1. GOD CHOOSES
a. Which tribe was charged with the care of the sanctuary? Numbers 1:50–53. For what reasons did God bypass the tribe of Reuben and choose Levi as His firstborn son? Genesis 49:3, 4.
“In the earliest times every man was the priest of his own household. In the days of Abraham the priesthood was regarded as the birthright of the eldest son. Now, instead of the firstborn of all Israel, the Lord accepted the tribe of Levi for the work of the sanctuary. By this signal honor He manifested His approval of their fidelity, both in adhering to His service and in executing His judgments when Israel apostatized in the worship of the golden calf.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 350.
“[Jacob] pictured what should have been the position of Reuben as the firstborn son; but his grievous sin at Edar had made him unworthy of the birthright blessing.”—Ibid., p. 235.
b. Which Levi family was set apart for the priesthood? Exodus 28:1; Numbers 18:1, 6, 7.
“The priesthood, however, was restricted to the family of Aaron. Aaron and his sons alone were permitted to minister before the Lord; the rest of the tribe were entrusted with the charge of the tabernacle and its furniture, and they were to attend upon the priests in their ministration, but they were not to sacrifice, to burn incense, or to see the holy things till they were covered.”—Ibid., p. 350.
2. PRIESTLY GARMENTS – I
a. Specify the main parts of the high priest’s dress. Exodus 28:2–4.
“The garments of the high priest were of costly material and beautiful workmanship, befitting his exalted station. In addition to the linen dress of the common priest, he wore a robe of blue, also woven in one piece. Around the skirt it was ornamented with golden bells, and pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 350, 351.
b. The ephod: Exodus 28:6, 9, 10.
“Outside of [the robe of blue] was the ephod, a shorter garment of gold, blue, purple, scarlet, and white. It was confined by a girdle of the same colors, beautifully wrought. The ephod was sleeveless, and on its gold-embroidered shoulder pieces were set two onyx stones, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.”—Ibid., p. 351.
c. The breastplate: Exodus 28:29.
“Over the ephod was the breastplate, the most sacred of the priestly vestments. This was of the same material as the ephod. It was in the form of a square, measuring a span, and was suspended from the shoulders by a cord of blue from golden rings. The border was formed of a variety of precious stones, the same that form the twelve foundations of the City of God. Within the border were twelve stones set in gold, arranged in rows of four, and, like those in the shoulder pieces, engraved with the names of the tribes. The Lord’s direction was, ‘Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually’ (Exodus 28:29). So Christ, the great High Priest, pleading His blood before the Father in the sinner’s behalf, bears upon His heart the name of every repentant, believing soul.”—Ibid.
3. PRIESTLY GARMENTS – II
a. What were the Urim and Thummim? Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8.
“At the right and left of the breastplate were set two larger stones, which shone with great brilliancy. When difficult matters were brought to the judges, which they could not decide, they were referred to the priests, and they inquired of God, who answered them. If He favored, and if He would grant them success, a halo of light and glory especially rested upon the precious stone at the right. If he disapproved, a vapor or cloud seemed to settle upon the precious stone at the left hand. When they inquired of God in regard to going to battle, the precious stone at the right, when circled with light, said, Go, and prosper. The stone at the left, when shadowed with a cloud, said, Thou shalt not go; thou shalt not prosper.”—The Story of Redemption, pp. 183, 184.
b. Describe the miter of the high priest. Exodus 28:39; 39:28.
“The miter of the high priest consisted of the white linen turban, having attached to it by a lace of blue, a gold plate bearing the inscription, ‘Holiness to Jehovah.’”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 351.
c. Describe the garments of the common priests. Leviticus 6:10.
“The robe of the common priest was of white linen and woven in one piece. It extended nearly to the feet and was confined about the waist by a white linen girdle embroidered in blue, purple, and red. A linen turban, or miter, completed his outer costume. Moses at the burning bush was directed to put off his sandals, for the ground whereon he stood was holy. So the priests were not to enter the sanctuary with shoes upon their feet.”—Ibid., p. 350.
d. What effect was the dress of the priests and their deportment to have upon the people?
