Another important juncture in the timeline of Israel’s history is the birth of the priesthood.
Exodus contains the revelation of God in Word and deed for this sacred inauguration (as do other books that follow in the Pentateuch).
Aaron, brother to Moses, was given the high and holy calling from God to serve as the first in a long line of Levitical priests. He was to be crowned with a seal, a crucial reminder: Holy to the Lord (Ex 39:30). But the particular item I want us to be mindful of today is that of the stones of remembrance.
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 (Ex 28:12 ESV).
This served as a visual memorial. There were a great many practices God instituted to serve as a memorial (holy feasts, ritual offerings, and sacred object, to name a few) which tells me that remembering is a big deal to God. In fact, remembering might not only be considered an act of obedience, but one of worship.
Are you moved to worship when you remember the merciful and mighty acts of God in the lives of His sons and daughters?
The High Priest acted as a mediator between God and His people. He was a representative for his fellow citizens before God. But he also represented God to them.
The Priest bore the names of his ancestral brothers before God. He wore them in remembrance. Now, graven upon the palms of the hands of God’s eternal High Priest too are names. And the scars Jesus bears are indeed a sacred reminder.
God gave His people their identity at the base of Mt. Sinai. They were to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation (Ex 19:6), just as Christ-followers today have been similarly id’d a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Pt 2:9).
Ephods may be outdated, but holiness isn’t. And intercession never goes out of style either. Just ask Jesus—since He lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God (Heb 7:25).
Aaron bore the names of his people before God. As should disciples, priests of Christ Jesus. We should bear the names of our brothers and sisters in Christ before God and compassionately shoulder their burdens in His presence. We may not wear a gold plate with engraved gemstones on our shoulders, but we can take our church bulletins and our prayer lists to our knees and remember them before God in prayer—because He is always sure to remember.
Lord our God, the role of priest, as one holy to the Lord, is who and what I am in You. As one who intercedes for Your loved ones, I bring before You these names, trusting in Your mercy: __________________________________________________________