To experience inner spiritual renewal and reconciliation with God, it is necessary to remove all outward besetting objects of idolatry, including jewelry and ornaments. We have found this truth expressed especially through the experience of Jacob’s family at Shechem and of the Israelites at Mount Horeb. In both instances ornaments were removed to effect reconciliation with God.
At Shechem Jacob summoned his family members to remove their outward idols and ornaments (Gen 35:2-3) as a means of preparing themselves for an inward spiritual cleansing at the altar he intended to build at Bethel. The response was commendable: “So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem” (Gen 35:4).
At Mount Horeb God requested the Israelites to remove their ornaments as proof of their sincere repentance for worshiping the golden calf: “So now put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what to do with you” (Ex 33:4). Again the response of the people was positive: “Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward” (Ex 33:5). We noted that the phrase “from Mount Horeb onward” implies that repentant Israelites made a commitment at Mount Horeb to discontinue the use of ornaments in order to show their sincere desire to obey God. Both at Shechem and Mount Horeb the removal of ornamental jewelry was preparatory to a renewal of a covenant commitment to God.
These experiences teach us that wearing ornamental jewelry contributes to rebellion against God by fostering self-glorification, and that removing it facilitates reconciliation with God by encouraging a humble attitude. Thus it is important for us to remember that to experience spiritual renewal and reformation, we need to remove from our hearts the idols we cherish, whether they be jewelry, cosmetics, immodest clothes, professional goals, cars, or homes, and replace them with devotion to God.