The issue of clothing in the bible is hugely significant.
In Scripture, clothing can symbolise righteousness or unrighteousness.
The prophet Isaiah contrasted the two. He talks about God’s righteous robes in chapter 61 verse 10 “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.”
Later on he talks about garments that are distinctly ‘unrighteous’
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (Isaiah 64:6) In fact other versions describe them as ‘filthy rags’.
This theme crops up again and again in the bible. In the New Testament we encounter an interesting passage about a wedding feast. In Matthew 22:10 Jesus tells the parable of the marriage of the King’s son. The King sent his servants out to invite anyone they could find, the bad as well as the good, so that the wedding hall would be filled with guests. We then encounter a very interesting bit in the following 2 verses “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. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 22:11-12)
Doesn’t this all sound rather harsh? A man sent to hell for not wearing the right clothes?
And how is this relevant to our theme of Jesus in the Old Testament?
In verse 7 of Genesis 3 we read that following their rebellion against God, Adam and Eve realised that they were naked and so they attempted to sew fig leaves together and cover themselves. Have you ever seen a fig leaf? They would not be very comfortable to wear and difficult to sew. They symbolise mankind’s pathetic attempts to justify themselves. Our efforts at justifying ourselves are never good enough. We simply don’t realise the seriousness or consequences of our sin.
Our sin is so serious that the spilling of blood, a sacrifice is required. I wonder if God actually showed the killing of this innocent animal to provide the clothes He made. I am sure He wanted to show Adam and Eve the consequences of their actions. It is not mentioned in the bible, but I would not be surprised at all if the animal being sacrificed, to provide their fur, was a lamb.
This all points to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. He was the innocent sacrifice made in order to cover our sin and make us acceptable to God. The garments we have now been given are pure white and spotless, because we have been made righteous. We see this again and again in the book of Revelation when describing the saints of God.
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (Revelation 3:4-5)
The clothes you wear before God are crucial to your eternal standing. The equivalent to sewing fig leaves together is ‘filthy rags’ because they reveal our own pathetic efforts. If we trust in God and take on His clothing (trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus) our clothes are acceptable to God. I’ll leave you with some sobering verses later on in Revelation 3
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen. (Revelation 3:17–18)