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  The Real Temple of God (Part 2): The Colors of the Tabernacle
"Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary."

"What's he talking about? I've always lived by 'the' covenant, and worshipped in 'the' temple. What's he saying first covenant and earthly sanctuary for? Does he have a point? I mean, there's no second covenant or heavenly temple, is there?"

When the letter to the Hebrews was being read allowed to the new Hebraic Christians of the town, several listeners must have had thoughts such as these running through their minds. No doubt this is what the writer of Hebrews 9:1 had in mind. The writer realized that in order to elicit interest in the
heavenly, he had to tickle their ears with words like first and earthly. But, as verse 1 begs us to ask, what kind of regulations did the first covenant have for worship in the earthly sanctuary? If we understand that, then we can understand the second covenant and the heavenly sanctuary.

And so, the reader went on to read to the crowd Hebrews 9:2 - "For a tent was constructed, the
first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the Holy Place."

Entering the Holy Place
Symbolism of form
The tabernacle was made like a an outer tent and an inner.  First you enter the outer tent, which is the Holy Place.  From within it, you would see the second, or inner tent, which is the Holy of Holies.  The entry into the Holy Place is the first veil. This veil is described in Exodus 26:36 - 37, 36:37 - 38, as a screen woven from fine twisted linen -
blue, purple, and scarlet. The veil was hung with gold hooks on five acacia pillars, overlaid with gold. Any man could walk through this first veil, but when he did, he understood the place he entered was holy.

The
blue in the veil is suggestive of the heavens, and therefore of Heaven in general. We could even go so far as to see in it Christ's heavenly kingdom where your own mansion is waiting for you. As a man walks through the veil, the blue is meant to remind him of the serenity he will achieve when he dies to be with God.

Purple represents antiquity, royalty, which did not yet exist when Moses was given the Law. On the color spectrum, it resides between blue and red, as a reminder that a King would be necessary as a mediator between God and man (in Hebrew, Adam also means "red"). Since the messiah was to eventually come from the line of David, we know now that the King who acted as the ultimate mediator is Jesus Christ.

Scarlet, or more accurately, crimson, represents blood, and therefore the blood of our sacrifices which is brought through the veil into the temple.

The
yellow of the gold hooks and pillars represent the idea of value, or a purchase. Though not clear at the time, Christ's blood would be the price of our salvation. To the Hebrew however, the idea of gold would not create this impression, since the idea of messiah was likely foreign. However, since most items within the temple were made of or with gold, gold wouldn't seem out of place. Regardless, the choice of gold to hang the veil did point toward forward toward the value of Jesus' sacrifice, whether it was realized at the time or not.

Together, the weaving and display of the veil represents the
price, object, method, and result of our salvation. Our salvation was bought when Christ our king gave Himself as a blood sacrifice so that we could abide forever with Him in Heaven.

Notice also the colors that are
not used. Green would represent the earth, vegetation, reminiscent perhaps of Cain's sacrifice and the cursed ground. Black would represent death, where atonement brings us life. White would represent perfection or piety, which we haven't yet reached if we have need of a sacrifice.

So, there are only 3 colors in the veil. This suggests the trinity. You could perhaps say that our
Father in Heaven is blue, our Kingly savior is purple, and the Holy Spirit is scarlet, since life is in the blood, and we receive the Holy Spirit when our new life begins. Notice that the color red is serving a dual meaning here. This shouldn't be seen as a problem. God hides double meanings all over the scriptures.  

Symbolism of function
When you walk through the veil, there are two major sections inside the tabernacle: the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The veil we've been is speaking of leads into the Holy Place. Interestingly, the writer is essentially calling it the '
first tent', which clearly implies that the Holy of Holies is a 'second' tent. Only the High Priest was allowed into the Holy of Holies, or the second tent. Common men were not. However, as we will see later, because of the work of Jesus Christ, common men will now be allowed in the heavenly Holy of Holies, the second tent. Because of the writer's desire to make this point in Hebrews 9, he refers here to the Holy Place as the first tent, an oddity of language that wouldn't have been lost on an attentive listener of that time.

