Lecture 3.

The Linen Curtains and Colors

(Exodus 36:8-13)

We come now to the actual construction of the Tabernacle — not only the divine instructions given to Moses when God showed him the pattern in Mount Sinai. Between those two periods occurred Israel's apostasy. For scarce had the words of the commands and the people's solemn engagements to keep them been uttered, when they violated the first three by making the golden calf, and rejoiced in the work of their own hands.

Coming down from the mountain and finding them dancing about this idolatrous image, Moses broke the tables of the law, in token that the covenant on the basis of law was at an end. God in mercy, in connection with the intercession of Moses, intervened and resumed His relationship with the people, no longer on the basis of pure law, but of mingled mercy and law, which, while it enabled Him to bear with them as a stiff-necked people, still kept them at a distance. The actual building of the Tabernacle was in connection with this restored relation with the people (Ex. 32:33-35).

The difference in the order in which the various parts are mentioned is in accordance with this relation. At the first, God began with the Holy of holies and the Ark of the Covenant, which was His throne, and from this point passed outward till the structure of the Tabernacle was reached. He was speaking from the point of view of the law, the righteous demands of His throne, which was fittingly the first thing described. But the people have sinned, have violated and dishonored that throne, and unless mercy had intervened, there would have been no possible way by which God could have gone on with them. Most fittingly, therefore, the narrative of the structure begins with the curtains which formed the Tabernacle proper; the fitness of this will appear when we see their significance.

There are at least four ways in which we can look at the Tabernacle. First, it is a figure of God's great creation, the universe. In that case, the court would represent the earth, the Holy place would represent heaven, and the inner, most sanctuary the Heaven of heavens, the place of His throne.

In close connection with this, we can look upon it as setting forth the means of approach to God. Here again the court would represent the earth, the abode of sinful man and the inner sanctuary, heaven, with the throne of God hidden from His guilty creatures. The way of approach is by means of the altar of burnt offering and the mercy-seat.

The third view of the Tabernacle is of the structure as made of the gold-covered boards resting upon the silver sockets. These represent Christ's people complete, in Him and resting upon His accomplished redemption, and thus "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).

The fourth view is that which is now to occupy us, in which the curtains, which typify Christ, are the theme. They are not primarily typical of heaven, or the means of access to God, or of His people individually or collectively, but in them we have a blessed and precious type of "the Man Christ Jesus," who was God's dwelling-place while He was upon earth.

The proof of this is found in the first scripture to be considered; for our views of the teachings of the Tabernacle are not to be based upon fancy, but upon the simple and clear application of the perfect word of God. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The word for "dwelt" is correctly given in the margin of the Revised Version as "tabernacled" — dwelt in a tabernacle. The Eternal Word, the divine Son, by whom all things were made and are upheld, became flesh, and tabernacled here as a Man. He veiled His glory (though faith exultantly cries out, "We beheld His glory") and was "found in fashion as a man," taking the form of a servant (Phil. 2:6-8).

Let it be ever remembered that it was not God dwelling in a human body — which is one of the many heresies as to the person of our Lord. Nor is it even God dwelling in a perfect man — with body, soul and spirit — as though He could or would finally be separated from this manhood. But it is "the Word became flesh." He became identified with perfect humanity (may God give us to tread with bowed hearts and unshod feet in the presence of this holy truth), took up humanity so absolutely that there was but one person, the blessed Son of God. All the perfection of His humanity was so absolutely associated with the dignity of His divine person, that while He ever remains a perfect Man, there is all the divine essence calling forth the worship that is His due as "God over all blessed forever" (Rom. 9:5).

Thus we are guarded against two specific errors: One is to think of our blessed Lord as simply Deity inhabiting a man; the other, is to think of His humanity in such a way as practically to lose sight of His deity. It is a joy for faith, wherever we behold Christ, to worship Him, and to say with Thomas, "My Lord and my God." Faith does not say, "We cannot worship Him here, because He is Man; but there we can, because He is God." No; faith bursts through any such unholy and human restrictions, and prostrates itself before Him, whether we behold the marks of the human sufferings in His hands and side, or see Him "crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:9).

