Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh. (Genesis 41:14)
It is understandable that, having been summoned to appear before the king, Joseph would have changed his clothes. It would have been unfitting to appear before the king unkempt and in rags. It is curious, though, that he also took the time to shave. The Hebrew word means “to make bald,” implying that Joseph shaved himself in a manner that would have made him to appear more Egyptian. In other words, out of respect to Pharaoh, he made himself be more palatable for the king’s court. Let us also consider this: though Joseph was not summoned before the Creator, he was summoned because of Creator and, thus, he “changed his clothing.”
In regard to the Almighty, to “change clothes” hints at putting off one’s defilement in preparation of encountering the Creator. There are several instances where the Bible records that people changed their clothing before such an encounter with God. For instance, soon after arriving back in Canaan, Jacob has those with him change their garments before going to Bethel (Genesis 35:2). Israel was told to wash their garments in anticipation of God’s descent upon Sinai (Exodus 19:10). When officiating in the Sanctuary, the Priests had to change their garments. Zerubabel was made to change his garments (Zechariah 3:3-4). And finally, when God gathers His people from the ends of the earth, the returning exiles must be sprinkled and made clean (Ezekiel 36:25).
The obvious point is that we are not to appear before our God in an unclean state. Our clothes are merely a reflection of our lives in this regard and, so, if we are to change our clothes before coming before Him, we must also change our hearts. The Psalmist asked, “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). It was never all about clothes but the principle that, if we are to approach a Holy God, we must be cleansed and made acceptable.
Thankfully, in Messiah, we can stand before our Maker justified. However, it is our responsibility to make certain that our robes remain undefiled and untainted with the filth of the world. While the blood of the Messiah cleanses us from all unrighteousness and gives us cleans hands, it is our duty to make certain we have a pure heart.
Blessings and Shalom,