Typical Colors and Substances of the Bible
February 16th, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
TYPICAL COLORS AND SUBSTANCES IN THE BIBLE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-16-58 8:15 a.m.
Now, let us turn to the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Exodus, the second book in the Bible – the twenty-fifth chapter of the book of Exodus. You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Meaning of Colors and Substances in the Bible or Typical Colors and Substances.
These things all have a meaning. God chose these things instead of other things because they had a connotation, a meaning, a reference. They are also types and figures of great spiritual truths. Now, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Exodus, it starts off:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take My offering.
And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, silver, and brass,
And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
Then it goes through all of those other things: oil, and incense, and precious stones [Exodus 25:5-7].
And let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
Then he continues.
Now we’re going to take those things and find what each one of them means. We shall take the colors first. They were to bring to Moses blue and purple and scarlet [Exodus 25:4]. Well, I would suppose if the Lord said, "It is to be made of blue, and purple, and scarlet," then green and yellow would not serve the same purpose. God has a meaning for those colors, and He wanted just those colors. So those colors are typical of something. They represent something. They are figures of something.
Now, look how specifically God speaks of those three colors. In the twenty-sixth chapter of the Book of Exodus – just turn the page – look at the first verse: "Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet" [Exodus 26:1]. Now, in that same chapter, look at the thirty-first verse: "And thou shalt make a vail," between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place. "Thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen" [Exodus 26:31]. Now look at the thirty-sixth verse: "And thou shalt make a hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen" [Exodus 26:36].
Now, look in the next chapter at the sixteenth verse: "And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen" [Exodus 27:16]. Now, look in the next chapter at the second verse: "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother," who was the high priest, "for glory and for beauty" [Exodus 28:2]. Look at the fifth verse: "And thou shalt take blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen" [Exodus 28:5]. Now look at the sixth verse: "And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and fine twined linen" [Exodus 28:6]. Now look at the eighth verse: "And the curios girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same . . . even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen" [Exodus 28:8].
Now, I haven’t time to carry that through all the Scriptures, but just what we have read in those two immediate chapters demonstrates how frequently the Lord said, "You are to make these of blue, and purple, and scarlet." Well evidently, the Lord had a meaning not to be of yellow or of green but of those three colors.
Now, the tabernacle itself is a representative of Christ. It is a type of the Lord Himself. In the first chapter of John: "And the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us" [John 1:14]. The tabernacle is a picture of our Lord Himself. In the seventh verse of the twenty-sixth chapter of Exodus, it was covered over with that great large curtain of goat’s hair [Exodus 26:7], but when you looked at the tent itself, the tabernacle itself, it was made of those three beautiful, beautiful colors and embroidered with cherubim [Exodus 26:1]. It was blue; it was purple; and it was scarlet. And underneath that covering – that shield, that curtain, that protective covering of goat’s hair – there was that beautifully-colored tabernacle, and it was a picture of the Lord Himself.
It was made out of blue, and blue is the heavenly color. It’s the color of the heavens itself. It’s the sky above us, the great overarching chalice of God’s infinitude: blue. It speaks of the Heavenly One, the One who came down from heaven and ascended up into heaven, who was on earth – the Heavenly One. So looking at the tabernacle, it has in it blue which refers to the heavenly character of our Lord.
Now, looking upon the tabernacle, it had the color in it of scarlet. And immediately there comes to our hearts: "And they put on Him a scarlet robe" [Matthew 27:28]. That speaks always the red of His blood, the scarlet of His sufferings, the devotion of His life unto death. And the tabernacle is scarlet: a figure, a picture of the suffering Lamb of God.
And it is purple – blue, and scarlet, and purple [Exodus 26:1]. That is a picture of His kingly bearing. That is a picture of His regal character. Purple was the royal color of the ancient nations of the world. In the Book of Esther, when the king, Ahasuerus, desired to honor Mordecai, he placed upon Mordecai a beautiful purple robe and Mordecai sat in the gate of the city [Esther 6:5-12]. Lydia was a seller of purple – royal goods to royal households [Acts 16:13-15]. So when it says: "And the tabernacle had in it the color of purple" [Exodus 26:1], it referred to the King, the great King, the King of all heaven and of all of this earth.
"Art thou a king, then?" said Pilate. And Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this purpose came I into the world" [John 18:37]. "And the magi came, saying, ‘Where is He that is born King of the Jews?’" [Matthew 2:2] Purple.
See, these colors have a meaning. All of this has a meaning. God framed it and fashioned it. God said to Moses: "You make it exactly according to the pattern that I have showed thee on the mount" [from Exodus 25:40]. And it all referred to the great, great Son of Heaven, our Lord and Savior.