We will now look at these coverings of the Tabernacle. There were four of them — the outer one was of badger or sealskin; next was that of the rams' skins dyed red; then there were the eleven curtains of goats' hair; and lastly, the inner one, the most composite and complete of all, which was of fine white linen, upon which (as seems to be suggested) were embroidered cherubim in blue, purple and scarlet colors.

The cherubim will come more specifically before us when we examine the ark and mercy-seat. A few words will suffice as to them now. They were composite creatures with four faces — of a lion, of an ox, of a man, and of an eagle (Ezek. 1:4-14; Rev. 4:6-7). They represented thus four classes of life: the majestic lion, type of kingly power; the patient ox, strong for labor and service; man with his sympathy and intelligence; and the eagle soaring heavenward.

The four Gospels present our Lord Jesus in this fourfold way. In the Gospel of Matthew we see Him as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," Israel's King. In Mark we see Him in service, bearing, as the patient ox does, His burden, the load of human need. In Luke we see the face of the Man throughout — human intelligence, sympathy, love and example. John shows us the eagle from heaven, soaring back there to the place where He was with the Father before the world was.

These linen curtains were ten in number, each 28 cubits long and four cubits wide, joined side by side together in two sets of five curtains each. These two parts were in turn joined to each other by fifty loops of blue, and hooked with golden hooks, which coupled all together, making one Tabernacle. Here then we have a fulness of form and material at which we must look carefully.

We will first gather the Scripture teaching as to the significance of the fine linen.* On the great day of atonement, the High Priest laid aside his ordinary garments of glory and beauty, and wore only spotless white. He was going as the bearer of the blood of atonement into the presence of God, and the one thought to be emphasized in the minds of the people was the absolute need of spotless purity in that holy Presence (Lev. 16:4).

{*The word for fine linen is "shesh," derived from a root meaning to be white, or bright. It was the "Byssus" of Egypt, white, fine and costly, worn by men of rank (Gem 41:42), and a staple article of commerce.}

When God was about to judge His apostate people, in the day of Ezekiel, when He could no longer go on with their evil, He sent, as the prophet saw in his vision, a man clothed in white linen, with the ink-horn, throughout Jerusalem, to mark everyone who was sighing and crying for the abominations that were done (Ezek. 9:3-4). The significance of the linen in such surroundings was evident. We shall find this to be the case throughout the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we have in the transfiguration a very striking illustration of the meaning of these white garments. Our blessed Lord's glory, His intrinsic character, was to shine forth on that holy mount not as He went through the land in the lowly garb of badger skins, in which there was no form or comeliness to the eye of unbelief — but the outer coverings of God's Dwelling-place were removed, as it were, and the personal, moral glory of that Holy One shone out. "His face did shine as the sun"; "His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them" (Mark 9:3), showing forth the essential and perfect purity of His nature.

The meaning of the linen is perhaps most definitely given in the 19th chapter of Revelation. Of the Bride, the Lamb's wife, it is said, "To her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of saints" (Rev, 19:8, RN.). This fine linen must not be confounded with the "best robe," which is Christ our righteousness (Luke 15:22). This is put upon the sinner the moment he turns to God in true repentance and faith. But the "fine linen" is the personal holiness, in actual life, produced by the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God's saints.

Thus there can be no question of the significance of this fine linen in the curtains. It tells us of the spotless holiness, purity, righteousness of the Lord Jesus, manifested in every act, word and thought of His daily life.

We have already noticed a correspondence between the four races of the cherubim and the four Gospels severally, and would now trace in each Gospel the resemblance to one of the four colors in the curtains. Of course there are characteristics of all these colors in each Gospel, but may we not find a predominant characteristic in each? Where, for instance, should we find emphasized and brought out in a distinctive way the humanity of our Lord, its spotless purity, apart from the thought of official position? Let us look at the Gospel of Luke.

