Subtle Lure of Outward Adornment
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Subtle Lure of Outward Adornment
Welcome to Keep The Faith. It is wonderful to know that Jesus is coming soon, and that we are living during the most thrilling time in earth’s history. Thank you for joining us today for another message for our times.
First, I want to say thank you for your prayers and support. It means a lot to us and to God’s work at Keep The Faith. Please go to our website and check out the Prophetic Intelligence Briefings. We have more posted on our website than we can possibly put on CD. You’ll find them fascinating.
Some of you already know that I have recently taken on an associate speaker. Pastor Jeff Wehr is a powerful preacher with excellent material to present. I chose to add an associate speaker to handle some appointments that I cannot meet because I am overbooked. Pastor Wehr is available for appointments and I would recommend that you contact our office if you would like him to speak in your area.
My message today is of a different nature than most. I want to share with you what the Bible says about a principle that we need to understand in these last days. We are living in the most important time in earth’s history. Jesus is coming soon and we must put aside all pride and vanity, so that his Holy Spirit can be poured into our souls, and that God’s work on earth can be finished. God wants to use you to reach other souls, so your character maturity is the most important thing. May God help us all as we near the close of human probation, to live according to the Bible.
Let us turn in our Bibles to the book of Revelation 17. I want to show you something about the end-time people of God who will survive the coming onslaught. Verse three tells us of the great symbolic whore, or the wicked church that rules the world.
“I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication.”
Notice how this woman is dressed. She has beautiful colors. Why does she dress herself in these colors? It is because they are deceptive and she can use them to deceive people into following after her instead of Christ. She looks good, but she is rotten and filthy, and a great whore, because she commits spiritual fornication with the kings of the earth. In other words this is a geo-political church with a geo-political religion. The whore belongs to Satan.
This woman with the world-wide religion and geo-political power is Satan’s woman, or Satan’s church. And verse five makes this abundantly clear. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” That’s pretty serious. She is not only a spiritual prostitute herself, but she is the mother of all false churches who teach false doctrine. She has taught them as her daughters how to practice their fornication with the kings of the earth. And if you are paying attention, you will notice that the leaders of the world are often in consultation with religious leaders of one type or another.
We also learn from these verses that this woman is decked with gold and precious stones and pearls. Have you ever wondered why the Bible portrays this woman as having all those ornamentations and adornment? I have, and I think it is significant. I believe that God is sending a message to his last generation people who will be paying attention in these last days, and that the way this wicked woman is dressed and the way that she adorns herself is a warning to all of God’s true people. They will do the exact opposite if they are faithful to Jesus Christ. They will not go after the false doctrines of the harlot churches who are in fact, the daughters of Rome. They have a simple faith, and they have natural adornment. After all, they are His people, not Satan’s.
Listen to the verse found in Revelation 12:1 describing the pure woman, or the pure church. “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.”
Notice the contrast between this woman, or God’s church, and the whore. They are so different. Yes, their descriptions are symbolic. But the symbols used are familiar earthly representations. The one is simple in faith, as depicted by simplicity of adornment, not with gold and silver and man-made articles of jewelry, but with the sun, moon and stars. These symbols represent their characters, which are pure and undefiled by worldly appearance. They are high and lofty representations of God’s love and power and of heaven’s blessing. God’s people will simply be expressing the inward adorning of the heart.
But Satan’s people will be full of cheap, sensual and earthly lifestyles, including their music, entertainment, food and their adornment. The Bible makes this contrast between the two churches because our Heavenly Father wants it to be understood that there is in the sinful heart of man a desire to make the outward appearance more attractive to the human carnal nature.
The prostitute of Revelation 17 is involved in spiritualism. Her jewelry is part of her mystical system of worship. All pagan worship involved the worship of deities through the use of ornaments and personal decoration which supposedly had magical powers.
Psalm 135:15 says, ‘The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.”
So when we place on our bodies humanly crafted silver and gold ornaments we are glorying in the works of men’s hands. But we are doing much more than that. We are giving at least token homage to Satan’s principles. In a similar way, Protestants who break God’s holy Sabbath, and keep Sunday sacred, are also paying token homage to Rome by doing so, since it was Rome that change the Sabbath to Sunday for most of the Christian world.
This history of jewelry is very important to understand, especially in its relation to the fallen churches and the people who support them.
First, it should be noted that the wedding ring actually has its roots in spiritualism. Occultists make it clear that its history is rooted in the mysteries and secret teachings of the occult.
