God commanded the Israelites to “be holy, for I, the LORD your God am holy.” To be holy means to be set apart unto God and away from the world. One of the ways God had Israel demonstrated the nature of their “set-apartness” was to dress with only unmixed clothing:
“[You shall not] wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material” (Lev 19:19c ESV).
100% cotton, 100% wool, 100% silk… it had to be 100% something. The very fabric of their clothing reminded them that they were not to “mix” with other nations or evil people around them.
However, there may be an alternative reason for the reasons the Israelites were not to wear mixed clothing. They were indeed supposed to be set apart from the pagan nations. But additionally, the priests were a people set apart from the average layperson Israelite. Just as the Tabernacle and holy furniture within it were set apart (holy) from the people, so the priests were set apart as well.
And wouldn’t you know it—the priestly clothing was set apart from the Israelite clothing. Priests were commanded to wear clothing made of both linen and yarn (Exod 39:29). Not surprisingly, their clothing also matched the mixed nature of the Tabernacle and its veils (Exod 26:1, 31).
So the Tabernacle and priestly garments were made of mixed materials, setting them apart from the unmixed clothing of the average layperson Israelite, who themselves were set apart by their clothing and behavior from the nations around them!
This challenges us—as God’s people, a holy priesthood—to carefully strive to be pure and unmixed from the sinful influences of the world around us. May we reflect the glory and holiness of Christ as the priests reflected the glory and holiness of the Tabernacle!