In the first chapter, the birth of our Lord is foretold. It is not that of an ordinary person, but of the Word made flesh. "Therefore that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). His humanity was intrinsically holy, without the least taint of sin. David had to confess, "Behold was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps. 51:5). David's Lord was "that Holy Thing! "

In the second chapter, the child Jesus has reached the age of twelve — a period of life causing especial anxiety to thoughtful parents, when the will of the boy begins to assert itself in a more definite way; restraint of parental authority is irksome, and companionship outside his home is sought after. It is the age of special temptations and dangers, needing the sovereign grace of God to uphold "in the slippery paths of youth." Look at the child Jesus at this age. He has been taken to Jerusalem, and as Joseph and Mary return to Nazareth they lose sight of Him for three days. In what company has He been? They find Him in the temple in the midst of the doctors, and in answer to His mother's anxious question, He replies, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). His one concern was to be engaged in the things of His Father. Was there ever a child like that, to whom God was Father in such a way that He absorbed His soul?

Trace Him a little further, and we see more of the fine linen. He goes back to Nazareth and is subject to His parents — for so the Scripture designates Joseph as well as Mary, recognizing the place of responsibility he occupied. There was absorption in His Father's business and subjection to those in the place of earthly responsibility. There was nothing abnormally precocious — like the silly stories of the apocryphal Gospels — only absolute purity in every relationship. "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). There is the fabric of spotless linen being woven before the eye of God.

Follow Him throughout the Gospel and you see everywhere the perfect Man. At Nazareth, in the synagogue, they may stumble at His lowly connections, but are constrained to admit the gracious words of love and truth which fall from His lips (Luke 4:16, etc.).

Look a little further and see Him in the Pharisee's house, where anything but fine linen surrounds Him. There is the Pharisee, puffed up with pride and self-righteousness; and prostrate at the feet of our Lord is a poor child of shame with soiled garments. But if the pride of the Pharisee and the "woman that was a sinner" illustrate the condition of humanity in its opposite extremes, of self-righteousness and misery, what shall we say of the perfect One at the table, ministering peace and pardon to the child of shame, and lowly reproof to the Pharisee? How the spotless purity shines out! The reproaches of His enemies only emphasized this. "This Man receiveth sinners and eateth with them" (Luke 15:2). They will class Him with them, and besmirch His white robes if possible. Oh, bring Him into closest contact with the evil; let Him sit down by the side of the poor sinner and what does it do? Does it leave a stain upon Him — anything that God cannot look upon with delight? Ah, no; it only brings out by contrast His spotlessness. Here is a Man in whom is a purity so absolute that its lustre is only brought out into relief by the blackness of self-righteousness in the Pharisee, or the filthy garments of sin. How it must have rested the heart of God to gaze upon that spotless whiteness! He had been looking down on this sin-cursed earth all these centuries for something His eye could rest upon, something of obedience and devotedness. Alas, even in the most faithful, an Abraham or a David, there was the garment in some measure "spotted by the flesh" (Jude 23). But here was One whose garments gathered no defilement as He passed through this world of sin.

See Him at prayer, again and again throughout this Gospel — turning away from the plaudits of those who admired His miracles and profited by them, to go off and be alone with God, and pour out His soul to Him; His blameless life emphasized by this constant dependence and obedience.

Coming to His death, we see the spotless white shining in all its purity. The world puts Him between two thieves. Ah, says Satan, I will at last besmirch His whiteness; I will associate Him with malefactors and turn loose the rabble against Him, railing and casting dust into the air. I will see what will become of His spotlessness. Yes, let us see what will become of His spotlessness! God only brings it out into clearer relief amidst the blackness of human and satanic wickedness. Pilate declares he finds no fault in Him. The very thief at His side is constrained to own His sinlessness: "Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds" — our garments are all defiled — "but this Man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:40-41). The centurion, too, who presided at the crucifixion, declared Him a righteous Man.

This and much more we gather from the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel — might we not call it? — of the fine white linen.

