Investiture with the Image of God

Home/Kline’s Works/Articles and Essays/Investiture with the Image of God

Meredith G. Kline, “Investiture with the Image of God” WTJ 40 (1977/78): 38-62.

RE-CREATION in the image of God is, according to one biblical metaphor, an act of investiture. Those who are renewed in the divine likeness are said to “put on” the new man or Christ or resurrection glory.

[1] Mixing the metaphor, Paul speaks of the perfecting of the divine image at the resurrection as a being clothed upon with a heavenly tabernacle-house (2 Cor. 5:1-4). This curious combination of sartorial and architectural imagery provides a clue to the source of the investiture figure in the symbolism of the Old Testament cult.

I. The Tabernacle – A Replica of the Glory-Spirit

The earth-cosmos was made after the archetypal pattern of the Glory-Spirit referred to in Genesis 1:2 and accordingly is viewed in Scripture as a cosmic royal residence or temple. [2] Heaven and earth were established as a holy palace of the Creator-King, with the heaven of heavens in particular corresponding to the Glory-cloud as the seat of his sovereignty.

Then, preparing a place for the man-priest who was to be created, the Lord God produced in Eden a microcosmic version of his cosmic sanctuary. The garden planted there was holy ground with guardianship of its sanctity committed in turn to men and to cherubim. [3] It was the temple-garden of God, [4] the place chosen by the Glory-Spirit who hovered over creation from the beginning to be the focal site of his throne-presence among men.

Such was evidently Ezekiel’s reading of Genesis 2. In the passage where he compares the Prince of Tyre to a figure in the original paradise scene (Ezek. 28:14,16), he speaks of a covering [5] cherub as present there on the holy mountain of God. The Glory theophany thus located by Ezekiel in Eden is prominent in his apocalyptic vision of paradise restored and consummated. [6] The same is true of the Johannine treatment of this theme. [7] And particularly interesting for its backward illumination of the Edenic prototype is Isaiah’s picture of the eschatological kingdom as a paradise created anew under the heavenly tent-covering of divine Glory: [8] “Over the entire holy site of Mount Zion and its assemblies Yahweh will create a cloud by day and the bright smoke of a flaming fire by night — truly a covering [9] canopy of glory over all of it. And it will be continually a shade from the heat and a sheltering refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain” (Isa. 4:5,6).

By virtue of the presence of this theophanic cloud-canopy over it, Eden had the character of a holy tabernacle, a microcosmic house of God. And since it was God himself who, present in his theophanic Glory, constituted the Edenic temple, man in the Garden of God could quite literally confess that Yahweh was his refuge and the Most High was his habitation. [10] Reviewing man and his world back to creation’s beginnings, Moses in Psalm 90 acknowledges that the Lord, present as the theophanic temple over the unbounded deep before ever the earth was formed or the mountains brought forth (vs. 2), has been man’s “dwelling place in all generations” (vs. 1). And, using the popular poetic device of inclusion, Moses returns at the close of the Psalm to his opening theme, praying that the Shekinah Glory, [11] the tabernacle of Eden, might continue to appear in its beauty [12] over God’s covenant people (vv. 16, 17).

The history of the exodus, culminating in the building of the tabernacle, is so related as to bring out its nature as a redemptive re-enactment of creation. In this re-creation event the Glory theophany is again viewed as a sanctuary-canopy [13] and it is found to function again as a creative paradigm. [14] It hovers at the top of Sinai over the wilderness-tohu [15] and reproduces its likeness in the world below. At the foot of Sinai the tabernacle appears, made according to the archetypal pattern seen on the mount, designed to be a replica of the Glory-Spirit-temple.

One way the record of this event in the Book of Exodus recalls the account of the original creation in Genesis is to adopt the fiat-fulfillment structure of the “day”-stanzas of Genesis 1 as the format for its account of the building of the tabernacle. Exodus 25-31 presents the divine fiat-commands and Exodus 35-40 contains the corresponding account of fulfillment. This pattern repeats within the narrative of the actual setting up of the tabernacle in Exodus 40: the divine directives are given first in verses 1-15 and then the execution, item by item, is described in verses 16-33. In the account of the preparation of the various components of the tabernacle and again in the account of the assembling of them into the finished tabernacle (Exod. 35-40) the connection between the divine word and the performance of it is underscored by the repeated reminder that the work was carried out according to God’s commandment. [16]

The Sabbath motif that informs Genesis 1: 1-2:3 is prominent in the account of the tabernacle. The completion of the project is stated in a concluding summary (Exod. 40:33; cf. 39:43) that echoes the seventh day conclusion of the creation record in Genesis 2:2. The promulgation of the Sabbath ordinance marks the close of the fiat-command section (31: 12-17) and the beginning of the fulfillment section (35:2, 3). And the consecration of the cult is a seven-day process. [17]

The Spirit who structured the cosmic temple in the beginning by divine wisdom [18] was also the primary builder of the tabernacle, present and acting through Bezalel and Oholiab, whom he filled and endowed with the wisdom of craftsmanship. [19] In this connection the creative naming theme of Genesis 1 also emerges. [20]

Another parallel between the original and the Sinaitic creation episodes is that both include climactically the fashioning of man in the image of the Glory-Spirit. [21] In the Exodus record this receives two-fold expression. There is the transfiguring of Moses through his “face to face” communion with the Glory-Presence so that his face reflected the glory-likeness of the divine Glory. [22] And there is the investiture of Aaron in the likeness of the Glory-Spirit. Like the Genesis 1:26, 27 record of the creation of man in the image of God, the Exodus account of Aaron’s image-investiture follows the pattern of fiat-command (Exod. 28 and 29) and fulfillment (Exod. 39:1ff. and 40:12ff.). Here we are touching on the central theme of the present article, but, at this point, simply as one of the significant features in the creation pattern which informs the narrative of the founding of Israel’s cult at Sinai. [23]

A further major aspect of the parallelism between the Genesis and Exodus accounts is that creation in each instance is a covenantal process. In Exodus the building of the tabernacle (Exod. 25-40) is an immediate consequence of the covenant-making that was initiated by the revelation of the Glory-Spirit standing on Sinai as Lord and divine covenant Witness. [24] So too the Genesis creation was constituted a covenantal event by the presence of the same Glory-Spirit standing over the waters (Gen. 1:2) as sanctioning Witness-Lord.

