Common or Consecrated?
(Ezekiel 40:1-49; 41:1-26; 42:1-20; 43:1-27; 44:1-3)
Artwork from Bibliotheque Nationale de France
Around 570 years before the birth of Christ, the Lord gave His Old Testament prophet Ezekiel an amazing vision of His Great Temple. Included in the extremely detailed description is a set of specific instructions for priestly conduct and clothing.
Then he said to me,
"The north and south rooms facing the temple courtyard are the priests' rooms, where the priests who approach the LORD will eat the most holy offerings. There they will put the most holy offerings—the grain offerings, the sin offerings and the guilt offerings—for the place is holy.
Once the priests enter the holy precincts, they are not to go into the outer court until they leave behind the garments in which they minister, for these are holy. They are to put on other clothes before they go near the places that are for the people."
(Ezekiel 42:13-14, NIV, emphasis added)
Are you as intrigued by these instructions as I am? Why would the Lord care so deeply about the attire of the priests?
Perhaps it is not the apparel itself that is of concern. The main issue seems to be consecration (or set-apartness) of the priestly garb. God wanted the priests to wear clean, pure and holy clothing for ministering in His Presence, rather than their everyday outfits. The garments in which the priests mingled with the masses were apparently not acceptable for serving in the Lord’s own company.
How often might we mingle the righteous and the rough, the sacred and the sinful, the consecrated and the common?
In our church, even the pastors often wear blue jeans to church, although for centuries clergy wore fancy robes to minister. Some ordained leaders don neckties or even clerical collars for serving in the Lord’s house. Others choose to participate and lead in sportswear or even athletic attire. Is this wrong?
And what about the apparel worn by those in the choir – or the congregation at large?
What apparel is appropriate for holy service? Do fashions figure into fully acceptable worship of the Lord?
Is clothing really the issue here? In what other ways might we inadvertently mix unholy and holy matters? How might we best prepare ourselves to praise and honor the Lord aright?
Of course, the Lord promises to clothe His people with His own “garments of salvation” and “robes of righteousness” (see Isaiah 61:10) to live forever in His Presence. May it be ever so.
Will you pray with me?
We long to honor You.
Reveal to us
Any areas of our lives
Where we have allowed
Our holy worship of You –
Make us pure,
Even as You are pure.
Make our motives mindful of the Master,
And clothe us in Your own righteousness.