According to a blog I came across, its origins go back to the 1500’s. Apparently a theologian, Catholic priest was the first to note, “vestis virum facit” meaning “clothes make the man.” Mark Twain would expand on it some 400 years later in his short story, The Czar’s Soliloquy: “[One] realizes that without his clothes a man would be nothing at all; that the clothes do not merely make the man, the clothes are the man; that without them he is a cipher, a vacancy, a nobody, a nothing . . . There is no power without clothes.”
There is no power without clothes. True, apparently, according to Twain who was known towards the end of his career for his white suits, but true also according to Moses who was known during the latter part of his life for speaking for God.
“Make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for glory and beauty. You are to instruct all the skilled artisans, whom I have filled with a spirit of wisdom, to make Aaron’s garments for consecrating him to serve me as priest. These are the garments that they must make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a specially woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make holy garments for your brother Aaron and his sons so that they may serve Me as priests.”
(Exodus 28:2-24 CSB)
The priesthood was going to be a pretty big deal for post-exilic Israel. When it came to representing God to the people and bringing the people before God, it was not something that just anyone could do, nor was it a role that could be fulfilled in just any way. What’s more, it certainly couldn’t be done with just any old clothes on. For Aaron and those who would follow in his footsteps, they could only serve as priests on earth before God in heaven if they were clothed in holy garments. In a sense, they too had no power without the right clothes.
This morning, I’m chewing on what the LORD had Moses record concerning priestly garments. And I’m doing so through the filter that I too am a member of a holy priesthood foreshadowed by Aaron & Sons (1Peter 2:5). So, if they needed special garments in order to enter where they were to enter and do what they were to do, and that without dying (Ex. 28:35), then I’m reminded that I too need to be clothed with holy garments in order to access my privilege and fulfill my calling. Reminded that for me too, the clothes make the man.
Not clothes I can manufacture. Not garments that I merit. Nevertheless, gifted with holy garments for glory and beauty.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord,
I exult in my God;
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
(Isaiah 61:10 CSB)
Garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness provided by the Father Himself through the finished work of His Son. The glory and beauty of Christ covering my redeemed, yet still being renewed self. Clothes fitting for a new man in Christ which I can put on each day even as I battle to put off the filthy rags of the flesh clinging to the old man. The holiness of Christ credited to my account, draped upon my shoulders, adorning me so that I might too enter the holy of holies and fulfill my calling as part of the priesthood of believers.
Worthy of such clothes? Nope. But am I wearing the right clothes? Do I have the clothes needed to make this man? You bet!
Only by His grace. Only for His glory.
Great point, Pete! Seems an important point as religions decide the size of their closets.