We come now to the colors embroidered upon the white, as seems to be the thought. First we have blue.* We will turn to our Bibles for the significance of this color. In Exodus 24:9-10 we get the thought of blue. God had been revealing Himself at Sinai, so far as He could do so, for "No man hath seen God at any time" (John 1:18). But He manifests something of His character, and does so in the symbolic way appropriate to the time of types and shadows. The elders of Israel ascend the mount and see beneath the feet of the God of Israel the "paved work of a sapphire stone, as it were the body of heaven in its clearness." The intense blue of the sapphire thus speaks of heaven.

{*The Hebrew word for blue is "Tekeleth," literally a shellfish, yielding a dye of deep, purplish blue. There was an element thus of red in it, while the blue predominated. It is also noteworthy that it was obtained from animal life. It was used for gorgeous apparel for persons of rank (Ezek. 23:6; Ezek. 27:7, 24).}

This word "sapphire" is from the same root which means "to speak" or "declare," and also a "book." Thus in the 19th psalm, "The heavens declare the glory of God" is in Hebrew, "sapphire the glory of God." Blue is the color of truth, and in God alone is truth; "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" John 1:5). But the latter part of the same psalm speaks of that "law of the Lord," which is perfect. Here too is the sapphire in the Book — the Word which reflects the character of the God of heaven throughout.

Coming to instances or illustrations of the significance of blue, we are reminded of the fringe of blue, and the ribbon of blue, which God directed should be upon the border of the garments of His people (Num. 15:38-40). They were to wear upon that part of the garment which trailed nearest to earth the color of heaven, to remind them of the perfections of the law — which, as we have just seen, was the expression of the truth of God — that they might do His will. They would remember that they were the people of God.

Applying this to ourselves, how beautifully appropriate it is that we should be reminded that we are a heavenly people, united by the Holy Spirit to our Lord in heaven, and that our garments — the "habits" of the life, as the word means — should speak of heaven, even in the lowliest part, which comes in closest contact with the earth. But who has ever exhibited this character, save One? It is only as His image is produced in us by the Holy Spirit through faith that we in any measure can answer to His thoughts of us.

Heaven's color was upon our Lord from the beginning. How gladly would the angels who heralded His birth have accompanied Him through His whole course, ministering to Him in willing service as their Lord. He was from heaven, and all the host of heaven delighted to do Him honor. In Gethsemane, the hour of His deepest humiliation, save on Calvary, all heaven was at His disposal, as He said: "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53).

Now, is there one of the Gospels which specifically presents our Lord in this way? Many can at once reply: The Gospel of John is characteristically this. From the very first verse of that Gospel to its close we have Him before us as the heavenly One: "The Word was with God" "The Word was made flesh" (John 1:1, 14). In the third chapter He says to Nicodemus, "If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not" — the necessity for new birth in order to enter the kingdom — "how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven" (John 3:13). Not the Son of Man who was in heaven before His incarnation merely; nor the Son of Man who will be in heaven when He returns to the Father; but the One whose whole life here breathes the air of heaven. We call it sometimes the Gospel of the Deity, but is it not also characteristically the Gospel of the heavenly One? Trace Him through that wondrous Gospel and you find the blue everywhere apparent. He longs — may we not reverently say? — for His Father, though here always and only seeking His will even to laying down His life. But the One who sent Him is ever before His heart and on His lips. "As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by (or, because of) the Father" (John 6:57). What perfect dependence and subjection! The only reason for His life here was His Father, in whom as perfect Man He abode.

"This is that Bread which came down from heaven" (John 6:58). Notice that the Bread is the Son of Man who gave His flesh and blood; yet He speaks of it as the Bread which came down from heaven. Theology here may say we are not to confound the two natures, the divine Son and the Son of Man. The "Bread" is the latter. Thus we have been falsely accused of teaching that our Lord's humanity was a heavenly thing in the sense that it came down from heaven. It is right to be jealously on our guard against false doctrine, especially as to the person of our most holy Lord; but we are here in the presence of a most precious truth. Did our Lord mean to say that His flesh was not born upon earth? Surely not; but that He was identified with His humanity, so that all spoke of the heavenly character of His whole person. Everything was heavenly, because He had come down from heaven: the Bread is Himself, our spiritual food, and His blood the life — eternal life. He is the heavenly food: "He that eateth of this Bread shall live forever" (John 6:58). Throughout eternity we shall feed upon this "Bread that came down from heaven."

