For a large part of the material in this study, I would like to acknowledge the following source:
The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread by Richard Booker, 1981 – Destiny Image Publishers
Much of the material for these lessons comes from the Book: Richard Booker, The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread Expanded Edition. Destiny Image, Inc.
God chose Aaron and his sons to serve Him as priests. (Exodus 28:1; 29:9)
The Priest’s office was to be exclusively theirs and no one else could function in that office.
Aaron was the first High Priest. Following his death, his sons were to continue this ministry. Aaron’s sons were to begin their priestly responsibilities at the age of 30. (Numbers 4:3)
When Moses set Aaron and his sons apart for this ministry, they along with their priestly garments were sprinkled with blood. (Exodus 28)
This was necessary because they were sinners and yet they were called to be the mediator between God and man. However, God, in His holiness, could not receive them unless their sins were covered by blood. Their blood-sprinkled garments publicly testified to their real inadequacy to represent the people.
Yet it pointed the entire nation to a future time when a perfect priest would come. He would set Himself apart and give His own blood as the perfect Mediator between God and man.
The High Priest
Old Covenant – High Priestly Garments
The central figure of the Old Covenant system was the High Priest.
He was the most important person in the entire nation because he represented the entire nation before God.
He stood above everyone else not just because of his position but also because of what he was required to wear.
As we look at his garments, understand that together they paint a picture of the High Priest that was to come. He wore seven different pieces of clothing, of which the number seven represents perfection. So symbolically, the High Priest was perfectly clothed for his position.
All of these garments uniquely revealed something about the nature of the perfect High Priest to who was to come.
- He wore white breeches of fine linen next to his body. Over the linen breeches, he wore a white tunic of fine linen that hung at his feet. This outfit was the same as all of the other priests and therefore was ordinary.
- In the Bible, fine white linen represents perfect righteousness.
- So, from within the High Priest was symbolically clothed in perfect righteousness.
- The High Priest wore a blue robe over his coat.
- The color blue speaks of heaven. It represents a heavenly appointment by God Himself Who select Aaron as the High Priest.
- Embroidered on the bottom of the robe were golden bells alternating with pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet. Gold represents deity. The purple and scarlet refer to royalty and blood sacrifice.
- These colors pointed ahead to the time when God Himself would come and establish His Kingdom with His own blood.
- Over his robe the priest wore a short sleeveless jacket called an ephod. The ephod was made of beaten gold that had been cut into thin wires and woven into fine linen of blue, purple and scarlet. It consisted of two pieces, front and back, that were joined at the shoulders by two gold chains.
- Two onyx stones were set in gold and fastened to the ephod at the shoulders. The names of the 12 tribes of Israel were engraved with a seal on these stones, six names on each stone.
- The ephod reached from the shoulders to below the waist, hanging slightly above the blue robe. A sash of fine linen fastened around the ephod. The sash served as a reminder that the priest was a servant of God and a servant of Israel.
- A gold breastplate, also of blue, purple, and scarlet was attached to the ephod. Twelve beautiful stones were attached to the breastplate. The name of one of the twelve tribes was engraved with a seal on each stone. The stones were attached in four rows with three stones to a row.
- As the High Priest interceded for the people, he symbolically carried the entire covenant nation into the presence of God.
- The stones on his shoulders represented his strength and the stones over his heart represented his love for the people.
- The seventh article of clothing was a turban made of fine linen worn as a headpiece. A gold plate was attached to the turban with a blue ribbon. The words, “Holiness To The Lord” were engraved with a seal on the gold plate. This was the crowning piece of the garments of glory and beauty. By wearing it on his forehead, the High Priest would symbolically bear the guilt of any unclean sacrifices made to God, and it also made him acceptable to God.
The High Priest had many responsibilities but his most important was the duties he performed on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur – Day of Forgiveness) sometime in our calendar months of September/October. This is the one day of the year, when the High Priest would go beyond the veil into the Holy of holies.
The pressure was on him. If he made a mistake, the whole nation would be without forgiveness. So, God gave detailed instructions to the High Priest. They not only told the High Priest what to do, but also pointed the nation to a priest who would come as one greater than Aaron. When He came, everyone would be able to recognize Him because He so perfectly would fulfill every detail of the instructions Himself.
Let’s walk through what the High Priest was to do on the Day of Atonement:
- The first thing the High Priest would do is to wash himself. This was symbolic cleansing of any defilement. He was clean so that he could then minister on behalf of the people.
- After washing, he would then get dressed for service. He would put on his white robe, his sash, and his turban. These are the clothes that he would wear to represent the people in the presence of God. These are NOT the garments of glory and beauty. He does not put on his blue robe with the beautiful colors, golden bless, and pomegranates embroidered on the bottom. Neither does he put on his glorious ephod or breastplate. He dressed very plainly in his white coat of linen. He looks just like everyone else.
- He then sacrifices a bull for his own sin offering.
- He carries the blood from this sacrifice into the Holy of Holies and sprinkles it on the mercy seat.
