The Significance of Colors
Introduction To The Study of Color
Have you ever tried to visualize a world without color? The beauty of the rose; the thrill of a breathtaking sunset; the unfolding of God's carpets of green; the jewelled elegance of the snow flake; the glittering descent of a sparkling waterfall; the tranquility of a peaceful sea, lapping its relaxed waves upon a Palm infested tropical Island, etc. All of these fantasies of God's glorious creation would lose much of their appeal were it not for the miracle of color.
Have you ever reflected upon the fact that from early childhood, God indelibly impresses color on our mind, through these windows of miracle. All of this is not without purpose; in fact God has designed it so, that if we should desire, we might have a foundation to grow in nurture and admonition of Him.
This is the reason for the colors of the spectrum,in the rainbow; the curtains of the tabernacle; Ezekiel's Temple; and the pillars of the New Jerusalem, to name only a few.
Now we look in detail for a few moments at the foundation of this subject and it is only a foundation upon which we hope you will build your knowledge, love and reverence of the One who has given His only begotten son that we might have eternal life.
Colors Of The Rainbow
When God appeared unto Noah after the flood, and placed a rainbow in the sky; he did much more than show him a phenomenon. In the seven colors, beginning with red and ending with purple, God was displaying a natural miracle that demonstrated the complete redemption of man.
First let us look at color in the natural. In the world of art, we have three primaries; red, yellow and blue. These cannot be formulated by mixing. They come from the earth; but with these three colors, and the addition of black and white, any shade of the spectrum can be obtained. Herein lies a thought provoking, scriptural principle, for in red, we have a Hebrew word "OUDEM" which means "red clay." It is the root word from which we get Adam, Esau, and Edom; all of which speak of flesh. So at the very outset, we have something that cannot be created or controlled by man. An exact counterpart of our first primary color in nature.
The second primary is yellow. we also find its counterpart in the principles of God. Yellow always speaks of trial and purging.
Fire which is always used in the purification process comes in the category of yellow. So once again even though we cannot make yellow, in the same way man, has no control over trouble.
The third primary in the natural is blue. When we come to this color in scripture, we approach one of the most sublime subjects of the Bible. Blue is the symbol of the Word and healing power of God. We refer you to the 15th chapter of Numbers, verses 38-41.
This is the reason heaven above is blue, for it speaks to us of the eternal presence of YAHWEH. The color of God's chosen nation, the people of Israel, is blue, dating back to the time of David. We also note in Ezek. 1:26, that the restored throne of David which will rule supreme in all the earth, being God's throne, is spoken of as sapphire, which is blue. We note with extreme interest, what the woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years, said when she saw Jesus: "If I can only touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole" (Matt. 9:21). The hem of that garment was blue. We must point out, however, that Christ immediately emphasized it was her faith that made her whole and she had not gained healing by the works of the law. Also note carefully that she had to kneel down, literally bowing before the Lord to touch the hem of his garment. This custom was not confined to this woman, for in Matt. 14:26, we find the multitudes following this example and getting the same results. The prophet Zechariah, speaking symbolically, tells of the day when all nations shall be healed. He says in 8:23, that ten men out of every nation shall take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, "We will go with you for we have heard that God is with you." This is the day when the curse shall be lifted and the desert shall blossom as a rose.
Now that we have our three primary colors, let us do a little paint mixing. In the natural if we blend yellow and blue, the result is green. In the spiritual, you mix trial (yellow) and blue (the Word or Power of God) and we get green (the color of immortality) Psa. 1:3. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season: his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (An evergreen tree)
Green is the symbol of resurrection which (in the mercy of God) we are reminded of every spring. In Aaron's rod that budded, (laid up in the ark of the covenant), there is the symbol of selection and resurrection, Num. 17:8.
Let us blend two more colors. In the natural, if we mix red and blue, the result is purple. In the spiritual when we take red (flesh) and blue (Word or power of God) the result will be purple (royalty or priesthood).
Noah looking at the rainbow saw seven steps (the number of spiritual perfection), beginning with flesh, going through trial, being guided by the Word of God, bringing forth immortality and priesthood; thus fulfilling Rev. 5:10, "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." This is further emphasized in Ezekiel's glorious vision of the Cherubim, the immortalized host of God, as outlined in his first chapter.
