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Clothing Optional

“And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” Revelation 7:9

“’Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride, has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.” Revelation 19:7

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” Revelation 22:14

The above parallel never occurred to me before tonight. We often talk about heaven being Eden restored—a new heaven and a new earth and all of that. Genesis makes a big deal about our nakedness being a symbol of our innocence and freedom from shame, yet strangely, Revelation doesn’t mention a restoration to innocent nakedness, and makes several references to our being clothed in robes. Ponder this for a minute.

There are several significant things to unpack here.

First, there is the possibility that the new Jerusalem is not a restoration to a pre-Fall condition, but rather a conclusion of a saga. We are forgiven and righteous, but are no longer innocent. Nakedness is so deeply associated with shame because of our need to hide something of ourselves. Yet, Scripture promises that we shall know fully even as we are fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12) This implies that there will be nothing hidden. So why the clothes?

The second thing to notice is that the robes are explicitly symbolic of the righteous deeds of the saints. This is revealing (so to speak) on two levels. First, it implies that our shame—our sin, the parts of our lives that drive us to hide ourselves have been replaced with better things—obedience, faith, hope, love, etc, and they shine so bright and are such a part of us that they do not hide nakedness, they replace it. The other implication is that humanity was born in the garden naked of any deed, good or ill, and our lives clothe us, to hide shame or display glory. We chose the lesser, and God graciously bestowed the better.

The final point that comes to mind (there may be others) is that Revelation concludes with a wedding, between Christ and His Bride—His people. In a wedding, we put on our very best clothes, we make ourselves as glorious as we possibly can to celebrate the union. Yet the consummation after the celebration is without raiment of any kind. We are bare before the soul of our hearts, representing the fullness of knowing each other. So, in a sense, at the wedding, we are wrapping ourselves in the finest gift wrap we have for the joy of the unwrapping into knowing.

So what do I conclude? Frankly, what the sum of this says to me is that the nakedness of our flesh in glory is so unimportant that it gets essentially glossed over. The references to clothing are ephemeral and symbolic, which indicates a wide open possibility that we truly do not wear clothing. Whether we have a restoration to innocence or a progression to something beyond is not really covered (again so to speak). What was of great import to Moses in transcribing Genesis is beneath notice in the hereafter. Our eyes, our minds and our spirits are fully engrossed in better things that the appearance of mere flesh.



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