Going to the King

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One of my favorite things about this time of year is costumes. I like the funny and creative ones best. I admire folks who make their own homemade outfits, but as a father of five I definitely understand why most will opt to just pick one up at Walmart instead.

The appeal of costumes seems obvious to me. Who hasn’t ever dreamed of being something or somebody other than who we are? Even for adults it’s fun to imagine and pretend.

I thought of costumes recently when I read Judges 6:34, which says, “But the Spirit of The Lord clothed Gideon.” (ESV) In the original Hebrew the wording is a bit ambiguous. Most versions say that Gideon was clothed with the Holy Spirit but the most plain, literal meaning of the original Hebrew means that it was the Holy Spirit who wore Gideon like a garment. But regardless of who was wearing who, the main idea is the same. The presence of the Holy Spirit was the key to victory. Of course, one of the most classic and time-honored Halloween costumes is an old sheet with some eye holes cut into it, but I like how Judges 6:34 flips the script by conjuring the image of the Holy Ghost wearing a man.

That’s not a costume exactly, because, most importantly, it’s not pretend or make believe, and also because the Spirit’s outfit was not made of polyester and Velcro but of a man— Gideon— made in the image and likeness of God. Christians possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which is to say that we are all walking around being worn like a garment. When the Bible calls us to “clothe yourselves with the Lord, Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14), to “put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10), or to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12), it is not calling us to pretend or play-act at these things like a child who puts on a costume only to take it off again later. It is calling us to live outwardly in a way that agrees with the Spirit that has come to inhabit our frames.

This reminds me of our study through the book of Esther. In some ways our heroine has been wearing a disguise up to this point. On the advice of her Uncle Mordecai she has hidden her true identity as a Jewess, and has changed her name from Hadassah to Esther. She is the Queen of Persia, but hiding under the crown and finery is a Jewish orphan girl. It won’t be until chapter 7 that Hadassah will remove her Esther costume, and, in so doing, will also expose Haman for who he truly is, but this Sunday as we study chapters 5 and 6 together we will see how God sets the stage for that big reveal.