Several times in Exodus Twenty Eight, God says that the sons of Israel (Jacob) are to be memorialized within the design of the priestly garments. This is so interesting.
First of all, when Jacob was younger, he bribes his brother Esau to sell him his birthright for a simple bowl of stew (Genesis 25). Later, he deceives his father Isaac (with the help of his mother) and steals the blessing that rightfully belonged to his brother (Genesis 27).
Jacob’s wives (Leah and Rachel) are in constant turmoil over his affection/favor, causing four of his sons to be born to his wive’s servants (Genesis 30).
Two of Jacob’s sons trick an entire community of men into circumcising themselves and then immediately slaughter them, carry off their women and children, and steal their homes and possessions. (Genesis 34)
Years later, Jacob’s sons (the same ones who are memorialized in the priestly garments) nearly kill their brother Joseph and then sell him into slavery, lying to their father about what really happened (Genesis 37).
Here’s the thing. There’s no less corruption – no fewer poor choices – in Israel’s life and family than in any of ours. Still, God blesses Israel with the same blessing he gave to Abraham. He offers forgiveness time and time and time and time again. And even saves Egypt from famine through Israel’s son Joseph, and sends Jesus through the line of Israel’s son Judah.
It’s so interesting that God chooses to memorialize Israel’s imperfect sons in such a profound way, when setting the guidelines for the priestly garments in Exodus Twenty Eight. And it’s a great reminder of the unconditional love he has for his sons and daughters…for us.
There’s nothing we can do to destroy our heritage as God’s children. Just as he stood by Israel and his sons, he stands by us. Just as they were precious, despite their failures, so are we. There’s nothing we can do to disappoint him so much that we lose his love. There’s nothing we can do to undo his purpose for us. There’s so much we do to deserve punishment, but there’s nothing we can do to undo the eternal forgiveness provided through Jesus’ death and resurrection. He loves us so much and will never forget us.