As part of the armor of God, Paul instructs us to put on the “breastplate of righteousness.” I think we can get a full picture of what that means by looking at the other uses of “breastplate” in the Bible. First of all we have the “breastplate of judgment.” In Exodus 28, God instructs Israel on how to create the breastplate. It is to be constructed out of “gold, violet-purple, red-purple and crimson materials and finely woven linen” (28:15). On it were attached 12 precious stones: Sardis, topaz, emerald, sapphire, diamond, opal, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper. On each stone was engraved the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Aaron, and every High Priest after him, was to wear this breastplate of judgment over his chest as he conducted his business in the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the presence of God. What this means is then explained in verse 30, “Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.” As our one and only final high priest, Jesus Christ, bore our sins on his heart upon the cross and then entered into the present of God on our behalf. Maclaren puts it this way, “the first step in the intercession of our great High Priest is the presenting before God for ever and ever that great fact that He, the Sinless, has died for the love of sinful men, and thereby has secured that the judgment of Heaven on them shall now be ‘no condemnation.’” This establishes for us the basis of our hope in Christ. He took our sins upon himself as our substitute just as the chief priest did for the children of Israel. It’s the assurance that all who trust in Him are acquitted by the courts of heaven.

There’s another aspect of the breastplate of judgment that’s worth noticing. It’s the fact that our names are not inscribed on pieces of bone, rocks, or scraps of leather, wood or stone. They are engraved upon the most precious of gems known to man. Maclaren elaborates on this fact: “Precious in the eyes of Christ are the souls for whom He has given so much. They are not only precious, but lustrous, flashing back the light in various colors indeed, according to their various laws of crystallization, but all receptive of it and all reflective of it.” Christ’s work on our behalf does not end with acquittal. All those whom He has justified by faith, He also glorified! Maclaren continues, “…be sure that mere forgiveness and acquittal is the least of the blessings which He intends to give, and that He will not be satisfied until in all our nature we receive and flash back the light of His own glory.”