Chains and Rings of Gold, and a Lace of Blue
Were there no help for us we would undoubtedly faint under the pressure which meets us in the path of daily confession and wilderness journeying. How, too, could we survive under the chastisement of God, of which all the sons of God are partakers? There is help from the sanctuary! We learn from the Hebrew epistle that "we have such an high Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the sanctuary … " We must consider Hebrews 4 to 7 if we would know what kind of Priest this is in Hebrews 8:1.
He is, "a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God." He has passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God; He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; He administers the grace and mercy of the throne of God; He gives timely help; He is a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. He has learned obedience by the things which He suffered, and consequently is able to succour the tried ones. Indeed, the outstanding feature of "such an High Priest" is His ability — "He is able!" He is for ever able seeing He ever lives; thus He is able to succour, sympathize, and to save completely the comers unto God by Him. Such an High Priest is just what we need on account of our place in the calling of God, One who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. He eclipses all the priests who preceded Him, and He will never be succeeded as were those other priests, for death shall never touch Him. He has tasted death but is now alive for evermore. Neither shall He be superseded, for there is none so great as He. So we have a better Priest to minister to us as partakers of the heavenly calling, and His priesthood is based upon a better sacrifice than was the priesthood of Aaron. In this epistle we learn of the better things belonging to those who partake of the heavenly calling, all administered by the High Priest who is becoming to us. Everything is based upon the better sacrifice — that of Himself. This produces better worshippers — those who, having no more conscience of sins, have a better privilege than ever was known in Old Testament days, for they can draw near to God in holy boldness under the hand of the Great Priest over the House of God.
According to Hebrews 2:9, our Lord Jesus Christ is "crowned with glory and honour." In the Septuagint version of Exodus 28, where we read of "holy garments for glory and beauty," the word used for "beauty" is this word translated "honour." So Christ, our High Priest, is invested with glory and beauty in the presence of God. It is before one to point out very simply and as briefly as possible something which has yielded great encouragement as it was meditated upon.
In Exodus 28:7 we read of the priestly ephod and the shoulder pieces. In fitting settings thereon were placed two onyx stones inscribed with the names of the children of Israel, six on each, according to their birth. Then, as regards the breastplate of judgment, it bore twelve precious stones, each stone bearing a name of one of the tribes of Israel. The names were borne upon the shoulders of the priest according to generation, in this all are alike. On the breastplate all are different.
Simply and briefly, the saints of God as being partakers of the divine nature experience trials, common to all saints, passing as they do through a world gone far from God and opposed to all who belong to Him. Yet all saints are not alike as to gift and service. Someone has said, "Gift is an impression of Christ." Some apprehension of Christ belongs to each saint and it takes all the saints to fitly set Christ forth. There are trials peculiar to each saint in his path of God's service. However they are viewed, whether in what is common to all or what is peculiar to each, we may thankfully say that there is adequate support for them in their Great High Priest. They all have a place on the shoulders and upon the breast of their Priest. The shoulders speak of strength; the breast speaks of affection. We have a place in the affections of Christ; we have a place on the strong shoulder of Christ.
Further we learn from this chapter in Exodus that the breastplate is bound by chains and rings of gold, and with a lace of blue, to the shoulder pieces of the ephod. The chains and rings of gold bespeak the Godhead glory of our Priest. The lace of blue bespeaks the heavenly grace of His Manhood. The word translated "wreathen" means a strong band. The strong bands of His Godhead and Manhood emphasize to us how well and securely we are sustained according to God. However great the testing we are subjected to we have in our High Priest One who is more than equal to every circumstance of the way and He will bring us safely through. "His strength shall be ours on the road." He will bring us through every trial and every step of the wilderness way, and set us down in the glory of God — for His is bringing many sons to glory.
In the meantime the blessedness of our calling is appreciated in the knowledge that He bears His own upon His heart and upon His shoulders before God now, and that He will do so continually. As we avail ourselves of His ministry of sympathetic succour and support we shall prove the reality of everyday salvation. Lifted in our spirits above the pressure of circumstances, yet with all that we have acquired in the way of spiritual enrichment under the discipline of God, we shall gladly "draw near" under Christ's leadership, as Minister of the Sanctuary, into the "holiest of all," with an indisputable title to be there, rejoicing that we are there. Having received "help from the Sanctuary" we shall exercise ourselves as "purged worshippers" before God, ever valuing the preciousness of Christ and recognising His activity expressed in those imperishable words — "In the midst of the assembly will I sing praise unto Thee." We shall "join the singing that He leadeth," and as we sing our songs to God and voice our praise and worship we shall not fail to speak well of Him in God the Father's listening and rejoicing ear.