Walking through this
first veil did not bring a man into God's presence. That was reserved for the priest, and only when he entered the Holy of Holies (also called the Most Holy Place). Therefore, the Holy Place was as close as any man could get to God on his own. If you'll recall our study of sacrificial law, a man was to kill his own sin offering just outside this veil. However, only the priest could bring the blood of the offering to God.

God never came into the Holy Place to congregate with men, even though He required their worship and their sacrifice. However, He did give them the means to do both: 1)Worship in the Holy Place, and 2)the priest will bring God the blood for his atonement. This separation from God was a necessary result of our sin, and a reflection of the fact that even our own blood offerings were only enough to hide our sins (hence hiding us from God); the blood didn't wash our sins away. Only the blood of the messiah of Isaiah 53 would do that.

Notice that even though walking through the veil doesn't bring us into God's presence, it still separates us from the world. We know that we have entered the Holy Place. Being separated from the world is necessary for us to realize that only those who give atonement for sin can even come close to entering God's presence. Those who didn't atone wouldn't even get to see that a Holy of Holies exists. Therefore, entering that first tent brought one into an interesting state of being: separated from the world, yet still separated from God. However, God's plan was that we not remain separated from Him forever. Christ did come, and will come again, and through Christ we will enter into God's presence when the time of Daniel 12:2 comes to pass, and we awaken to everlasting life.

Combine this with the imagery found in the colors of the veil and we have an interesting before-after comparison. Before Christ, walking through the veil represented only
temporary sacrifices, and the promises of a king and Heaven; and after walking through this veil, men were now separated from the world and still separated from God. Today, the Holy of Holies is wide open (we'll discuss this later), and the first veil now represents Christ our sacrifice, Christ our King, and the Heaven we will enter when we die. When we do die, and walk through that veil, we will still be separated from the world as before, but with the Holy of Holies wide open it will no longer mean separation from God. We will be walking right into His presence.

The Lampstand (Exodus 25:31 - 40, 37:17 - 24)
Symbolism of form
One of the items was a lampstand of pure gold, with one branch in the middle, and three to either side. Today's menorahs hold  candles, but in scripture, they were oil lamps,
seven of them total.

Seven represents the seven days of creation, the resulting seven day week, and finally the Sabbath day itself. The seventh day of creation was the day God rested, and the middle branch suggests itself as the seventh branch, being the branch that most immediately draws our eye. Therefore the lampstand itself is appropriately a reminder of creation and the Sabbath, which we were to keep holy for all time.

Like the hooks and the pillars, the lampstand was also made of
gold. Again, gold reminds us of the purchase of our salvation. However, in those days, gold was simply seen as the most valuable metal around. I find it appropriate that our Lord required us to use materials of such high value to forge the artifacts of the tabernacle. Just the use of gold was likely seen as a sacrifice of sorts.

As oil represents richness, and fire represents zeal, the flames were thought to represent God's work and His presence.

Symbolism of function
The lamps were lit at the evening sacrifice (Exodus 30:8), then extinguished, filled and trimmed before the morning sacrifice (Exodus 30:7; 1 Samuel 3:3). A lamp was not lit by a flame, but by a live coal from the altar. The coal was carried by the priest to the lampstand in a pan, and handled with tongs as it was applied to the wick and blown on.

As the flames burned through the night, they reminded us of the never ceasing work of our Heavenly King. To take this imagery one step further, I find it interesting that while we were resting, God was working. Furthermore, this 'work' was begun on the altar, and continued on the lampstands. I would suggest a hint of the gospel here, as Christ did all the work on the cross (the altar), leaving us without the burden of the Mosaic Law. Furthermore, when He was 'drawn up' (like smoke?) into Heaven, He left behind a helper, the Holy Spirit (the flames). From this perspective, we could say that lampstands in Heaven are now burning all the time, as His richness (oil) and zeal (fire) perfect us daily (seven) through the Holy Spirit (the seven flames). NOTE: With seven huge flames burning in front of God in Heaven (Revelation 4:5), perhaps that is why John refers to them as the "seven spirits of God." 

Next time, we will discuss the table of the showbread.
 
 
 

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