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In the upper right-hand drawer of my desk at work is one of my most valuable tools as a professional numismatist. I keep this handy device hidden away except when I am using it, as it is somewhat revolting to the non-numismatic public that wander into our coin shop. They just do not understand the "filthy lucre?" nature of coins - especially circulated copper. Of course, by now, if you are a true-blue coin collector or coin dealer, you know that the handy secret tool in my desk drawer is my coin-rubbing cloth.

I have had this particular 12"x12" coin-rubbing cloth for several years, and have used it to carefully and professionally remove the dirt and "gunk" on thousands of coins. When I first started using it, it was soft and white. Now, it is sort of slimyish and darkish greenish -"ish" being a good descriptive term for the cloth now. My wife has her own description. She calls it "that filthy rag".

Isaiah wrote about filthy rags in the Bible in reference to people trying to come to God on their own terms:
How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Isaiah 64:5,6 NIV

Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God any more than a beggar in rotten, filthy rags could dine at a king's table. Even at our very human best, a person's righteous acts are still infected with sin, and in God's eyes are no more than filthy rags. So, Isaiah asks the question, How then can we be saved? This is where the grace of God comes in. Isaiah writes:
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.
Isaiah 61:10 NIV

By grace, when we surrender our lives to God through faith in Jesus, God exchanges our filthy rags for a beautiful robe of righteousness. Paul pictures the thought this way:
God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteous of God.
II Corinthians 5:21 NIV

On the cross all our sins were placed upon Jesus. He took the punishment for our sins. When we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we make an exchange - our sin for His righteousness. It's like trading a rusty 1943 steel cent for an MS69 1804 Silver Dollar!! If a trade like this was made in the coin business, it would make the front page of every numismatic publication! God offers to trade His righteousness - something of immeasurable, eternal value - for our sin, something completely worthless. Thank you Jesus!

I look at my dirty coin-rubbing cloth, and I know that there is not a single men's clothing store on this planet that would trade this dirty cloth for a new suit. But, by God's grace, mercy and love, I made an even better deal when I traded my filthy rags for a new robe in Heaven's store. You can too!

-Mark Chaplin