Do Clothes Make the Man (or Woman)?
Whether or not we admit it, fashion is a part of all our lives. According to a 2010 study by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the average U.S. consumer spends approximately $1,700 a year on clothes (the global apparel market was worth $1.7 trillion in 2012). [ 1 ] If money speaks, American dollars are loudly proclaiming that what we wear does, in fact, matter.
Appearance mattered, even back in day of the prophet Samuel. When Samuel went to the house of Jesse to anoint Israel’s next king, he was taken in by appearances. Inspecting the elder brothers of the future King David, Samuel was impressed by their looks and thought that surely, the future king must be one of them. But he was wrong:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
No matter what a person wears, to the Almighty, haute couture is irrelevant. All are naked before the God of the universe. The Scriptures also tell us that each one of us has inherited a consciousness of wrongdoing, and that our good deeds can’t take that away. Even the prophet Isaiah used a clothing motif: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
If good deeds won’t cover up our faults, our style of dress (however impressive) certainly won’t. It began at creation. In the Garden of Eden, the first man and woman were literally naked before God and unashamed. But when they ate the forbidden fruit, something changed: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7).
The First “Fall” Fashion
Adam and Eve realized they had disobeyed God, and now felt shame in their nakedness before each other and before Him. As Bible commentator Matthew Henry put it, “They were stripped, deprived of all [their] honours and joys …they felt a disorder in their own spirits of which they had never before been conscious.” From the beginning, our problem has been internal, not external. The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed, they were disrobed of their glory and right-ness with God. We have sought to “cover” ourselves ever since.
God replaced the first couple’s loincloths with higher-end fabric— animal skins (Genesis 3:21). The sacrifice of those animals to clothe them foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice God would provide to fully clothe us and restore us to a relationship with Himself. The prophet Daniel predicted that “an anointed one [Messiah] shall be cut off” in order “to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness.” (Daniel 9:26, 24). Could that anointed one who was cut off (killed) be Yeshua (Jesus), who, according to the New Covenant (New Testament), died for our sins?
When our sins are covered, we are “clothed” with God’s righteousness, as the prophet Isaiah declared:
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,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)
In his Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua said this about clothing:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . . And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you . . .” (Matthew 6:25, 28–30)
He then concluded, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Yes, God cares about our clothing, but probably not to the degree that Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan do. But in our inner lives, He wants us to choose substance over style—to enter into a relationship with Him through the ultimate kipporah (covering), His Messiah.
[ 1 ] The Next Black, AEG, 2014, http://tailoredtechies.com/2014/05/22/the-next-black-documentary/