Summary: A brief study into the four main colors God instructed Moses to use inside the tabernacle in the wilderness.

November 24, 2001


Exodus 39:1-5,8,22-25


God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle in the wilderness. He gave specific instructions for the tabernacle and for the clothing the priests were to wear. The clothing was to be of predominantly gold, blue, purple and scarlet. Why these four colors? A study into each color reveals that even as the children of Israel were wandering through the wilderness God already had a plan of redemption planned out through Jesus Christ.

I. Gold – Purification

A. Revelation 21:18 – The New Jerusalem will be made of pure gold, like unto clear glass.

B. Revelation 21:21 – The streets will be pure gold, as transparent glass.

1. Clear or transparent glass means there are absolutely no impurities. The gold has gone through a purification process.

2. Purification is accomplished by heating up the gold and skimming the dross, or impurities, from the top as it floats up.

a. Requires heat

b. Requires time

c. Requires a hand to scrape the dross

C. I Peter 1:18-23 – Purification of Christians is necessary

1. I Peter 4:12,13

a. Requires heat – “…think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…”

b. Requires time

c. Requires a hand to scrape the dross – God himself

II. Blue – Chastisement and Correction

A. Proverbs 20:30

The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. KJV

“Blows and wounds cleanse away evil and purgings cleanse the inmost being.” NIV

1. Blue represents the color of the skin after a wound.

2. The wounds and stripes represent chastisement.

a. Hebrews 12:4-6

3. Cleansing away evil and the inward parts of the belly represent correction.

a. Proverbs 22:15

B. Isaiah 53:4,5 – Jesus Christ was bruised for us

1. He was wounded for our transgressions: a moral revolt, wickedness, sin, or the penalty of sin.

2. He was bruised for our iniquities: a depraved action, perverseness, sin.

3. The chastisement of our peace was upon him: NIV states, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.”

4. By his stripes we are healed. A literal interpretation could be: “Through the blueness of his wounds we have been made whole.”

III. Purple – Costliness

A. Millions of mollusks were harvested in the Mediterranean and some even driven to extinction to obtain the color purple. A small white vein in the head of a mollusk was delicately extracted and the blood inside would eventually be refined to a deep purple color used for dying materials. The drawback was that it took 8,500 shellfish to produce only 1 ounce of the dye. Because of this, the color was very expensive and only the super rich, such as kings, could afford it. That is why it is referred to as a royal color.

B. It cost Jesus a lot to come to earth

1. John 17:4,5 – the luxury of heaven

2. Philippians 2:7 – a body that was incorruptible

3. Matthew 27:46 – separation from God

4. Matthew 27:50 – his very life

IV. Scarlet – Cleansing

A. Leviticus 14:1-7 – Cleansing a leper

1. Priest goes outside of the camp.

2. The sacrifice, two birds, possibly sparrows, is taken.

3. Cedar wood, scarlet material or yarn, and hyssop are taken.

4. If the leper has been healed, one bird is killed in an earthen vessel over water.

5. The living bird, the cedar wood, the scarlet, and the hyssop are dipped in the blood.

6. The blood is sprinkled over the one who is to be cleansed seven times and he is pronounced clean.

7. The living bird is released into an open field.

B. Cleansing a sinner

1. Jesus Christ was taken outside of the city

2. The sacrifice, Jesus Christ, was present.

3. The wood of the cross, the scarlet of Jesus’ blood, and hyssop were all present as well.

4. The Son of God was killed in and earthen vessel, a human body. The water is Jesus Christ himself who is the living water of life.

5. The blood of Jesus flowed.

6. The blood covers all sin and the sinner is pronounced clean.

7. Representing the living bird, Jesus Christ rises from the dead.


God has always had a plan of redemption for his children. He gave hints of what was to come by passing along instructions for the use of certain colors in the tabernacle and the clothing of the priests.

Gold – Purification

Blue – Chastisement and correction

Purple – Costliness

Scarlet – Cleansing

Jesus Christ played out all of these colors and each one can be inexplicably tied to the redemption process.


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