If you would like to do research on this, you can go to our website and find the text of this sermon and there you will also find links at the appropriate places for articles and books that give this background.
Manly Palmer Hall, for instance, in his occult book on the Secret Teachings of All Ages says that “this plain band of gold [wedding band]… bore witness of the union of the higher self (god) with the lower self (nature) and the ceremony consummating this indissoluble blending of divinity and humanity in the one nature of the initiated mystic constituted the hermetic marriage of the Mysteries.”
That’s strange, isn’t it? It is talking about spiritualism. The wedding ring also represents eternity and immortality of the soul, and various deities. This links it to pagan spiritualism.
The History and Poetry of Finger-Rings,
Rings were used among the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans
for various purposes. But mostly they had to do with spiritualism. In ancient pagan societies, all rings were magical and sacred. They were used for fortune-telling or divination. They were also linked to the prognostications of the zodiac. The ancient diviners also used enchanted rings to predict the future. Wearing the ring would bind the ancient diviners to power and energy so that they could conduct their magical activity, such as predicting the future and healing diseases.
Divination and Enchanted Rings
See also, Masonic and Occult Symbols Illustrated, Cathy Burns, page 300. (Text not available online. Check your local library).
In the Catholic Church, the Christianized version of pagan worship and occult practice, the pope wears a ring of gold with a costly emerald or other precious gem set in it. It is called the Fisherman’s Ring and is his symbol of succession from the apostle Peter, his symbol of authority. In reality, however, this ring is a mere adaptation from paganism.
There are many ways in which the Roman Catholic Church uses rings ceremonially. For instance, during the official liturgy of the consecration of a Bishop, “the Consecrator rises and blesses the ring… He then sprinkles the ring with holy water, and sitting with this mitre on, himself places the ring on the ring finger of the right hand of the one consecrated…” It is a symbol of the priest’s marriage to the church.
I explain this to you so that you will understand the imagery and meaning to the Catholic Church in using the ring on its priests. In addition to being a symbol of marriage to the church, it is a symbol of his office and powers. The ring is central to papal authority. Catholics who have a personal audience with the pope kiss his ring as a symbol of their submission to his authority.
But in spite of their pagan origins and adaptation in so-called Christianity, rings and jewelry of all types are used commonly throughout society without hardly giving any thought to their meaning.
Actually, today both men and woman are adorning the body with all manner of the works of man’s hands. Have you notice all the body piercing lately among worldly people. They are only taking the fanaticism of jewelry and adornment to the next level. Anciently, body piercing and the use of body rings was very common among pagan worshippers and societies in general.
But we need to understand how God views the matter of outward adorning. Listen to what God says in Isaiah 3:16-21. Speaking of His apostate people, God points to the way they adorn themselves as evidence of their apostasy.
Speaking of the calamities that would come upon Judah, His church, God says through the prophet, “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: 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. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments,… the chains, and the bracelets,… and the ornaments of the legs,… and the tablets, and the earrings, the rings, and the nose jewels,…” And in verse 26, God says, “And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.”
Do you want to lament and mourn and be spiritually desolate? Of course you don’t. You want spiritual maturity and fullness of God’s power in your life, don’t you? By the way, “wanton eyes” are eyes that have been made up to look lewd and lustful. A “tablet” is a necklace. Note that the Bible condemns nose jewels also.
What do you think “bravery of their tinkling ornaments” means? In other words, the wearing of jewelry, or tinkling ornaments is bravado, or showy and proud.
Have you noticed how much jewelry people wear these days including nose jewels and tinkling earrings and other gaudy ornaments? Do you think that the expanded use of jewelry is a sign of the times? Is it a sign of apostasy and rebellion?
Here are the words of Jeremiah, chapter 4:30. “And when thou are soiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou… deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.”
Note that the prophet Jeremiah makes a connection between outward adornment, make-up and other ornaments with prostitution and fornication. Sexual immorality in scripture is often used to illustrate spiritual apostasy, isn’t it? When men and women leave God, they turn to ornamentation as a sign of their backsliding.
Here are the words of Ezekiel 23:40 “Ye have sent for men to come from afar unto whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments.”
God was criticizing His people, His church, for their makeup and jewelry, as a sign of their apostasy in going after strangers. In getting involved with the ecumenical movement, we are in fact, going after strangers. We have to change what we believe, what we teach, and the way we act, in order to be accepted by these strangers, just like those who painted their eyes and decked themselves with ornaments in Ezekiel’s day.
