Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests — Aaron and Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen. And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skilfully worked. (Ex 28:1-2,5-6)
I have been meditating on this passage of scripture and the significance of the multi-colour garments that the high-priest was to wear.
Of course the immediate parallel that springs to mind is that of Joseph.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colours. (Ge 37:3)
He was the beloved son of his father Israel - given a multi-coloured coat as a sign of his favour. Typology that speaks of Christ, the Beloved of God the Father, whose manifold (or multi-coloured) wisdom is now on display in the church - his glorious inheritance in the saints - the joy for which he spurned the shame of the cross.
Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:10-11)
This, says Paul, was not a new plan of God that arrived with the New Testament, but part of his eternal purpose that has now been realised in Christ. It is a thread that runs all the way through the word and conveys the heart of God the Father.
So, I have also been pondering the significance of these coloured threads: the gold, the blue, the purple and the scarlet, that occur again and again when reference is made to the high priest - who himself is a type and shadow of Christ who is our eternal high priest.
I want to share some thoughts on these colours - not as a rigorous theological exegesis of this passage - but more as a insightful "hook" to truths that stand for themselves elsewhere...
First, these colours speak to me of the continuing thread of the eternal plan of God. The gold speaks of the glory of God; the blue of the word of God [I'll elaborate why in a subsequent post!]; the purple of the kingdom of God; and the scarlet of the covenant of God. These four great themes - glory, prophetic revelation, kingdom and covenant run right the way through the scriptures and represent the heart of the Father for this world of ours in his son Jesus.
Jesus is the revelation of the glory of the Father. Jesus is the word made flesh. Jesus is the eternal king of the kingdom. Jesus is the one who cut the new covenant in which we stand by his own blood.
These four, also seem to me like the four rivers that flowed out of Eden - representing the heart of God to take his purpose to the ends of the earth. The knowledge of the glory of God is destined to fill this whole earth, as is his message, his kingdom rule, and the mercy and grace in the new covenant.
Secondly, these colours speak to me of aspects of Christ's own high priestly anointing that is poured out on his people who represent his image in the earth.
In the Old Covenant those so anointed where the prophets, priests and kings. The prophets who were to minister the revealed word of God (blue). The kings who were to minister the kingdom rule of God (purple), and the priests who were to carry and minister the glorious presence of God (gold). I'm not sure where scarlet fits into this typology though!
In the New Covenant, each has been given a measure of Christ's gift, and in particular the ascended Christ has given gifts of men to represent aspects of his anointing to the church and to the world: apostles (purple), prophets (blue), evangelists (scarlet), and pastor-teachers (gold).
These colours are given to the church "for glory and for beauty" - for they are the glory and beauty of Christ himself, on display in the church, but destined to fill the earth.