February 6, 2023
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments...'”
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“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them that throughout their generations they are to make tassels for the corners of their garments, and put a blue cord on each tassel at each corner. These will serve as tassels for you to look at, so that you may remember all the Lord’s commands and obey them and not become unfaithful by following your own heart and your own eyes. This way you will remember and obey all my commands and be holy to your God.” Numbers 15:37-40
Jesus said to some of the religious leaders of His day, “You make your tassels long and phylacteries large, and pray loudly on the street corner because you love to be seen and greeted loudly in the marketplace.” Essentially, God-given displays of spiritual identity had become objects of egocentric attention for some worshipers.
Prayer, phylacteries, and tassels are outward religious displays, supposedly reflecting an inward devotion to the Lord. Phylacteries are tiny boxes affixed by leather straps to the head and hands. Inside these boxes are scriptures, specifically, Exodus 13:1-10; 11-16, and Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21.
When a phylactery is enlarged, a prayer is shouted on a street corner, or a tassel is elongated, attention is thus drawn away from personal worship and toward the worshipper. The observer is led to believe the size of the vestment is proportional to the piety of the worshipper. Grandiose displays may be impressive to humans, but God is more concerned with sincerity than sensationalism. Quality of worship wins out over quantity.
Personally, I like the idea of reminders. Most people like reminders too, or else the “Post It” note company would be out of business! God is concerned with our remembrance. This extends beyond an annual holiday or weekly Sabbath rest. He wants us to continually remember Him, as He continually remembers us: through His Son, Who is ever before Him as our testimony and advocate.
The Hebrew word for tassel is: “Tzitzit.” In Hebrew, each letter has a numerical value. The letters of the word tzitzit, added together, equal 600. Each tzitzit has eight cords and five knots. This gives a total of 613, the number of all the commandments in the Torah.
As we focus our Worship on God, He does not simply want us to remember the ten commandments, but of all 613. The over-arching statement is that God wants us to remember to follow Him completely. Our complete devotion is not so our worship will be for show; rather, it will be for Him.
©Steve Wiggins 2021