Is there a Bible story about wearing masks? At first glance, it would appear that masks are not mentioned in the Bible. However, if we consider what a mask actually is, then we will find instructions and more than one Bible story about wearing masks. What is a mask? Basically, it is simply a face covering. In the Bible face coverings are usually referred to as veils.
We will look at five Bible stories relating to masks or veils and then a specific instruction on disease and masks. We will consider how much of this applies to wearing a mask for coronavirus today.
The first time a face covering is mentioned in Scripture is when Rebekah was meeting her future husband, Isaac, for the first time. It is an interesting story that can be found in Genesis 24.
Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”
“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. Gen. 24:64-65, NIV
In this case, it was the woman who wore the face covering. Rebekah was a single young lady meeting her bridegroom. The fact that she put on the veil reveals that she was not required to wear it all times, even in the presence of men because the servant was man.
It was probably light weight and transparent or semi-transparent. Solomon, in raving about the beauty of his beloved, seems to have been able to see through the veil. [Song 4:1, 4:3, 6:7] Although traditionally representing modesty and virtue, it was likely also worn to enhance beauty [like bracelets, rings, makeup] and to lend an air of mystery and desire.
This type of mask-wearing does not relate to our current Covid regulations.
Tamar, on the other hand, wore a mask or veil for an entirely different reason. She wanted to conceal her identity. Tamar’s story can be found in Gen. 38.
…she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife. When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face… After she left, she took off her veil and put on her widow’s clothes again. Gen. 38:14-15, 19, NIV
The reason why Tamar took this drastic action is a subject for another article. What we are more concerned with is the type and purpose of the mask. We can see from the fact that Judah did not recognize her during their entire “session” that the mask or veil must have been a heavier material than Rebekah’s veil and certainly not see-through. It would appear that this type of face-covering was common with shrine prostitutes, for that was Judah’s natural assumption when he saw her with her face covered.
So here we have two different types of masks or face coverings worn by women for vastly different purposes. One was to enhance her beauty and modesty, and the other was to disguise herself as she sold her body.
This mask style is similar to the kinds of face coverings worn to allegedly protect against the coronavirus infection. Just as a woman who sells her body and the man who purchases it both degrade and dehumanize a person created in the image of God to enjoy and glorify Him, so many people find being forced to wear masks degrading and dehumanizing. So while this story is not directly related to our covid-19 situation, many people find the effects the same and resent governments and businesses which force - with violence if necessary - it upon them.
Next, we have the Bible story of a man who wore a mask or veil. He did it for still a different reason than our two ladies above.
When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when Moses came out and told the Israelites what God’s commands were, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord. Ex. 34:33-35, NIV [Also see, 2 Cor. 3:13]
When Moses spent time with God, they were so close that his face would literally shine. The Israelites were afraid of Moses so he put a veil over his face to conceal God’s glory. It had the dual purpose of dealing with their fears and of hiding God’s glory fading away. So this face cover must have been similar to Tamar’s one - a heavier material that was non-transparent. We also see that, although women traditionally wore the veil, it does not appear out of place for a man to wear it when the occasion required it.
Here we specifically note the purpose of masks is separation. Moses placed a separation between himself and the people to soothe their fears. But when he wanted intimate relationship with God, he removed all barriers. So, again, while not directly dealing with masks and the coronavirus, there are some general points we can pick up.
First, we need to be considerate of other people’s feelings and fears. We are not to live our lives in fear - there is no fear in love [1 John 4:18], but we are to be sensitive to where others are in their lives. However, this should be voluntary. Those who force the mask on others are violating the free choice that God has given us. Choosing to wear the mask is then not a sign of thoughtful love but violent slavery.
Second, masks represent separation. It is not God’s will that we are separated from Him or each other. God designed us to live in community. The closer the relationship, the more freedom there should be to share, and the less separation there should be. Violently enforced face coverings bring separation and a “hiding” of who God intended us to be, both physically and symbolically.
Third, in line with that, the separating and dehumanizing effect of these face coverings drives many people further into loneness, depression, and fear. People need to see loving, caring, smiling faces. It is the devil’s work to hide that.
In our fourth story, we also have a man covering his face. We are not told how or with what he covered his face. The story is found in 2 Sam. 19.
The king covered his face and cried aloud, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Sam. 19:4, NIV
King David covered his face as a sign of deep mourning for his rebellious son, Absalom. The soldiers returning from battle recognized the sign of sorrow. Sometimes widows at funerals wear a black veil as a sign of mourning. Interestingly, many masks are black. Again, not directly related to the coronavirus, but, perhaps if compelled to wear a mask, consider a black one as a sign of mourning the death of freedom.
Finally, we have the story of Esther and Haman. This was an involuntary covering of the face. The story is found in Esther 7.
Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”
As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face Es. 7:8, NIV
The servants recognized from the king’s words that Haman was a dead man. They covered his face as if he was already a corpse. Of all the Bible stories about wearing masks that we have seen, this is the only that was forced on someone. It was a sign of his impending doom and death. I am almost hesitant to comment on that…
While the sexual revolution may not have been the beginning of our downfall, it was certainly a major boost on the downward spiral that has led us here. It has been said that no culture which embraces sexual previsions lasts more than three generations. The definition of a “generation” can vary, but we are definitely in the second generation and may be fast approaching the third. We may be living in the period that will become known as the Fall of Western Civilization. The forcible lockdowns and the required wearing of masks which do little, if anything, to prevent coronavirus spreading may, at least, be symbolic of the beginning of the end. As I have said elsewhere, we are either going to have a “Great Awakening” with repentance, large numbers of people turning to Jesus and then restoration OR a “French Revolution” with its horrors and bloodshed. We choose which path we take…
Now we come to a specific piece of legislation about wearing a mask when sick. [If you have questions about the continuing validity of Mosaic Law, then take our Master Life Course or Biblical Law I & II - coming soon.] This law deals specifically with people who have a contagious disease. It does relate directly to what we are experiencing today with the spread of the coronavirus.
“Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp. Lev. 13:45-46
We can learn several things from this Scripture:
First, the government does have a legitimate Biblical mandate to protect its citizens from contagious diseases. Most of what our socialistic governments do today is outside of their God-given authority and in defiant rebellion to God. But protection of people through a defensive army, a police force, a court system [to be legitimate it must be based on God’s laws] and though preventing contagious diseases from spreading is their responsibility.
Second, the person with the disease needs to be isolated to prevent further spread of the disease.
Third, if they must go out in public, they need to clearly identify their contagious condition so healthy people can avoid coming into close contact with them [social distancing from known sick people]. Part of this was wearing a mask when sick.
Fourth, when they were better, as confirmed by the Levites who were trained to recognize the diseases, they could re-enter society. In today’s world, that role of the Levites would be done by doctors or other medical professionals.
Fifth, it was sick people who had to wear masks and isolate NOT healthy people. To force healthy people to wear masks, separate from family and friends, endure lockdowns and/or self-isolate is an anti-Scriptural violation of people’s rights and responsibilities before God. Nowhere does the Bible give governments the right to control people in this way. If governments want to recommend these actions and people want to engage in them voluntarily, that is a different matter. The violent compelling of healthy people to do these and other things is totalitarian slavery and should be opposed.