Dressing for Success!
Scripture reading for February 9th: Leviticus 21-23
Today, people seem to want to come to church in the most casual attire possible. They are very individualistic in their tastes and often want to stand out because of some unusual hair style, color, tattoo or piercing. Some shave off all their hair and others wear various hair pieces. Some wear jeans and others dress in suit and tie. A few years back, almost everyone dressed up for church and put on their most special clothes. What was it like in Moses day?
According to our reading today, priests had very strict dress and behavior rules. God was holy and they must be holy too or they might die! (Leviticus 22:9) For me, this is a good enough reason to pay attention to God’s rules!
In Chapter 21, God warned his priests not to shave their heads, cut the edges of their beards, or cut their bodies. Their appearance was somehow connected with holiness. These men had to present offerings to the Lord each day. The High Priest who had been anointed with the holy oil could not let his hair become unkempt or messed up! He could not touch a dead body, even that of his mother or father! He was under strict rules because of his position and responsibility before God.
The priests could not marry just anyone either. They could only marry a virgin from among their own people. They could not marry a widow or divorced person or anyone engaged in prostitution! The reason given is that this would defile the offspring and make them unfit to serve in the priesthood and handle the holy offerings. (Leviticus 21:7-8, 13-15)
Priests could not serve and handle offerings if they had a skin disease or had been near a dead body. If they did handle the offerings knowingly when they were unclean, they must be cut off from God’s presence and never allowed to offer sacrifices again! God looked at these requirements with great seriousness and did not allow for levity or laxity! (Leviticus 22:1-4)
So, what does this mean for us today in the twenty-first century? Holiness is not determined today by how we dress outwardly. Jesus fulfilled the law. We must be dressed in His righteousness and cleansed by His blood to be clean. However, our dress outwardly often reflects our heart attitude. Many are lax about their approach to God. If they are seeking more to be noticed by others or to express their individuality and right to expression by modifying their bodies or displaying them inappropriately, then beware! Our God is still a holy God and those who approach him must come with humility and holy respect.
Marriage is another area of disreguard in today’s culture. Adultery and fornication are regular practices of people who approach God and say that they love Jesus. Divorce and the breaking of vows made before God is a routine practice even among professing Christians. God does not take this as lightly as we do. He desires holiness and holy offspring! (Leviticus 21:15; Malachi 2:15)