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Because Words Matter - Linen

Robert Hawker | Added: Jul 04, 2024 | Category: Theology


The linen of the Hebrews seems to have been originally made from flax, called by them Phistah (Exodus 9:31). And it should seem also, that they had another sort of a kind of cotton, which they called Schesch. We meet with precepts in the Old Testament Scripture respecting apparel, that, taken in the literal sense, do not appear altogether accountable. That of restoring the poor man’s pledge of raiment before the sun set, is plain enough, because the poor man might want it for covering (see Exodus 22:26, 27). And perhaps of that precept, that the ‘woman should not wear the dress pertaining to a man, neither the man put on the woman’s garment’ (see Deuteronomy 22:5), the reason doth not seem difficult to discover. For in this change of garments, in the first face of it, there is implied somewhat of deception; and when we consider the retirement of woman in those eastern nations, no man ever, presuming to appear in the apartments of the women, there seems an evident propriety in this prohibition, lest men, under the garb of a woman’s dress, might get in unperceived among them. But when a law of this kind is found, ‘thou shalt not let a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee’ (Leviticus 19:19), there is somewhat certainly mysterious in this, if considered only with an eye to the mere wearing of apparel. We might be prompted humbly to ask, why is it that the Lord hath so prohibited the wearing of linen and woollen together? Can it be an object of moment in itself? Since the Fall our poor sinful bodies require covering, which in innocency, it should seem, was unnecessary either for warmth or decency; and as the fleecy garment is for warmth, and, the linen for cleanliness can it be offensive to our God, that His poor creatures should use both? Nay, it is, well known that we do use both, and do not consider it as any breach of this command. Have we not reason therefore to believe, that somewhat of an higher nature is implied than the mere dress of the body? May it not be intended as figurative respecting the covering of the soul? Certain it is, that under the law almost everything became a shadowy representation of the gospel; and not only sacrifices and washings, but numberless other appointments preached the Lord Jesus Christ. Under this view it hath been thought by some, that this precept of not mingling linen and woollen for covering the body represented the still higher concern of not mingling the covering for the soul, but that one garment, and one only, and that one found in Christ’s perfect robe of righteousness, was the great object referred to: and if so, the precept is beautiful and interesting. The fine linen, we are told in Scripture (see Revelation 19:8), ‘is the righteousness of the saints’ and this righteousness, the prophet saith (Isaiah 54:17), is of the Lord. Hence, therefore, if the conjecture be well founded, we not only behold a blessed appointment in the thing itself, but it may serve moreover to teach the church in what an exalted point of view the Lord considered, the righteousness of His dear Son as the alone covering of His people, since He caused it thus to be preached in type and figure so many ages before the Lord’s coming. See the church’s song of joy in the conscious covering of her Lord (Isaiah 61:10).