Do colors in the Bible have a symbolic significance that can remind us of God and His plan of redemption? Just like with numbers, the meaning of colors points us to Jesus by symbolizing His Person and His works. Last week we covered The Meaning of Numbers in the Bible and showed how there is symbolism in many numbers. Hebrew hermeneutics has an interpretation approach that includes something called a “remez.” A remez is a hint of a hidden message or a deeper meaning that is below the surface or behind the words. Numbers and colors are both remezes.
Let’s now use a symbolic multi-colored flower, starting with the top petal, and uncover the remez by determining what each of the colors represents in God’s Word.
The Meaning of Gold in the Bible
We always start with God. If we add the letter “l” (for love) to the word “God” we get the word “gold.” Gold is a precious metal, of great value, that is highly desired. Jesus is precious and His promises are precious (1 Peter 2:7). He is highly desired (Psalm 42:2, 63:1, Philippians 3:10) and His value exceeds everything and everyone.
Gold represents God’s love because His love is more precious and more valuable than all the gold in the world. Love is the gold of God.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The color gold points to God’s deity.
In ancient days, kings, pharaohs, and noblemen were adorned with gold to signify their high position. They were also given gifts of gold to pay homage to their position. And of course, they surrounded themselves with items of gold to proclaim their wealth.
King Solomon had an ivory throne overlaid with the best gold (1 Kings 10:18). When instructions were given for building the furniture in the Tabernacle, God was very specific about the use of gold. Every piece of furniture pointed to Christ and to His deity. For example, in the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant was constructed of acacia wood (symbolic of Jesus’ humanity) and overlaid with pure gold (symbolic of His divinity). The mercy seat was pure gold as well as the two cherubim, one on each side with wings outstretched (Exodus 25:10-21). The lampstand was constructed of pure gold, and the table of shewbread and the altar of incense were constructed of acacia wood (Christ’s humanity) and overlaid with gold (Christ’s divinity).
False Gods Made of Gold
Since gold represents God’s love and divinity, it is no surprise that in ancient times many idols and false gods were also created of gold. When Moses was on Mt. Sinai, the Israelites created and worshipped a calf made of gold. Nebuchadnezzar had a statue made that represented kingdoms, and his kingdom Babylon was represented by the head of gold.
Another example of gold representing Jesus’ divinity was at His birth. One of the Wise Men presented Him with a gift of gold, a gift befitting the King of kings that pointed to Jesus being the begotten Son of God.
The wealth of this world will never satisfy:
Ezekiel 7:19 …their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they [silver and gold] shall not satisfy their souls…
Forsaking the gold of this world, our desire should always be for the golden riches of God’s love:
1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us…
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
The Meaning of Black in the Bible
The color black symbolizes suffering and death in the Bible. It’s used to represent mourning (Job 30:28, 30, Jeremiah 14:2), famine (Lamentations 5:10, Revelation 6:5), judgment of sin (Jude 13), death and the grave (Job 10:21-22), and more. The color black lacks brightness and hue. It does not reflect any light. Instead, black only absorbs light. The Bible tells us that God is light (Psalm 104, 1 John 1:5). It’s interesting that prior to Satan’s fall from Heaven, he was an angel of light (an angel of God), and, when he sinned, he fell like lightning from Heaven (Luke 10:18). Now Satan exists in darkness, no longer in God’s light.
Similarly, Adam was created in light and perfection, in the image of God, with God’s Holy Spirit to lead and guide him. But when Adam sinned, his light left him and death was pronounced upon him. Since Adam, all have been born in the “blackness” of sin.
There is none righteous; all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:10, 23)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The Meaning of Red in the Bible
The color red in the Bible represents blood. The life of man is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and Christ’s blood atonement is necessary for the redemption of man. Jesus’ pure blood paid the penalty for our sins and by His blood, we are washed clean.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
1 Peter 1:18-19 For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But [redeemed] with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Col 1:20-21 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
A darker shade of red is scarlet. It’s a color used, along with blue and purple in the Tabernacle, and it represents earthiness. The Hebrew word for scarlet has the same root meaning as the Hebrew word for earth. Adam was created of the dust of the earth– he was earthy, and, In the story of the birth of Esau, it is told that Esau was born “red all over” and so “they called his name Esau” (Gen 25:25), which means red or earthy. Remember that Esau became a profane man– a man related not to spiritual things, but to earthly things.
