A common question that is often asked by Believers embracing the roots of their faith is, “Should I wear tzitziyot?” What is the reason for this strange commandment, and how does it apply to us today?
Tzitziyot is a Hebrew word that means “tassels.” They are loosely hanging threads that are specially knotted and worn on the corners of one’s garment. God commanded His people to wear tzitziyot as a reminder to do His commandments:
“Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.” (Numbers 15:38-39)
“You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12)
According to the passages above, the command to wear tzitziyot is for the people of Israel. It is to be kept “throughout their generations.” The command would also apply to anyone who joins the people of Israel to follow God. Why? Because the same law that applies to the native-born Israelite also applies to the God-fearing “stranger” (see Numbers 15:15-16). As followers of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, God-fearing Gentiles are no longer strangers to the Covenants of promise, but have been brought near by the blood of Christ (see Ephesians 2:11-22).
WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?
When Messiah Yeshua walked the earth, He definitely wore tzitziyot. Consider the following passage:
And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment. (Matthew 9:20)
The Greek word for “fringe” in this verse is Kraspedon, which refers to Yeshua’s tzitziyot (see also Matthew 23:5).
On a side note, it is said of the Messiah that He will have “healing in His wings” (see Malachi 4:2). Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for “wings” in Malachi 4:2 is kanaph, which is the same Hebrew word translated as the “corner” of the garment on which the tzitziyot are hung. Messiah Yeshua, therefore, literally came with healing in His “wings”—just as the prophecy said!
Moving forward, Yeshua not only wore tzitziyot, but He affirmed the commandment’s validity during His sermon on the mount:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
The command to wear tzitziyot is part of the Law (Torah), and according to the passage above, not an “iota” or “dot” from God’s Law will pass away until heaven and earth passes away and everything recorded in the Law and Prophets is accomplished. Interestingly, someday heaven and earth will pass away and all prophecy will be accomplished, but when does this event occur? Consider this passage in Revelation:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
Right here we see that the first heaven and earth don’t pass away until the event described in the passage above. Anyone can turn on the news today and see that there is still death, mourning, crying, and pain in the earth. Moreover, this event follows the thousand-year reign of Yeshua. It’s the very last prophecy to be fulfilled on God’s prophetic timeline, and there are multiple prophetic events that still need to take place beforehand. To name a few: The Great Tribulation, the Mark of the Beast, the second coming of Christ, and the rebuilding of the third temple. So as we can see, the two conditions that Yeshua gave on which the law can pass away have NOT yet been met. Therefore, it follows logically that nothing from the Law has passed away.
But wait! There’s more! Yeshua’s instructions to His disciples just prior to His ascension were to make disciples of “all the nations” (including God-fearing Gentiles) and teach them all that He had commanded them (see Matthew 28:19-20). “All” that He commanded them obviously would have included the command to wear tzitziyot as part of the overall Law of God.
Furthermore, the Apostle Paul tells us that the Old Testament Scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
In New Testament times, the only “scripture” that existed was the Old Testament. So right here, we have Paul saying that everything written in the Old Testament (including the Law) is valid and applicable. In context, Paul is telling Christians to continue in what they learned from the Old Testament. By extension, since the command to wear tzitziyot is part of “all Scripture,” and this letter is written to Christians, it follows logically that wearing tzitziyot is profitable to Christians, too.
In conclusion, the Bible certainly encourages Christians to wear tzitziyot. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that this commandment is no longer for followers of God. Wearing tzitziyot is for our benefit so that we would remember to follow the rest of God’s commandments. (They are essentially the original WWJD bracelet!) Not only that, but wearing them also presents a great opportunity to share the Gospel. I can’t tell you how many times random people have asked me about my tzitziyot, and several of those times have led to very fruitful discussions about the Messiah. But if nothing else, wearing tzitziyot is a small way to tell the world that you are in love with the God of Israel. You should make yourself some. :-)