Now, let’s go back and look at the substances. "And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass . . . and fine linen" [Exodus 25:3-4]. Now, the tabernacle was made of fine twined linen, beautifully wrought and embroidered with those gorgeous colors. Well, what does that linen refer to? In the Book of the Revelation, it says that the bride of Christ "shall be clothed with linen, clean and white, for the linen is the righteousness of saints" [Revelation 19:8]. So when I see the tabernacle, then, made out of linen, fine twined linen, it refers to the holy and unblemished character of our Savior: without spot, without wrinkle, separate from sinners, undefiled – the pure holy character of our Savior, the Lord Jesus.
Now, he took offerings of them of gold, and silver, and brass [Exodus 35:4-5, 21-29]. Then, as you read the construction of the tabernacle, all of those articles that were made of metal, some of it was of gold, and some of it was of silver, and some of it was of brass. Now did that have a meaning? Everything has a meaning. God chose this instead of that because they typify, they speak to us, of certain great spiritual truths.
Now gold: that represents His deity. He is God in the flesh [Philippians 2:4-8]. Our Lord lived in this world in a tabernacle: the flesh veiled Him. Once in a while, His glory would shine through, as on the day of the transfiguration [Mark 9:2-8]. But the flesh of our Lord veiled Him [John 1:11, 6:42]. He was God of mighty God, the Lord who created heaven and earth, the Lord God whom we worship [Colossians 1:15-16]. In the Old Testament, His name is called Jehovah, Yahweh [Exodus 17:25]; El Shaddai, Lord God Almighty [Genesis 17:1]. In the New Testament, His name is called Iēsous, Savior [Matthew 1:21]. But that One, that Person, that character is God Himself. When we worship Jesus, we are not idolaters worshiping a creature; we are worshiping God Himself, the one true God. The gold represents His deity – God of very God.
Now, the silver – gold and silver. Silver is the coin, the metal, the money of redemption – silver; so that refers to His redemptive character. He came into the world to buy us to God, to pay for us the price of His life, to redeem us from sin and transgression and damnation and hell [1 Peter 1:15-21]. Redemption: silver.
Then brass: that refers to the judgment of God. In the Book of the Revelation, "And His feet were as fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace" [from Revelation 1:15]. Well, when you read things like that, that isn’t just happen to be there. Each one of those descriptions has a great and deep and vast meaning. "And His feet were of fine brass, as though it burned in a furnace" [from Revelation 1:15].
Brass represents the judgment of God, and upon our Lord and Savior there fell the judgment of our sins, of our transgressions. The fire and the fury and the wrath of God against our sins fell upon Him [Isaiah 53:5]. That’s the reason the brazen altar was made out of brass [Exodus 27:1-8]. The great altar, as you went into the tabernacle grounds, as you went into the temple grounds, the great altar there on which the burnt sacrifices were made, was made out of brass – a brazen altar. And on it, the fire of God fell and burned up the sacrifice [Leviticus 9:24]. Brass refers to the judgment and the fury and the burning of Almighty God. And our Lord in Himself took upon Him in His body, upon His soul, against Him, all of the judgment of our sins [1 Peter 2:24]; He bore it all. And the brass refers in judgment to our Lord.
Now, these substances. I want you to turn to the second chapter of the book of Leviticus: Leviticus, the second chapter. Here are five substances named in connection with the meal offering, five of them. The meal offering itself is a substance typifying our Lord: wheat, bread, the manna of Heaven, the Bread of Life. Now, in the second chapter of the Book of Leviticus, there are five substances that are named here in connection with the meal offering. Now, look at it: "And when any will offer a meal offering, a cereal offering, unto the Lord" – a bread offering unto the Lord – "his offering shall be of fine flour" [Leviticus 2:1].
Now, I’ve discussed that so many times I need not refer to it again. Fine sifted flour [Leviticus 2:1], the same all the way through: that refers to the beautiful character of our Lord in His mind, in His heart, in His thoughts, in His desires, in His imaginations, in His soul, in His life, in His words, in His deeds, in His looks [1 Peter 1:19]. In everything, He was like fine flour – the same throughout, perfect throughout: no spot, no stain, no iniquity, no wickedness, no vileness, no coarseness in Him at all – fine flour.
Now, when you make your offering of fine flour, now there’s your first substance: "he shall pour oil upon it." Now, here’s your second substance: "and put frankincense thereon" [from Leviticus 2:1]. Now, your third substance is in the thirteenth verse: "And every oblation of thy meal offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meal offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt" [Leviticus 2:13].
