by Wayne Blank
Although the modern-day idea of "wearing sackcloth" is often that of someone dressed in a burlap grain bag with head and arm holes cut in it, during Bible History its appearance was quite different. Sackcloth was most often made of coarse, black goat's hair. As its name indicates, it was used for sacks, but was also customarily worn by mourners (in some countries, the ancient custom is still faintly seen today when mourners wear black arm bands at funerals), or as a sign of deep repentance and humility. Ashes were often included as a further symbol of personal abhorrence and chagrin. Also, sackcloth was, and will be (in some contemporary form), in the case of the two witnesses, worn by some Prophets.
Sackcloth In Bible History and Prophecy
Sackcloth was a sign of mourning.
"And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son [i.e. Joseph; see Coat Of Many Colors and Potiphar] many days." (Genesis 37:34 KJV)
Sackcloth was worn by those whose repentance was dire:
"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! [see Chorazin and Bethsaida] for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." (Matthew 11:20-21 KJV)
Sackcloth, in some modern-day form, will be worn by the end-time two witnesses:
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses [see Preparing The Way For Christ's Coming], and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." (Revelation 11:3-6 KJV)