- The fragrance of the incense is a sweet aroma to God. Standing in its midst, the High Priest sprinkles the blood of his sin offering over the Mercy Seat. This is the place of atonement for the sins of the nation. But before he can represent the nation, he must first make atonement for his own sins. Seven times he sprinkles the blood over the Mercy Seat. The number seven looks ahead to the perfect sacrifice that will come and not only cover sins but take them away.
- One of the reasons for the cloud of incense that was generated by the golden censer was to shield his eyes from the bright light that emanated from the presence of God that was seated on the Ark of the Covenant.
- Seven times he sprinkles the mercy seat indicating that there was coming a perfect sacrifice that would complete this.
- Each time the priest enters the Holy of Holies, there is no place to sit down. That is because his work was never finished.
- Now that he has offered the sacrifice for his own sin, he can now minister on behalf of the people.
- Two goats were selected as the sin offering for the nation. One goat will be sacrificed to God while the other goat is set free.
- He casts lots to determine which one would be the sacrifice and then carries it to the brazen altar, leans heavily on it and then kills it. The sins of the nation are symbolically transferred to the animal.
- The High Priest takes the blood of this animal into the Holy of Holies.
- There was no place for the priest to sit down in the Holy of Holies because his work was never going to be completed. He had to do this work all over again in a year.
Hebrews 1:3 NKJV (3) who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
- Everyone waits in anticipation to see if the sacrifice is accepted.
- He sprinkles the mercy seat seven times, and this place becomes a seat not of judgment but rather one of mercy.
Hebrews 9:20-24 NIV (20) He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” (21) In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. (22) In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (23) It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (24) For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
- Justice has been administered and God’s wrath has been vindicated.
- He then returns from the Holy of Holies and goes to the altar and smears the blood on the horns of the altar. This cleanses the altar from the sins of the people.
- The High Priest now needs some visible way to show you that your sins have been dealt with. He lays his hands on the scapegoat and transfers on it the sins of the nation and he sends it into the wilderness and your sins symbolically go with it.
- The scapegoat did not have to die; it went free. The second goat could go free only after the blood of the first goat had paid the price and the blood had been applied.
- The first goat represented you. Once you see that the second goat is set free, you know that your sins are forgiven and separated from you. That was the best news you could hear for that year.
- The High Priest then goes back into the tabernacle and holy place and washes himself again. He then puts on all of his garments including the garments of glory and beauty. He is carrying you on his shoulders and in his heart. As long as you heard the bells, you knew that all was well and he is coming out soon to meet you.
- As he re-appears, in all of his full garments, there are great shouts of joy from the people because they know that the price had been paid for another year.
- He then offers a burnt offering to the Lord as a sacrifice of praise that the price was paid for another year.
Hebrews 13:15 NIV 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Revelation 1:5-6 NKJV (5) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, (6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(This portion is taken almost verbatim from The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread Expanded Edition by Booker, Richard, Destiny Image, Inc. Kindle Edition.)
The New Covenant
High Priestly Garments
But now a perfect High Priest has come to fulfill what the Old Covenant High Priest could not do. Philippians 2:5-11 tells us about this. It says that Jesus was in the form of God. This means that He had the same nature and attributes of God. In other words, He was God coming to us in human flesh. Other scriptures describe His preexisting glory. The prophet Isaiah saw Him high and lifted up on His throne, and His glory filled the heavenly Temple. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (see Isaiah 6:1-5.)
Peter, James, and John saw Him on a high mountain. His appearance changed before their very eyes. His face did shine as the sun, His raiment was as white as the light. (see Matthew 17:2.)
John saw Him again in the book of Revelation. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass. His voice was as the sound of many waters. His glory was an unapproachable light. To look upon Him was to look upon glittering diamonds and shining rubies. (see Revelation 1:14; 4:3; 1 Timothy 6:16.)
Yet our Lord did not cling to His pre-existing glory. Instead He laid aside His garments of glory and beauty. Now we’ve learned that in blood covenant the garment represents the person. God did not have a garment. He laid aside His own glory to be a High Priest for us who would feel our infirmities and be tempted as we are (see Heb. 4:15). He would be a God we could identify with and who could identify with us. He is the One the High Priestly garments were pointing to.
Dresses for the Service
At the same time God laid aside His glory, He dressed Himself for the perfect atonement service. He dressed for the service by preparing Himself a body and becoming one of us. The Creator became the creation. The Master became the servant. The Son of God became the Son of Man. The Lord of Glory became a baby in a manger. And they called His name Jesus (Yeshua).
And He looked just like everybody else. Why, you couldn’t tell Him from the next guy. He didn’t have a halo around His head, you know. He wasn’t glorious and beautiful in His appearance. He just wore a plain white linen robe. But no man spoke like this man, who was perfectly fulfilling the Old Covenant as He began His ministry at the age of 30 (see Luke 3:23).
His first action was to allow John the Baptist to baptize Him in the Jordan River. In this way Jesus identified Himself with the Old Covenant High Priest who was washed in water on the day he was set apart for his priestly ministry.
But so we would understand that He really didn’t need cleansing, Jesus said, “…I sanctify (cleanse) myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (John 17:19 KJV). Earlier He had declared Himself to be the truth (see John 14:6).