Thus we see the blue woven in "with cunning workmanship," in divine skill and wisdom, where faith can see the beauty and adore, while it does not intrude into the "higher mysteries" which none but the blessed God can know.

We find the blue strikingly brought out in connection with the linen in the thirteenth chapter. There we read that our Lord girded Himself with a towel (or, as in the Version of J. N. D., a linen towel), and washed the disciples' feet and wiped them with the linen towel where-with He was girded. He applied to them the spotless purity of His own life, to make their ways practically clean — using both the Word and His own service to fit them for communion with Himself. In the third verse we see the blue "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God, He riseth," etc. The One who girded Himself with the linen towel is the One who came from God and was returning to Him — the heavenly One.

Again, "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and go to the Father" (John 16:28). We may say it is the Man who is speaking — "this same Jesus" — but He does not separate between His deity and humanity. He does not say, "My deity came forth from the Father, and My humanity and deity will go back to the Father." No, it is the person, the whole Christ. H e came forth from God, and throughout His entire life this heavenly character marked Him. At His death He delivered up His spirit to the Father. Thus He goes back where His heart always was, to His Father in heaven. He said to His disciples, "If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice because I said I go unto the Father" (John 14:28). He was going where He wanted to be; His life here was a period of exile to Him. He ever spoke of His Father, longed to be with Him — His whole life was full of this: we see the blue woven upon the white throughout.

Remembering what we gathered from the word sapphire and its connection with the Book, how perfectly did our Lord show that His heavenly character was in absolute accord with the written Word. Though from and of heaven, He found not a thing in Scripture which did not manifest God. For Him, all Scripture was given by inspiration of God; its source was heavenly, not earthly. Therefore its Author was God and not man. It was this absolute subjection to and identification with the written Word which marked Him as heavenly. He lived by the heavenly Book. For Him it was, "Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven" (Ps. 119:89). He, the living Word, lived as Man by the written Word. What a sufficient answer to unbelief which, by ascribing to the Scriptures a human origin in contents or structure, would degrade them from heaven to fallible and fallen earth.

The next two colors, purple and scarlet, resemble each other, and during our Lord's last hours robes of these two colors were put upon Him in mockery. In Matthew it was scarlet (Matt. 27:28), and in John purple (John 19:2). We need hardly say there is no contradiction in this, but a divine reason. It is not at all unlikely that the wretched soldiers should put different robes upon Him, to pour out all their scorn, just as Herod also arrayed Him in "a gorgeous robe" (Luke 23:11). This may indeed have been the purple or the scarlet robe, in which He was afterwards arrayed, while the governor's soldiers may have put another upon Him. We may expect then to find the significance of purple and scarlet quite similar, though distinct.

Purple, "Argaman," is, like the word for blue, the name of a dye obtained from a shell-fish. As we shall see, the scarlet was similarly obtained from a worm. Lydia (Acts 16:14) was a seller of purple. It was a gorgeous color, badge of royalty and luxury. How significant it is that all three of these brilliant colors were obtained by the sacrifice of animal life. In Judges 8:26 we are told that the kings of Midian wore purple robes. This gives the thought, familiar to all, that purple is the royal color, and speaks of kingly dignity. So when our Lord was hailed, though in mockery, as "King of the Jews," the robe corresponded. The rich man in Luke 16 wore purple and fine linen, clothing befitting kings.

