19. God’s Way of Dress in the Sanctuary – Part 3

By John Thiel, The Sanctuary Series, study 19, mp3

We are studying God’s way in the sanctuary. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary. Everything that we are studying about God’s way is not our natural way.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

It is natural then for us to expect that what we are studying in reference to His way is going to be quite different to what we are used to. In fact, we are much lower and we’ve got to be lifted up to higher ground. In reference to the sanctuary and all that it teaches, we recall a text which we read in the early stages of our studies, in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 43:7 And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, [neither] they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. 8 In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger.

This is a beautiful passage of a future for God’s people who are going to dwell in the presence of God in the heavenly sanctuary. The heavenly sanctuary has been defiled by all the records that are there, but He says that this is not going to go on forever. Then He points this out to us who are studying this:

Ezekiel 43:9 Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. 10 Thou son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. 11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write [it] in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.

This scripture is very precious to me because it actually points out what we have been doing and what we need to do. We need to go into the complete detail of the sanctuary, all its forms and all the ordinances, and then all the forms of the ordinances, and go into the details of them so that we might understand what is required of us after we have confessed our sin, and even during the time that we confess our sins, because, as we have studied them, all the forms and all the others things of the sanctuary have led us to understand how we are to be washed and cleaned of our sins, and how we are measure the pattern. We are to measure up to the pattern. We are now studying one of the forms of the house and its materials: the clothing of the priest, the forms of the priesthood’s garments – all the forms thereof, all the meanings thereof. The clothing of the priest in the sanctuary has a very important message to us, so that we may measure the pattern, so that we may be forgiven and may start a new way of living, God’s way.

One of the points upon which those newly come to the faith will need instruction is the subject of dress. … The idolatry of dress is a moral disease. … {6T 96.1}

There should be no carelessness in dress. For Christ’s sake, whose witnesses we are, we should seek to make the best of our appearance. In the tabernacle service, God specified every detail concerning the garments of those who ministered before Him. Thus we are taught that He has a preference in regard to the dress of those who serve Him. {6T 96.2}

Those who served Him in the sanctuary were instructed in regards to their dress to show that God has a preference in reference to the dress of those serve Him. Those who are followers of Jesus Christ are those who serve Him, they are the holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5).

Very specific were the directions given in regard to Aaron’s robes, for his dress was symbolic. So the dress of Christ’s followers should be symbolic. In all things we are to be representatives of Him. Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty, and purity. … {Ibid.}

The words of Scripture in regard to dress should be carefully considered. {6T 96.3}

It is therefore very relevant according to this divine and inspired directive that we spend all this time carefully considering the many different aspects of dress. It is symbolic. We want to study into a little more detail of the symbolism of our dress. We have seen that it is symbolic of God’s righteousness. As we have looked into the sanctuary we have seen, not only the garments of the priesthood, but also the white linen around the sanctuary. We here reemphasise from the following scripture that the linen is indeed symbolic. This is speaking of the New Jerusalem:

Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Or, the fine linen is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints. Clothing, linen is symbolic of righteousness. Why does it mention linen, plain linen as a symbol? There is a very important symbolism in reference to the fiber being just linen on its own. It is written in Leviticus 19. Here is an important symbolism that must also come into our understanding of the garments and the fabric which we wear:

Leviticus 19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

Here is another important ingredient of symbolism. The white linen is the righteousness of the saints. There is only one fiber. It is not mingled together with another kind of fiber. This is repeated in Deuteronomy 22.

Deuteronomy 22:9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.

There would be a defiling of the product. It would mingle together and it wouldn’t be pure.

Deuteronomy 22:10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. 11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, [as] of woollen and linen together.

It doesn’t just narrow it down to linen and woollen. It says, of divers sorts, full stop, and then, as of, as an example. There you have a symbolism in regards to clothing which, as it is suggested in verse 9, doesn’t defile. An ox and an ass plowing together are not compatible. As they are working together, one pulls differently to another. It is a different strength. So it is with fiber. If you mingle fibers together, one is a different fiber of strength to another. Therefore it has an effect on the clothing, and it has an effect on the body. But it is specifically symbolic, because white linen is symbolic and all the clothing material is symbolic. Everything in the Old Testament, in literal form, is symbolic to the spiritual. The history of the Jews was all symbolic, and so is their clothing, so is everything else in the Old Testament. This is the question here, that we understand the principle of this symbolism in reference to our spiritual understanding.