The Sin Offering for the World
The High Priest after the seed of Aaron was a sinner just like everybody else. However, Jesus was a High Priest after the seed of God. He was begotten of God the Father. He was very God but also very man.
He was perfectly righteous from within and knew no sin. Therefore, it was not necessary that He sacrifice for Himself. Instead, He sacrificed Himself for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us (see 2 Cor. 5:21). He became that once and for all perfect sacrifice. He got up on the altar by His own free will. That altar was the cross. There He became the sin offering for the world. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
On the morning of His resurrection, He appeared to Mary and said, “…Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your father; and to my God and your God” (John 20:17 KJV). Like the Old Covenant High Priest no one could touch Jesus until He had completed His work.
But later that same evening Jesus appeared to His disciples and said, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39 RSV).
Jesus said flesh and bone rather than flesh and blood. That’s because all of His blood was poured out at the foot of the cross. But now that His work was over, they could touch Him. It happened just like it did in the Old Covenant except this was not the blood of a goat.
On resurrection morning, Jesus entered into that more perfect Tabernacle in heaven. He went right into the heavenly Holy of Holies. It was the real High Priest, entering the real throne room of God, with the real sacrifice. The real sacrifice was His own blood that He sprinkled over the Mercy Seat. With His blood, He purchased our eternal salvation. This is part of the will He has left us in the New Covenant in His blood.
The Perfect Atonement
We have been forgiven and made clean once and for all by the blood of Jesus. He is the perfect sin offering. Through His blood, He has forever made us holy and righteous in the eyes of God. The blood of Jesus did what the blood of bulls and goats could never do. It didn’t just cover sins; it took them away to be remembered no more. So He doesn’t offer Himself again and again as the High Priest of the Old Covenant had to keep bringing the sin offering year after year.
If that was necessary, He would have to die again and again. But He came once, for all, to put away the power of sin forever. Just as it is destined that men die only once, and after that comes the judgment, so Jesus died only once as the offering for the sins of the world.
So when sins have been forgiven and forgotten, there is no need to offer more sacrifices to get rid of them. We are like the scapegoat. We are set free. The blood of Jesus has removed our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west (see Ps. 103:12). Now the distance between east and west cannot be measured. It is infinite. So is the distance that the blood of Jesus has removed us from our sins. (see Hebrews 9-10.)
The angels must have shouted for joy that day when Jesus went into the heavenly Holy of Holies with His own blood. His wounded, pierced, bruised body was the final burnt offering. God the Father received the sacrifice of His only begotten Son as a sweet aroma. (see Ephesians 5:2.)
The High Priestly Garments
The veil of the glory of God has now been lifted off of Jesus. As our High Priest, He has now put back on His garments of glory and beauty. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death…” (RSV). God the Father has exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name. At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Messiah Jesus is Lord (see Phil. 2:10-11).
The Perfect Priest
For unlike the Old Covenant High Priest, Jesus lives forever. Since He lives forever, He is always there to remind God the Father that He has paid for our sins with His own blood. Therefore, He is exactly the kind of High Priest we need. He is not going to have a heart attack. He’s not going to die and have to be replaced. For God the Father has given Him the place of glory and honor in heaven.
Jesus now ministers before God the Father as the holy and righteous representative of all His covenant children. He constantly bears our name on His shoulders and over His heart in the very throne room of God. He ministers there on our behalf as the perfect mediator we need. Therefore, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (see Phil. 4:13). We confess our sins in His name and know He has forgiven us (see 1 John 1:9). Because our names are sealed on His shoulders and over His heart, He is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (see Jude 24). God accepts us in our High Priest.
Therefore, when Jesus died, the veil in the Temple that hid the glory of God from the face of the people was split down the middle. You see, it was no longer needed because the New Covenant had been cut at the cross. Jesus, through His blood, has carried us to “Father’s house.” Now we all may walk right into the heavenly Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus. We may pray directly to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Holy Spirit.
All believers in the Lord Jesus are now ministering priests of the Most High God. Speaking of this priesthood of the believer, Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 RSV).
The High Priest on the Throne
When Jesus sprinkled His blood on the Mercy Seat, He did something that the Old Covenant High Priest could not do. He sat down on the throne. (See Ephesians 1:20; Revelation 3:21; 21:5; Acts 2:30.) The High Priest is on the throne because His work is complete. Looking ahead to this time, the prophet Zechariah wrote, “He shall build the temple of the Lord, and He shall fill it with splendor; He shall sit and rule upon His throne, and He shall be priest on His throne, and a perfect union will reign between the two (offices)” (Zech. 6:13 MLB).
Just as sure as the Mercy Seat was on the Ark of the Covenant, Jesus is on the throne of God. There He represents us before God the Father. He is the High Priest of all who have personally accepted Him as their sin offering.
All humanity must stand before God in the heavenly courtroom of eternity. And the only evidence presented for the will to be executed is the blood of Jesus. If you have appropriated His blood, He will be your advocate before God the Father. The blood of Jesus will cry out on your behalf, “holiness unto the Lord.” You will be accepted in your righteous High Priest. Then shall the King say unto you, “…Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34 KJV).