Hosea 2:13 says “And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me, saith the Lord.”
Baalim is the plural of Baal. Again, notice the connection between earthly outward adornment, spiritual prostitution, pagan worship and forgetting God. Those who worship pagan gods, or, in other words, false gods, are usually caught up in the use of outward adornment and jewelry.
The prophet Zephaniah said in chapter 1:7-8. “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests. And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” Strange apparel is that which is not approved by the Lord in the same way as the words “strange gods” are used.
Some people teach that the only scripture for Christians to follow is the New Testament. They say that we are “New Testament Christians” and that we don’t have to follow the principles of the Old Testament.
So, we had better have a look at the New Testament. But before we do, let me point out that though the true followers of Christ determine truth by searching the whole of scripture, the New Testament is just as plain as the Old Testament concerning outward adornment of the body.
When we examine the writings of Paul and Peter, for instance, two of the most notable apostles, we learn that neither of them give any room for the use of jewelry. Paul writes plainly on this topic. In 1 Timothy 2:9 he says “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.”
Paul tells us that God requires modesty, which is to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Jewelry and other adornments draw attention. By the way, shamefacedness means modesty and humility, and sobriety means to carry yourself with gravity or seriousness of bearing with without being sad.
And the apostle Peter also speaks plainly about adornments when he says in 1 Peter 3:3, “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel.”
In other words, we are to live in such a way that we do not draw attention to ourselves by our apparel, the way we fix our hair, or by wearing adornments. These things detract from the Christian’s influence. By the way “plaiting the hair,” refers to the ancient eastern practice of putting things in or on the hair to make it distinguished and supposedly “well-set.” They often used large head-dresses to draw attention of others to the wearer. It was apparently rather fashionable in Peter’s day to braid the hair in intricate and fancy braids.
The apostle Peter goes on to say. “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
In other words, the character should be seen, not a superficial outward adorning of the body. Jewelry is corruptible and one day, it too will be destroyed.
As I implied earlier, all pagan societies used jewelry. The Bible tells us that the Egyptians used it (see Exodus 12:35, Genesis 41:42-44), because the Israelites were told to collect jewelry from the Egyptians before leaving Egypt. It was not so that they could wear it, but so that they could carry something of monetary value, and gold and silver jewelry was the ideal payment for all their labor as slaves.
The Midianites also used jewelry (see Numbers 31:1-2,7, 49-51), the Ishmaelites (see Judges 8:24, Psalm 83:2-7), the Medes and Persians (see Esther 3:8-12), the Ammonites, Moabites, the Children of Mt. Seir (see 2 Chronicles 20:22-25), the Philistines, the Zidonians, from whom the wicked Jezebel came (see 1 Samuel 6:4, 8, 2 Kings 9:30), and of course, the Babylonians (see Daniel 5:7, 13, 16-17).
Moreover, whenever Israel went into apostasy, they would try to supply the lack of spiritual adornment of character with outward adornment of body. We are reminded of the words of Isaiah that we read earlier about the “stretched forth necks,” the mincing as they walk, and all the ornaments of the head, neck, ears, nose, and ankles.
Have you noticed that God depicts apostasy with the wearing of jewelry? I believe that is significant. How often do you hear pastors tell their congregations what the Bible says about the many forms of adornment that their members bring to church? Often during evangelistic campaigns, evangelists excuse themselves for not preaching on adornment because they say, “these new members can learn about these things later.” But do pastor normally follow up? And if they do, how easy is it to convince the new member to remove their jewelry. That is one of the reasons I am sharing these things with you today. You need to know what the Bible says so you can take action if you need to, or so that you can help others. It is actually very important.
Friends, God is calling us to follow all of His counsel and to follow all of His laws. We are not to live to draw attention to ourselves. This is pride. God’s word to us is the most precious treasure we have. It is vital that we observe all that God commands us. Then we will prosper. Do you believe that too? How can any of God’s true people, men or women use earthly outward adorning when God’s word is so very clear both in the Old and in the New Testaments?
Where did all this adornment originally come from?
The Bible tells us that Lucifer was adorned with precious stones and gold. Ezekiel 28:13 says “Thou has been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: The workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.”
