4) Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." (5) And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.

In this amazing scene we see Joshua, the High Priest of that day, standing before the Lord. Satan is also there, right at his side, right in his face, ready to accuse (as he does!) Even though Joshua was the High Priest, yet by his own works he is pictured as standing in filthy garments. So no wonder Satan was ready to accuse! 'Is this your High Priest? Is this the best you've got? Is this the one who represents the entire nation... this sinful dirty disgusting creature?' I'm sure he would do the same with me. 'Look at what that Son of yours Iain did now! What a vile creature! ' But the Lord rebuked Satan then as He does now saying 'Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?' 

This is an interesting picture. A brand is a burnt shouldering piece of wood. It is blackened and isn't particularly useful for any purpose or of any worth. It would be completely burnt unless someone plucked it from the fire. That, my friend, is a picture of you. It is also a picture of me. And yet, God reaches down and saves that brand, us, from the fire. F.B Meyer wrote: 'Such is the divine economy, that God makes much of brands, fragments, castaways. What others regard as unworthy of their heed is dear and priceless to the great Lover of souls."

"No more beautiful gospel picture is found within the Bible than this. As aptly as Joshua stands for Judah, so does he represent the poor sinner coming into God’s holy presence with all his guilt upon him. It is thus every soul must meet Him for the first time. None can put away his iniquity and thereby fit himself to face that righteous throne. But clad in his filthy garments, owning fully all his dreadful guilt, every repentant soul may approach God with the conscious knowledge that for such as he there is mercy and cleansing. The adversary will be there to hinder if he can; but Jehovah will not listen to him, for He has His eye on the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, accomplished on Calvary’s cross, when “He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). Against that mighty intercession no Satanic charges can avail. Too loudly cries the blood in God’s ear that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Therefore of every believing sinner He delights to say, “Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”"
H.A Ironside

And look also at what the Lord does next. The dirty clothes of Joshua are replaced with rich robes! Here we have the robes of righteousness and the garments of salvation that cover every true believer! And what can Satan say to such things? Nothing! They are God given and God earnt by His own blood on the cross, yet given freely to those that see their need, believe and receive. The book of Isaiah shows this exchange of clothing (representing our and His righteousness) in two key verses:

Our righteousness:  'All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.' (Isa 64:6)

His righteousness: 'I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isa 61:10)


A.C Gaebelein on the High Priest from Exodus 28

This chapter is still richer in typical lessons, a very few of them we can notice. Two chapters are devoted to the priesthood. Aaron is the type of Christ. The sons of Aaron are types of Christians representing false worshippers (Nadab and Abihu) and true worshippers (Eleazar and Ithamar.) The holy garments are mentioned first, but not in the order as they were put on. The correct order is found in Lev_8:7-9. The garments were for glory and beauty, typifying Him who is altogether lovely. The ephod stands first. Ephod in Hebrew means “to bind on”; it held the breastplate in position. It was of gold, blue, purple, of scarlet, fine twined linen, with cunning work. How beautifully it was wrought we read in Exo_39:3. The same material as in the curtains was used in the ephod; gold is added and the figures of the cherubim are absent. It all tells us of Himself and His priestly service in behalf of His people. The two onyx stones Aaron wore on his shoulders with the names of the twelve tribes engraven, are the type of Christ, carrying His people upon His shoulders. The shoulder is the symbol of power. From the moment He puts His sheep He has found upon His shoulder (Luk_15:5) to the blessed day, when He gathers His own, He carries them in His power.

Read Exo_28:11 how these names were put into the stones. They were ineffaceable and could not be blotted out. It speaks of our security in Christ. The breastplate consisted of twelve stones. Every one of these stones has a meaning, which we cannot follow here, and the names of the twelve tribes were engraved upon these precious stones. The breastplate was “upon his heart when he goeth in unto the holy place.” The words “upon his heart” are twice repeated in Exo_28:30. Here we have the blessed type that Christ carries all His people upon His heart of love. That the breastplate be not loosed from the ephod (verses 26-28) blue lace was attached. There was no possibility that the breastplate could shift; there is no possibility that His love for His own can ever grow less. His power and His love go together. In the breastplate there were also placed “Urim and Thummim,” which means “lights and perfections.” Seven times they are mentioned: Exo_28:30; Lev_8:8; Num_27:21; Deu_33:8; 1Sa_28:6; Ezr_2:63; Neh_7:65. In two of these passages only Urim is mentioned and in Deu_33:8 Thummim stands first. It is not certain in what the Urim and Thummim consisted. Some think they were two costly stones drawn as a lot in difficult questions. Others think it was one stone which by various scintillations gave an answer from the Lord. Israel did not need to be in darkness about any matter. We possess as believers a gift in us to guide and direct our steps; it is the Holy Spirit. He is our Urim and Thummim. The robe of the ephod was entirely blue. Christ is our heavenly highpriest. Bells and pomegranates, the types of testimony and fruit, were around the robe. “His sound shall be heard when he goeth in.” That happened when He as a priest went in to God and Holy Spirit came and the gospel bells began to ring. And fruit in the conversion of souls ever followed. The bells also rang when Aaron came out from the presence of God. Even so when our Lord comes again a fresh testimony in power will be heard yielding wonderful fruit.

The “holy crown” Aaron wore is equally suggestive. “Holiness unto the Lord” was on the golden plate. So He is our holy Priest and we are holy priests with Him. Read Zec_14:20-21.

That should give you some things to think on. I hope it helps! : )