How many of us as kids, or maybe even adults have picked up a kaleidoscope? We held the tube up to our eye and turned and then it happened. Bursts of color is different shapes and sizes. Some kaleidoscopes just have clear glass, and they pick up whatever colors are around us. Others have colored glass, and we see those colors. There are dozens and dozens of tiny stained-glass windows as we continue to turn the kaleidoscope. As a kid I was fascinated by all the color combinations. I believe God loves colors. All we need to do is look outside. Dozens of shades of green; pink, orange, purple and yellow in the sunsets. Hundreds of different colors of flowers, fish and birds. Color is important. Red lights tell us to stop and green ones tells when we can go. You get the idea.
Color is a big deal in scripture too. Color is used in both the Old Testament and the New. Some colors are more prevalent than others. And many of them can remind us of God and His plan for our salvation. In Genesis 9:8-17 we read of the covenant God made with Noah after the flood. God promised to set His bow in the clouds. We know this as the rainbow. This is the first place in scripture we see this collection of colors. In exile in Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream. It was a statue made of four different materials. Again, we see a combination of colors. Daniel was the only one who was given the ability to interpret the dream. There were many colors in the temple, from the gold, silver and bronze of the furnishings and utensils to the blue, purple and crimson yarns used in the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. And in the Book of Revelation we see the one seated on the throne looks like jasper and carnelian. All around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. There are twelve different stones in the foundation of the new Jerusalem, each a representation of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Each a different color, just like the stones in the High Priests ephod.
So, let's look at colors specifically. The Hebrew word for red is “oudem”. It means red clay, the substance God created both Adam and Esau from. Both of their names come from this word. Red is the color of the sacrifices the Israelites made in both the tabernacle and the temple. It is the color of the blood they painted on their door frames in Egypt so the angel of death would Passover their houses and spare them the last plague. But red is also the color of the blood Jesus shed for your sins and mine, blood that washed away our sins and made us right before God.
The Hebrew name for blue is “tekelet”. It can also mean purple. Blue is the color of both sky and water. This was the color of the priests clothing, especially the hems. (Exodus 28:5-6) In the New Testament we read the story of the woman who had suffered for twelve years who was healed when she touched the hem of Jesus garment. Blue is associated with God's healing and grace. It is also the color most often associated with the Virgin Mary.
Yellow in scripture most often refers to gold. The word is “charuts”. Gold represents the sovereignty of God. Solomon's temple was over laid inside with gold. The wisemen brought gifts of gold. The streets in the new Jerusalem are paved with gold. In Lutheran, Episcopalian and Catholic Churches the color for Easter is either white or gold.
Green is the color of new life, vegetation and new beginnings. Most of the green things were created on the third day.
In Ezekiel 1:4 we read about amber, in the middle of a fire, gleaming. Amber symbolizes the glory of God and His judgement.
We see purple in several places in scripture. It is woven into the fabric of the temple curtain...both in the Old Testament and the New. As Pilates soldiers mocked Jesus, they dressed Him in a purple robe. Purple is the color of royalty. They were mocking, but Jesus is the King of kings. Purple fabric was reserved for the rich and famous. It was the most expensive fabric money could buy. The apostle Paul met occasionally at the home of Lydia, a seller of purple. She was from the Macedonian city of Thyatira.
White is the color of redemption. On Easter morning there were young men at the tomb in white garments so dazzling they looked like lightening. Jesus is pictured in a white robe and we are promised in Revelation 3:5 we will have new white robes to wear. Manna was white and God has promised that the red stain of sin in our garments will be washed as white as snow.
The color black reminds us of our sins. It is the color of darkness and death. It also symbolizes catastrophe. In Zephaniah 1:14-8 we read of the great and terrible day of the Lord. It is full of darkness, devastation, gloom and doom.
Silver is symbolic for the Word of God, salvation and refining. In Psalm 66:10 we read” For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” And bronze stands for strength and durability. The lavers in the temple were constructed of bronze, as was the sea that rested on the backs of the twelve bulls. Nebuchadnezzars statue in Daniel :31-35 had a middle and thighs of bronze. And in Revelation 1:15 Jesus feet are described as being bronze.
Our world is awash in colors. Perhaps we take them for granted, but God has given them to us to enjoy and to remind us of what He has done for us. They come in all shapes and sizes, just like the pictures in a kaleidoscope.
In His grip
Pastor Matt W