In the Old Covenant of Grace, there were many rules for worship. Israel had a special tent, with special furniture, with special decorations, where special men, in special clothes, went through special rituals, offering special sacrifices, and eating special food.
Why such pomp and ceremony? It was because God wished to develop a play whereby he could present his truth to Israel and the watching world. That’s right, God was a fan of drama in worship.
Consequently, in this God-directed play, he selected Aaron to play the role of High Priest. According to the script, the High Priest was to be washed with water, anointed with oil, and clothed in the ornate suit God had custom-designed. At that point, Aaron would have already been the best dressed man in the camp. However, God was not through; he had not yet added the bling. According to God’s directions, Aaron was to be bejeweled, from head to toe with bells, metals, precious stones, and other adornments. As part of his outfit, two special stones were to be worn on his shoulders. Two special objects were to be found on his chest:
Exodus 28:12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance.
Exodus 28:30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.
And what was the symbolism behind the two shoulder-stones and the Urim and Thummim? God supplied the interpretation. Symbolically, Aaron and other High Priests were to carry the chosen people upon their shoulders. In addition, they were to bear the judgment of the chosen people on his heart.” This decoration was symbolic, but it was also prophetic, for in doing so, they were pointing to God’s Great High Priest who was coming over the horizon. They were pointing their worshiping audience to the Messiah – Jesus of Nazareth.
Therefore, let us remind ourselves of what ultimately transpired. Let’s look at the heart and shoulders of Jesus.
Jesus’ heart was righteous. The Father examined his affections, thoughts, words, and deeds. Before all men he declared him just. The heart of the Son was entirely holy, blameless, perfect, pure, or righteous.
Jesus’ heart was burdened. He saw the temptation, influence, and enslavement of Satan. He saw the sin, suffering, and sentence of his people, and with great compassion he wept over the lost.
It was then that Jesus’ shoulders were dislocated or broken. It was in Jerusalem where Jesus was mocked, slandered, betrayed, hunted, arrested, bound, interrogated, punched, whipped, crowned, stripped, mocked, paraded, and crucified. One can only imagine the damaged shoulders as they were flogged, loaded up with the cross beam, dropped into position, and slowly pulled out of socket.
During that time, Jesus’ shoulders were spiritually loaded up with the transgressions of his people.
Jesus’ heart was then crushed. Due to the sins he bore, he sensed some separation from the Father. Great was his cry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
He then breathed his last breath. This was followed by his heart being pierced.
But that was not the end of his story. On the third day, Jesus’ heart was resuscitated, his shoulders were restored, and his body was resurrected. A few weeks later, our Great High Priest made his way back to paradise.
And what is going on in heaven today?
Every day, Jesus looks at his shoulders, sees our names, offers more prayers, and encourages us to lessen our load by casting our burdens upon him and his very broad shoulders.
Every day, Jesus looks at his beating heart, considers the judgment he received, and beams with fanatically affectionate love for his declared-holy bride.
Therefore, today, as we struggle with sin and suffer horribly, let us not seek to be our own high priests. Let us not run to human high priests. Let us not hide from the Great High Priest. Instead, seeing his heart is entirely tender towards us and his shoulders broad and strong, let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, for our Great High Priest is already looking our way. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Before the Throne of God Above
Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea, a great High Priest, whose name is Love, who ever lives and pleads for me. My name is graven on His hands. My name is written on His heart. I know that while in heaven He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied, to look on him and pardon me.
When Satan tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb, my perfect, spotless righteousness, the great unchangeable I AM, the King of glory and of grace! One with Himself I cannot die. My soul is purchased by His blood. My life is hid with Christ on high, with Christ my Savior and my God.