God made Lucifer gorgeous! He was full of beauty. Each of these stones is a different color, and in the glow of heaven’s light, especially when in the presence of God and Christ, Lucifer’s rainbow of color was magnificent. Just take a moment to imagine what such a being must have looked like. He was certainly the most beautiful created being there was. All heaven must have been impressed with his sparkling and stunning magnificence.
But Lucifer’s heart became proud and lifted up with conceit. He wanted to be like God. Let me read Ezekiel 28:15-16 to you. “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou has sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.”
Lucifer had the privilege of ministering before the almighty God in the throne room itself. But he wanted more. Isaiah 14:13-14 says of Lucifer, “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
What a terrible tragedy. The most exalted and beautiful being ever created wanted to be higher still. He wanted to have the authority of the creator Himself. He wanted to be like God Himself. But because of his sin, Lucifer, now Satan, was cast out of heaven, and was removed from his position and another was put in his place.
When Satan rebelled, he rebelled in every area of life. Needless to say, he has perverted that which God intended to be good. Jewelry and adornments of all types have become a vehicle to exalt self.
And when Satan tempts poor human mortals, he tempts them to be like him. He wants us to be proud and lifted up too. In other words, he wants us to worship self.
So he uses every vehicle he can to manifest his rebellion in us, including music and entertainment, food, luxury, and adornment. There are other ways of manifesting pride, but all forms of gold, precious stones, pearls and other obvious ornamentation are his attempt to make you like him, proud and conceited, sometimes in a very subtle way. And since it is such a common thing in our society, it seems as if it is of little or no consequence. Everybody, it seems, does it.
Outward adornment reveals the true center of our own attention. It shows us that we are really interested in drawing attention to ourselves instead of God.
But it actually does more than that. The wearing of outward adornment by men or women, reveals the shallowness of our characters and the spiritual emptiness of our souls. Those who are mature Christians need no outer adorning, whether rings or necklaces, bracelets or broaches. Simplicity of dress is a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven. The adornment of Heaven is the character. What need does a true Christian have of any further recommendation?
Outward adorning is a form of vanity, which means to be showy, ostentatious, vaunting, and puffed up. While not everyone that wears jewelry manifests a proud or boastful spirit on the surface, there is nevertheless, an underlying self-centeredness.
Today, God’s church is shallow for the most part. It is seen in many ways. Often the sermons that are preached from modern pulpits are empty and provide little depth beyond the most basic gospel messages. Even more rarely are the church members encouraged to see the Bible in light of the end times, or to live in the Bible way.
The shallowness is often seen in the choice of music. Instead of the powerful hymns with rich and meaningful text, churches now often use praise choruses, which use superficial language repetitively. The emphasis of the music is on feeling, not character development or the grand themes of the gospel.
Another way in which some churches reveal shallowness is in the use of entertainment to lure worshippers into the pews, such as clowns, mimes and other caricatures, which misrepresent the gospel of the meek and lowly Jesus.
And yet again, this same superficiality is seen when there is an emphasis on ecumenical doctrines, or ideas based on common points of faith with other ecumenical churches instead of the truth that is especially provided for those living in the last days.
What I am saying is that there is a composite set of characteristics that go hand in hand when a church or its members lack spiritual depth. When our experience with God becomes shallow, it inevitably involves other forms of superficiality, including the use of jewelry and other adornments.
While there are some sincere and genuine Christians who use jewelry, it is because they do not understand the Bible principle concerning adornment. They are uninformed about the Bible teaching, and probably no one has ever taught them. While God may not hold them accountable for that which they did not have opportunity to know, neglect of following Bible counsel concerning how we should live, when it is revealed to us, is keeping us from knowing God fully and maturely.
A mature Christian is one who searches the scriptures diligently, praying for the Holy Spirit to speak to him or her about anything that is not in conformity to heaven’s principles.
Proverbs 8:13 tells us that “the fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogance, and the evil way. That means that we will avoid the use of anything that tends to exalt pride or even the mildest forms of arrogance. This speaks to me, my friends, and to all of us. There are many ways in which we can carry ourselves with pride. We are prone to it, and unless we fight it with all our might, we will fall into the trap of Satan to be boastful and lifted up.
1 John 2:16 says that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
You see my friends, we must crucify self and avoid anything that we could use to uplift our pride. Jewelry is one of the elements of the pride of life. But some might argue that they are not proud when they use outward adornment. But here is the difficulty. It is very subtle. Those who have become proud usually don’t recognize it, and they make excuses for it. They are deceived by it into thinking they are OK with God.