Under the Covenant of Creation a holy cosmic order was produced that had its focus and core in the microcosmic Edenic sanctuary. Similarly, the Sinaitic Covenant instituted a holy kingdom-order with a focus in the Mosaic tabernacle. From the whole historical-literary parallelism that we have observed between the original creation and the exodus re-creation we would naturally expect to find that the Creator-Lord so designed the Mosaic tabernacle that it reflected the nature of the original cosmic and microcosmic temples, and examination of the construction of the tabernacle reveals that such was in fact the case. More particularly, our present concern is to show that the Mosaic tabernacle was a replica of the Glory-Spirit, the archetypal temple itself. Since the Glory theophany is the invisible heavenly temple brought into a veiled pre-consummation form of visibility, [25] what we are affirming about the Mosaic tabernacle is nothing other than what the author of the Book of Hebrews says when he identifies that tabernacle as a copy of heavenly things (Heb. 9:23, 24), an antitype of the greater archetypal tabernacle (Heb. 9:11).

By entering and filling the tabernacle, the Glory theophany identified with it [26] and this Shekinah enthroned above the cherubim in the holy of holies was the clearest possible manifestation of the fact that the tabernacle had been designed to be a symbolic reproduction of the reality of the heavenly temple where the God of Glory is enthroned in the midst of the angelic divine council.

Various features of the tabernacle further evince this design of symbolically reproducing the Glory-temple. The motif of the heavenly angelic court found in the two golden cherubim above the ark was repeated in the cherubim figures portrayed on the inside covering of the tabernacle. And the fiery radiance of the Glory-court was mirrored by the use of flame-colored linen for that inner, cherubim-filled covering.

In imitation of the multiple strata of the cloud formation that enveloped the Glory-fire at Sinai (the darkness, clouds, and heavy clouds), [27] the tabernacle had several layers of coverings. Thus, overlying the inner covering, which corresponded to the inmost cloud-veil about the fire of God’s theophanic Glory, was the tent cover of goats’ hair, [28] and over that was at least one covering of skins. [29]

Tabernacle-temple architecture also reflected the conceptualization of the Glory formation as the gate of heaven. The cloudy canopy of Glory with its two earthward projecting columns, the pillar of fire and pillar of cloud, formed an entry frame with lintel over two side posts — an entry to heaven. Since the Glory is identified as the Name of Yahweh, [30] the canopy of Glory above the column-posts was also viewed as a standard or name-banner. [31] In the tabernacle’s holy of holies, the two cherubim which flanked the ark-footstool with their outspread wings touching above as a firmament-lintel, a banner bearing the Name-Glory of the Spirit enthroned above, formed an entry frame to heaven. This symbolism was duplicated at the entry to the sanctuary. Thus, the two bronze pillars standing at the temple entrance must be related to this pattern and so too the entrance-way itself. [32]

A reproduction of the Glory-cloud, as we have now seen, the tabernacle also reflected the structure of the cosmos-temple, itself a copy of the Glory-temple. The ark was God’s “footstool” [33] and thus corresponded to the earth-footstool in the cosmic temple, [34] while the higher region of the holy of holies where the Glory was enthroned in the midst of the cherubim corresponded to the heaven and heaven of heavens. [35] Agreeably, Ezekiel saw the theophanic Glory as above a heavenly firmament above the heads of the living creatures. [36] The overall floor plan of the tabernacle with its divisions into outer court, holy place, and holy of holies reproduced on the horizontal plane the sectioning of the cosmic temple into earth, heaven, and heaven of heavens. And each of the tabernacle’s three divisions, not just the holy of holies, represented heaven and earth in its vertical dimension, the court standing under the open sky and the holy place, along with the holy of holies, under the symbolic heavens of the tabernacle coverings. The three screens at the court gate, the main temple entrance, and the entrance to the holy of holies are called by the same term for “covering” (masak) as is used of the Glory-cloud. [37] Still other architectural features and furnishings of the tabernacle had cosmic significance. The laver in the outer court, for example, was an image of the heavenly sea. Substantiation of the cosmic symbolism of ‘the tabernacle is afforded by the coalescence of the eternal holy of holies, the tabernacle-city, New Jerusalem, with the heaven and earth in John’s apocalyptic vision of the new creation (Rev. 21 and 22).

Edenic motifs too appear in the tabernacle, especially in its later temple development and in prophetic pictures of the eschatological tabernacling of God in creation, evidence that the tabernacle was meant to symbolize the redemptive renewal of the paradise-sanctuary as well as the macrocosmic temple of creation. Decorative features of the temple included carvings of flowers, palm trees, and cherubim [38] and in the eschatological sanctuary are found the river and trees of life. [39] In Ezekiel 47 the same verb is used as in Genesis 2 for the issuing forth of the river, which in both passages flows on a fructifying course eastward. Ezekiel sees the river emerging from under the lintel of the temple entrance, which as we have seen, was a reflex in the temple’s achitectural symbolism of the Glory-cloud whose mountain throne-site in Eden was evidently the spring-source of the river of paradise. [40]

Thus, in producing the tabernacle as a symbolic image of his Glory-Spirit, the Creator Lord so designed it that it also recapitulated the macrocosmic and microcosmic versions of the Glory-temple which he fashioned in the original creation. And as God crowned the finished Genesis creation with his majestic Glory over Eden, so, when the tabernacle stood complete at Sinai the Glory-cloud covered and filled it, sealing it as an authentic likeness of the Spirit-temple (Exod. 40: 34ff.), the Alpha and Omega of all creation.

II. Aaron’s Robes – A Replica of the Glory-Tabernacle.

In the broad parallelism that we have traced between the Genesis and Exodus creation episodes, Aaron’s priestly investiture corresponds to the original creation of man in the image of God’s Glory. The priestly vestments had the Glory-cloud for a pattern. This becomes readily apparent once we have recognized that the tabernacle too was a replica of the Glory-cloud, for there are striking similarities between the tabernacle and the priestly vestments. These similarities are made all the more conspicuous in the Book of Exodus by the immediate juxtaposition there of the description of the tabernacle itself (Exod. 25-27) and the instructions for the holy garments of those who ministered in the tabernacle (Exod. 28). The tabernacle thus serves as an inter- mediate link in a remarkable symbolic series: the tabernacle is a replica of the Glory-Spirit and Aaron’s vestments are a replica of the tabernacle — and thus also of the Glory-Spirit.

That Aaron’s garments were designed to be a likeness of the earthly tabernacle and of the heavenly Glory-tabernacle is evidenced by their materials, form, function, general purpose, and the ritual connected with them. The opening statement about their purpose in Exodus 28:2 alerts us at once to their similarity to the Glory theophany. They were designed “for glory (kabod) and for beauty (tip’ eret).” The same words appear at the conclusion of the prescriptions for these garments in Exodus 28:40 (cf. Exod. 39:28). Like kabod, the term tip’ eret is used for the Glory theophany [41] and for the throne-site when the Glory abides, whether heavenly or earthly sanctuary, or ark. [42] Moses and Aaron, as priests worshiping at God’s footstool, where he spoke to them from the pillar of cloud, [43] must be provided with such glory-beauty, for those who minister in the presence of the Glory of the Lord must reflect his holy beauty. [44] Moses’ transfigured countenance was his priestly glory-reflection, but for Aaron the holy vestments were appointed as a symbolic equivalent, imaging the Glory-beauty of the fiery Shekinah. It was in Aaron’s holy turban, which is denoted by a noun formation (pe’er) of the same root as tip’eret, [45] that the character of his vestments as glory-beauty came to crowning expression.

Contributing to the impression of radiance was the flame-colored linen material prescribed for the ephod, with its band and breast-piece, and for the bottom of the robe of the ephod — a shimmering blend of bright reds and blues with the metallic glint of threads of gold. [46] Highlighting the fiery effect were the rings and the braided chains of gold, the radiant golden crown of the mitre, and the gleam of precious stones set in gold on the shoulder straps of the ephod and the breast-piece. [47] Artist could scarcely do more with an earthly palette in a cold medium to produce the effect of fiery light. Of course, the full effect would be seen only under the illumination of the divine Glory in the holy of holies. The glory of priestly investiture was thus, like that of Moses, a reflective glory creatively called forth by the divine Glory.

The flame-hued linen of the priestly garments evidenced the fact that they were a scaled-down version of the tabernacle, as well as a symbol of the Glory itself. For this fabric was of a piece with the inside curtains of the tabernacle and with the material of its entrance screen and the inner veil before the ark. [48] In the tabernacle too gold was used, with silver and bronze, to heighten the expression of glory.

Like the tabernacle and the theophanic cloud-formation, the priestly vestments were multi-layered coverings. The order of the heavenly cloud strata, from inside to outside, which was duplicated in the sanctuary coverings, was reversed in the priests’ garments. For whereas the Glory was stationed within the tabernacle, it was external to the priest so that it was his outer garments that directly reflected the light of the Glory standing over against him. Thus, the inner priestly garments (like the tunic) corresponded to the outer skin-coverings of the tabernacle. Then, over the tunic was the robe, a firmament of blue, [49] and over it was the ephod, the direct refulgence of the effulgence of the Glory, and thus an equivalent of the inmost tabernacle curtains that reflected back the Shekinah light within the holy of holies.

A certain similarity in form between the sacred clothing and the sacred tent would be a natural concomitant of the covering function they had in common. But the tent-styling of the garments seems to be accentuated. Thus, the seamless robe is clearly a scaled-down tent. So also is the ephod made of front and back flaps connected by straps over the shoulder ridge. Possibly the arrangement of golden cords by which the breast-piece was fastened down to golden rings in the ephod was meant to bring to mind tent pegs and cords.

Also discernible in the shoulder pieces of the ephod viewed together with the priestly turban-crown is the motif of the gate of heaven with name-banner lintel, which (as observed above) was one facet of the symbolic meaning of the Glory formation and came to expression too in various ways in the tabernacle and temple. One interesting indication of this is the biblical usage, peculiar to tabernacle and temple architecture, whereby the two side-posts of entryways are called “shoulders,” the first occurrence being just before the directions for the priests’ garments. [50] This usage of “shoulder” is immediately associated with miptan, “lintel,” in Ezekiel 47:1, 2. While the shoulder pieces of the ephod represented the “shoulders” of the entry-gate, the priestly headdress formed the lintel name-banner. This is suggested both by its lintel-like position between and above the shoulder pieces and by the fact that it bore the name of God in the inscription of its golden plate: “holy to Yahweh.” [51]

It may well be that the breast-piece fastened on the front face of the ephod [52] was intended to be an equivalent of the holy of holies. Since what is outmost in the vestments corresponds to what is inmost in the tabernacle, the position of the breast-piece is suitable. Moreover, it was made of the same gold and flame- colored material as the holy of holies and its square shape corresponded at once to the square frame of the entrance to the holy of holies [53] and to all the square faces of that cuboid room. And functionally the breast-piece was, like the holy of holies, the locus of the divine judgment oracle, being called “the breast-piece of judgment” (Exod. 28:15). [54]

To the structural and functional parallels between the vestments and the tabernacle may be added the similarity of ritual treatment accorded them. When they were made and in readiness, the tabernacle erected and the garments arrayed on Aaron and his sons, they were alike consecrated to God by pouring on them the same special oil. [55] As Psalm 133:2 pictures it, the oil poured copiously on Aaron’s holy mitre flowed down over the rest of his vestments. By this saturating anointing with the golden symbol of the Spirit of glory and life, the tabernacle and vestments were impregnated with the likeness of God. In the figure of Aaron, clothed in Glory-like vestments and anointed with the holy oil, [56] a double symbol of the Glory-Spirit stands before us.

What was thus portrayed by the holy anointing was afterwards manifested in the reality of the descent of the Glory-cloud itself on the tabernacle, covering and filling it. [57] Similarly, the Spirit is spoken of as coming upon and filling men. [58] Most significant for our understanding of priestly clothing as a symbol of the Glory-Spirit is the fact that the Spirit is said to “clothe” (literally) a man when he comes upon him bringing him into a condition of pneumatic likeness to himself in wisdom and power (Jud. 6:34; 1 Chr. 12:18(19); 2 Chr. 24:20). [59]

One further point of correspondence will suffice in substantiation of the symbolic equivalence of the priestly garments and the tabernacle. Common to the ritual treatment of both was a sabbatical pattern. The holy garments were to be worn in a consecration ritual lasting seven days. [60] Similarly, the dedication of the tabernacle altar was a seven-day process. [61]

With this seven-day pattern we come back to our earlier observation that the record to which the account of the tabernacle and Aaron’s tabernacle-vestments belongs portrays the exodus-covenant event as a process of re-creation. In this re-creation process the tabernacle corresponds to the original cosmos-temple as a kingdom-temple made after the pattern of the Glory-temple and Aaron’s investiture recalls the Genesis 1 episode of the creation of man in the likeness of the Glory-Spirit as the personal image-temple of God. [62]

Illuminated by this symbolic redemptive version of it, creation in the image of God is found to signify appointment to holy office with Spirit-endowment of God-like glory and judicial commission to discern between good and evil. For Aaron’s investiture and anointing was an ordination to priesthood, a filling of his hands with the keys of authority, a placing of the government upon his shoulders, an investiture with the highest judicial authority under God in the theocracy. [63] It will be seen that the biblical concepts of image of God and messiah are very much the same.

III. Glory-Investiture in the New Testament

It is in the tabernacle-fashioning of Aaron’s priestly garments that the explanation is found for Paul’s curiously mixed metaphor of clothing-building noted at the outset of this article. The apostle’s use of the priestly investiture figure to expound the idea of our renewal in the image of God [64] corroborates the identification of Aaron’s investiture in glory robes as a counterpart to the creation of man in the image of God in Genesis 1 and thereby affords further biblical confirmation of the interpretation of the image of God as a likeness to the divine Glory, a likeness consisting in the glory of a priest’s righteous juridical dominion and holy refulgence of the divine light.

In a Pauline variation of the metaphor of putting on the priestly vestments as a symbol of image renewal, those vestments become the armor of God. [65] Part of the inspiration for this figure is Isaiah 61:10c and d, where God is said to clothe his people with the garments of salvation and robes of righteousness. From Isaiah 59: 17ff. it appears that the prophet was thinking in terms of a warrior’s garments. The latter passage also shows that for the prophet too clothing of the people with salvation was a matter of producing in them a likeness of God. For God himself is there described as putting on righteousness as his armor and salvation as a helmet on his head (Isa. 59: 17a) as he comes, a divine warrior, in his Glory for judgment. [66] It is particularly to be noticed how Paul’s reference to the helmet of salvation among the items of Christian armor (Eph. 6:17 and 1 Thess. 5:8) is accounted for by the terminology of the combined contexts of Isaiah 59 and 61 (especially 59:17 and 61:10). The Isaianic source of Paul’s metaphor not only shows that the armor is in- deed a variation of the clothing figure used elsewhere by the apostle for the image of God idea, but it identifies this clothing as priestly in character. In comparing the act of clothing to a bridegroom’s arraying of himself for the wedding, Isaiah uses a denominative of the word “priest,” meaning literally “to act as a priest” (Isa. 61:10e). Agreeably, some of the pieces of equipment that Paul lists in the Christian armor correspond to prominent items in the priestly vestments, such as the breast-piece and sash. Moreover, this armor is designed for the function of guarding what is holy against the attacks of the devil (Eph. 6:11ff.) and that is a distinctly priestly task. Items of Christian armor such as the shield and sword reflect directly features and functions of the divine Glory, while the fiery radiance of that Glory is reflected in the characterization of the Christian armor in general as the armor of light (Rom. 13:12).

It was observed in our first article [67] that the Book of Revelation opens with a vision of Christ as the archetypal Glory-Spirit-temple and closes with a vision of the church re-created by Christ in his glory-image and thus an ectypal temple in the Spirit. Supplementing that, we may now draw attention to the use of the symbolism of priestly Investiture in this Apocalyptic treatment of the theme of re-creation in the divine image. The symbolism of investiture in the Glory-covering is used in this instance not for the individual believer’s experience but for the corporate renewal of the church as the new man in the image of God.

Christ appears in the opening vision of Revelation as an incarnate Glory-Spirit, but the figure seen by John is also the antitype of Aaron invested with the holy garments emblematic of the divine Glory. The priestly nature of the figure is indicated by his location: he stands in the midst of the seven golden lampstands of the sanctuary (Rev. 1:12, 13). He is a royal priest with the keys of office received by holy ordination, with authority to open and close (Rev. 1: 18; 3:7; cf. Isa. 22:22). The first thing described is his clothing (Rev. 1:13b) and the term used for his long robe (found only here in the New Testament) is used in the Septuagint for the high priest’s robe and ephod and its breast-piece, while the golden sash recalls the sash of the ephod made of the flame-colored material interwoven with threads of gold. The coalescence of the symbolism of the priestly vestments with the Glory-cloud in this vision of Christ is another clear biblical exposition of the symbolic meaning of Aaron’s robes as an image of the Glory-Spirit.

The church as portrayed in Revelation 21 and 22 is a church re-created in the likeness of Christ, the Glory-robed priest of Revelation 1. Coupled in this portrait with the symbol of the temple-city, New Jerusalem, is the symbol of the “bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2). Here again is the combination of the figures of clothing and building which we have traced back to the tabernacle-vestments that adorned Aaron the high priest. And on examination, the bridal adornment of Revelation 21 is indeed found to consist of priestly vestments made after the pattern of the robes of the church’s bridegroom-Lord depicted in Revelation 1.

In Revelation 19:7-9, in a preliminary reference to the church- bride prepared for the marriage of the Lamb, she is described as arrayed in the fine linen repeatedly insisted on for the priests’ clothing68 and representing the “righteousness of saints.” [69] Those so arrayed are described in Revelation 7:15 as continually engaged in the priestly service of God in his temple. Certain features of Aaron’s holy vestments appear in the picture of the tabernacle-city in Revelation 21 and since the bride is identified with this city, [70] urban adornment is here interchangeable with bridal adornment. Such features are the lavish use of gold, the square shape, [71] and especially the twelve precious stones constituting the foundations of the wall and bearing the names of the covenant people. [72] The curious way in which details of the priestly vestments are thus interwoven in the adornment of the bride-priest and the tabernacle-city is itself a further confirmation of the interpretation of Aaron’s vestments as a sartorial copy of the tabernacle structure.

An Old Testament version of the consummation prospects presented in the Book of Revelation can be found in the closing chapters of Isaiah. With regard to the particular symbolism we are dealing with, Isaiah 62 occupies an intermediate position in the biblical trajectory between the priestly prescriptions of Exodus and the Book of Revelation. The prophet has just spoken of the transformation of Zion by the messianic Servant into a thing of beauty, joy, and glory by the Spirit of the Lord (Isa. 61: 1-3). The people of Jerusalem will be priests of the Lord, ministers of God (Isa. 61:6). It is to this context too, along with Isaiah 59, that we have traced the Christian armor figure, noting that Isaiah likens the salvation investiture to the adorning of a bride-groom-priest (Isa. 61:10e). We may now further note that this investiture is likened to the adorning of the bride (Isa. 61:10f.). This marriage figure is resumed in Isaiah 62 and here, as in Revelation 21, is found the double symbol of the city-wife, Jerusalem-Hephzibah, over whom God will rejoice as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride (vv. 4, 5). This bride-city is characterized by radiant “glory” and “beauty” (vv. 1-3), the same terms as are used for the holy garments of the priest and for the Glory theophany. [73]

Another Old Testament passage on which Revelation 21 is dependent is Ezekiel 16. Here in a metaphorical treatment of the exodus history, Israel is a bride adorned in garments whose identification with the tabernacle covering is unmistakable. We shall return to this passage presently but simply call attention to it here as a further important source of support for our interpretation of the bridal adornment of Revelation 21. Our conclusion is then that the church-bride of Revelation 21 is portrayed as a priest figure, arrayed in holy tabernacle-vestments of glory. Thus, the Book of Revelation, in making its symbolic statement that the church glorified is a church renewed in the image of God revealed in Christ, [74] equates this image renewal with a priestly investiture in the Glory of God.

IV. Image-Investiture and Covenant

In the remarkable historical allegory of Ezekiel 16, Israel in the wilderness is a woman at the age of love, with whom the Lord enters into covenant, taking her as his wife. [75] As a token of the marriage covenant he spreads the corner of his robe (kanap) over her (v. 8), a ritual indicative of a man’s bringing a woman under his protection. [76] The allusion of this nuptial imagery is to God’s sheltering of Israel under the Glory-cloud. “He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night” (Ps. 105:39). The psalmist here uses the same verb (paras) with reference to the spreading of the theophanic cloud-canopy as is used in Ezekiel 16:8 for God’s extending the edge of his robe. Another detail in this verse that evokes the Glory- cloud is the designation of the hem of the robe by the term kanap, “wing, extremity,” for wings are often associated with the Glory-cloud, particularly in figurative descriptions of God’s protective overshadowing of his people. [77] According to Ezekiel’s allegorical transcription of the Sinaitic covenant-making, the covering of Israel by the theophanic Presence was a divine plighting of troth. [78] The posture of the Glory-Spirit on Mount Sinai was an oath stance, signifying covenant ratification.

Parenthetically we may mention the related symbolic act of taking hold of the hem of a robe, employed in the ancient world as an expression of importunate supplication [79] or in acknowledgment of submission, specifically, in covenantal commitment. [80] Perhaps this broader covenantal usage was a secondary development reflecting the nuptial covenanting signified by covering with the skirt. The covenantal significance of the hem of the garment was utilized and enhanced in the requirement of the Mosaic covenants that the Israelites put tassels with a cord of blue on the four corners of their robes as a reminder of their covenantal obligations. [81] In the formulation of this requirement, God’s covenant with Israel is viewed as a marriage, for what the tassels are designed to avoid is religious adultery. [82] A comparable covenantal function was performed by the golden tassel-like “bells” suspended from the bottom of the high priest’s robes, which evidently served as a reminder to the Lord so that, hearing their metallic jingle as the high priest approached, he would remember his covenanted mercy and the priest would not perish in his presence. [83]

Having depicted the covering of Israel by the Glory-cloud as a spreading of God’s garment over his bride-people and thus as a token of covenantal engagement, Ezekiel’s allegory continues with the sealing of the Sinaitic Covenant by the setting up of God’s holy tent, his entrance into it, and his reception there of Israel in the person of Aaron the high priest as his bride-people. This consummation of the covenant at Sinai is portrayed in the allegory as an act of investiture, an adorning of the bride in her wedding garments. And these garments are described in terms that recall the tabernacle and Aaron’s tabernacle-vestments, the replicas of God’s Glory-robe. [84]

As the allegory pictures it, Yahweh found the woman Israel destitute and naked (Ezek. 16:6,7). But entering by oath into a marriage covenant with her (v. 8), he washed and anointed her (v. 9), then adorned her in the perfection of beauty from head to foot (vv. 10-14). Her clothing was of fine linen with embroidered work, like the material of the tabernacle and Aaron’s robes. [85] The bridal adornment was like them too in its inclusion of gold and silver and gems. The bridal crown recalls Aaron’s holy crown. A more subtle allusion to the tabernacle is the tahas- skin [86] of the bride’s sandals, a material mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament only with reference to the outer skin-covering of the sacred tent. The washing and anointing of the bride (v. 9) correspond to the ritual procedures for the investiture and ordination of the priests. [87] There is also a reference to the priestly service in what is said of the bride’s provisions of the fine flour and oil (v. 13). The cultic allusion of this is borne out as the allegory continues (vv. 15ff.) and the bride, turned harlot, is described in de-allegorized terms as devoting her bridal provisions to the service of idol cults. [88]

According to Ezekiel’s interpretation, God’s spreading of his Glory-cloud as a canopy over Israel, the equivalent action of setting up his tabernacle to receive Israel in her priesthood under its covering, and the further equivalent of clothing Israel’s priests with the glory vestments all signified God’s ratification of his covenant with Israel. In the marriage covenant of the allegory the two main moments in the divine procedure are acts involving clothing, with the pledge signified by the first act fulfilled in the second. The Lord takes his bride-people into covenantal union by the promissory act of spreading his robe of Glory over her and by clothing her in garments fashioned after the pattern of his Glory-robe, so that she stands before him transformed into the image of his Glory. Thus ingeniously the prophetic parable interweaves the concepts of the covenant and the image of God, revealing their mutuality by covering them both under the one symbol of investiture in the divine Glory. [89]

The same correlation of re-creation in the image of God and covenant consummation obtains in the other contexts we have examined in Isaiah and the Book of Revelation which use the model of priestly-bridal investiture in God-like glory.

Further evidence of the correlation of covenant and image of God is found in a concept that interlocks with them both, the concept of bearing God’s name as a surname. This name-bearing theme overlaps the whole range of ideas found in the meaning-field of the image of God concept. The archetypal Glory is identified as the Name of Yahweh. Thus, with reference to the Shekinah-Presence in the sanctuary, God is said to have put his Name there [90] or caused his Name to dwell there. [91] Similarly, God’s Name is said to have been in the Angel of the Presence. [92] God’s Name is God in theophanic revelation. The tabernacle- temple replicas of the Glory theophany bear the name of God. [93] Similarly, the tabernacle-vested priest bears the name of Yahweh on his head. The idea is that these persons and things are holy. They are consecrated to God who acknowledges them as peculiarly his own. Likewise, men and angels as offspring-images of God their Father have a divine patronymic; they are named “sons of God”, [94] just as peoples customarily are surnamed after the name of their forebears. [95]

The equivalence of the bearing of God’s name and the bearing of God’s image appears strikingly in Revelation 22:4. Here, in the midst of the description of the glorified covenant community, renewed after the image of the Lord, it is said: “They will see his face and his name will be in their foreheads.” This marks the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to incorporate the overcomer in his temple as a pillar and to “write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name” (Rev. 3: 12). [96] The church’s bearing of Christ’s new name is exponential of its new nature as the new city-temple, the priest- bride arrayed in tabernacle-glory, the image of the Glory-Spirit-Lord, the glory of the bridegroom-Son. Behind the imagery of Revelation 22:4 are the figures of Moses and Aaron. Aaron bore on his forehead the name of the Lord inscribed on the crown on the front of the priestly mitre. The very countenance of Moses was transfigured into a reflective likeness of the Glory-Face, the Presence-Name of God, when God talked with him “mouth to mouth” (Num. 12:8) out of the Glory-cloud. [97] As the Name and the Glory are alike designations of the Presence of God in the theophanic cloud, so both name and glory describe the reflected likeness of God. To say that the overcomers in the New Jerusalem bear the name of Christ on their forehead is ‘to say that they reflect the glory of Christ, which is to say that they bear the image of the glorified Christ.

The theme of God’s name is equally conspicuous in the biblical treatment of God’s covenants. In their treaty formulation, covenants are introduced as a revelation of God’s name. Also, in both Old and New Testaments the people of the covenant are those who are called by God’s name and thus identified as his children or people under the authority of his rule. [98] The New Testament disciples were called “Christians” [99] and the force of the form christianos is that those who bear the name of Christ belong to Christ, as servants to a lord. [100] The name “Christian” is a covenantal identification for the servant-son people of the new covenant. A characteristic action of God’s people is denoted by an active equivalent of the expression “to be called by the name of.” Usually translated “call on the name of the Lord,” the phrase is at times to be rendered “confess the name of the Lord”. [101] The significance of this confessing of God’s name is to acknowledge the covenant Lord as Creator-Father, to claim his name as surname. [102]

Discovery of the biblical nexus between the concepts of image of God and divine covenant validates Covenant Theology’s idenification of the Creator’s relation to man at the beginning as a covenantal arrangement. [103] In the light of the interrelation we have found between covenant and image of God, the fact of man’s creation in God’s image, explicitly affirmed in Genesis 1:27, would in and of itself signify the existence of a covenant. But there is the further fact, observed above, that the Glory-Spirit, who was the creative Archetype of man’s ectypal glory-likeness, was present as a crowning and sheltering canopy over man in Eden. This tells us again that we are to construe the creation order as a covenant order. For according to the analogy of Scripture, God’s covering of his people with his Glory, which is associated with his investiture- of them with his image, is an act of covenantal engagement. [104]

Here, in the record of the Covenant of Creation, is the ultimate source of the combination of elements found in the allegory of Ezekiel 16: the divine covenantal covering, the tabernacle-investiture of man as image of God, and the marriage covenant. [105] In Genesis 2, marriage covenant is present explicitly in the form of a societal analogue to mankind’s covenantal-image relationship to God. Through the parable of the marriage relationship of the man and the woman, established by creation ordinance, instructive insight was afforded into the nature of-the covenant between God and men. The woman-wife, derived from the man as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, was the image-likeness of the man. The name-pun brings this out: She was called ‘issah, “woman,” because she was taken from ‘is, “man” (Gen. 2:23). And the man-husband received the woman, his image, in a covenant of marriage (Gen. 3:22-24), [106] under his lordship, to bear his name, [107] and to be his glory, [108] not least by bearing him image-sons to fill the earth with his name.

The parable of human marriage-covenant was fully exploited in the revelation of redemptive re-creation and covenant. The church-bride, derived from Christ, the second Adam, as glory of his Glory and spirit of his Spirit, is a re-creation in his image. As a likeness of derivation, like that of the woman in relation to the man (and the son in relation to his father), the glory-image of the church-bride is possessed under the authority of her husband-Lord. Christ takes his church, his image-wife, in covenant of marriage to bear his glory and his name, to be the fullness of him who fills all in all. [109]

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,
South Hamilton, Mass.

Endnotes

1 Romans 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:53f.; 2 Corinthians 5:2ff.; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10. See the first article of this pair, “Creation in the Image of the Glory-Spirit,” The Westminster Theological Journal 39, 1 (1976), 266 (hereafter referred to as “Creation in the Image”).
2 See “Creation in the Image”, 258.
3 Genesis 2:15; 3:24.
4 Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 28:13,16; 31:9.
5 The same word (sakak) is used for the guardian-covering function of this cherub as is used in Psalm 91:4 for the Glory theophany with which winged cherubim are associated: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” In Exodus 25:20 sakak is used for the covering of the ark by the outstretched wings of the golden cherubim. The fiery stones (or “sons of fire;’) mentioned along with the cherub in Ezekiel 28 also belong to the Glory-cloud imagery (Isa, 6:6; Ezek. 1:13; 10:2; Ps. 18:8-14 [9-15]).
6 Ezekiel 43:2ff.
7 Revelation 21 and 22.
8 Isaiah 4:2-6; cf. 28:5f. The use of bara’ (Isa. 4:5), the distinctive verb of creation in Genesis 1:1, makes clear the allusion to the original creation and, of interest for our interpretation of Genesis 1:2 (see “Creation in the Image,” 251ff.), the object of bara’ is the Glory-cloud. Moreover, the identification of the Glory theophany with the Spirit is found here, as in Genesis 1:2. For Isaiah 4:4 identifies the Spirit as the fiery instrument of the judgment prerequisite to Zion’s glorification and this is the same divine agency mentioned in verse 5 as Zion’s fiery cloud covering.
9 The Glory-cloud is called a sukkah, “covering, pavilion”; cf. note 5 above.
10 Psalm 91:2, 9.
11 On hadar cf. Psalms 29:4; 96:6; 104:1; Isaiah 2:10,19,21. In the Ugaritic Keret epic (155), hdrt is used for a dream-theophany.
12 On no’am, cf. Psalm 27:4.
13 Hence, prophetic descriptions of the Glory-tabernacle of the consummation draw upon the theophanic phenomena of Mount Sinai and Mount Zion for their contributions of typological details to that picture. See Isaiah 4 again in this connection.
14 See “Creation in the Image,” 257f.
15 Deuteronomy 32:10.
16 See especially Exodus 39 and 40.
17 Exodus 29:37; 34:18.
18 Cf. Proverbs 8:22ff.
19 Exodus 35:30-36:1.
20 Exodus 35:30.
21 See “Creation in the Image,” 258ff.
22 Exodus 33:11; 34:29ff.
23 The fact that Aaron’s investiture is part of this larger reproduction of the Genesis creation pattern in turn supports the interpretation of the investiture as a symbol of creation in God’s image.
24 Exodus 19-24. See “Creation in the Image,” 256f., 262.
25 See “Creation in the Image,” 254f.
26 Exodus 25:22; Psalm 80:1 (2); Isaiah 6:1.
27 Deuteronomy 4:11; 5:22; Psalm 97:2.
28 Exodus 26:7ff.
29 Exodus 26:14; 36:19; 40:19. See G. E. Mendenhall, The Tenth Generation (Baltimore, 1973), p. 43, note 35.
30 Deuteronomy 12:5, 11, 21; 14:23, 24; 16:2, 6, 11; 26:2. 1 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 23:27; Psalm 89:12(13). Cf. Phoenician sm, “presence.”
31 Psalms 20:5(6); 60:4(6); Isaiah 11:12; 49:22; 59:19-60:3. Wooden poles and trees planted by altars were a cultic representation of this; cf. Isaiah 51:16.
32 With the translation of miptan corrected to “lintel,” an interesting association emerges between the entry lintel and the cherubim throne in Ezekiel’s visions (Ezek. 9:3; 10:4, 18), and the picture of the course of the river of life flowing from the throne of God (Ezek. 47:1; cf. Rev. 2:1, 2) is clarified. For the depiction of the winged sun-disk (and equivalent symbols of divine glory) on the lintels of sacred doorways, see Mendenhall, op. cit., p. 49, figure 14 and p. 51, figure 19.
33 1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalms 99:5; 132:7; Lamentations 2:1.
34 Isaiah 66: 1.
35 Psalm 11:4.
36 Ezekiel 1 :22, 25ff. Cf. Exodus 24:10.
37 Psalm 105:39. As described in Exodus 26:33 (cf. Ezek. 42:20), the function of the inner veil was to divide the holy place from the holy of holies, another reminiscence of the Genesis creation narrative, where the dividing function is prominent (Gen. 1:4,6,7,14,18) and the same verb (bdl) is used. In both Genesis creation and Exodus re-creation accounts the process is one of structuring spheres and positioning objects (“their host,” Gen. 2:1) in them.
38 1 Kings 6: 18, 29, 32, 35; 7:18ff.; Ezekiel 41:18ff.
39 Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 21 and 22.
40 All of this appears again in the New Testament version (Rev. 21 and 22).
41 Isaiah 28:5f.; 60:19; 63:12-15; cf. 1 Chronicles 29:11, 13; Psalms 71:8; 89:17 (18).
42 1 Chronicles 22:5; 2 Chronicles 3:6; Psalms 78:61; 96:6; Isaiah 60:7.
43 Psalm 99:6, 7.
44 1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 110:3.
45 Exodus 39:28; Ezekiel 44:18.
46 The interpretation of the ephod as a reflective image of God’s heavenly robe of flame finds support in the use of ‘apuddah for the sheathing of an idol image (Isa. 30:22; cf. Exod. 28:8; 39:5). Of interest in this general connection is the Homeric motif of a goddess endowing a hero, particularly about the shoulders and head, with golden storm cloud and flaming glory.
47 Compare the stones of fire of the Glory that crowns the holy mount (Ezek. 28: 13f.). See note 5 above.
48 Exodus 26:1ff.
49 For a similar tabernacle covering see Numbers 4:6ff.
50 Exodus 27:14, 15. Cf. 1 Kings 6:8, 7:39; 2 Kings 11:11; Ezekiel 40:18, 40ff.; 41:2, 26; 46:19; 47:1, 2.
51 Engraved on precious stones on the shoulder pieces (the side-pillars in the entry imagery) were the names of the sons of Israel (Exod. 28:9ff.). Note that the incarnate Glory promises that his people will be made pillars in God’s temple, bearing the name of God and the holy city and the Lord’s own new name (Rev. 3: 12; cf. 1 Tim. 3: 15).
52 Exodus 28:15ff.
53 Compare the main temple entrance (Ezek. 41:21).
54 If the Urim and Thummim, the oracular articles deposited in the breast-piece, were symbolic analogues of the covenant tablets deposited in the ark, an equivalence of the breast-piece and the ark (which was square on the sides) might be possible.
55 Exodus 28:41; 29:5-9; 30:23-30; 40:9-15.
56 Exodus 28:41.
57 Exodus 40:34; cf. 1 Kings 8: 10, 11.
58 See, for example, Exodus 31:2ff.
59 Cf. 1 Kings 19:13, 19; 2 Kings 2:8, 13f. Note also the correspondence between the episodes in 2 Chronicles 24:20f. and Acts 7:51ff. (especially v. 55).
60 Exodus 29:30, 35.
61 For the sabbatical pattern in the building and erection of the temple see 1 Kings 6:38; 8:65; 2 Chronicles 7:8, 9.
62 Aaron’s investiture-consecration was a sabbatical creation in which the original Sabbath, hallowed to the Lord, was matched by the crowning item of the priest’s adornment, the mitre with its signet-seal proclaiming his sanctification to the Lord. Cf. Psalm 106:16 and Isaiah 58:13.
63 See Isaiah 22:21-24 for the imagery of induction to office by enrobing. For priestly pronouncements in terms of cultic good and evil see Leviticus 27:12, 14.
64 See above.
65 Romans 13:12, 14; Ephesians 6:11ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
66 Compare verses 17b-19.
67 See “Creation in the Image,” 261ff.
68 Exodus 28 and 29.
69 Cf. Revelation 6:11; 7:14.
70 Revelation 21:2, 9, 10.
71 Compare the breast-piece of the ephod.
72 In the case of the bride-city the names are those of the apostles, the names of the twelve tribes having been allocated to the gates of tile city. Of interest for the total complex of relationships being traced in the present articles is the appearance of most of the twelve stones of the breast-piece of judgment as a covering in Eden, the garden of God (Ezek. 28:13).
73 Cf. Deuteronomy 26:19; Jeremiah 13:11.
74 Revelation 1:13ff.
75 Cf. Jeremiah 2:2.
76 For the custom, see Ruth 3:9. Cf. Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20.
77 In 1 Kings 8:7 paras is used for the spreading of the wings of the cherubim over the ark.
78 See note 24 above.
79 Zechariah 8:23; Matthew 9:20; 14:36.
80 Cf. J. M. Munn-Rankin, “Diplomacy in Western Asia in the Early Second Millennium B.C.,” Iraq 18 (1956), 84ff. J. A. Thompson, “Covenant Patterns in the Ancient Near East and their Significance for Biblical Studies,” The Reformed Theological Review 18,3 (1959), 74. R. A. Brauner, “‘To Grasp the Hem’ and 1 Samuel 15:27”, The Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University 6 (1974), 35-38. On the important role of garments in covenant-making at Mari and Alalakh, see D. J. Wiseman, “Abban and Alalakh”, Journal of Cuneiform Studies 12 (1958), 129.
81 Numbers 15:38, 39a; Deuteronomy 22:12.
82 Numbers 15:39b. Note laws of adultery following Deuteronomy 22: 12.
83 Exodus 28:33ff.; 39:25f. Incidentally, this identifying sound of the “wing” of the priestly robe echoed the Glory-chariot, for it too had a characteristic heralding sound, explained by Ezekiel in terms of the wings of the cherubim (Ezek. 1:24; 3:13). In the architecture of Ezekiel’s apocalyptic temple, a feature corresponding to the alternating pomegranates and tassel-bells of the high priest’s robes is seen in the alternating palm trees and cherubim carved along the bottom “‘skirt” of the walls (Ezek. 41:17ff.). Suspended pomegranates are also found as a decorative feature under the rim of a circular bronze pedestal at Ras Shamra.
84 Cf. Psalm 104: 1,2.
85 Biblical references to embroidered work are largely concentrated in the prescriptions for the tabernacle and Aaron’s vestments. See Exodus 26:36; 27:16; 28:39; 35:35; 36:37; 38:18,23; 39:29.
86 The identity of the tahas is uncertain.
87 Exodus 29:4ff.; 40:12ff.
88 Cf. Jeremiah 2:32.
89 A similar blend of motifs is found in the messianic marriage allegory of Psalm 45.
90 Deuteronomy 12:5, 21; 14:24. See above the discussion of the Glory as name-banner.
91 Deuteronomy 12:11; 14:23; 16:2,6,11; 26:2.
92 Exodus 23:21.
93 1 Kings 8:43; cf. 2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Ezekiel 48:35.
94 cf. Ephesians 3:15.
95 cf. Genesis 21:12; 48:5, 6; Isaiah 44:5; 48:1.
96 cf. note 51 above. See also Revelation 2:17; 14:1; 19:12f.
97 Cf. note 22 above.
98 Deuteronomy 28:10; Psalms 89:24-28 (25-29); Isaiah 43:6, 7; 63:8, 15, 16, 19; cf. Isaiah 65:1; Zechariah 13:9.
99 Acts 11:26; cf. Isaiah 65:15.
100 Cf. E. J. Bickerman, “The Name of Christians,” Harvard Theological Review 42,2 (1949), 118f.
101 For example, Genesis 4:26; Psalm 105:1; Isaiah 64:7,8; cf. Romans 15:20; Ephesians 1:21; 2 Timothy 2:19.
102 Isaiah 44:5.
103 Cf. my By Oath Consigned (Grand Rapids, 1968), pp. 26ff.
104 In “Creation in the Image,” 256, it was observed that the appearance of the Glory in oath-stance over creation, referred to in Genesis 1:2, imparted a covenantal character to the event.
105 For the earliest roots of this imagery in redemptive history see Genesis 3:21.
106 Cf. Proverbs 2:17; Malachi 2:14.
107 Cf. Isaiah 4:1.
108 1 Corinthians 11:3, 7.
109 Ephesians 1:23; cf. Psalm 45:16,17 (17, 18).

Scanned by Robert A. Lotzer on July 13, 2006.