Exodus 28 What (Not) To Wear

Who cares how we dress? Does God? Why does it matter? What does He want to accomplish? How should a priest look, anyway? “Read More” to pursue answers.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Exodus 28:1-43

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.

I suspect that if I was doing this study a year or two ago, I would have focused on the spiritual significance of all these clothes:

a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle

But, that’s not what the text says! The text says (NIV):

Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honor.

The KJV is even more blunt: “beauty;” God is redressing Aaron because… He wants him to have clothes that look good? Amazing!

To be sure, I don’t think this means that God (merely) wants to turn priests into fashion plates. Yet, neither do I think God dismisses how we look and dress as unimportant. Rather, I think God understands that clothing plays a valuable role in communicating who we are to others — and ourselves! Yes, there’s lots of important symbolism in him wearing two stones with the twelve tribes:

And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

and there’s functional as well as spiritual implications to carrying the instruments of judgement near his heart:

And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the
judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

plus, like with everything else, we must never forget that the way we dress must ultimately glorify God, not (merely?) ourselves:

And thou shalt make a plate [of] pure gold, and grave upon it, [like] the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

But, let us not use those trees as an excuse to overlook the forest, i.e. the fact that God is giving Aaron a wardrobe makeover in order to:

* honor him
* distinguish the priesthood
* glorify him to the population
* support the functions he is called to do

May I be so well dressed!


God, forgive for the times I’ve despised my own body and clothing, and failed to receive the honor you long to give me, and show me — and thus failed to properly honor myself, those I represented, and those I relate to. Teach me what it means to be set apart for (and with) glory and beauty, dignity and honor – in my wardrobe and grooming as well as my words and deeds. Teach me to honor my wife as you honored Aaron, to bless and cover her body, mind, and soul. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is homage to the TV show which taught (and is teaching) me the transformational power of clothing: TLC’s What Not To Wear. Clinton and Stacy do not merely change the way people dress, or even how they think about clothes; they change how people think about themselves, as well as how other people relate to them. The most impressive aspect is how the ‘fashion victims’ start out really angry at their hosts, only to fall in love with them by the end. The only downside is that after watching that show, I’m no longer fashion-challenged enough to be on the (also improbably transformational) Beauty and the Geek