HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
What is the significance of the colours in the Bible? Do they have a special meaning?
Almost every time I see a rainbow I don’t think of Noah first; I think of God’s promise that “And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:15). Interestingly, the rainbow can appear before, during, and after a flooding rain but never again on the global scale. The rainbow contains every colour that has significance in the Bible. Although there is nothing in the colour itself, God will sometimes use colours to portray an attribute of God or signify a purpose for accessories of the priestly garments or some other special purpose.
DO COLOURS HAVE SPECIAL MEANINGS WHEN USED IN THE BIBLE
Red as Atonement
From the very beginning, red has been the colour of atonement and this atonement is in the form of blood. This one seems very clear if you read where Adam and Eve had sinned and had lost fellowship with God and so “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). This was the very first blood sacrifice to be shed over the sins of humans. God wants us to know that sin is costly; it costs the shedding of blood, even in the Garden, thousands of years before Jesus Christ came to earth to be born as a babe. Christians are aware that “ And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22).
Even in relation to human sin, one man’s blood is required if he takes another man’s life (Genesis9:4-6 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man).
White as Righteousness
White clearly represents the righteousness of God and sometimes specifically to Christ’s righteousness. Isaiah wrote “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18).
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: (Revelation 6:9) were all “given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Revelation 6:11) with the white clearly representing the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Book of Revelation has more about the colour white (15) than any book in the New Testament and it most often refers to Christ or an attribute of His (like His hair, Revelation 1:14). Only the Old Testament Book of Leviticus has more (16) and this book is predominantly concerned about the priesthood, which foreshadowed the coming High Priest Who abides forever…Jesus Christ.
Purple as Royalty
Purple is representative of royalty as this is easily found throughout human history but also in the Bible (Judges 8:26). When Daniel was placed as third in the kingdom of Babylon as when “Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom” (Daniel 5:29). When Mordecai revealed a plot to assassinate the king, the king rewarded him, as it was written, “Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a great golden crown and a robe of fine linen and purple, and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced” (Esther 8:15).
Green as Prospering
I don’t mean that the colour of prosperity is green, as in greenbacks but I mean spiritually thriving as a plant does near a stream. David wrote, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God” (Psalm 52:8). God says of the righteous, “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; ” (Psalm 92:13-14). If you’re planted firmly in the house of the Lord, your sap is full, you thrive being green, and your fruit will bear even in old age. Perhaps that fruit is the fruit of the Holy Spirit which will help believers bear much fruit even into their senior years.
Black as Death
You can see how often the colour of black is associated with death and darkness (Lamentation 4:8) that it’s hard to know where to begin in the Bible. Since we know that God is light and goodness (John 1) then the absence of light is dark and deadly as the prophet Micah describes it, “Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them” (Micah 3:6). Even the third horse of the Apocalypse was black and spelt bad news for the earth’s inhabitants (Revelation 6:5-6).
I could not possibly have covered all of the colours and all of their significance in one message. You could write a book on this subject but we do know that the colour that you need to know about the most if you have never been saved is red because that represents the shed blood of Jesus Christ Who gave His life as a ransom for many but that blood is useless until you apply it to the doorposts and mantels of your heart. Then God’s wrath passes over you and you will be in the kingdom and see colours and sights so incredible as to defy description.