30 April 2012
"And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with skill, that they make Aaron's vestments to consecrate him for my priesthood." (v. 3)
Today's passage asks us to ponder the relationship between
beautiful objects and the glory of God. The passage is addressed to
Moses and comes in the context of long and detailed instructions
for the construction of the tabernacle, a sanctuary where God will
dwell (Exodus 25:8). Already, at the beginning of chapter
25, the Israelites have been asked to give freely of their most
precious possessions. Now, we read that the Israelites are to make
clothing for their great priest out of the very best and most
extravagant materials they have available. The language of verse 3
is not entirely clear but appears to imply that the creation of
proper clothing for Aaron contributes to his consecration in
service to the holy God. It is important that the one leading the
Israelites in worship is dressed as impressively and attractively
as possible. The reference to the bell in verses 34-35 is a little
difficult to interpret, but apparently it was important that the
movements of the priest be marked out. Perhaps this was at least
partly so that the Israelites might hear him moving around when he
was the hidden away in the holy place. However the very end of
verse 35 hints at the danger of going into God's presence; it must
be clear when the priest is going into and coming out of the
presence of God "so that he may not die".
It is important to remember the lives of the people who made these clothes. We should imagine this image of loveliness and extravagance in contrast to the Israelites' life in the desert, which was presumably often dirty, difficult and less than inspiring. Did the difficulty of their everyday lives make beauty in worship even more important for them? Clearly the priest's clothing was meant to evoke a sense of the glory and splendour of God.
Think of your normal experience of worship. What is there which evokes a sense of God's beauty and glory? Do you wish there was more?
Do you find it helpful if those leading worship wear special clothing? To what extent does this enhance worship or deny 'the priesthood of all believers'?
What does help you to reflect on God's beauty?