Acting As Our Go-Between

March 14, 2021

Pastor John Hering

Exodus 28

Exodus 28

Bring Aaron your brother near to you from among the people of Israel, and his sons with him, so that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. Bring Aaron and Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother to give him honor and splendor.

15 You shall make a chest pouch to be used for making decisions, the work of a skillful craftsman. You shall make it with the same workmanship as the vest. Make it from gold and from blue, purple, and scarlet material and from fine woven linen. 16 It is to be square when it is folded, nine inches by nine inches. 17 You shall arrange settings for precious stones on it, four rows of stones: 21 There are to be twelve stones corresponding to the names of the sons of Israel. Each one shall be like an engraved seal, each with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

29 Whenever he goes into the Holy Place, Aaron shall wear the pouch for making decisions, which bears the names of the sons of Israel, over his heart as a constant memorial before the Lord. 30 You shall put the Urim and the Thummim into the pouch for making decisions, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart whenever he goes before the Lord. Aaron shall bear the means of making decisions for the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord continually.

31 You shall make the robe that is to be worn under the vest. It is to be all blue…. 33 To be placed around its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet material. Alternate them with gold bells.  35 The robe shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.

36 You shall make a medallion of pure gold and engrave on it (like the engravings on a seal): Holy to the Lord37 You shall attach it to a blue cord to fasten it to the turban. It is to be placed on the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron will bear any guilt in regard to the holy things, which the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. The medallion shall always be on his forehead, so that the offerings may be accepted in the presence of the Lord.

Last week I told you about the man who stopped his car in front of the house at night, looked into the house to see his ex-wife, daughter and another man.  But, I didn’t tell you why.  You see, this man had been unfaithful to his wife.  She’s was angry and hurt.  The break up was a tough battle—who would cover the health insurance of their daughter?  Who would get what?  It was ugly.  But, what if this man drove away to a friend’s house and said, “She won’t talk to me.  She won’t answer my texts.  Would you talk to her for me?”  He needed a go-between.  This portion of God’s Word helps us understand a similar picture.  It is a picture of a go-between. God gave special instructions to his High Priest to teach the people about A Mediator!  His job was to bridge the gap between sinful people and our holy God.  If you’ve ever been in a situation where you had to be in the middle of a relationship on the rocks, job, family—you know how difficult this would be. Imagine how difficult the job when the relationship is between God and the human race!  No High Priest was up to the task.  However, God established the priesthood as another shadow of Christ.  What do we see in these shadows? 

We See Jesus Acting As Our Go-Between

That’s One-way Work

When a marriage, co-worker or family is in trouble it is almost never 100% one person’s fault and the other person is 100% innocent.  That’s because we are all sinners and we all share the guilt for the problems that exists before adultery or desertion even happens.  A mediator for a couple often looks for compromise.  Both spouses have to recognize their own fault.  Both parties have to be willing to give in in order to restore harmony.  But, it’s totally different in our broken relationship with God.  God is holy.  It is only our sin that ruins the relationship.  There can be no compromise with sinners.  So, the mediator has to bring God’s people all the way back to God.  That was the job of the OT priest—especially the High Priest.

God commanded Moses: Bring Aaron your brother near to you from among the people of Israel, and his sons with him, so that he may minister to me in the priest’s office. Bring Aaron and Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother to give him honor and splendor.  In a glance the uniform of the Aaron would remind the people that he was a man who talked to God for them.  Each detail of his uniform had a special meaning.  For instance, 15 You shall make a chest pouch (breastplate) to be used for making decisions, the work of a skillful craftsman. You shall make it with the same workmanship as the vest. Make it from gold and from blue, purple, and scarlet material and from fine woven linen.” Think of it with two plates of gold sewn together to make a pocket.  On the front of this pocket there were 12 stones to represent the 12 Tribes if Israel.  God told Moses, 29 Whenever he goes into the Holy Place, Aaron shall wear the pouch for making decisions, which bears the names of the sons of Israel, over his heart as a constant memorial before the Lord.

You’ll recall that the High Priest was the only one who could enter the Most Holy Place. There was the Ark of the Covenant and God would speak to the High Priest from this place.  Aaron was the mediator.  He carried the names of the people carved on the stones to God.  God would accept his identity in this fashion and let him live.

Included in his uniform where two stones. 30 You shall put the Urim and the Thummim into the pouch for making decisions, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart whenever he goes before the Lord.  There is much speculation about the Urim and Thummim.  Some think they were stones the priest would throw like dice to get an answer.  Josephus, an ancient historian, said that God revealed his will by lighting up the stones.  So, while we really don’t know how they worked, we know they worked.  The High Priest would enter the Holy Place and ask God for directions for the people.  God would reveal his answer.