We need scarcely say that our blessed Lord was indeed a King, and the Gospel which distinctively sets Him forth in that character is Matthew. We will look at a few characteristic passages. When the wise men came from the East, led by the star, they asked at Jerusalem, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the East and are come to worship Him" (Matt. 2:2). They found Him in the royal city of David, Bethlehem, and presented Him with royal offerings, and worshiped Him as even more than King.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) we have the constitution of the kingdom, its organic law, and that which was to characterize its members. We see that while set up on earth, it was a spiritual kingdom; in fact it is called "the kingdom of heaven." In the following chapters we have the works of the King — and what mon arch ever gave such royal gifts as this King who blessed wherever He went — healing, cleansing, forgiving? There has been a superstition that the touch of a king would cure a certain kind of disease. But here we see the reality.

But as we pass on we find this gentle, holy, almighty King is rejected by His subjects. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not" (John 1:11). In the twelfth chapter they have practically decided upon His rejection. Therefore in the thirteenth chapter, though we find Him still contemplating His kingdom, He is about to be absent from it. During that time the responsibilities of the kingdom are entrusted to His people. Later on, when Peter confesses Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), our Lord entrusts to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. In the same connection He also speaks of that which is quite distinct — His Church: this He builds, and it is therefore perfect; but whenever we have things in man's hands, weakness and corruption manifest themselves, until our Lord comes and sets up His kingdom in power and glory, and reigns over it.

Before His crucifixion, well knowing all that awaited Him, He presents Himself once more to His beloved earthly people. He makes a triumphal entry into Jerusalem in fulfilment of the prophecy, "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass" (Matt. 21:1-11).

The King comes thus into "the city of the Great King" (Matt. 5:35), not in splendor and grandeur, but in the lowly guise which so perfectly became Him who had humbled Himself to be the Servant for the needs of man.

The people seem to recognize Him and to be ready to receive their King, crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David," while His disciples take off their garments and lay them in the way with palm branches before Him. Even the children are crying aloud in the streets. Is He indeed to be recognized and accepted as King? Are they ready to adorn Him with the purple garment? Alas for man, for Jerusalem and for Israel! They knew not the time of their visitation, and soon in place of these shouts are heard the angry cries, "Away with this Man!" "Crucify Him!" (Luke 23:18, 21). Our blessed Lord well knew that it would be thus, and gives them the parables of the rejected King: "This is the heir; come, let us kill Him," and of the rejected people, the man without the wedding garment, who intrudes into the marriage of the King's Son while rejecting Him — Christ, the best robe — who alone could give them fitness for the presence of God (Matt. 22:1-14).

So we find throughout the Gospel the purple embroidery of His kingly character. The last prophetic discourse is in accord with this (Matt. 24, 25): "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations." We see the glory of the King upon the throne who "scattereth away all evil with His eyes" (Prov. 20:8).

In the closing scenes — His arrest, trial and crucifixion — we still find the royal purple shining forth. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when Peter drew his sword in puny defense of the Lord, the King reminds him of the army,the heavenly hosts, at His disposal: "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). But He had not come to fight a battle against man, even His enemies, but against sin, and in that conflict He must be alone. More wonderful than ever will be the royal display after that glorious victory.

He is challenged by Pilate, "Art Thou the King of the Jews?" and He answers, "Thou sayest." The soldiers in mockery put on Him the scarlet robe, "and when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" We take up those very words which they uttered in blasphemy, and make them the expression of that which is divinely true. He is a crowned King; the crown of thorns is the crown of glory now. They write over the cross His accusation — it was the truth as to what He was, "The King of the Jews," for what charge could there be against the all-perfect One? They put Him between two thieves, in the place of Barabbas, who was a murderer — a Substitute for him — but "this Man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:41). Yes, this is "Jesus, the King of the Jews."

Everything hinges upon that, in Matthew. The people's thought of a king was one who would enable them to throw off the Roman yoke and establish them in power. Such a kingdom Barabbas would have given them, if he could. But a kingdom based upon justice and judgment, of whose King it could be said, "Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness" (Ps. 45:7), was not the man after their heart. The Man who was here as a witness for God, who testified to the whole truth — shameful and humbling as it was — who rebuked sin in high places, they could not endure; rather a murderer than "this Man." Blessed be God, He is also the King of grace — and the lowly, poor and helpless sinners who want Him, find His truth and righteousness for them.

