“They made the onyx stones, enclosed in settings of gold filigree, and engraved like the engravings of a signet, according to the names of the sons of Israel. And he set them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod to be stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
“He made the breastpiece, in skilled work, in the style of the ephod, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. It was square. They made the breastpiece doubled, a span its length and a span its breadth when doubled. And they set in it four rows of stones. A row of sardius, topaz, and carbuncle was the first row; and the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; and the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They were enclosed in settings of gold filigree. There were twelve stones with their names according to the names of the sons of Israel. They were like signets, each engraved with its name, for the twelve tribes…
“Thus they attached it in front to the shoulder pieces of the ephod… And they bound the breastpiece by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, so that it should lie on the skillfully woven band of the ephod, and that the breastpiece should not come loose from the ephod, as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Exodus 39:6-14,18b,21
There was no part of the adornment of Israel’s priests that had not significance. He was called and anointed to serve all people of Israel, without favoritism, a priest for every tribe, and his dress represented each one with deliberate care and beauty. His shoulder pieces held twelve stones of remembrance, and attached to those pieces was an intricate breastpiece bearing jewels assigned to each tribe over his heart. What a loving picture of our Great High Priest!
Jesus, who upholds the government of the world on His shoulders, also personally holds each one of His children close to His heart. Just as the shoulder joint is a remarkable combination of strength and flexibility with a wide range of motion, His arm is mighty, able to save and to bear all our burdens. As our great High Priest, He has carried the weight of our sins and their penalty to the cross, sustains all who are saved in everlasting life, and reigns ready with mercy and grace to help in our times of need. (Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 9:6; 59:1; Zephaniah 3:17; Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:24-27)
What rocks our security today? World events, health crises, personal fears? What heavy load are we trying to carry alone? Are there circumstances that have left us reeling in loneliness, sorrow from betrayal, a feeling of failure or worthlessness? Consider the shoulders of our Great High Priest. Drawing near to His throne of grace, and welcoming His ministry of atonement and redemption, will readjust our thinking. He remembers and upholds and intercedes for us by name. This Lord, who is faithful to His promises, offers confidence, full assurance of faith, and unwavering hope through His priesthood. (John 10:3; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 10:19-23)
Eternal God and Great High Priest, impart to me faith and stability to live on Your strong shoulders, upheld by Your everlasting arms, showing forth Your excellencies. (Deuteronomy 33:27)