Truth Baptist Church, Bremen, GA

THE HEM OF THE GARMENT
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THE HEM OF THE GARMENT

Numbers 15:37-41

Intro: Notice two other passages: Matthew 9:20-22, Matthew 14:36. In both of these passages we are told of people being healed by touching the “hem” of our Lord’s garment, and we will likely look more at the hem of the garment of Christ as it pertains to him being our high priest in future weeks. Today, however, I want us to see the hem of the garment as it pertains to the believer.

The word “hem” means “fringe, tassel, or the border of a garment”. In Numbers 15:38, they are told to “make fringes in the borders of their garments.” The word “fringe” means the same thing as the word “hem” in Matthew. It is the word “Tzitzit” and it speaks of a “tassel”.

The mantle of the time was a long, rectangular cloth that draped down over the body. It had four corners at the bottom. The Israelites were to attach tassels to the four corners of their garments and hem the garment in blue. Over time, clothing styles changed, and robes became more rounded at the bottom. They no longer had four corners, so the Israelites developed something called the “Tallit”. From reading the Gospels, it seems clear that Jesus wore a “tallit”, as did all orthodox Jews in His day. When the woman touched the “hem” of His garment, what she touched was one of the four “tassels”.

This mantle or “tallit” served as a prayer shawl. A person used the prayer shawl by reading an inscription that is embroidered into the garment. He was to kiss the first word of the inscription, kiss the last word of the inscription and then place the shawl over his head for a moment of reflection. During times of deep prayer, the head was wrapped in the “tallit” to shut off the worshiper from the world. Many commentators believe this is what Jesus had in mind in Matt 6:6 when He said to enter into your closet to pray.

The “tallit” can be found throughout the Old Testament.

  • When David cut off the bottom of Saul’s garment, he cut off the tassel, I Sam. 24:1-22. Saul had rejected the commandments of God, and David cut off the tassels that represented the reminder of the Word on Saul’s garment.
  • When Samuel rebuked Saul for failing to kill all the Amalekites, their king, and their cattle, Samuel turned to go, and Saul reached out to stop him. In doing so, he ripped the tassel from Samuel’s garment. Samuel used this as a picture of what God was going to do with the kingdom of Israel. It was to be ripped away from Saul, I Sam 15.
  • When Elijah was taken up in to Heaven, Elisha was given Elijah’s mantle. This was probably his “tallit” or outer garment used for a prayer cloth.
  • Malachi 4:2 said that “the Sun of righteousness” would “arise with healing in his wings.” The word “wings” is the same as the word “borders” in Num. 15:38.

The tassels on the prayer shawl:

  • Are formed from four strands of thread, which are doubled making eight strands. One of the strings, usually a blue string, was much longer than the others.
  • These strands are tied in a series of five knots, with a certain number of windings from the longer string, between each knot.
  • The five knots represent the Torah, or the five books of the Law.
  • Between the five knots, there are four windings. In the first, the string is wound seven times. In the second, it is wound eight times. In the third, it is wound eleven times. In the fourth, it is wound thirteen times. These windings are very significant to the Jews.
  • Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value. The first three windings (7+8+11) equal twenty-six and this number is equal to the Hebrew value for the Name of God. This Name is YHWH and is called the “Tetragrammoton”. It is the word we know as “Jehovah”. The thirteen windings refer to the thirteen attributes of God that the Jews believed He possessed. If you add the five knots with eight strands, you get the number thirteen.
  • The numerical value of the word for tassel (Tzitzit) is 600. Add these numbers together and you get 613. This is the number of laws that are found in the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible. There are 365 “thou shalt nots” and 248 “thou shalts”. As our text says, “that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD”.
  • The tassels on the border of a man’s garments were there to be a constant reminder of his relationship to God and to God’s Law. Since they were to be on the four corners of the garments, no matter which way he turned, he would be reminded of the Law and of his responsibility to God.

The “prayer shawl” with its “tassels” was a reminder of:

I. THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD: v. 40-41

A. It Was A Reminder Of A Personal Relationship: v. 41, “Your God”. They were to remember who they were, whose they were, and what was expected of them. Their garment was a reminder that they were a “kingdom of priests, and a holy nation”, Ex. 19:6. They were like no other group of people in the world. They were in a faith relationship with the Jehovah God. The blue in the garment was the color of heaven, and it was there to remind them of their high, heavenly calling among all the nations of the world.

B. It Is A Reminder Of A Present Relationship: v. 41, “I am”. Twice he states “I am the Lord your God.” We need reminders that God is a present help, a present Savior, a present Lord, our present King. He is not just the God of our future in heaven, but he is our God presently.

II. THEIR REQUIREMENTS BEFORE GOD: v. 39-40

A. It Was A Reminder Of The Requirement Of Obedience: with tassels sown on all four corners, not matter which way they turned, they would see them as a reminder to keep God’s law.

B. We Need That Reminder Too. We are not saved by keeping the commandments, but we prove our love for God by keeping the commandments (John 14:15). We do not have a prayer shawl or tassels to remind us. Instead, we have the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.

III. THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE GOD: v. 39b “and do them.”

A. Responsibility Of Outward Obedience: “do them”. We are all responsible to outwardly obey the laws of God.

B. Responsibility Of Inward Obedience: “seek not after your own heart and your own eyes”. It is possible for one to keep the letter of the law and violate the spirit of it. We need that reminder as well. We are to keep the law outwardly and inwardly. Jer 31:33, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” What we do outwardly begins inwardly.

IV. THEIR REDEMPTION BY GOD: v. 41, They were reminded of how they got out of Egypt. It was by the blood of the lamb. The Lord had mercy because of the blood of the lamb. He provided for them through the wilderness. He fed them when they were hungry, and he protected them all the way to the land of promise. We have that same record! Remember the price that was paid, the provisions that were given, the promised land where we are headed.

Conclusion: When the woman with the issue of blood came up behind Jesus and touched the tassels of His garment, she was touching more than a prayer shawl! She was embracing the promise of Mal 4:2. She was looking for healing in His “wings”. She looked upon Jesus and believed that He was who He claimed to be. When she touched the hem of His garment, it was the same as touching Him! She looked to Him by faith and when her faith touched His grace she was healed! She came to the right Person in the right manner and she got what she needed! Do you need to touch Him today? Has He spoken to your heart in this message?

  • If you are lost and would like to come under the shelter of His wings, so you can enjoy His salvation, come touch the hem of His garment!
  • If you are not walking in humble obedience, whether it is externally or internally, come touch the hem of His garment!
  • If there are problems and burdens in your life and you know you need help, come touch the hem of His garment!

Come to Him, come today and get the help you need!

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