All of these things were shadows of Christ.  Jesus is our true High Priest.  God chose him to come and live among us.  When you saw Jesus, you saw God.  Mind you, the High Priest never went in and tried to compromise a deal with God. He would hear God’s Word and then tell that Word to the people.  That’s what Jesus did for us.  Jesus didn’t bring his life, death and resurrection to the table while we bring our Christian lives to the table to make the best deal we can with God.  It is our nature to think that our efforts count for something!  I drag myself out of bed on Sunday mornings and I take extra time to come Lent services!  There are so many people who don’t even do that!  It should count for something!  I sacrifice my offerings to God, drag my kids to church, and turn off the bad TV and video games!  I know this won’t get me to heaven, but it should count for something!  Maybe we think we would never say something like that, but then answer this question: Why should God love you?  If your answer starts with, “Because I” belong to a church, serve God, raised my children right, do what God wants me to do….than wanting some credit is creeping into your thinking.  If we want to talk about what we’ve earned, the answer is always that we’ve earned eternal hell!

But, Jesus’ work is One-way work!  Jesus is our go-between not to reach a compromise with God, but to carry us back to God.  Jesus did that by always going to God’s house with joy, serving us all with joy, and avoiding every sinful temptation with perfection.  Then he offered his perfect life on the cross to pay for our sins.  He offered his precious blood powerful enough for the sins of the world.  His death absorbed the eternal punishment of hell in our place.  Jesus then gave us his holiness and bring us back to God.  Jesus’ work is One-way work.  No other way would work.  No other Mediator could to it because….

That’s a One-man Job

When we choose someone to be a mediator in life, we probably won’t choose a friend of the wife because she would probably say she never should have married this guy in the first place.  We probably won’t choose a friend of the husband because he would probably say he could have done better.  God’s people didn’t get to choose who would represent them before the Lord God either. God chose the priests.  Out of the 12 Tribes of Israel God narrowed it down to the Levites, then from a clan, then from a house, then a family and then the High Priest. From Mount Sinai until Christ’s ascension only the blood descendants of Aaron could serve as the High Priest.

Students of the Bible know that being chosen to be the High Priest didn’t guarantee a faithful servant.  Many were unfaithful in their work.  Aaron made the golden calf!  Others allowed their family to live ungodly lives.  Others were hypocrites that were only interested in their position and power.  But, others took their job seriously and wore their uniform over their hearts that marked them as sinners.  They wore the long blue robe with bells and its sound will be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.  God was teaching them that all the parts of this uniform announced, “God, a sinner is coming!  Withhold your holy and just reaction to strike them dead!”  Even the turban on their heads had a solid gold plate with the word, “Holy To the Lord” engraved on it with this explanation, 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron will bear any guilt in regard to the holy things, which the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. The medallion shall always be on his forehead, so that the offerings may be accepted in the presence of the Lord.  That was the first thing the Lord God would see as the High Priest entered. This was God’s chosen priest. He was bringing sacrifices that God said must be made for the people’s sins.  We see it again—blood!  One man brought a sacrifice of life for payment of sin.  Every time the priest made a sacrifice…..and that was the problem…..every time.  It wasn’t enough.  It couldn’t really take their sins away.  They were only acceptable because God said he would accept them.

All of this was a shadow of the One-man—Jesus Christ.  Jesus is God’s chosen one, The High Priest that was really “Holy To The Lord.”  When Jesus came into the Lord’s presence he didn’t need a robe, for he had his own robe of righteousness.  He didn’t need a gold medallion or ringing bells to warn God.  Jesus’ holiness would shine throughout heavens and earth.  God is pleased with the holy work of one man—Jesus.

Because of the sinful state of people, we are all going to need help from a go-between to settle matters.  Sometimes the mediation works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  I would suggest you find a mediator who knows about SMART goals.  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time -bound.  Then it seems to me you should think about the offer and pick your battles wisely.  Then decide what hill your willing to die on!  Our gracious Lord replaced the failing systems in our world with his Son, Jesus.  Talk about SMART goals!  Specific—Jesus died on a cross to save us.  Measurable—Just one drop is powerful enough to save the sins of the world.  Achievable—100% reached when he offered his life in our place.  Relevant?  All Jesus did continues to pay for your sins.  Time-bound—Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sins is effective today and into eternity!  Rejoice, for on account of Jesus’ One-way Work, done by One-man,  We See Jesus Acting As our Go-Between to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Amen.

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