Do you remember how God dealt with Nebuchadnezzar’s pride? “The King spake and said, Is not this great Babylon which I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the King’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O King Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whosoever he will. The same hour was the thing fuflled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” That’s Daniel 4:30-33.
Thankfully, Nebuchadnezzer repented of his sinful pride, and was eventually restored to the kingdom.
Think also about how God dealt with King Herod. We read about that in Acts 12:21-23. “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms and gave up the ghost.”
Also, God dealt with the pride of Edom. “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.” That’s Obadiah 1:3-4.
You see, my friends, pride is very offensive to God. It is something that cannot be tolerated in the eternal kingdom, or else sin would repeat itself. Christ gives us the opportunity to voluntarily cooperate with Him to abase ourselves and learn to live a humble life. This is the underlying message of scripture.
Have you read Philippians 2:5-8 recently? “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
And 1 Peter 2:21-23 tells us that “for even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously…”
Friends, this is the way we should live in these last days. We are to follow in the steps of Jesus in everything. Our lives should be modeled after His. He was our example. He did nothing to promote himself, but always to glorify His Father in heaven. We in turn, are to glorify Christ in every detail.
But listen to what God will do to those who are decked out with jewelry and other fashionable adornments. It is found in Jeremiah 4:30. “And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do? Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee, they will seek thy life.”
Outward adornments are vain. They reveal our basic insecurity and need to look a certain way in the eyes of our fellow man. In contrast with worldly adornments, Jesus spoke of the lilies of the field in Matthew 6:28-29. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” You remember the story of Solomon don’t you? Solomon was full of vanity in all his vaunted glory. When Solomon left God, his heart was lifted up with pride. Christ was illustrating the need for character beauty. We are to reveal the graces of the Christian character, which will give us more beauty than gold, or silver, or diamonds, or pearls ever will.
The beauty that God gives you in your character is like the lily of the field. He does not intend for you to have to enhance yourself with attention-getting devices.
Your smile, and the twinkle in your eye is an adornment more beautiful than any jewels that you can put on your body. Your beauty in Christ is manifest by His presence in your life. This is the true adornment. The scripture says, “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” Romans 13:14. This means that we are to avoid things that reveal pride. We are to present ourselves in the way that God made us, and in the way that He has recreated us.
What does God ask us to do with our jewelry and other adornments? He gave us clear examples in history. When Jacob was in trouble, he told his family to purify themselves and be clean. Here it is in Genesis 35:2 and 4. “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 they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears.”
And when God was angry with the church in the wilderness because of what happened around the golden calf at the base of Mt. Sinai, He said to Moses, “Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.” That’s Exodus 33:5-6.
The literal rendering of the text describing the Israelites’ response was that they “stripped themselves of their ornaments from Mount Horeb onward” (See Exodus 33:6, NASB). The removal of jewelry symbolizes a change of heart. Nowhere in the Old Testament did God grant Israel permission to put their jewelry back on.
As we noted earlier, there was a time in Israel’s history when they were in a period of apostasy. Again they wore jewelry, but Isaiah 3 portrays God’s judgment against doing this. He accused them of pride because they were wearing jewelry. This demonstration of pride was sinful as is any demonstration of pride. He actually announced that He would strip off their ornaments.
As you can see, when God calls upon His people to present themselves to Him, He asks them to remove their jewelry. But this is more than just a temporary prohibition. They should have never had the jewelry on them in the first place. Note that the context of these verses has to do with cleansing from sin. In Jacob’s case, the family had offended their neighbors and deceived them. Now they were afraid and Jacob wanted to seek God’s protection. Therefore, he called upon his family to cleanse themselves by removing all forms of idolatry including their jewelry.
In the case of Moses, the people had sinned against God, and God was going to punish them for their rebellion. As a matter of repentance, they were to take off their jewelry and humble themselves before the Lord.
Think about this verse in light of what the Bible says about jewelry. It is found in Ezekiel 7:19-21. Speaking of the very last days, just before Jesus comes in the clouds of glory, we are told that all these things, which have been so valuable to us in this life, will be worthless. “They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord… And I will give it into the hands of strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they shall pollute it.”
