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Tuesday, December 6 2011

Linen In History And Prophecy

The English word "linen" originated from a Greek word, pronounced line-en, which referred to the flax plant. The Hebrew word that is used in the Scriptures for linen is pronounced shesh-ee; it literally means white, or bleached - referring to the natural color of linen, when compared to other things.

Linen cloth is made from the fiber of the flax plant (the English word "line" originated from the use of a linen thread or cord to mark a straight line), while the seeds are the source of linseed oil. Linen has been used since very ancient times for clothing, paper (including, in more modern times, in paper money), bedding, curtains and burial wrappings - just as it still is today. One of the earliest producers of fine linen was Egypt, as attested by King Solomon.

Flax Plant

"7:16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt." (Proverbs 7:16 KJV)

When the Israelites first entered Egypt (see Why Did They Go To Goshen?), they did so under the best-possible circumstances - one of their own, Joseph, had become (see Was Her Name Zuleikha?) the Prime Minister, who was "arrayed in vestures of fine linen" by the Pharaoh of that time (unlike the Pharaoh of four centuries later, in the time of Moses; see The River Of Moses and Ipuwer's Exodus).

"41:41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 41:42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 41:43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 41:41-43 KJV)

When the Israelites left Egypt at the time of the Exodus, they took all of the supplies that they would need for their journey in the Sinai Peninsula (see Paul's Geography Lesson) - including linen for "raiment."

"12:35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses [see Moses Of Midian]; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 12:36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required" (Exodus 12:35-36 KJV)

It was from those supplies, including the "fine linen," that the Israelites were able to make their offerings for the establishment of the Tabernacle (see The First Christian Church).

"25:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 25:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 25:3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 25:4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, 25:5 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, 25:6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 25:7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.

25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 25:9 According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it." (Exodus 25:1-9 KJV)

The exterior of the Tabernacle was leather ("a covering of badgers' skins"), while the interior was "fine twined linen."

"36:19 And he made a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering of badgers' skins above that." (Exodus 36:19 KJV)

"36:35 And he made a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: with cherubims made he it of cunning work. 36:36 And he made thereunto four pillars of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold: their hooks were of gold; and he cast for them four sockets of silver. 36:37 And he made an hanging for the tabernacle door of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, of needlework" (Exodus 36:35-37 KJV)

"For the fine linen is the righteousness of saints"

The LORD specified very early that His Creation included natural laws about biological purity e.g. "neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee."

The High Priest

"19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee." (Leviticus 19:19 KJV)

The High Priest's garments were made of fine linen, decorated with a hem of embroidered linen pomegranates.

"39:24 And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen [see also Pomegranates]. 39:25 And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates; 39:26 A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses. 39:27 And they made coats of fine linen of woven work for Aaron, and for his sons, 39:28 And a mitre of fine linen [see also 'Raghead' Racism], and goodly bonnets of fine linen, and linen breeches of fine twined linen, 39:29 And a girdle of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, of needlework; as the LORD commanded Moses." (Exodus 39:24-29 KJV)

Linen garments were thereafter worn by those serving at the Tabernacle. Samuel was given to wear "a linen ephod" right from the time that he was a child (see Hannah's Dedication).

"2:18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD [see The Prophets: Samuel], being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 2:19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 2:20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD." (1 Samuel 2:18-21 KJV)

The Israelite monarchy was established in the time of Samuel. During the civil war for the throne (see The Civil War Kings and Why Didn't David And Saul Fight For Jerusalem?), Saul's troops committed a massacre of priests of the LORD (they "fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod").

"22:17 And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not show it to me.

But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.

22:18 And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod. 22:19 And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men and women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword.

22:20 And one of the sons of Ahimelech the son of Ahitub, named Abiathar, escaped, and fled after David. 22:21 And Abiathar showed David that Saul had slain the LORD's priests." (1 Samuel 22:17-21 KJV)

Saul had earlier attempted to have David killed in battle, by means of proving himself worthy to marry Saul's daughter Michal (see The Wives Of King David). That marriage effectively ended on the day that David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, when "David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod" (David's wives themselves would have been clothed in fine linen).

Wives Of King David

"15:27 And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: David also had upon him an ephod of linen." (1 Chronicles 15:27 KJV)

"6:14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. 6:15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

6:16 And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

6:17 And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 6:18 And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. 6:19 And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.

6:20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!

6:21 And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. 6:22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour.

6:23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death." (2 Samuel 6:14-23 KJV)

David was succeeded by his son Solomon (see David And Bathsheba) who traded with much of the known world. From Egypt, Solomon obtained horses, chariots, and fine linen.

The Judean Antiquities

"10:26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem. 10:27 And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycamore trees that are in the vale, for abundance. 10:28 And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king's merchants received the linen yarn at a price." (1 Kings 10:26-28 KJV)

Like the Tabernacle in the wilderness before it, the Temple in Jerusalem made extensive use of Egyptian linen (see also What Does The Bible Say About Arabs?).

"3:1 Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah [see also Moriah: Separating The Wheat From The Chaff], where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 3:2 And he began to build in the second day of the second month, in the fourth year of his reign." (2 Chronicles 3:1-2 KJV)

"3:14 And he made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon." (2 Chronicles 3:14 KJV)

"5:12 Also the Levites [see also Are Levites 'Jews'?] which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets" (2 Chronicles 5:12 KJV)

Solomon eventually became arrogant (he began to think that the blessings were a product of him, rather from the LORD when Solomon obeyed Him) and then a corrupt loser (see Rehoboam's Answer). Solomon's united kingdom would be divided because of it; the northern kingdom of "Israel" (see The Northern Kingdom) would fall because of it; the southern kingdom of "Judah" (see The Southern Kingdom) would fall because of it. As stated by the prophet Isaiah, their "fine linen" of purity toward the LORD had rotted.