So here are three substances that are commanded. Now, look in the eleventh verse, and here are two substances that are interdicted:
No meal offering –
bread offering –
which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire.
So there are two substances which are interdicted. Now these all have a meaning. They refer to spiritual realities, three of them commanded and two of them interdicted. And if you are to understand the Word of God at all, in a dozen and a dozen situations, in parables, in incident, in teaching, in the language of the Bible, if you do not understand what these substances refer to, you don’t understand the teaching of the Word. It is filled with it from beginning to ending.
Now, oil. "Now when you bring that bread offering, thou shalt pour oil upon it" [from Leviticus 2:1]. In almost every verse here, that oil is referred to: in the first verse, in the second verse, in the fourth verse, in the seventh verse, in the fifteenth verse – oil. That refers to the Holy Spirit of God – oil: the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit of God. The anointing with oil refers to the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God. In the fourth chapter of the visions of Zechariah, he saw the lamps, the seven lampstands, the seven lamps burning [Zechariah 4:1-3]. And on either side, he saw the two olive trees; and the two olive trees poured pure and beautiful and clear oil into the lamps that burned [Zechariah 4:11-12]. And when Zachariah asked, "What did that mean?" [Zechariah 4:4], God replied – now do you remember the beautiful and famous verse? – "Not by power, nor by might, but by my Spirit,’ saith the Lord" [Zechariah 4:6]. The oil refers to the Holy Spirit of God.
And in our services, there is to be given to the Holy Spirit of God, always, free course. There is liberty where the Spirit of God is [2 Corinthians 3:17]. And He is to be asked to direct our services: the singing, the preaching, the worship of the hearts of the people, the guiding of our testimony, the labor of our hands and life – the Holy Spirit of God.
Now, there is frankincense – frankincense. Here in the fifteenth and sixteenth verses: "And thou shalt put oil upon it, and lay frankincense thereon: it is a burnt offering. And the priest shall burn the memorial with oil . . . and frankincense thereon: it is an offering made by fire unto the Lord" [from Leviticus 2:15-16]. Frankincense. Well, what does frankincense refer to? Frankincense referred to the prayers, the ascending oblation, the ascending devotion, the sacrifice of the whole life unto God: ascending before the Lord, offering the prayers of our hearts, offering the love of our life, offering our soul’s devotion – frankincense, a sweet savor pleasing unto God; our love, our consecration, our prayers, our devotion, our intercession, frankincense, a sweet savor ascending unto heaven.
Now, salt. "Every oblation of thy offering shalt thou season with salt . . . with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt" [Leviticus 2:13]. Well, I need not expatiate upon that at all. You already know it. Honey and leaven corrupt and destroy, but salt keeps, preserves. Jesus said to his disciples: "Ye are the salt of the earth" [Matthew 5:13]. That is, what keeps this earth from falling into destruction are the people of God. The very moment the people of God are taken out of this earth, in that moment is the beginning of the dark and terrible judgment days of the awful and indescribable tribulation – the Day of the Lord: a day of wrath and of visitation and of judgment [2 Thessalonians 2:2-10]. But God’s people are the salt of the earth [Matthew 5:13]. God’s people keep the wrath of God stayed and the judgment of the Lord from falling [Genesis 18:23-32]. God’s people are the great intercessors with their High Priest who are mediating the love and mercy of God to this wicked world and who stand between the judgment day and this day of grace [1 Timothy 2:1-5]: the salt of the earth [Matthew 5:6].
I remember reading – isn’t it in Galatians? – where Paul says: "Let your speech be seasoned with salt" [from Colossian 4:6]. God’s people are to speak splendidly and correctly and beautifully and finely and nobly. God’s people are never to be guilty of dirty things and filthy things and vile things and off-colored things. If you are a child of God, you just don’t talk like that. "Let your speech be seasoned with salt" [Colossians 4:6] – that is, to be refreshing and good and hallowed and fine. If you tell a funny story, it is to be a good story, not off-colored. Under no conditions, at any time, anywhere, is any child of God ever to tell or to repeat an off-colored joke. You are not to do it. You are commanded of God not to do it [Ephesians 4:29]. One of the signs of the child of God is his speech, and what you say ought to be for the preservation and the building up and the saving of the soul and the life: soft, soft.
Now, we must hasten. Two things are forbidden. Next Sunday morning, I’m going to speak on the meaning of leaven. I haven’t the beginning of time at this hour. And the reason honey is interdicted here with leaven in the eleventh verse: "No offering, which ye shall bring unto the Lord, shall be made with leaven: for ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in the offering to the Lord made by fire" [Leviticus 2:11].
