The Girdle

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 8
IT has been before observed, that " the curious girdle of the ephod" was not a girdle in the ordinary sense of the word, (see page 200.) The true girdle, (avneht,) is here described. The Hebrew word is exclusively used for this inner girdle, and that of the high priest on the day of atonement, and for the girdles of the priests; except in one other instance, Isa. 22:2121And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. (Isaiah 22:21), where Eliakim is to be clothed with Shebna's robe, (coat,) and strengthened with his girdle.
The use in this passage of the two parts of the priestly dress, coat, and girdle, may intimate, that the treasurer and ruler of David's house stood in a kind of priestly capacity: and may afford another instance of the frequent incidental allusions in Scripture to the future glory of the Lord Jesus; who will combine with His office of Priest, that of King, Lord, Treasurer, Governor, and Ruler.
This girdle was made of the same materials as those of the vail; but the order of their arrangement was that of the innermost curtains of the tabernacle, viz. fine linen, blue, purple, scarlet."
The fine linen, type of righteousness comes first, answering to that beautiful passage in Isa. 11:55And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Isaiah 11:5).
Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, acid faithfulness, the girdle of his -reins." Righteousness and faithfulness which the Lord Jesus has made perfectly manifest, and proved to the utmost in His death upon the cross. Faithfulness is the same word as truth.
The object of the girdle was to strengthen the loins for service. And the high priest, beneath his outward garments of majesty, glory, brilliancy, and power, still preserved his place, as the girded righteous servant of the Lord. So the Lord Jesus upon the throne of glory, having all power in heaven and in earth, and with the name above every name, yet delights to maintain His place as God's servant, fulfilling the Father's counsels, and accomplishing His will in the salvation and ultimate perfection of those that are His.
We have in John 13 a striking illustration of our blessed Lord's holy service; deeply instructive to us in two ways; first, as teaching us what His present occupations are in our behalf, and next, as giving us an example which we have to follow, if we would taste of His happiness and joy.
The chapter opens with these words: " Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come, that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."
The cross was thus before Him, that strange pathway of sorrow by which He was to depart out of this world unto the Father. The joy was before Him of being with the Father; but His love, unshaken by the fearful prospect of woe, or by the joyous hope of unspeakable rest and gladness, abode firm in His bosom towards His own. " He loved them unto the end." Faithfulness of true affection for them, and true devotedness to God, was the girdle of His loins.
" And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, And laid aside his garments; And took a towel, And girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a basin, And began to wash the disciples' feet, And to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded."
The supper which afforded emblems of His broken body and shed blood, was still before them. The devil had now full mastery of the heart of Judas. Thus in figure the Cross was passed. Satan had accomplished his purpose. Jesus took His stand as one who had gained the victory. He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands., All power in heaven and earth was His. He had come from God, and He was going to God. " He had come forth from the Father and had come into the world; again, He was about to leave the world and to return to the Father."-John 16:2828I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. (John 16:28).
Here is the true power for lowly service. The consciousness of a height of glory and exaltation beyond all mere human reach; and the knowledge that God is the strength, as well as the object of all service.
We have next a picture of the perfection of service, a seven-fold action of the Lord.
" He riseth from supper." He ceases to rest in the interchange only of thought and feeling in fellowship with " His own." He stands as one who has a work to accomplish.
" And laid aside his garments." He divests Himself of any robe of dignity that might impede his lowly and active ministry.
" And took a towel," or linen cloth. The girdle of righteousness; the righteousness of true obedience to God.
" And girded himself." Thus standing before His disciples and before His Father as the true servant. delighting in His Father's will, and rejoicing in His purpose to bless others.
" After that he poureth water into a basin." The words " after that" may be significant. The first part of this wonderful scene may be typical of the deep and blessed service of Christ on the cross, whereby He provided that cleansing which should not only purge the sinner so as to make a full atonement for him and justify him, but should also cleanse him and keep him clean on to the end of his course. The precious blood, in the shedding of which there is remission of sins, and which cleanseth us from all sin.
And began to wash the disciples' feet." They sat whilst the Lord stooped to wash even their feet. He bent down to their need, that He might cleanse away every stain of defilement which they had unavoidably. contracted, in passing through a world of sin and death. A priestly ministration this of the Lord in glory: keeping us from falling, upholding us by His living intercession. Daily and hourly cleansing us from ten thousand contacts with evil, of which we are not conscious, that He may finally present us faultless in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
" And to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded." Using the spotless girdle to wipe off all remaining traces of defilement, so as to complete the cleansing. In this action two thoughts are embodied. The cleansing power of the blood itself, and the application of it by the living High Priest, who though exalted in glory, still ministers to us in humble, lowly service.
It may here be remarked that the Lord uses two words subsequently, in answer to Peter. " He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet." That is, he who has been once completely washed all over, only needs afterward to have his feet washed, but is clean every whit.
The first words, " he that is washed," is the same as that in Rev. 1:55And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5). " Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood." Expressing the complete priestly cleansing, which the sinner first receives, making him at once clean for God. The subsequent cleansing having reference to his conduct and his ways, rather than to his person " So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet; for I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent, greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things happy are ye if ye do them." The question often occurs, how should this precept and example of our Lord and Master be carried out? One way in which we may wash one another's feet is by prayer and intercession for one another: especially where we know that the world and Satan are presenting snares and temptations, which may turn the feet aside into paths of defilement. " Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." Heb. 12:1515Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:15).
Another mode of fulfilling this direction of the Lord is by seeking to deliver any of the Lord's people, that may be ensnared, from the entanglements into which they may have fallen. But the example of the Lord must be accurately followed, when we attempt to deal with the failures of our brethren. Many have been fastened more firmly in that which is evil, through the proud and ungracious way in which they have been dealt with. Herein therefore this beautiful action of Christ is of great value. He divested Himself of all seeming superiority, though He was truly " Lord and Master." He stooped to the feet of those He washed. He did it calmly, gently, and effectually; and failed not to wipe the feet after He had washed them. In all this we have a pattern of meekness, grace, and compassion, which we should do well to imitate.
In John 17, Jesus takes the place by anticipation beyond the Cross. He speaks of His having glorified the Father on the earth, and having finished the work given Him to do. And says, " now I am no more in the world;" looking back to the time as passed when He was with His disciples in the world. This wonderful chapter especially reveals to us, the subjects of deepest interest to the heart of Christ, and of constant intercession between Him and the Father. It opens to us the holiest, and tells us what the converse is there between the Son and the Father; the High Priest, and God. We find the Lord still keeping His place as the righteous servant, rendering an account of His work, and asking to be glorified, in order that He may pursue the same object for which He came down to die, viz. to glorify the Father, " Glorify thy Son that thy Son also may glorify thee." He closes His prayer with the words, " I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them and I in them." He serves us still in making known to our souls the unspeakable value of the name, Father. And through the revelation of that name instructing our hearts in the Father's love towards us, as towards His own blessed Son.
The fine linen coat, and girdle of needlework, were as much garments for glory and beauty, as the gorgeous ephod with its breastplate of precious stones. Who shall estimate the glory and beauty of the Lord, as God's servant, who has glorified Him on earth and glorifies Him still? The glory and beauty of spotless righteousness and obedience, manifested to the full here below in every scene and circumstance of human life: perfected in the suffering of the cross in death, and now perpetuated forever in the holiest above.