And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the
gates of the inner court
The priests before described; when they enter the right way into a true Gospel church, consisting of such who are internally renewed, and have an inward work of grace upon their hearts, and are inward court worshippers; either as private Christians, to pray together, to praise the Lord, to hear his word, and sit down at his table; or as public ministers, to preach the Gospel, and administer ordinances: they shall be clothed with linen garments;
meaning not the outward conversation garments of the Lord's people; nor their inward garment of sanctification; but the robe of Christ's righteousness, and garments of salvation; that fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints; and which, though but one, serves for many; and answers not only all the purposes of a garment, but even of many, of change of raiment: like a garment, it is on, and not in, the saints; it is put upon them by imputation; and, like a garment, it covers them, protects them from all injuries, keeps them warm and comfortable, and beautifies and adorns them; and is compared to linen for its whiteness and purity; see ( Revelation 3:18 ) ( 19:8 ) and in this all the people of God, ministers and private Christians, perform all their services in the house of God; making mention of this, and of this only, whereby they become acceptable unto God, ( Psalms 71:16 ) ( Ephesians 1:6 ) : and no wool shall come upon them, while they minister in the gates of
the inner court, and within;
it is certain that the priests under the law had wool upon them in the time of their ministry; for the purple, blue, and scarlet, as the Jewish writers F11 observe, were all of them dyed wool; of which, with other things, the girdle common to all the priests, and the ephod and breast plate of the high priest, were made, ( Exodus 28:5 Exodus 28:6 Exodus 28:8 Exodus 28:15 ) , and which they wore in their common service: to the Jews in general it was not lawful to wear a garment of linen and woollen, ( Leviticus 19:19 ) ( Deuteronomy 22:11 ) and therefore, as Josephus says F12, to the priests only it was allowed to wear such a garment; and it is common with the Jewish doctors F13 to observe, that
``the priests were not clothed to minister in the temple but with wool and linen;''indeed, on the day of atonement, the high priest, when he went into the holiest of all, had only linen garments on him; and of the service of this day Jarchi interprets the text; but Kimchi rightly objects, that the holiest of all cannot be called a court; and besides, it is said in the plural number, they shall be clothed, and minister;
whereas only the high priest went into the most holy place; and therefore he truly observes, that this is a new thing to be done in future times: and this is true of the spiritual priesthood of saints and ministers of the Gospel, who are to have no wool upon them in their ministrations, whether in a more private or public way; who are, and should profess to be, justified by the righteousness of Christ only, without any works of their own to be joined with it; which to do is unnecessary, indecent, and dangerous: wool is observed to be the clothing of brute beasts, and therefore not a fit emblem of the clothing of saints; and likewise of such as are most slow, and sluggish, and inactive F14, and so an emblem of sloth; and which ought not to be in any of the people of God, and especially in ministers, who of all men should not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. It may be further observed, that clothes made of wool are heavy, and render unfit for business, and cause sweat, which is offensive; and which seems to be a reason, ( Ezekiel 44:18 ) , why wool should not be upon them, only linen garments wore by them; that they might be more quick and expeditious in the dispatch of business, and avoid everything that gives offence, that the ministry may not be blamed: woollen clothes are also liable to moths, and worms, and to contract filth; and may signify that the priests of the Lord should be clear of carnal and sensual lusts; these should not be upon them, or they under the predominance of them, and particularly avarice; they should feed the flock, and not fleece it and clothe themselves with the wool of it, ( Ezekiel 34:2 Ezekiel 34:3 ) . The phrase, "and within", or "in the house", seems to denote some place distinct from the inner court, even the more inmost place of the temple, the holy of holies; which signifies heaven itself, into which only the high priest entered once a year, typical of Christ's entering into heaven; and who has opened a way, and given all his people, who are priests unto God, boldness to enter there also by prayer, in the exercise of faith and hope; and which service they perform in the righteousness of Christ, and that only; see ( Hebrews 9:8 ) ( Hebrews 10:19 Hebrews 10:20 ) ( 6:20 ) ( Daniel 9:18 ) .
F11 Jarchi and Aben Ezra in Exod. xxv. 4.
F12 Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 11.
F13 Misna Kilaim, c. 9. sect. 1. Maimon. Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 12.
F14 "Lana segnissimi corporis excrementum est et prophanus vestitus, itaque lanea vestis videtur desidiam, et segnitiem indicare", Apuleius.