Now, the reason honey was interdicted was this: honey was the way the olden times made a thing ferment, made it sour. Today, in making many of these fermentations, they use sugar. Well, they didn’t have sugar in that ancient day. That’s something that you manufacture in the sugar mills from beets or from sugar cane. Well, they didn’t have that, so they used honey instead; and it was because of the use of honey for fermentation, for corruption, that it was interdicted along here with leaven.
Now, in just a moment – and how can I encompass in a few minutes, five minutes here, this other substance I want to speak of? If I had time we’d talk about water. I’m going to talk about fire for just a moment – fire – the substance of fire in the Scriptures.
Fire is used in the Bible as a picture of the presence of God. On the backside of the desert, Moses saw a bush that burned and burned and burned though it was not consumed – a sign of the presence of God [Exodus 2:1-2]. On Mount Sinai, it said: "And the mountain burned with fire" [Deuteronomy 4:11], and Hebrews refers to "the mountain that burned with fire" [Hebrews 12:18] – a picture of the presence of the Lord. In the crossing of the Red Sea [Exodus 14:19-31] and through the wilderness [Exodus 13:21-22], at nighttime the children were guarded and guided by a pillar of fire: a sign of the presence of God. And on Pentecost, there came down from heaven a great lambent flame that parted and burned over the head of each one of the witnesses of God [Acts 2:1-3]: a sign of the presence of God.
Now, fire was used as a sign of the acceptance of God. When fire came down on the altar, it was a sign that the sacrifice had been accepted of the Lord. One of the most beautiful stories in the Bible is the story of Gideon making an offering to the angel; and the angel touched it with the tip of his staff, and the fire from heaven burned upon it [Judges 6:19-24]. You have the story of the fire coming down from heaven on the sacrifice offered of David [1 Chronicles 21:26] and offered of Solomon [2 Chronicles 7:1]. And the most dramatic story in the Bible, I think, is the story of Elijah: "Let the God that answers by fire be God" [1 Kings 18:24]. And he, at the hour of the evening sacrifice, bowed down and prayed, "O Lord, O God, hear Thy servant;" and when he prayed, the fire fell from God, burning the sacrifice, the wood, and the stone, and the dirt, and licked up the water in the trench [1 Kings 18:37-38]: a sign of the acceptance of the Lord.
Now, fire is used in two ways. I don’t know a better way. Right here, side by side, you have them. At the end of the ninth chapter of the Book of Leviticus and the beginning in the tenth chapter, you have the two kinds of fire that come out from the Lord: one, the fire of acceptance, and the other, the fire and fury of the burning and judgment of Almighty God. At the close of the ninth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, look at this:
And Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, and blessed them . . .
And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people.
And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
That’s the fire of the acceptance of God coming down and burning the sacrifice.
Now, look at the fire of the judgment of God, here in the next verse, beginning the tenth chapter:
And Nadab and Abihu . . . offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not.
And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.
Now, there, side by side, are the two kinds of fire: the fire of the acceptance of God and the fire of the wrath of the burning of God.
Oh, I wish we had just worlds of time, don’t you? In the fourth chapter of Isaiah, Israel must pass through the fire:
When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
Here in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Zechariah is that same thing:
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: and they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: and I will say, "It is My people": and they shall say, "The Lord is my God."
Then how many times here do you have the fire of the judgment of God at the coming of Christ? In Second Thessalonians 1:8: "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God." In Second Peter the last chapter: "When the heavens shall melt and be dissolved in fire, in fervent heat" [from 2 Peter 3:10]. And in the Book of the Revelation, in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, after the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, shall go forth to battle, shall compass the holy city and the saints therein, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them" [from Revelation 20:7-9]. And after the Great White Throne judgment and death and hell were cast in the lake of fire: "And whosoever was not found in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire [from Revelation 20:10-15].
Oh, the rich meaning in that Book of these things that portray great spiritual truths! And if you don’t know the meaning of the symbol, you can’t know the Book. It is wrapped up in symbol, and in sign, and in meaning, and in type. When you begin to look at the meaning and the sign and the symbol and the type, the Book becomes an open book. Whether you’re reading it back here in the Old Testament or whether you’re reading it here in the New, it’s the same great spiritual truth and the revelation of God.
Now, we must sing. On the first note of the first stanza, somebody to give his heart to the Lord, somebody to put his life in the church; one somebody you, or a family you, while we sing this song, would you come and stand by me while all of us stand and sing?