Monday, March 23, 2009

Ceremonial Clothing and Temple Worship

The Lord has always used clothing as an avenue for teaching symbolism. As early as in the book of Genesis we learn that the “garment” or coat of skin was a symbol of that which would cover. Unlike the fig leaves, or fake covering, the coat of skin taught of the sacrificial covering, pointing to Jesus Christ and the Atonement as the full covering of nakedness, or sin.

Ceremonial clothing has always been a part of Temple worship as well. In the book of Exodus the Lord gave detailed instructions to the Children of Israel regarding the clothing that was to be worn by the Priests who were called to officiate in the Tabernacle. This process of washing, or becoming clean, and changing of their clothes was an outward expression of the inward change that was to take place to be worthy to participate in the sacred ordinances.

Exodus 29:4 And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.

5 And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:

6 And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.

7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.

8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them.

9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest’s office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.

These garments of “glory and beauty” symbolized the change that was to take place of one nature to another or the act of “putting off the natural man.”

On one day of the year, known as the Day of Atonement, the High Priest of the Aaronic priesthood was instructed to make another clothing change.

Leviticus 16:4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.

This Day of Atonement offering required that the priest enter into another level of sacredness, or the Holy of Holies, in the Tabernacle. This offering took place inside the inner vail, as the priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrificial bullock on the mercy seat itself. This most sacred offering required the priest to change into white linen garments, which symbolized the absence of sin and his worthiness to make this vicarious offering on behalf of all the house of Israel. It was a very visual way to instruct the people about the sinless state of Jesus Christ, and the upcoming sacrifice he would make on their behalf.

Leviticus 16:11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:

12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:

13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:

14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 ¶ Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:

16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.

17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

The changing of clothing is symbolic of the progression one must make to enter into the presence of the Lord. It represents ones willingness to leave this world behind and seek for that of a better one. It is a beautiful way to learn about the application of the Atonement and the ability one has to “change”. It can be seen as easy as a simple “change of clothes.”


shawna said...

not to change this beautiful subject, but wasnt there some sort of really funny comment about the "natural man" that came from dave dixon's mouth years ago? i can vaguely remember it, but remember us laughing hysterically about it...refresh my memory.

In The Doghouse said...

Hi Shawna,
LOL, Yes...remember he was teaching a lesson to the YW (which was funny in itself) about dating and or modesty...and he told them that if they were on a date they must tell the guy to "GET BACK NATURAL MAN". The cute thing about it was he was so serious! Thanks for the great memory.

shawna said... i remember!!! that was hilarious. i think i need to make some sort of sign in my house with that written on it, then in the lower right hand corner, have "dave dixon" really small, like he signed it!