Dressed Up for God
The craftsmen made beautiful sacred garments of blue, purple, and scarlet cloth—clothing for Aaron to wear while ministering in the Holy Place, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
The bulk of Exodus 39 describes the making of the sacred garments for the High Priest. Aaron and his successors were to wear these vestments “while ministering in the Holy Place” (39:1). Remember that the Holy Place was completely screened from observation by thick curtains. This means that the elegant priestly garments would be seen, not primarily by the people of Israel, if they saw them at all. Rather, the vestments would be visible to the High Priest and to the Lord.
I wonder why God would care what the High Priest wore in the Holy Place. It’s true, is it not, that the Lord looks upon the heart, not on the outward appearance. Perhaps the main point of the priestly attire wasn’t so much to impress the Lord as to help the priest take his role seriously. In the end, we really don’t know exactly why God wanted the High Priest to dress as he did.
The issue of what we wear when we come before the Lord in worship continues to be a contentious one, even in churches that pride themselves on their casual attire. Casualness, especially of a certain culturally acceptable sort, becomes a kind of uniform. Just try wearing the wrong sort of clothes to a church service, dressing either too formally or too casually, and see what happens. We don’t advocate official shunning anymore, but we can do it when people don’t dress in the appropriate manner.
God does care about what we wear as his beloved, chosen people. But his sense of “clothing” differs from what we might think. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians we read, “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (3:12). A couple of verses later Paul adds, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony” (3:14). If we want to dress in a way that really pleases God, then we’ll focus more on how we treat each other than on the literal clothes we wear.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever experienced conflict over the question of what clothing is appropriate in church? If you took seriously the injunctions of Colossians 3:12 and 14, how might this change the way you think about dressing up for God? Many workplaces have dress codes. Do you think what you wear affects your work environment or your productivity?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, the issue of the High Priest’s garments reminds me that you care about what I wear, not so much in literal sense, though I should dress in a way that is edifying to others, but in the sense of putting on mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and love. These are the clothes that honor you. This is what I should “wear” when I worship you, whether in Sunday gatherings with your people, or when I’m serving you in my daily life.
Help me, dear Lord, to be appropriately “dressed” for your service. May I live this day with Christ-like love, so that my appearance is pleasing to you. Amen.