(This is #5 of the presentations for the series “Fashion Statements: Lessons from Garments in the Bible.”)
Do you like wearing designer clothes? Different brands of clothes have their own logo or insignia. Like Lacoste, they have the crocodile. Ralph Lauren, the Polo player riding a horse. Nike, the swoosh. Adidas, the 3 stripes. Some people have their clothes personalized and tailored just for them. Perhaps they even put their name on it, like a monogram initials.
The Jews also have unique type of clothing. They were instructed to have details in their clothes to remind them of who they were.
Numbers 15: 38-39 – Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined.
It seems like a strange instruction for us but in the Ancient Near East culture, the corner of a person’s garment represented his identity; it was a symbol of who he was and what he stood for. It is like an insignia, or perhaps a monogramed initials on the shirt.
In the story of Ruth, when she was seeking marriage to Boaz, she asked him to spread the corner of his garment over her (Ruth 3:9). It was a request for him to identify with her. The same Hebrew word is interpreted as “wing” or “corner of a garment.”
When God spoke of making a covenant with His people, He pictured Himself as spreading the corner of His garment over Israel (Ezekiel 16:8)—a symbol of identifying with her as His bride.
In the story of David when he was running away from Saul, one day Saul fell asleep at the mouth of the cave where David and his men were hiding. David sneaked in and cut off a corner of King Saul’s robe, but “afterward David’s heart struck him” (1 Samuel 24:5). These pangs of remorse seem strange unless we realize that he had defaced an important symbol of Saul’s identity and God-given kingship.
So important were the corners of a man’s garment for the Jews that the Old Testament closes with a prophecy of the Messiah that references the corners of His garment: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2 KJV. Again, the same word means both “wings” and “corners of a garment”). At the heart of the Messiah’s identity would be healing for all who have faith in Him.
In the story in the Bible about a woman who touched the edge of Jesus garment, there is more to it than meets the eye. Let’s read:
Luke 8: 43-44 – And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
This woman was bleeding and was suffering for a long time and no doctor can heal her. For 12 years she was longing to be healed. She was weak, desperate and broke. Then she heard that Jesus was coming. She was determined to get near to Jesus.
So when this woman fought her way through the crowd and when she reached out to the hem of Jesus’ coat, she has a purpose. It was not just touching the edge of the garment so Jesus would not feel it, like a pickpocket trying to pick your wallet. There was a real intention about it. She was reaching more than just for healing. She was identifying with Jesus and what the edges of his cloak stands for. She was embracing that Jesus is the promised Messiah who has healing in His wings.
Immediately her bleeding stopped. Immediately she was healed.
Are we reaching for the edge of our Savior’s cloak? Are we reaching for the Messiah? Are we identifying with Him and what He is all about?
(*photo from http://www.chookhare.com)