Now that we have carefully laid the patternwork of color in the Bible, namely that red refers to flesh; yellow--trial; blue--the Word or healing power of Almighty God; green--immortality; purple--royalty or priesthood; let us go back once again to a few recorded incidents to see how this color progression is employed.
(For those desiring a more detailed study of the color of blue, we heartily recommend Arthur Hall's excellent publication, "The Significance of Blue in Scripture." Address: The Debir Press, A. Hall, 617 Foleshill Road, Coventry, Worwickshire, England.)
We readily agree that we cannot correctly analyze all the original stones of the breastplate. There seems to be a great deal of disagreement as to their original colors; yet there are two of which we can be very certain. One is the corner stone, the other is the last stone in the breastplate. The corner stone is that of a sardius or sardine and this is always red. It is the symbol of flesh, and immediately as we look at the breastplate of the high priest, with those twelve glittering stones, (each representative of a tribe of Israel), upon his breast as he went into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement; we see him taking the problems, the troubles, the sins and trials of the entire nation before Yahweh, seeking forgiveness. It is a beautiful picture, but immediately we think of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:46, where he tells us of the order. He says, "first that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual."
We know that in the breastplate we are under the Law of Moses, and it is only fitting as we look at the corner stone of that breastplate that it should be a sardine or sardius -- a red stone, which speaks of mortality. It is important that Christ is called both a sardine and a jasper stone in the book of the Revelation (4:3). He came bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh; he was made in all points like unto his brethren, but later he was immortalized -- he became the jasper stone, i.e. he gained immortality.
Now let us return to the breastplate for just a moment. We can be very sure of the corner stone of the breastplate being a sardius and as we said before, the last stone is a jasper. It is interesting too, to notice that the two center stones are blue in color and of this we can be sure. So the very center of the breastplate, or that which is the controlling factor, is the power or Word of Yahweh.
In the colors as we have them and as agreed by most commentators, it is interesting to follow the progression of color as we go down either side to the jasper stone. For the most part, you see a variation of reds, merging into yellows, then on into blues and finally into that which is green and purple representing the glorified immortal sons of God. Either way you go on the breastplate, to the right and down, or to the left, in all cases it is surrounded by the two blue stones that are in the center (Ex. 28:17). We here have a reproduction of God in the midst of the twelve tribes of Israel during their wilderness wanderings; Christ in the midst of his twelve disciples and in the future our Lord as the completed manifestation of the Memorial Name, surrounded by cleansed, redeemed, mortal Israel, the twelve tribe nucleus of the mortal nations of the earth.
The Foundation Stones of The New Jerusalem
For a moment let us go to Revelation 21. You will note how the stones are carefully outlined. Note again the corner stone in the old covenant or the breastplate, is the sardine or that of flesh. When we come to Rev. 21, we find twelve foundation stones in the New Jerusalem. The order of these has changed. Some have been eliminated and others have been added. Due to certain actions of the children of Israel of the various tribes, we do not find DAN in the stones of the New Jerusalem. DAN is eliminated and has been replaced by Levi. In Rev. 21, we find a distinct reversal of the corner stone. No longer is it a sardius, but now it becomes the jasper. Why? Because the New Jerusalem is the picture of immortality coming down from God out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband. It is that "city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Feb. 11:10) . So the corner stone dates back to that spoken of by Peter when he says that we are lively stones built upon that chief corner stone into the temple of God (1 Pet. 2:5). It is that foundation stone spoken of in Eph. 2:20, where we are built into the temple of God, built upon that chief corner stone. Of course no one would doubt that chief corner stone is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the rock of salvation. He is the rock that emanates from the very rock, the fortress, our fortress, Yahweh of Israel. He is that stone cut out of the mountain without hands spoken of in Dan. 2. It is interesting to look at that stone, it becomes a great mountain, it grows and fills the whole earth. One might say, "How does it grow"? How does any stone grow? How does a stone become a great building? Simply by adding building blocks to that stone. And we are those building blocks that are being molded today, far from the site of the temple. But when 1 Thess. 4 becomes a reality (as it will very shortly) the "dead in Christ shall rise first, then this mortal" (as we are told in 1 Cor.15) "will put on immortality, this corruptible will put on incorruption, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory. " What will happen? These stones, these lively stones that have been molded through trial (yellow), these that were once red but have now been immortalized and have become part of the jasper stone, they will become part of the immortal body of Christ. They will become the fulfillment of John 17 where Christ said, "that they might be one with me, even as I am one with thee"; and so it grows to a great mountain that fills the whole earth. This is the picture of the New Jerusalem.