"3:15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord GOD of hosts.

3:16 Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet: 3:17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts.

3:18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, 3:19 The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, 3:20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, 3:21 The rings, and nose jewels, 3:22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, 3:23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.

3:24 And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty. 3:25 Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war. 3:26 And her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground." (Isaiah 3:15-26 KJV)

The prophet Jeremiah was given the same object lesson of corrupted linen "which is good for nothing."

Decayed Linen

"13:1 Thus saith the LORD unto me, Go and get thee a linen girdle, and put it upon thy loins, and put it not in water. 13:2 So I got a girdle according to the word of the LORD, and put it on my loins.

13:3 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, 13:4 Take the girdle that thou hast got, which is upon thy loins, and arise, go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock. 13:5 So I went, and hid it by Euphrates, as the LORD commanded me.

13:6 And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there. 13:7 Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing.

13:8 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 13:9 Thus saith the LORD, After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem. 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing. 13:11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear." (Jeremiah 13:1-11 KJV)

While exiled to Babylon, which fell to Persia (see Iran's Greatest Leader Was Pro-Zionist), Esther became queen of Persia (today known as Iran), dressed in fine linen, as was Mordecai (see Has Another Haman Arisen?).

"8:11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey, 8:12 Upon one day in all the provinces of king Ahasuerus, namely, upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar. 8:13 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, and that the Jews should be ready against that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

8:14 So the posts that rode upon mules and camels went out, being hastened and pressed on by the king's commandment. And the decree was given at Shushan the palace.

8:15 And Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a garment of fine linen and purple: and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. 8:16 The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour." (Esther 8:11-16 KJV)

While in Babylon, the angel Gabriel ("9:21 Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation" Daniel 9:21 KJV) appeared to the prophet Daniel, "clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold."

Abraham and The Three Angels

"10:1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel [see also The Royal Eunuchs], whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.

10:2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 10:3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

10:4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel; 10:5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 10:6 His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude." (Daniel 10:1-6 KJV)

Just as seen by Daniel in his day, the Book of Revelation describes angels who will also be "clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles."

"15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. 15:4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

15:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 15:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles." (Revelation 15:1-6 KJV)

When the Messiah died, the linen Veil of the Temple was torn (see Why Was It Torn?). The Son of God was then wrapped in linen cloths (not a single shroud) according to custom, just as Lazarus had been bound ("11:44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go" John 11:44 KJV).

"27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [see Giving Up The Ghost].

27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.

27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 27:58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed." (Matthew 27:50-60 KJV)

After the Messiah was resurrected, the linen burial cloths (plural, not a single "shroud") were folded and left in the Tomb.

Linen Cloth

"20:3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 20:4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 20:5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself." (John 20:3-7 KJV)

Pure linen is symbolic of the "bride of Christ" - those who are truly faithful to Him, in word and deed (see the series of ten studies beginning with The Way To Salvation: Step 1).

"19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 19:9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:6-9 KJV)

On the day of Christ's return, He will be accompanied by a large army of angels, as already described above, "clothed in fine linen." Also clothed in fine linen, as also already described above, will be the "bride of Christ" who will "meet the LORD in the air" (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin).

"19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 19:12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 19:15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 19:16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

19:17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 19:18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

19:19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." (Revelation 19:11-20 KJV)

Fact Finder: As explained above, a linen string or cord was used to mark a straight line. What is the other significance of being "straight" with God?
See The Strait Gate and Straight Street


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This Day In History, December 6

342: "Saint Nicholas" of Turkey died (see Could Santa Claus Have Become The Pope?; listen also to our Sermon The Ho-Ho Hoax).

1421: Henry VI, the last Lancastrian king of England, was born. He was crowned king at the age of 8 months.

1492: Christopher Columbus "discovered" Hispaniola (it wasn't a discovery for the people who were already living there); the island is now divided between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

1534: Quito, Ecuador was founded by Spanish explorers.

1768: The first edition of Encyclopedia Britannica was published.

1792: During the French Revolution, the Girondists decided to put King Louis XVI on trial.

1862: President Abraham Lincoln ordered the hanging of 39 native Americans for the "Sioux Uprising" in Minnesota.

1917: Over 1,600 people were killed, 9,000 injured, and an estimated $35 million damage from an explosion in the harbor at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, collided with the Belgian relief ship Imo. Sparks from the collision ignited almost 3,000 tons of explosives aboard the French ship.

1917: British troops under General Allenby entered Hebron on their way to taking Jerusalem from the Ottomans during the First World War (listen to our Sermons The Ottoman Empire, The European World Wars and The Balfour Declaration).

1921: The Anglo-Irish Treaty ended the Anglo-Irish War and gave Ireland dominion status in the British Empire as the Irish Free State, but provided for the separate status for the 6 northern counties (Northern Ireland), thus partitioning the country.

1938: Germany and France signed a "treaty of friendship." Germany invaded France a year later.

1941: Franklin Roosevelt approved funds for the development of a weapon of mass destruction, which later became known as the "atomic bomb."

1973: Gerald Ford was sworn in as U.S. Vice-President, following Spiro Agnew's resignation for tax evasion. With the later resignation of Richard Nixon because of the Watergate burglary and obstruction of justice cover-up, Ford became the only man to serve as President and Vice-President without ever being elected to either office.

1975: A $2.3 billion emergency loan to save New York from bankruptcy was authorized.


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