In our last couple of programs we’ve learned why the Jews wear the tassels or tzitzit on the corners of their clothing, why they have to be visible and what the tzitzit represents; authority, royalty, nobility as well as the spiritual perspective of the priesthood.
The Jews received the commission of being a light to the nations, to represent God before a watching world. They were supposed to not only be different, but they were to look different, eat different, worship different and live different. The command to wear the tzitzit was a perpetual command for all Jews throughout their generations and to this day, they’re still obeying that command…at least religious and observant Jews.
It’s very easy to be influenced by the world, the Jews were always falling into following the world and that’s why God had so many distinctive rules for His people to follow. They were to ensure they remained separated and uncorrupted by the traditions, patterns, behaviours and practices of the nations around them, practices and behaviours that were very much tied to their false worship and fake religious belief systems. God didn’t want His people impacted or tainted by any of them.
So what does this mean for Gentile believers who have never been commanded to wear tassels on their clothing?
How is this important for believers? The Jews were commanded to wear tassels on the garments throughout their generations but no such obligation was made to the Gentiles and there’s no such obligation made to believing Gentiles in the New Covenant either. The tassels were a specific mark of identity for Israel before other people and if everyone started wearing tassels, how would the Jew, the Israelite people be distinct in their role and calling among all the nations of the world?
Peter taught that Gentile believers actually have the same calling as their Jewish brethren but without the command of physically wearing tzitzit. In fact, when Christians get excited about learning about the Jewish foundations of the Christian faith and their religious practices, some of them think they need to adopt the practices and traditions of the Jews for themselves and this is highly offensive to Jewish people.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Because we’ve been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel, adopted into the family though not ‘Jewish’ by ethnicity, we are partakers of the covenants too. We are to be a light to the nations, Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, that we are salt and light in the world. As partakers of the covenants through our adoption as sons, we are part of His holy nation and royal priesthood.
Ephesians 2:11-13, ‘Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands, remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.’
So does this mean we should wear tassels on the corners of our clothes? No, not at all. In the same way that the tzitzit or tassels are blatantly obvious on religious Jews, our faith and relationship with Jesus should be just as obvious to those who see us. Pretending to be Jewish is not what Peter was saying.
What do others see in us as we go about our daily lives? Do we express our love for Christ to others? Does our conversation honour Him? What is our dress code saying to those we come in contact with? What about our behaviour…do we indulge in gossip of others or crass jokes and innuendos? How do we react or behave under pressure or when people criticise or offend us?
Asking these questions could easily be seen as judgmental and it’s not meant to be; rather this is a call to self-examination in the light of God’s Word to see where we’re at and there isn’t a believer on the planet who doesn’t have the need for improvement and refining, because we’re all on the same journey. If we’re believer’s in Jesus, then this isn’t about salvation, it’s about ambassadorship and we’re supposed to be representing and reflecting our King.
Andrew Bolt is a secular media commentator and opinion writer as well as a TV personality, and he’s made repeated references over the years about the distinct attributes and moral qualities of Christians and how these have impacted and influenced our society, especially throughout the western world. The truth is that the church – for the most part – has been a visible example to the entire world, being a light that represents Christ…without tassels. Jews have been a visible light to the nations as well, they’ve done amazing things that have benefited all mankind and they’ve been visibly distinctive…with tassels.
Our faith in Jesus is supposed to be obvious just like the tassels worn by Jews are obvious so that people know and observe who we love and model our lives on…our Rabbi and Messiah Jesus, the One in whose dust we are walking. We’ve been clothed in the robe of His righteousness, let’s make sure it’s visible, not for our glory, but for His.
Isaiah 61:10-11, “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and a bride adorns herself with jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.”
Remember, the calling of Jews and Christians is the same. Being a light to the nations…but through different expressions. We’re each God’s ambassadors and the world is watching and if ever the world need to see the light, it’s now.
Based on the writing of Lois Tverberg