We see Him as King to the very last. In the moment of death, we read, "He dismissed His spirit" (Matt. 27:50, lit.), such a word as was fitting to a King. Thus we see the purple throughout the Gospel. In resurrection He is still the King, with the mighty angel announcing in majesty His victory over death. Gathering His little company together He declares, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth," and sends them forth to spread His kingdom to earth's remotest bounds, for He the King will be with them till the age of patient grace close, and the age of His kingdom and power come in (Matt. 28:18-20).

This brings us to the last color, scarlet. As has already been said, there is much that corresponds to the purple, but we will see if there are any distinctive characteristics to be gathered from Scripture.

In his lament over Saul, David calls on the daughters of Israel to weep for one who clothed them with scarlet (2 Sam. 1:24); and the "virtuous woman," in Prov. 31:21, clothes her household similarly. In the 19th chapter of Numbers, in the familiar type of the red heifer, we have a similar use of the word scarlet. After the heifer was slain and its blood shed, it was burned without the camp, and as it was burning, "cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet" were cast into the fire (Num. 19:6). The cedar and hyssop are opposite extremes in the vegetable world: Solomon "spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall" (1 Kings 4:33). They thus stand for all that is highest and lowest in the world, while the scarlet would stand for the splendor of the world, its glory.

We have a characteristic use of the color in the book of Revelation, where the woman sits upon the scarlet-colored beast. She also is arrayed in, purple and scarlet (Rev. 17:3-4). She represents the false Church, not the "chaste virgin," the heavenly bride, espoused to Christ; she usurps her name, but is really of the earth, and full of all abominations. She is arrayed in the gorgeous hues of earthly splendor, while the true Church is walking in humble garb, often in sackcloth, waiting for her splendid array when the Bridegroom shall come.

These scriptures give us one use of the color — the pomp and splendor of earth. But there is another and quite opposite use of the word, though related to this: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow" (Isa. 1:18). The full word for scarlet is Tolaath shani, "scarlet worm." It is possible that shani, scarlet, means "double," referring to the double dye which makes the scarlet. It is very suggestive that the pride and glory of man are closely connected with the double dye of sin.

But there are other thoughts connected with the word "worm." It is the coccus cacti, the cochineal, from which the scarlet dye is obtained. In the 22nd psalm our holy Lord, in the midst of His anguish as a sin-offering on the cross, says, "I am a worm and no man" (ver. 6). This is the word which is used in connection with the scarlet, as we have seen. Thus our Lord, "who knew no sin," was "made sin" (or sin-offering, 2 Cor. 5:21) for us, taking the place which we deserved. He took the place of being a worm, went down into death, crushed under the wrath and judgment of God, His precious blood shed to put away our scarlet sins.

But by this very suffering unto death He has won a place of highest glory, and to Him belong the kingdoms and glory of the world. Where sin and self had sway, He has acquired the right and power to rule. Where He is owned in faith, He takes His abode in the individual believer and reigns — subdues, governs, directs. Faith now sees Him "crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:9). One day this world will be the scene of His splendor. The scarlet mantle will be upon Him whose right it is, not upon an apostate Church nor a godless world-power, but given by the Father into His hands who has purchased it.

As in the first part of the 22d psalm we have His sufferings unto death for sin — the scarlet dye — so in the closing part we have the scarlet upon Him — royal authority and splendor. "All the ends of the world" — not only Israel — "shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee" (ver. 27). This, we believe, gives us the scriptural thought of scarlet.

There is another and solemn significance of this splendor of scarlet. When the Son of Man appears with the armies of heaven, He will be "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood" (Rev. 19:13). The scarlet is the solemn pledge that He must and will judge His enemies. "Those Mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before Me" (Luke 19:27). So also in Isaiah 63: the Victor is seen returning in triumph from the judgment of His enemies — "glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength." But, even there, judgment is seen to be His "strange work," and He speaks of Himself as "mighty to save."