Also from the root word of scarlet comes the word for worm. The psalmist referred to himself as a worm (Psa 22:6), Isaiah referred to Jacob in his natural state as a worm (Isa 41:14), and Jesus referred to the unregenerate man as a worm (Mark 9:44, 46, 48) — and that is exactly what man is in his natural state, without God. Man’s life is in the blood. He is earthy. But, redeemed by the pure and precious blood of Jesus, our life is in the Spirit.
The Meaning of Blue in the Bible
The color blue represents Heaven. Blue is the color of the sky and a reminder of the heavenly realm. We are given a description of a glimpse of Heaven when we read of what Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu (the sons of Moses), and the 70 elders of Israel saw when they went up to worship God on Mount Sinai:
Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.
Sapphires reflect a beautiful sky-blue color reminding us of not only the blue heaven we can see but also the Heaven far beyond, the Heaven of heavens.
Nehemiah 9:6 Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.
The Meaning of Purple in the Bible
The color purple represents kingship. In ancient times, purple dye was expensive, therefore making the color purple symbolic of prestige, nobility, and kingship/royalty (Judges 8:26, Esther 8:15). The Bible also reveals purple to be symbolic of wealth, prosperity, and luxury (Exodus 28:5, Ezekiel 27:7, Proverbs 31:22, Song of Solomon 3:10, 7:5, Luke 16:19, Acts 16:14, Revelation 17:4, 18:12, 16). Purple reminds us of Jesus because He is the King of kings and He lives and rules in the hearts of those who are His.
Romans 15:12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 19:16 And he [Jesus] hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
It’s interesting that the color purple is made by combining two colors–red, which points to Jesus’ blood, His life as a man, and His work on earth (scarlet = earthy), and the color blue, which points to His heavenly dwelling place (blue = Heaven). Having received forgiveness through His blood, we will one day leave this earth, shed our flesh, and enter into Heaven and be with our King in all His splendor.
The Meaning of White in the Bible
The color white represents righteousness because of its purity of color and light. White is the presence of all the light in the visible spectrum. Clouds and snow appear as white because almost all of the sun’s light is reflected by the water in the clouds and snow. Only a very small amount of the visible spectrum is absorbed. Fully light and without stain, the color white reminds us of the righteousness of Christ. He is pure light and pure righteousness and when a sinner comes to Him in faith He washes them clean.
Isaiah 1:18 …though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
When Jesus washes us clean from sin, He makes us “white as snow” by giving us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are then set on a path of growing in faith, which leads us to our next color.
The Meaning of Green in the Bible
The color green represents a growing and blooming where one is planted. It is representative of a Christian life that produces good fruit and finds rest in Christ. A green plant or tree is a healthy one, growing and producing leaves and flowers. A brown or withered plant is symbolic of the dying process.
Growing and Fruitful
Jeremiah 11:16 The LORD called your name, Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit. With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire on it, And its branches are broken.
Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Hosea 14:8 “Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me.”
Christian growth and fruitfulness is achieved by living for Christ, being directed by His will, and finding peace in Him.
Life and Rest
Psalm 52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
Psalm 23:2-3 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Finding the Symbolism: Colors that Points to Jesus
There are many examples in the Bible of colors that point to Jesus. One of the greatest examples is the door of the Tabernacle.
Exodus 27:16 And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.
Symbolism of the colors:
- Blue points to Heaven, where God dwells.
- Purple points to One who would come as Messiah, the King of the Jews
- Scarlet (red) points to His blood atonement, paid for the sins of man.
- White (fine linen) points to the Righteous One and the righteousness He imputes to all who come to Him in faith.
This was the gate, the entrance to the Tabernacle, a type of door in the fence that surrounded the Tabernacle. There was only one door through which to enter into the court of the Tabernacle. Beyond the court, in the Holy Place, was gold furniture and beyond that was the Holy of Holies with the golden Ark and the presence of God. We know that Jesus is our Door, and only through Him can man come before God.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
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