The Closet

In the Bible, a closet (tameion in Greek) is referred to as a storehouse, a secret chamber, or a room for privacy. Jesus advised us to "enter our closet and shut the door" and pray privately when he was teaching his disciples that secret giving and secret praying are rewarded openly (Matthew 6:6). This closet is wide open, however, and it contains some very special garments.

Robes of silk and purple

The writer of Proverbs gives us a picture of the model, virtuous woman. This beautiful passage in Proverbs 31:10-31 is more than a poem, it is, in the original Hebrew, an acrostic where each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

      10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
      11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
      12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
      13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
      14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
      15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
      16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
      17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
      18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
      19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
      20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
      21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
      22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
      23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
      24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
      25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
      26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
      27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
      28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
      29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
      30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
      31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

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Sheep's skin

Heroes in Sheep's skin. The writer of Hebrews gives us a rollcall of faithful saints from the Old Testament, men and women who were waiting for Jesus, their Redeemer. Many of these heroes suffered for their faith: "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;" but yet the world was not worthy of them (Hebrews 11:1-39).

Enemies in Sheep's skin. Jesus warns us to beware of those who proclaim a gospel of false peace, an easy way that neglects God's true demands: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves (Matthew 7:15)." These false leaders and their teaching pose a real danger to believers. They are like hungry wolves who disguise themselves as sheep. We can detect these enemies by their fruit: behavior flows from character, and in Christian teaching character comes through being born again rather than merely through self-discipline. Our own efforts at changing human nature are doomed to failure: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). By contrast, a person transformed by God's spirit will live, with the help of the Holy Spirt, according to the traits of God's character.

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Robes of fine, white linen

The saints are depicted as a bride, dressed in fine linen for her wedding to her groom, Jesus. Revelation 19:8 explains that the fine linen stands for the righteousous of the saints. Their robes are made white by washing in "the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14)."

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The Christian's armor. The faithful are to gird themselves for battle against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12-14). Paul tells us what to wear:
      the belt of truth
      the breastplate of righteousness
      your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
      the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one
      the helmet of salvation
      the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

David's armor. David was asked to put on King Saul's suit of armor before he faced Goliath alone. But the armor was too heavy for David; instead, he relied on God to provide him with victory. You can read the story of David here.

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Sackcloth was made of black goats' hair, coarse, rough, and thick. It was worn as a symbol of mourning. Jacob wore sackcloth when he was told that his favorite son, Joseph, had been devoured by wild animals. Read the story of Joseph here. When Jonah preached to the city of Nineveh, the King repented and decreed that every subject and animal should fast and wear sackcloth (Jonah 3:8). Read the story of Jonah here.

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A mantle was a large over-garment and the most famous one is the one worn by Elijah. It appears to have been his only garment, a strip of skin or leather binding it to his loins. Elijah, the greatest of Israel's prophets and miracle-workers, was so full of the power of God that his mantle seemed to also "have power." Just before he was raptured (caught up) to heaven, he led Elisha and 50 other men to the banks of the Jordan River. He took off his mantle and smote it against the water. The river parted and Elijah and Elisha crossed on dry ground. As he was lifted to heaven in a whirlwind, his mantle fell off. Elisha took the mantle, smote the water and crossed the river on dry ground.

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The most famous coat in the Bible is the coat of many colors that Jacob gave to his favorite son Joseph. Read about it here. Another child which received a special coat was Samuel. His mother, Hannah, brought him a coat made as a miniature of the official priestly robe (1 Sam. 2:19)

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Filthy rags

Our righteousness. We are all such sinful beings that even our goodness is repugnant to God: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)." Only the blood of Jesus can make us clean.

Jeremiah's rescue. Jeremiah was imprisoned in a dungeon of mire. He was rescued when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian tied rotten rags into a rope and lifted him from the dungeon (Jeremiah 38).

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