Joshua 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: 21 When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they [are] hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

A reference is here made to a goodly Babylonish garment. Let us see what God says about that Babylonish garment:

Joshua 7:11 Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put [it] even among their own stuff.

The gold and the silver were meant to be given to the Lord’s service. That wasn’t identified as an accursed thing. That was what was stolen of the Lord. What was the accursed thing? The Babylonish garment. Why is it accursed? Because the Babylonish garment has to do with the weavings and the fabrics and the impurities of dress. The symbolism of garments that are provided by Babylon is accursed. It is impure. Because what God had instructed the children of Israel to do was to have the garments that He had instructed them to have.

Let us examine then the detail of this. The garments that are instructed of God must not have a corrupting influence in them, in regards to mingling threads together. The Babylonish garment is further identified in Jude:

Jude 23 And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

What we have been studying so far in the previous studies was in regards to garments spotted by the flesh in that they are immodest clothes, and we have seen the contrast between immodest clothes and modest clothing. Immodest clothing is spotted by the flesh. Has the fiber anything to do with being spotted by the flesh? The symbolism comes directly into focus in reference to something that is spotted by the flesh, because the garment of Christ’s righteousness is to be pure, unspotted by the flesh. We read here of the symbolism in reference to clothing that is to be passed on into the spiritual realm:

This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity wrought out a perfect character, and this character He offers to impart to us. {COL 311.4}

Do you remember the priestly garments? They were holy garments. They were for beauty and for glory. They were for beauty and for character, the glorious character of God. The character of God is a character that has not one thread of human devising. The symbolism of the threads in the garments are here brought into focus. The garments must not have any other thread in them than the purity of the one thread, because there is not be a mingling of any other thread, as in the spiritual, not one thread of human devising. That is the symbolism which is represented there, beside the fact that these two fibers don’t mingle very well together and have an influence, and the Babylonish garments do have an influence.

There is another statement in reference to this weaving of fiber together:

Jesus Christ is everything to us–the first, the last, the best in everything. Jesus Christ, His Spirit, His character, colors everything; it is the warp and the woof, the very texture of our entire being. {FLB 150.3}

Warp and woof. What does that mean? That is a fabric when it is woven. There is the warp, and there is the woof, as it weaves together. So it must be only Christ, no other thing. It must be totally pure. That is symbolized by garments that have no other fiber mingled in that same garment. That is what the pioneers understood. This is what Stephen N. Haskell wrote. He said, in his book Prophetic Waymarks, that garments must not be interwoven with other fibers because that would spoil the symbol. Here is another statement from him, in The Cross and its Shadow:

The Israelite who conscientiously refused to mingle woolen and linen in his daily garments, and saw in it the lesson God designed to teach, would also refrain from sin. His entire dress, made of but one kind of cloth, would constantly remind him of the perfect robe of Christ’s righteousness, given to the faithful. {1914 SNH, CIS 275.5}

The Babylonish garments are cursed because they do this. They mingle fibers together, and those fibers have an impure effect upon the body and convey a curse because the gospel of Jesus Christ is not conveyed in those clothes.

The love of dress endangers the morals and makes woman the opposite of the Christian lady characterized by modesty and sobriety. Showy, extravagant dress too often encourages lust in the heart of the wearer and awakens base passions in the heart of the beholder. God sees that the ruin of the character is frequently preceded by the indulgence of pride and vanity in dress. He sees that the costly apparel stifles the desire to do good. {4T 645.2} 

What an interesting statement. What has clothing to do with your morals, besides the modesty concept? The kind of clothing that is woven as a Babylonish garment, and that we are even to hate, affects the flesh. The certain fabrics that are woven today create static. That has an effect on the electricity around you. That has an unconscious influence. There are materials, especially the Babylonish materials, where these fibers are put together to have an effect on the body. That is what is mentioned here. Besides immodesty, the love for the particular effect of the clothing on the body has something to do with the morals of the person. That is why it is called, a Babylonish garment. The people who weave these fabrics, they know what they are doing. It has a certain influence.

