And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment on his heart, when he goes in to the holy place…
History shall not be forgotten, deliverances shall be held in perpetual remembrance; marvels of the Lord wrought yesterday shall be as the marvels wrought in the present hour. Then there shall be a tenderer representation — the names shall be upon the heart. There shall be a ministry of love, a pleading of sympathy, an identification of the spirit of the man with all the difficulties and distresses of the people. Shoulder work: representing publicity, courage, strength, leadership — shoulders to which men may look as to strong towers; and then the delicate heart-work; the sweet sympathy, the paternal or fraternal interest in all that concerns the development, and culture, and completion of poor, shattered, struggling human life. It is nothing to bear upon the shoulder — that is a kind of burden-carrying, and there is a kind of applause immediately following the completion of any athletic task — but who can tell the heart-work of the true mediator or minister of the new covenant? A man who enters into this work with his whole soul must live a life of singular tension and agony, otherwise he is but a shatterer of words; only his shoulder engaged in the function; his heart is at liberty to run after any vanity and court the applause of any foolish idolatry. We must look at ideals; we must fasten our attention upon the thing as God meant it to be, and taking the Divine meaning of the priesthood in the olden time and of the ministry of to-day, we have amongst us men who care for us, men with strong shoulders, tower-like men; sturdy, visible, valiant, dauntless men; men who can speak in the darkness and make their voices heard in the storm; men who know not the cloud of fear and who heed not the tempest of opposition. But we need in the same men other qualities, tenderer elements, more gracious and insinuating forces that find their way into our inmost experience, into our heart's aching and sore necessity — men who are taught of Heaven to speak a word in season to him that is weary; men who have the gift of consolation, who can lower the voice into a tender and helpful whisper, and who can bring all God's gospel to bear in gracious and healing application upon the wound which makes the heart sore. This is the ideal. That we do not rise to it may be a rebuke to ourselves, but it is no just criticism upon the Divine purpose. It is an ideal we should do much to sustain. We cannot tell what we owe to the men who teach us great doctrines, who pray off many a burden that strains our strength; who speak to us, even between the lines of their eloquence, things that help us to bear life's misery with a more cheerful courage. We do not know what is being done by ministry of a truly Christian type, whether in the pulpit, or in the school, or in the family, or in the market-place. No man can measure the full issue and outgoing of influence connected with the profound agonistic service on behalf of truth and humanity.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.