Who is the corner stone? once a sardine stone, that is true, when he was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; but now by going through exactly the same process of the seven colors of the rainbow that we are going through, he has become immortal. He has become the jasper, and so this is held out to us in a glorious picture. The jasper stone, this is what we aspire to, but we know also that the only way that we can come to that perfection is through the various steps outlined in the seven colors of the rainbow. It was this finality that Ezekiel was permitted to see when he looked at the completed story in Ezekiel chapter one. If you will note carefully, we have the same color progression in Dan. 10, where Daniel sees the final image of the completed man molded together upon that chief corner stone which is the Lord Jesus Christ.
The interesting thing of color is this: that once all the primaries, the red, yellow and blue, and the offsprings of those colors are poured back together it becomes one great mass of white light from which it emanated. This was true in the beginning when God looked out upon His creation. He saw nothing but white light. He saw it and it was very good. The purpose of sending the Lord Jesus Christ, who once was represented by a sardine and now has become a jasper stone, the purpose of sending him into the earth has been to create a condition in which there will only be white light again; for we are told that when that great finality comes there will be no need for the sun or the moon or any other source of light, but the glory of God (white light) shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
So the eternal purpose of God will become a reality, when the desert shall blossom as the rose; when God shall be ALL in ALL: when Christ's purpose will become a reality; when sin shall be dealt a fatal blow; no more red, no more yellow, only blue, only that which pertains to the Divine white light, the source of all color in the world as we see it today.
The Formation of The Rainbow
As we journey Zionward, God has provided us with many lessons in His natural creation. One of these miracles of revelation is the formation of colors from which comes the storm, then the nourishing rain and finally the rainbow.
Our Lord in his ministry made the statement "and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). In this statement the future call of the Gentiles was incorporated. No longer would the gospel message be limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but now it would go to every nation, kindred, people and tongue (Rev. 7:9), i.e. worldwide.
Closely allied with these two thoughts let us direct our attention to Malachi 4:2, where our Lord is spoken of as the sun of righteousness, and in this verse of course we have the thrilling picture of the saviour destroying the blackness of sin in exactly the same way that the natural sun obliterates every trace of night's darkness.
In the natural a cloud is formed by the sun shining on lakes, rivers, seas, and lifting tiny droplets of water heavenward. As they ascend there is a purifying process and that which was individual becomes one in a cloud of white. When we place this phenomenon under the spiritual spotlight a glowing counterpart is revealed. John in the Isle of Patmos hears the question in Rev. 7:13, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" The answer: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. "
Just as we have clouds that bring storms and others that produce life-giving rain, so it will be in the spiritual. We read in Isa. 19:1, "Behold Yahweh rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt." In connection with this, Psa. 68:17 speaks of "the chariots of God are twenty thousand thousands of angels" (20 million). By placing these two quotations in their proper sequence we have a picture of the future cherubim of God spoken of in Isaiah as a cloud and in Psalm 68 as a chariot. In both cases Yahweh is the driver and it is a picture of a storm cloud going forth to cleanse the world of all impurity in preparation for the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.
Once the earth is subdued and all resistance is crushed, the storm cloud changes to one bringing a gentle rain of nourishment and so we read in Psa. 72:6, "he shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth." This descending rain will form the prism through which (figuratively speaking) the sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2) will shine through. The result will be the formation of the rainbow that arches over the restored throne of David (Ezek. 1:26-28). The meaning will be the same as after the flood in the days of Noah. The operative principle (sin) that brought the original trouble into the world will have been destroyed by flesh (red) being purified by trial (yellow) being immortalised (green, by the power of God (blue) and at last obtaining priesthood (purple) and thus fulfilling the intercessory prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:21).
Thus through the miracle of color the gospel plan of salvation is revealed and even though God's original purpose was temporarily delayed (Gen. 1:26), yet the message of the rainbow assures us that all is well and on schedule and that soon "the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:9).