This is not only for women! This is for men as well. I remember in my youth, I had that beautiful pigeon blue pair of jeans on with that brushed cotton, and that felt great. That had a special feel to it. It was tight and that actually had an influence upon the morals of the youth. It is something you cannot escape.

We see that the Spirit of prophecy makes this moral connection with clothing.

Self-denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty. To dress plainly, abstaining from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind, is in keeping with our faith. Are we of the number who see the folly of worldlings in indulging in extravagance of dress as well as in love of amusements? If so, we should be of that class who shun everything that gives sanction to this spirit which takes possession of the minds and hearts of those who live for this world only and who have no thought or care for the next. {3T 366.1}

Extravagance of dress, focusing our mind on dress and its effect on our person, is to be shunned because it gives sanction to a spirit which takes possession of the mind. We understand this to be true, especially in today’s society, that clothing has this effect on the spiritual nature and the spirit of a person. The ladies with their garments, it is all written that this has a demoralizing effect.

The symbolism of the garments with their fibers has a direct marital relationship with the spiritual character building concepts. That is symbolised in the mingling of the garments as well.

The following scripture puts the cap on this meditation, because the clothing that is mentioned here is actually revealing that God hates it and that it has to do with the pride of the women in the church:

Isaiah 3:16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion …

Who? Who is Zion? The church. The daughters of the church,

Isaiah 3:16 … are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing [as] they go, and making a tinkling with their feet:

In today’s circumstances, we know the tinkling with their feet. Have you heard them walking down the street with their high heel shoes? The shoes themselves have to do with sensuality.

Isaiah 3:17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. 18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of [their] tinkling ornaments [about their feet], and [their] cauls, and [their] round tires like the moon,

What are cauls? The margin says: networks. The weavings of their garments are networks. The round tires like the moon are necklaces.

Isaiah 3:19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,

The marginal reading for mufflers says, spangled ornaments. It is the way the women covered their faces with these sorts of see-through fibers of garments, of webbings.

Isaiah 3:20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 21 The rings, and nose jewels, 22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.

Now it seems like a contradiction, fine linen. The fact is that the linen was so fine that it was see-through. What is mentioned here is the garments that have to do with the pollution of God’s people.

Isaiah 3:24 And it shall come to pass, [that] instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; [and] burning instead of beauty.

God hates it.

Isaiah 3:25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.

Even the men have to do with this that God is so antagonistic against. Having read that, notice what the Testimony of Jesus has to say in regards to where this particular scripture applies:

The prophecy of Isaiah 3 was presented before me as applying to these last days, {1T 270.1}

God showed E. G. White that this scripture applies to the last days.

… and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.” I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust and will long for an experience in the things of God, which they have failed to obtain. {Ibid.}

This is very specific to our time.

Even the fiber, the fabric of the clothing, has to do with the garments that create immodest feelings and an immodest spiritual way. This is all connected. We clearly see then, from the statement of Christ Object Lessons and from the statement of The Faith I Live By, that if we are going to be representatives of Christ Jesus, then the symbol of the clothing is directly connected with that, because there is not to be one thread mingled together with another thread. No thread of human devising, the warp and woof are to be totally Jesus.

There is an example in the Old Testament of Jacob and his sons and daughters. As they were traveling through the land, his daughters were very attractive, they also wore ornaments and some of the clothing wasn’t right, and as a consequence one man of the country took Dinah to be his wife. Of course he was a corrupt man, and the sons went forth and got her away, and even killed some of the men. In consequence of that, they were then to make a change, and God had instructed Jacob so that they could be protected from these things that were happening as they travelled through the land.

Genesis 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that [were] with him, Put away the strange gods that [are] among you, and be clean, and change your garments: 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. 4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which [were] in their hand, and [all their] earrings which [were] in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which [was] by Shechem. 5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that [were] round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

When they corrected their ways, got rid of their gods, got rid of their gold and spangles and their garments which were not right, then as they travelled, the people around were filled with awe and a sense of fear. Here is the protection of God’s people today. We need to take hold of all these things that we have studied in regards to dress, so that it will be noted by the people around us and they will respect us; especially those who are looking upon women like the people were looking upon Dinah, so that they will see, Oh, we can’t touch here. God is behind that. The symbolism speaks a message. It affects the minds of the onlooker. That is the instruction that is given there.

