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R&V In the Word: Caps, Gowns, and the Armor of God

Image: Jack Patrick

Read Leviticus 8:6-9

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Ephesians 6:14-17 NIV

Many high school and college graduates are donning caps and gowns this spring to mark their accomplishments at the end of a long season. Our daughter will be one of those graduating seniors collecting her diploma that declares she’s completed all of the requirements to advance beyond high school and into the next stage of her life.

And boy, she is ready to get on with it.

If students spend about 10 months in school each year, that’s 40 months (or so) spent learning new things over their high school career (similarly for a four-year college degree). 

Forty has special meaning in the Bible—it tends to signify a season of preparation or testing. This season of preparation in the Bible—whether 40 days, weeks, months, or years—is often completed in the wilderness. If you’re the Israelites, it felt like wandering around. If you’re a high school student, some of that work might feel pointless. 

But seasons of wilderness are never pointless. 

Seasons of wilderness are all about being readied for what comes next. Even when we have no idea what comes next, there is important work being done in our seasons of wilderness.

In the Old Testament, after Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, the Lord spent forty years shaping and forming his people, from slaves to freed men and women. During those forty years in the wilderness, while the Israelites complained and fretted about the purposelessness of this mission, God gave the Israelites the ten commandments, the structure and layout for their worship, the ways in which the people would be governed, and even the garments the priests would wear. 

The priests of old were fitted with particular sashes, tunics, breastplates, and robes to distinguish them from others. They were a holy people, set apart for the work of God in that age.

When Jesus came as our permanent high priest, the robes and tunics of the priests lost some of their outward significance. Through Jesus, we no longer need a high priest to intercede for us because Jesus is that high priest. 

Jesus told the people that it isn’t what we wear on the outside that matters but what we wear on the inside—the fabric of our character—that counts. 

Instead of a particular color or texture, our priesthood garments look like the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. 

As this particular wilderness season of preparation comes to a close for our graduates, we’re all invited to put on the full armor of God underneath whatever cap and gown we get to wear and walk around, clothed in the robes of saints.

Points of Reflection

  1. How can you practically put on the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6:14-17 in your daily lives, especially as you transition into new seasons or challenges?
  2. In what ways does the concept of a wilderness season of preparation resonate with your own life experiences, and how can you find purpose and growth in those times of testing and uncertainty?

For the Kids

  1. Imagine you’re getting dressed for a big adventure. What kind of special clothes or gear would you need to face challenges and help others along the way?
  2. If you were a superhero, what kind of armor or equipment would represent things like truth, righteousness, faith, and salvation? How could wearing these things help you in your everyday life?


In a world of fast fashion and disposable clothing, we can embrace the message of the inner “clothing” of character over outward appearance while also being conscientious stewards of our resources. Consider hosting a “Clothing Upcycling Drive” where people gather their unused or old clothing items. Instead of discarding them, encourage participants to donate these items to local organizations or charities that support sustainability in fashion. Or, if you have a crafty community, host a “Repurpose and Redesign” event with the same idea in mind—bring your old clothing items or fabrics to swap and sew new from old!


Lauren F. Winner dedicates a whole chapter to what it means to connect with God through clothing in her book Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God. This book won the Christianity Today Book Award for Spirituality. In the chapter I mentioned, she writes, “If to change clothes can be to change one’s sense of self; if to change clothes is to change one’s way of being in the world; if to clothe yourself in a particular kind of garment is to let that garment shape you into its own shape—then what is it to put on Christ?” More delicious questions and answers await you in the rest of this great read.

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