Holiness: Garments of Worship
“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:16).
A Royal Priesthood
Peter quotes Exodus 19:4-5 (“‘You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you will be My treasured possession out of all the nations—for the whole earth is Mine…”) when he tells the people in 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.” We are to be priests before God, bringing our sacrifices to His altar. But we cannot come to God just any old way: we must come before Him set-apart—holy. If we must all come before God holy and clean, then, being priests, our example is to look at the Aaronic priesthood. “They served in a sanctuary that was a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’” (Hebrews 8:5). When we realize that our place of worship, be it individual or congregational, represents the heavenly sanctuary of God, then we need to be properly dressed. We start by being clean. The sanctuary was all about cleanliness and holiness. The Laver was in the outer court and the priests would wash themselves. We also must come before God clean by repenting of our sins and being washed in the blood of Yeshua/Jesus.
Garments of Splendor
As priests, we too must put on holy garments. God tells Moses in Exodus 28:2, “You are to make for your brother Aaron (the High Priest) garments set apart for serving God, expressing dignity and splendor.” This word “splendor” in Hebrew means beauty. The same root of the word is found in Isaiah 61:10, “I will rejoice [delight] greatly in the Lord; all that I am [my soul] rejoices [exults] in my God. He has covered me with clothes [garments] of salvation and wrapped me with a coat [robe] of goodness [righteousness], like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding [or who adorns himself with a headdress like a priest], like a bride dressed in [adorns herself with] jewels.” Here we have a picture of the Bridegroom beautifully dressed. What a great picture of the Bridegroom serving his bride in their little house, the Tabernacle of God. We too must put on these holy garments, the garments of praise. Isaiah speaks of this in Isaiah 61:3, “Provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Once again, we see this beautiful picture of God’s people dressed in splendor. These garments added beauty to the sanctuary. These garments also had the finest embroidery and stitch work, detailed weaving, and handiwork. But what also added to the beauty were the colors. The colors of the sanctuary were the same colors of the priestly garments. We are going to look at these colors and what they symbolized.
Gold: Gold is the purest metal and is often used in connection with royalty. This showed that the priesthood was a royal priesthood.
Blue: The sky blue color in Hebrew is called techelet. Blue was to represent heaven. It is also the same color as the tzitzit (the cords which are worn on the four corners of the garments). The priest’s robe was made of this blue. So like the tzitzit, it is a reminder to follow Torah; the priest’s robe was like one big tzitzit to remind the people to follow Torah. Now this blue was made from the blood of the chilazon. The chilazon was a Mediterranean snail. It was very rare. It took 12,000 snails to produce 1.4 grams of dye.
Scarlet: Scarlet is a color to remind us of our human nature. The high priest then represented mankind. The crimson color was produced by a worm called the crimson worm. The crimson red was called tola’at shani.
Purple: Purple was a combination of the blue and scarlet. Again, because of the difficulty in making this color, it was a sign of royalty. This dark red color which resembled purple was called argaman.
White: White represents purity; it’s on this basis that we come to God.
The Armor of God
We see many of the garments of the priesthood in the armor of God: the head piece, the breastplate, the sash. Ephesians 6:14-17, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”
On our headpiece we have the name of Yeshua written. It is by His name that we enter into prayer, and it is by His blood that we draw near. He is our righteousness that we robe ourselves in, and when we enter into prayer, just like the High Priest that entered into the Holy of Holies with the incense from the altar, we join with God as one, and God hears us and runs to our aid and together we defeat the enemy of our soul.
Time to Wash Our Garments
But we must maintain clean garments. This is what is written to the church in Revelation 3:3-5, “Remember, then, what you have received and heard. Keep it and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know the hour when I will come upon you. But you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments, and because they are worthy, they will walk with Me in white. Like them, the one who is victorious will be clothed in white garments. And I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.”
And again in Revelation 19:7-9, “Let us rejoice and celebrate and give Him the glory. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. She was given clothing of fine linen, linen bright and pure. For the fine linen she wears is the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel told me to write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’” If we are to bring a continual sacrifice of praise to God through our daily lives, then we must stay in a state of holiness. How about you? Are your garments white? Are you walking in holiness or self-righteousness? The Bible tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are right before God. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Messiah Yeshua is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). “You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Today, lift up your holy hands and put on the oil of gladness. Wash your garments in the blood of Yeshua, repentant and completely surrendered and praising the Creator of all things. Bring the fruit of your lips. Let us long for the day when our Messiah will return. He will dwell with us as we dwell with Him in the Temple of our God. We will minister to Him in His Temple, the Body of Messiah, in garments of glory, garments of splendor, garments of beauty.