For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough


Of all the types of Christ there are none more varied or complete than those presented in the tabernacle to which we are introduced in Exodus chapters 25-40.  As the dwelling place of God in the midst of His redeemed people, the tabernacle presents us with a picture of Christ as the One through Whom God dwells by the Holy Spirit in the midst of His redeemed people today. 

The symbolic portrait of Christ, however, isn’t confined to the tabernacle as the dwelling place of God.  Every feature of that tent of meeting (which is what the tabernacle means literally) sets before us some attribute of Him; points to some special feature of His redeeming work, each part combining with the others to do what no single part alone could do: set forth the perfections of the Lord Jesus Christ.

While the scriptural record begins with the ark, Ex 25:10-16, we shall begin with the court entrance which is described in Ex 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.”

Surely no one will have difficulty seeing in these curtains a symbolic picture of Him Who is “The way, the truth, and the life,” Jn 14:6.  Just as there was no other means of access to the tabernacle, the earthly dwelling place of God, than through that curtain gateway, neither is there access to heaven by any way other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Before examining the curtains themselves we should note that they were suspended between four pillars; and since the curtains themselves are a type of Christ, these pillars are viewed by many as being symbolic of the four Gospels, for as the pillars held up the curtains, so do the four Gospels “hold up” or present Christ.

The fact of their being suspended from silver rods that connected the pillars, and being separated from the earth by the height of the copper bases upon which the pillars rested, have led many to see in them a picture of Christ in resurrection.  Having been “lifted up” Jn 12:32, on the cross, He has now been “lifted up” in resurrection to God’s right hand.

Four, however, is the number of earth and testing, reminding us that Christ “the Door” is the test of man’s faith, and therefore of man’s fate.  To believe upon Christ as Savior is to live eternally; not to believe is to perish eternally.  Inside that “Door” is life; outside, is death.

We note also the location of the court gate: it was on the eastern side of the tabernacle, i.e., the direction that speaks of departure from God, reminding us that the Christ Who is the Way to God, is available to men here on earth where the whole human race is spiritually “east” of God, in a place of departure and death.  The “Doorway” to life couldn’t be nearer or more accessible: it is where man is in his desperate need.

The entrance curtains were of white linen, embroidered, or interwoven with blue, purple, and scarlet; and in these four colors we are pointed to four aspects of Christ.  White is the universal color of purity, reminding us that the One represented by this gateway is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb 7:26.

Blue, the color of heaven, reminds us that He Who deigned to assume humanity, never ceased to manifest in His human life that He was of heaven, not of earth.

Purple is worn by kings.  As the royal color therefore it declares that He Who once was crowned with thorns - symbol of the curse (Ge 3:17-18) which He bore on man’s behalf -  is nevertheless God’s anointed King Who will yet wear the crown, and rule the earth with a rod of iron. 

While scarlet is taken by some to be the symbol of earthly glory, I feel that we come closer to a right apprehension of its meaning if we view it in the light of Isa 1:18, “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.”  As sin is thus associated with scarlet; and since nothing but blood can atone for sin, it would seem that the scarlet color in the gateway curtains is intended to remind us that He Who is portrayed by those curtains is the One Who was willing to take our sins upon Himself, and go to Calvary to shed His blood so that they might be remitted.

There is also a very obvious link between this four-colored curtain gateway which presents Christ symbolically, and the four Gospels which present Him literally.  A careful reading of Matthew reveals that it is the presentation of Christ as King; but since purple is the royal color, the harmony between the purple of the gateway curtain and the first Gospel is apparent.

It is generally recognized that Mark is the presentation of Christ as the perfect Servant Whose service was crowned with the laying down of His life at Calvary.  The pouring out of that life on the cross glorified God, and procured redemption for man.  But inasmuch as scarlet is the color both of sin and of the blood which makes atonement, it is scarcely necessary to point out the affinity existing between the second Gospel and the scarlet color in the gateway curtains.

Scholars agree that Luke is the Gospel which presents Christ as the perfect Man, but since white is the universal color of purity, there can be no question in any reasonable mind that the One presented in the third Gospel is also symbolically presented in the white linen of the gateway curtains.

There remains then only the necessity to note the correlation between the blue of the curtains and the Gospel of John, a correlation that is clearly evident in view of the fact that blue is the color of heaven, and John presents us with the One Who, though fully man, never ceased to be the Lord from heaven.



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough