God gave the people a physical reminder to look at every day. Something physical that was designed to trigger a memory in them every time they looked at it.
I find myself setting up reminders all the time. One that I am famous for using is writing notes on the palm of my hand. I say it is the notepad that never gets left behind. I also hold my fingers in one of the sign language letters while I’m driving if I have to try and remember to stop somewhere on my way out of town. I find that if I don’t do something like this I operate on auto pilot and breeze right past one of my planned stops. Something else that MANY of us do is set an alarm either on your phone or a clock to remind us of somewhere we need to be or something we need to do.
The children of Israel were in need of reminders too. Every time God got them going good in the right direction something got their attention and they dropped all His teachings out of their minds. Something else they forgot about quite often was His miracles. God gave them a way to address this. I’m not sure why He chose the article of tassels and even a specific color of thread to use but He did.
When thinking about these tassels I can’t help but wonder about them. Did other people groups use tassels on their clothing as fashion statements? Was this a new thing for Israel? Did they use tassels on other items? And why the corners of their garments? What constituted a corner?
I love having special adornments on my garments and have a tendency to play with them while I wear that particular piece of clothing. I have been known to run my hands through the fringes or trace the edges of special buttons with my fingers or even “pet” the nap of a particularly soft fabric I’m wearing. I can see myself constantly playing with the tassels God called for the people to wear. I would probably wrap them around my fingers throughout the day.
But these tassels were meant to do more than just dress up the garment and draw fingers to them. They were meant to be a focus point for the people. They remind me of the rosary beads of the Catholic faith. I’ve never owned one or even used one so I’m only stating what I’ve heard about them, therefore I may be totally off base. But from what I understand, each bead is meant to remind the owner of one specific portion or aspect of their prayer. By working through the beads the user is supposed to be able to remember each aspect of the correct prayer sequence.
The tassels were to remind the wearer of God’s law. The single blue thread was intended to especially draw the wearer’s attention to ponder God’s words to His people. I believe this is a practice that is still used in Jewish prayer shawls today for that same reason. To remind the wearer to focus on the Father.
I have another question though. If the people wore tassels on their garments ALL the time wouldn’t the reminder item become so common that it would be easy to overlook? Like me and driving through my town. We have a mailbox on the main road of our town that sits at least 20 feet in the air. It says “Air Mail” on the side of it. The owners used to have a helicopter that they landed in that location on a regular basis. I’ve driven by this mailbox so many times that I don’t even see it any more. I have to consciously look for it now when I remember to think about it. I know; it’s not in my line of sight but there is an old green truck in the field with a HUGE guitar sign and large plastic fruit attached to it that I don’t notice anymore either. My point is that when something special is part of your everyday experience, its ability to draw your attention to it fades. I want to know if this happened with the people in the wilderness.
Maybe God used the tassels more as a teaching tool and a habit former. In the beginning for each person the tassels would be special and noticeable. They would be prompted to stop and take time to ponder God’s word. As time went on they would develop a habit of doing this on a daily basis without having to rely on a physical reminder. That is how it has become for me and this blog. I used to have to remind myself to sit down each night. Now I do it automatically unless something gets in the way to prevent me from having time. Actually I have been so engrained to spend some time writing that I push bedtime back if I’ve been too busy with my day to take time out for spending time in God’s word. I like it much better this way. Maybe that’s what God was aiming for with His people.
Father God, thank You for making our time so automatic that I come without having to be reminded or coaxed. But please help me from letting it get so routine that I forget or neglect to invite YOU into it. This time in Your word is NOT about publishing something for someone else to read. It is NOT about trying to get others to “sing my praises” as an author or an insightful bible reader. It is about OUR time together! It is about what I learn along the way from Your Holy Spirit. It is also about being allowed to share what You bring to me through Your word. Thank You for that reminder too. Keep me coming and playing with the tassels.