Cloaking Devices part 2 Suiting Ourselves

cache misère comes to us from the French and is literally translated as “swept under the rug”. Camouflaged. In other words, “not dealt with correctly”. And with reference to sin, there’s only one thing to do with it. And that is, let Jesus cover you.

Cheap knock-offs

“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God…” (Genesis 3:7-8a)

So, the trouble with “covering ourselves” after we’ve done something wrong before the Lord is that something has to die. In the case of Adam and Eve, it says a little later on (after God had interrogated them and also passed judgment) that “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21) So God took care of covering them by killing some animals and taking their hides. As an aside, did you ever wonder why, if we were created well enough without clothes, after all is said and done, we would be wearing white robes in Heaven? Because something got fundamentally altered, that’s why. Not to worry. There are (at least) a couple of things to work out prior to getting there, though.

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20-21)

Before we go any further, just because Job said God “taketh away” doesn’t mean He was the cause of the calamity that befell Job. In much the same way as Adam and Eve brought upon themselves what they experienced, Job’s “misfortunes”–for lack of a better word–were tied up in the simple lack of realization of God’s grandeur. And forgive me for so childishly simple an exposition of Job–because his book truly contains hard-won and inscrutable lessons.

Knowing Jesus from Adam

“But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

Whenever we make a mistake, regardless of our understanding or motive, it’s ultimately aimed at God. And by mistake, I mean any offense that is covered by things considered morally reprehensible by and large. Things like theft and hate and lying. Each sin has its spectrum almost like anti-light. But it’s all sin and it’s all black. When it says “The eyes of them both were opened”, I wonder why it doesn’t say that they were blinded. Because it’s only the mercy and covering of God that keeps us from ever-descending unto death on the slippery slope of sin and wrongdoing. Wait. That’s not entirely accurate. John says “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9) This is true. God has effectively remade you. Having made you in His image in the first place, He has now remade you in His image spiritually. Don’t get me wrong and don’t think me New Agey. The fact of the matter is, because of what Jesus did on the cross, by living the perfect life, we are able to partake of and enjoy every blessing God has for us. This is peace. Joy, hope, happiness and purpose. How about intensity and courage and resolve? It’s all yours. For one reason alone: because you have “put on Christ”.

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

God sees Jesus and His sacrifice for sin when He looks at us. Now, brand names notwithstanding, you are who you are. And you will ever be that even as you continue to become more and more of whom God made you. But never forget from where you (and I) came. We were exiled from the Garden. And it wasn’t until Jesus did what He did were we able and also allowed–to return.

“And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47)

Cloaking Devices part 1

Common Threads

David prays to God in Psalm 86 (verse 17): “show me a token for good”. David needed something, anything from God that would help him stay afloat amidst the sea of hate and persecution. But I think it was more than that. David needed reminding–as all of us do from time to time–of something that God had done for him or given him that was special.

One example of this kind of thing is Joseph’s coat of many colors. There’s a difference between being spoiled and being spoiled rotten. Joseph, the youngest–and most cherished–of Jacob’s twelve sons had a special coat given him by his father. Of course, his brothers naturally hated the attention lavished upon Joseph by their father. Joseph was “the son of [Jacob’s] old age” (Genesis 37:3). And surely, the fact that he was from a different mother didn’t help Joseph’s case. So out of jealousy, his eleven brothers sold him into slavery to a “company of Ishmaelites” (37:27). This “token for good”, if I may, his coat of many colors, surely didn’t seem to be anything good at all. Couple this with the fact that Joseph had two powerfully prophetic dreams foretelling a day when all of his brothers would bow down to him (37:9). So they got rid of him, dipping his coat in the blood of a goat, adding more red than was there, I assume (Genesis 37:31). I will pose you a question: do you think Joseph’s attitude was such that he used the obvious honor of the coat (understand that it  was a rare thing for a young man in a pastoral community to have such a remarkable article of clothing) as well as the stark future reality of the dreams to lord it over his brothers and make them feel inferior? Personally, I don’t think so. Joseph’s destiny was interwoven with that of both Israel and Egypt and usually, someone who is destined for greatness must necessarily go through a period of trial and suffering before they are tasked with so great a responsibility. As was Joseph by his responsibility in overseeing the agricultural economy of two nations during severe famine.

Psalms (105:19) says “the word of the Lord tried him”. Nothing could be done to keep Joseph from fulfilling his destiny. The coat ended up being a token for good after all.

When Jesus was sacrificed for our sins, the Roman soldiers present at the execution gambled for His coat, saying “Let us not rend it” (John 19:24). They wanted a piece (figuratively) of what Jesus had. The special thing about Jesus’ coat was that it was “without seam, woven from the top throughout ” (19:23). In other words, the arms weren’t sewn on and a common thread was used to weave the coat that Jesus wore. While this is more than symbolic, I believe that it does symbolize that Jesus is not divided. His church, His people are to be as one. Living out and wearing the coat of His love and bringing people in to share in its warmth.

Loose Threads

Contrast this: Peter uses the analogy of a coat, or “cloak”, saying how, just because we are free from the law and from sin because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we shouldn’t be conducting ourselves as arrogant or better than others. He says “use not your liberty as a cloke of maliciousness.” (1 Peter 2:16). Paul says that he and his fellow ministers did not use a “cloak of greed” or “covetousness” as it says in the King James (1 Thessalonians 2:5). The implication here is that both Peter and Paul are advocating transparency and honesty when doing “church stuff”. I can’t begin to count the people I’ve met in my life who have left church because they sensed that the “Christians” were acting that very way: malicious and greedy. Forgive us.

Back to David’s prayer from Psalm 86. He says, give me a token for good “that others may see it”. We’re walking a fine line here, because others will see it. It’s guaranteed. If God has blessed you with something that is noticeable, to the point of envy, please, please make sure you are conducting yourself in humility, kindness, compassion–and common sense. Please understand that God does not play favorites. And by all means, if you see that God has blessed someone else and given them something that you also would like, know that God will do the same for you if you ask. “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). And it doesn’t even have to be a thing. It could be a quality, like patience or hope. Or it could be something deeper like love, a sense of confidence or belonging (more on that tomorrow).

“I am as a wonder unto many; but Thou art my strong refuge.” (Psalm 71:7)

Ask and ye shall receive–a token for good.