11 As a jeweler engraves signets, so shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall enclose them in settings of gold filigree. 12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders for remembrance. Exodus 28:11-12
In Exodus 28:11, we read that the High Priest had the names of the tribes of Israel engraved on the stones that were set on the shoulder piece of the ephod. Then, in 28:30, the names were engraved on twelve stones set into the breast piece.
When someone is carrying a burden, we often talk about them having a lot on their shoulders. Similarly, when we are dealing with a particular pain or need, we often talk about something “weighing heavy on our heart.”
This hits me hard as a pastor, but since we are a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), it’s really a word for all of us. The needs and the names of our fellow church members ought to be heavy on our hearts. Their burdens ought to be the burdens we are shouldering. Romans 15:1-2 says
15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
“Bear with.” This doesn’t mean “put up with,” in some kind of eye-rolling, here-we-go-again kind of way. It means carry. Put their burdens on your your shoulders.
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak. Why? Because at one time we also were weak. Helpless. Ignorant, sinful. Dead in our transgressions.
And Someone carried our burden on His shoulders.
Galatians 6:2– Carry one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Philippians 1:7– It is right for me to feel this way about you, since I have you in (on) my heart.
Who’s names are heavy on your heart and shoulders this morning? Who’s burdens are you bearing?