Our next question is: Is there one of the Gospels which presents our Lord according to the thoughts we have connected with the scarlet? Mark is the only remaining Gospel, but does it answer to this color? It is known as the Gospel of the perfect Servant, as Matthew is of the King. We see Him there taking the servant's place, ministering to the need which everywhere appealed to His pity and love. He comes down into the lowliest place and then is raised to the highest. At the close of the 8th chapter and the beginning of the 9th we have the two thoughts of His sufferings and His glory blended together. "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests and scribes, and be killed" (Mark 8:31). He is rejected, despised, downtrodden — "I am a worm and no man." Look now at verse 38, "Whosoever, therefore, shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation" (the proud religious world clothing itself with scarlet) "of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels" — here is the scarlet worn by Him whose right it is.

We find an illustration of His glory in the next chapter: "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9:1). Then comes the Transfiguration, His coming glory displayed, as a pledge to His disciples that all these things shall be fulfilled.

Again in the 10th chapter we have the prediction of His rejection and death. In immediate connection we have the request of the sons of Zebedee that they should have places of honor in His kingdom. It is, alas, significant that when He spoke of His sufferings they were occupied with their own dignities in connection with His glories. They never seemed to realize the necessity of the cross before the glory till after the resurrection. It came upon them as a fearful shock at last. Even under the shadow of the cross, at the last supper, there was a dispute among them which of them should be the greatest. Let us remember that this is only natural to us unless faith is bright.

The sons of Zebedee desire the scarlet, to be arrayed in the pomp and dignity of power — but our Lord was going to give them scarlet in a way that will not foster their pride. They would drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism; they would partake of His sufferings and rejection — of course not of the atoning sufferings. This was all He could promise them here, and it would be their honor and glory (as also they esteemed it afterward) to suffer for His sake. When the other disciples begin to murmur at these two, jealous of what they conceived to be some special honor to be conferred upon them, our Lord says to them (Mark 10:45), "Even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."

So we find that the Lord's path, and that of His servants is suffering and rejection first, and the glory afterwards. The world's thought of scarlet is glory without suffering, just the reverse of our Lord's. His prophetic discourse brings out the same truth.

When we come to His death, the distinguishing feature of His suffering is that He is forsaken of God. We see the holy One made sin — "a worm and no man," in order that those who were worse than worms might be clothed in the beauty of the Lord.

His resurrection is the divine answer to His having been forsaken. "He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19). Thus He has entered into His glory, and the lowly Servant and Sin-bearer is arrayed, as the world shall one day see, in the the glory that is rightly His, which He refused to take save as the purchase of His cross that we too might share it with Him.

Briefly reviewing these thoughts, we have: The fine linen, which speaks of His holy, spotless humanity, illustrated in the Gospel of Luke; the blue of His divine and heavenly character, as in John; the purple shows His royal character, as in Matthew; and the scarlet reminds us of His humiliation and subsequent glory, as seen in Mark.

These various materials were wrought together in "cunning work," literally, "the work of a thinker." The cherubim were wrought, embroidered or woven with the four materials we have seen, according to a definite plan. The life of our Lord, which was the perfect expression of His person, was a beautiful, consistent, perfect whole. His life was the work of a "Thinker" — whose whole thought and purpose was to glorify God and set forth His character. So also in the record of that character and life, we have the Holy Spirit's perfect work. The four colors, all woven and blended together, as seen in the four Gospels, are His work. There is perfect design in each, and this manifests at the same time the Lord and the divine skill of the Holy Spirit who has displayed Him. What effacement of the human instrument there should be even in speaking of these things that nothing should mar the "pattern" so perfectly devised and executed.

What themes are these, which may well move the heart to worship and praise. May our souls be mastered and filled with them, and our hearts glow with Spirit-given love and joy.