Costumes in the Bible

MaskI’m a Christian, and sometimes a teacher/preacher.

Some of you may know that Christmas really isn’t my favorite holiday, so here’s another Halloween-themed one. 🙂

This sermon talks about the various costumes and disguises that have appeared in the Bible — there are more than you might expect.

Costume Tricks

Many times, costumes were used underhandedly, to trick people.

You may remember Jacob and Esau, the brothers with very different lives and physiques. Esau was the outdoorsman, and has his father’s approval. Jacob was the quiet type, and stayed close to mama.

Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, and put them on Jacob. She covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with goatskins. (Genesis 27:15-16)

Rebekah tricked her blind husband Isaac into giving most of his inheritance to the wrong son.

But two can play at that game. Years later, Jacob met the girl of his dreams, and worked for her father for seven years in exchange for marrying her. But Laban pulled the old switcheroo on him.

Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife Rachel.” But when evening came, Laban took his daughter Leah to Jacob. (Genesis 29:21-23)

Not so fun now, is it, Jacob?

But he didn’t necessarily learn from that experience, either. Years later, he has a son he liked more than the rest, and he dressed him in weird clothes.

Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children, and made him a coat of many colors. When his brothers saw that their father loved him most, they hated him. (Genesis 37:3-4)

His jealous brothers used that very coat as a terrible disguise to break their father’s heart and to cover up their own treachery.

They dipped Joseph’s coat in goat’s blood, and told their father, “We found this.” He recognized it and said, “Some ferocious animal has eaten him!” (Genesis 37:31-33)

Eventually, Joseph gets promoted to the top of the slave totem pole, and practically runs Egypt. When his brothers came to ask for food during a famine, they didn’t recognize their brother, so he took advantage of the situation.

Joseph recognized his brothers, but he disguised himself. He accused them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” (Genesis 42:7-9)

What’s good for the goose, eh, brothers?

Moving away from that family tree, we look at an even weirder one. Tamar tricked her own father.

Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute, and Judah slept with her. She took his seal and cord as a pledge for payment. (Genesis 38:14-18)

She used that seal and cord to blackmail him. Two wrongs still don’t make a right.

And finally, king Saul disguised himself to hide his own wrongdoing.

Saul disguised himself, and went to the seer in the dark of night. He asked her to consult a spirit. But the woman said, “Saul has cut off mediums from the land.” (1 Samuel 28:7-9)

That ain’t right, Saul.

Costume TreatsGroucho

But costumes and disguises have been used for good, as well.

We are encouraged to “wear” godliness.

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; the Lord has clothed me with garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. (Isaiah 61:10)

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; justice was my mantle and turban. (Job 29:14)

And to use it for protection.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10)

Wearing love can cover up evil.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love will veil a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

The Almighty doesn’t care about the latest fashion trends.

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)

Even Jesus wore a disguise.

Jesus himself came up and walked with them, but they were kept from recognizing him. When their eyes were opened, he disappeared from sight. (Luke 24:15,31)

Of course, it was a miraculous thing, possibly similar to the transfiguration, but it’s kind of funny to think of Jesus removing a set of Groucho glasses at the end of a long walk with his friends.

But our words hold the power of life and death, and those words will remove all costumes.

A good man draws good from the good in his heart; an evil man draws evil from the evil in his heart. For from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

There’s no hiding from our true selves.

Costume Warningsghost

Besides costumes in the past, there are more on the way, and many will not be used for good.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

There are some who pretend to be rich, yet have nothing. There are some who pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth. (Proverbs 13:7)

When Jesus comes back, he’ll be wearing some serious duds. Beware, evildoers.

The Lord wore the breastplate of righteousness, and helmet of salvation. He wore vengeance for his garment, and zeal as his cloak. Righteousness is his belt, and faithfulness his sash. (Isaiah 59:17, 11:5)

We have to be careful ourselves, even in the church.

Watch out for the teachers who wear flashy robes to get respect in public, and take the best seats at church. They mask their evil by making long prayers. (Mark 12:38-40)

Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. (Proverbs 26:24)

But we must know ourselves and repent, to truly know God.

We are all infected and impure with sin. Our righteous deeds are nothing but filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)

Costume PromisesHero

Jesus had (and will have) even more costumes.

This is the one that makes the rest possible.

Christ Jesus made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:7)

He became not just a mortal being meant to die, but a servant.

And he continues to hide among us, or close enough.

I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you tended to me, in prison and you visited me. (Matthew 25:35)

His sacrifice granted him authority as Judge over all.

He wore a garment soaked with blood, and his name is called The Word of God. (Revelation 19:13)

And his own blood also covers us, and extends his righteousness to those who believe in him.

Her household has no fear; for everyone is clothed in scarlet. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. (Proverbs 31:21, Isaiah 1:18)


  • How have you ever been misled?
  • How do you react?
  • How do you form your opinions of someone when you first meet?
  • Based on your “costume” (actions, words), who do people think you are?


You can download the PowerPoint slides here.