Sometimes a certain verse or passage stands out and encourages us, challenges us, warns us. But there are other times when it seems as if God opens our eyes to see the big picture, to marvel at how all the passages we’ve been reading come together. Today is one of those days. Reading the passage from Isaiah 59-61, the images of clothing jump out at us. Isaiah 59 speaks to our sinful condition with no holding back. We are defiled, dirty, like spiders trying to weave webs around us but it doesn’t work as clothing (verse 6) Verses 16-17 speak of the LORD putting on garments of righteousness, salvation and vengeance, “wrapped in zeal as a cloak.” And Isaiah 61 is a beautiful passage about Jesus giving us NEW garments of praise (3), salvation and righteousness(10). There are many other references in the Bible to garments, clothing, covering:
Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. (Ps. 104:1)
In the beginning, Adam and Eve were naked and they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25) But they sinned against God. (Genesis 3)
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:7-9)
(We try to cover our spiritual nakedness, too, each with our own kind of garments. We try to hide from God, but God pursues us with His love, as He pursued Adam and Eve.)
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
(Adam and Eve used leaves to cover up; God sacrificed an animal, foreshadowing the Atonement of Christ, dying for our sins)
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; (Isaiah 64:6)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, (Isa. 61:10)
Because he is risen, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 13:14a)
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Ps. 30:11-12)
Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Do you remember the parable of the marriage feast (Matthew 22:1-14)? The invitation was thrown open to anybody who would come. But then Jesus says,
But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?” And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”
There will be many shocked church goers when the Lord comes, who think that they have responded to the Lord’s invitation to come to the banquet of heaven, but in fact have never really, with their hearts, entered his school to get ready. They walk in the door, as it were, when the bell rings, but they don’t listen to him. With their lips they honor him as the schoolmaster, but their hearts are far away. It’s as though they were not even there. When the Master says, “Change your clothes,” they adjust their collars or shine their shoes, or tuck in their shirts, but they won’t take off those cherished habits. They won’t strip away those old attitudes of racism, or the love of money, or the addiction to pornography. They want the hope of heaven, but they won’t dress for heaven. They won’t change their clothes. And Jesus says in the end on the graduation day, “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness.” He had never really enrolled with his heart. It was all a show.