And Aaron shall bear their names
before the LORD
on his shoulders
Two onyx stones, enclosed in settings of gold filigree, each having 6 names of the sons of Israel engraved on them, in order of their birth. Aaron was to bear these before the LORD on his shoulders… for remembrance. I was asking the LORD who this was for. He wanted their names facing upward, toward Him. And why? Who needed to remember? He doesn’t forget His sons and daughters.
As I’ve been happily plodding through these chapters in Exodus, transcribing for myself all the detail of the constructing of the tabernacle and now the priestly garments, I’m amazed over and over again by the specificity of the instructions God gave to Moses. But this particular detail, these stones of remembrance… my heart is struck by the tenderness of God toward the sons of Israel.
Aaron bore their names before the LORD. This was God’s idea; His instruction. How highly personal. As Aaron would move about within the tabernacle, performing his priestly duties, those names would be in “view of God.” The LORD would “see” them… always.
The names were on Aaron’s shoulders, facing upward. He was literally bearing them on his shoulders. Visions of a shepherd carrying a lamb come to mind. Or the command to bear one another’s burdens… the part we play in each other’s lives so that we are not solely burdened with the full weight of our cares.
And finally, the names were before the LORD, on Aaron’s shoulders… for remembrance. For all that has been pondered about this over millennia, here is the life-giving thought for me this morning: As God peers “down” He sees His children, not in mass but singularly, recognizing each of us by name. He sees us as we carry the burdens of one another; as we carry “upon our shoulders” the names of those who would be driven to the ground were they to have to bear them alone.
I have many stones of remembrance on my shoulders this morning, facing upward so God can “see.” I have loved ones laden with cares who I bring before Him. Their names are engraved on the stones. As I slip into my priestly garments, in view of the Living God, I praise Him with renewed passion and vigor. God sees. God knows. God acts. The LORD has asked that I bear their names before Him, on my shoulders… for remembrance.