Furthermore, James 5:3 tells us that “your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”
Gold and silver adornments along with their precious stones, will lose their value and their attraction to those who come under the wrath of God. These are all part of the idolatry of our times. But the prophet Isaiah tells us in chapter 2 verse 20; “in that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and the bats.” When we worship self, we show it by the way we adorn ourselves. By the way, adornment can include other things beside jewelry, such as lands, fancy houses, cars or even false piety. In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were broadening their phylacteries, and were enlarging the boarders of their garments. This was outward ornamentation which characterized false piety. (See Matt 23:6)
When we use outward adornment, we are in essence drawing attention to ourselves which is a form of self-worship and idolatry. These things, which are made with human hands, will one day be thrown to the moles and the bats.
In contrast we are to glorify God. Psalm 29:2 says “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” It is holiness of character only that is attractive to heaven. It is holiness of character with which we are to adorn ourselves.
Paul also tells us in Romans 13:11 that “knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”
Perhaps the most important reason that we are to adorn ourselves with holiness of character is because of the times in which we live. We are living in a wicked and degenerate age. It is the last days and we are to wake up and put off the works of darkness.
But more precisely, we are living at the time of the anti-typical Day of Atonement. All the types and ceremonies of the annual round of sanctuary services that was established by ancient Israel under God’s direction were to have an anti-typical fulfillment in the plan of salvation. Each year on the Day of Atonement, the people were to have a solemn assembly and were to afflict their souls (or humble themselves before God), as the sanctuary was cleansed. The cleansing of the sanctuary was about purifying the church and the people of all sin and defilement on the record books of heaven and in the hearts of the people.
The purpose of the cleansing of the sanctuary in ancient Israel was to symbolically remove the sins that had been placed on the sanctuary throughout the year by the sacrifices on behalf of the sinner. As you probably remember, the blood of the lambs that were slain was sprinkled in the sanctuary, symbolically removing them from the sinner, but also placing them in the sanctuary to be finally removed forever during the Day of Atonement.
Symbolically, this process was a type of what Christ is doing in the last days. During the anti-typical Day of Atonement, Christ is cleansing his church and his people of all sin, and showing them how to live without falling into sin. This is important because those who will go through the final time of trouble, or tribulation before Jesus comes, will be living in the sight of a Holy God without a mediator. The only reason we need a mediator is because we sin. But after the close of probation there will be no one to mediate because Christ will have left the sanctuary in heaven. That means that Christ’s true followers will have to live without sin for a period of time before Jesus comes, and then on into eternity.
They will not be on their own. Christ will be living in them through His Holy Spirit. They will have complete victory over all sin, and their lives will reflect His image fully and maturely. They will have afflicted their souls because of sorrow for sin. They will have humbled themselves before God in complete contrition and repentance. Christ will have filled the gaping holes in their lives because of sin’s damage. He will have been able to reveal to them all areas in their lives that are not like Him and that don’t reflect His character. They will have dealt with them and let go of them.
So in the present time, modern spiritual Israel is to do the same as ancient Israel in a spiritual sense. We are to afflict our souls and humble ourselves before God, not just on one day, but through our entire lives. We are living in the period of the anti-typical Day of Atonement, which began in 1844 and will continue until the close of probation.
Just like ancient Israel, our lives should reflect the solemn time in which we live. The purpose of the cleansing of the sanctuary is to humble ourselves. Whenever ancient Israel humbled themselves before God, they removed their jewelry and outward adornments. The Day of Atonement has no place for pride, and therefore no place for jewelry. After all, we are preparing the meet the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
My friends, this is a most important time to be alive. It is, perhaps the most important time for God’s people to reflect His image. We are preparing to receive the Holy Spirit in latter rain power, or at least we should be. Let us live like we truly believe that Jesus is coming soon. Let us not use anything in our lives that will only strengthen our pride and love of display and reduce our capacity to understand and receive the Holy Spirit. This is the time of all times when we must take ourselves and our faith in scripture very seriously.
Before we close, I want you to notice that I only quoted from scripture in this message. I believe that scripture is so clear on this poit that we don’t need anything more.
My message this month was inspired by a new book that has recently been released. It is called Jewelry, Ornaments, Personal Decoration and More… The Spiritualism Connection. It is 270 pages packed full of resources that will help you deal with this issue. It was written by Gwen and Rick Shorter, and is an excellent help in understanding the matter of adornment in light of the last days. If you would like a copy of this important book for our times, just send $16 USD to cover the cost including postage to U.S. addresses, and we will gladly send you one. International listeners should send $20 USD.
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