Numbers 15:37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: 

The dress reform principles of today answer to the ribbon of blue.

Numbers 15:39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: 40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. 41 I [am] the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I [am] the LORD your God.

The dress reform in all its aspects, even down to the fibers, and especially in regards to the mingling of the fibers, has something to do with the spiritual purity of God’s commandments. Because as you consider what you are doing with your clothing, you are reminded of what the symbols mean.

Numbers 15:39 … that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

The clothing is symbolic to remind us that we are to discard the sensual ways of the world from which we have come. It is inseparable.

Numbers 15:40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Be holy. It so fascinating to observe that in the study of dress reform in the sanctuary, we are actually inseparably connected with the correct understanding of God’s will in our life. It is beautifully concluded here. As we have been pursuing this study of dress to its third part, we have seen then that the covering has something to do with holiness, the style has something to do with holiness, the fibers have something to do with holiness.

Of how little value are gold or pearls or costly array in comparison with the loveliness of Christ. Natural loveliness consists in symmetry, or the harmonious proportion of parts, each with the other; but spiritual loveliness consists in the harmony or likeness of our souls to Jesus. This will make its possessor more precious than fine gold, even the golden wedge of Ophir. The grace of Christ is indeed a priceless adornment. It elevates and ennobles its possessor and reflects beams of glory upon others, attracting them also to the Source of light and blessing. {AG 121.3}

Our appearance in every respect should be characterized by neatness, modesty, and purity. {AG 121.4}

Modesty is also purity, isn’t it? But the purity is symbolised by a pure fiber, and that gives it an extra dimension.

But the Word of God gives no sanction to the making of changes in apparel merely for the sake of fashion, that we may appear like the world. Christians are not to decorate the person with costly array or expensive ornaments. . . . {Ibid.} 

All who are in earnest in seeking for the grace of Christ will heed the precious words of instruction inspired by God. Even the style of the apparel will express the truth of the gospel. {AG 121.5}

There you have a style of fabric. When you go to a shop, and you buy fabric, you feel the fabric, and it a certain influence, doesn’t it? That fabric, that style of fabric, sewn into a certain style of dress has all its impact. Like the ribbon of blue, we are to be of such a dress that it will remind us constantly of who we are and who is our God.

It is right to love beauty and to desire it; but God desires us to love and seek first the highest beauty, that which is imperishable. No outward adorning can compare in value or loveliness with that “meek and quiet spirit,” the “fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14), which all the holy ones of earth will wear. This apparel will make them beautiful and beloved here, and will hereafter be their badge of admission to the palace of the King. {AG 121.6}

Wow. Our clothing is a badge of admission? How poorly is this understood in Christendom. The apparel will make God’s people beautiful and beloved. What kind of beauty? The character. And it “will hereafter be their badge of admission to the palace of the King.

That is the deep imprint of dress in the sanctuary, which was represented by the priest. The following quote gives us the confirmation, the settling into the assurance of what we have been studying as to the way that is God’s way and that we are called upon to take upon ourselves:

The Lord has shown us His way; shall we walk in it? or shall we, finite and erring as we are, walk in our own counsel, and practice the principles which He has warned us against?  {TM 382.2}

There is the challenge. That is what has made the practice of God’s true people a distinction compared to those who are merely professed Christians. As part of God’s remnant people this subject is imperative.

May God add His blessing to this as we conclude the subject of dress on that note.


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Posted on 10/09/2009, in Dress Reform, The Sanctuary (Series) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What about dress reform for men as well. looking at the fashions, men are dressing more like women.

  2. Greetings,
    I appreciate your concerns and messages regarding dress reform. It is a much neglected topic with severe consequences upon God’s people. You may be interested in my small book entitled “When God Asked Women to Wear Pants.” It is Bible and Spirit of Prophecy based and contains a chapter “When God Defined Modesty.” It is available on Scribd (http://www.scribd.com/doc/19976261/When-God-Asked-Women-to-Wear-Pants) and also on my Website

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