“Everything connected with the apparel and deportment of the priests was to be such as to impress the beholder with a sense of the holiness of God, the sacredness of His worship, and the purity required of those who came into His presence.”—Ibid., p. 351.
4. ADEQUATE COVERING AND REVERENT ATTITUDE
a. How careful were the priests to cover their nakedness when coming before the Lord? Exodus 20:26. What about the angels? Isaiah 6:1, 2.
b. What did Isaiah the prophet think of himself when he had a vision of God sitting upon His throne in the temple in heaven? Isaiah 6:5. How should we apply this insightful experience to ourselves?
“Isaiah had denounced the sin of others; but now he sees himself exposed to the same condemnation he had pronounced upon them. He had been satisfied with a cold, lifeless ceremony in his worship of God. He had not known this until the vision was given him of the Lord. How little now appeared his wisdom and talents as he looked upon the sacredness and majesty of the sanctuary. How unworthy he was! how unfitted for sacred service! . . .
“The vision given to Isaiah represents the condition of God’s people in the last days. They are privileged to see by faith the work that is going forward in the heavenly sanctuary. ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament’ (Revelation 11:19). As they look by faith into the holy of holies and see the work of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, they perceive that they are a people of unclean lips—a people whose lips have often spoken vanity and whose talents have not been sanctified and employed to the glory of God. Well may they despair as they contrast their own weakness and unworthiness with the purity and loveliness of the glorious character of Christ. But if they, like Isaiah, will receive the impression the Lord designs shall be made upon the heart, if they will humble their souls before God, there is hope for them. The bow of promise is above the throne, and the work done for Isaiah will be performed in them. God will respond to the petitions coming from the contrite heart.”—The Review and Herald, December 22, 1896.
“Isaiah had a wonderful view of God’s glory. He saw the manifestation of God’s power, and after beholding His majesty, a message came to him to go and do a certain work. He felt wholly unworthy for the work. What made him esteem himself unworthy? Did he think himself unworthy before he had a view of God’s glory?—No; he imagined himself in a righteous state before God; but when the glory of the Lord of hosts was revealed to him, when he beheld the inexpressible majesty of God, he said, ‘I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips’ (Isaiah 6:5).”—Ibid., June 4, 1889.
5. ISAIAH’S MISSION—AND OURS
a. How does the vision of Isaiah chapter 6 apply today? Romans 15:4. Where should our hope be anchored? Hebrews 6:11, 19 (compare Hebrews 9:3).
“As humanity, with its weakness and deformity, was brought out in contrast with the perfection of divine holiness and light and glory, [the prophet Isaiah] felt altogether inefficient and unworthy. How could he go and speak to the people the holy requirements of Jehovah, who was high and lifted up, and whose train filled the temple?”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 4, p. 1140.
b. What comforting assurance given to a humbled Isaiah is likewise offered today to every believer? Isaiah 6:5–7.
“Pray that your lips may be touched with a live coal from the divine altar, that you may speak only pure, Christlike words, and that you may see that it is a sin to speak harshly and unadvisedly.”—The Review and Herald, January 14, 1904.
“When you place yourselves where you should be in order to hear the voice of God, you will come before Him every day, saying, ‘Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.’ ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ (1 Samuel 3:9; Acts 9:6). And the Lord will give you a burden for souls and will touch your lips as He did those of Isaiah, with a live coal from off His altar.”—General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 20, 1891.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Which of the twelve tribes was put in charge of the sanctuary? Why?
2. Describe the garments of the high priest.
3. Describe the garments of the common priests and explain what effect their dress, and especially their deportment, was to have upon the people.
4. What should we learn from the reverent attitude and adequate covering of priests and angels in the presence of the Lord?
5. In what sense does the vision of Isaiah (6:1–7) have a special application for us living in the era of self-righteous Laodicea?