The Tabernacle - 10
The Linen Curtains
by Brad Scott
Shemot (Exodus) 26:1-6Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine-twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubim of skillful work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another. And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another. And thou shalt make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains together with the clasps; and it shall be one tabernacle.
We now move directly to the inner covering of the tabernacle. This covering, unlike the goat's hair and ram's skins, which are the outer covering, is said to be hamishkan ’echad. This statement that the linen covering is "one" with the mishkan is not said of the outer coverings. YHVH knows that our outside covering (i.e. our bodies) are only temporary. The fine-twined linen speaks of His righteousness. This is evident in the symbolism of linen throughout the rest of Scripture (Hitgalut (Revelation) 19:8, Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 61:10, Mizemor (Psalm) 132:9, Zekareyah (Zechariah) 3:3-4). Those who walk with YHVH and do not defile their garments are those who are given God's righteousness by faith. His righteousness, as represented by clean garments, as opposed to our righteousness, represented by filthy garments. This is expressed well by Yochanan (John) in Hitgalut 3:4-5. When one confesses Yeshua‘ as their Messiah and turns to follow Him, then they are given YHVH's righteousness symbolized by the linen. When this event has truly taken place, then the believer and YHVH's righteousness have become one. Then and only then, can the believer be conformed to the image of the Messiah outwardly. First, YHVH must dwell in the ark of the testimony between the cherubim in the Most Holy Place (the heart), then the mind must be transformed (the Holy Place), then the body (the court) is changed.
Not only is the linen a part of the tabernacle, but the linen itself has a very revealing aspect to it, as well. The Ruach haQodesh specifically tells us that there are three colors skillfully worked into the curtains. The language used here is a bit confusing to most Hebrew scholars. It is not clear whether these colors are woven into the fabric or that they are somehow skillfully made part of the fabric, such as the Middle Eastern technique of overlaying the gold with the wood in the ark and table of shewbread. The latter possibility, however, is more consistent with the oneness theme of this curtain. What is even more fascinating than this, perhaps, is the arrangement of the colors. Whenever these three colors appear in the Tanakh, they are always in the same order. First there is blue, then purple, and finally scarlet. The color blue is a picture of YHVH's perfect holiness. It is the color that He commanded His people to dye the tzitziot (ציצת) on the end of their garments in Bemidebar (Numbers) 15:37-41 to remind them of His words, which of course is YHVH himself. Because of the visual physics of the atmosphere, when we look toward heaven we see blue. Heaven was a synonym for YHVH in the first century. When one "sinned against heaven" it meant that he was sinning against YHVH. Your Creator promised His presence among the Israelites during their wilderness experience (Shemot 33:14, 40:38). One of the symbols of His presence was to cover all the furnishings with blue coverings, pointing to His constant guidance.
The color on the other side was scarlet or sometimes translated crimson. The meaning of this word goes back to the creature from which the red or scarlet type color is extracted from, the maggot or the grub. Literally it means the "worm of shining". This references us to the characteristics of unredeemed man or natural man (Iyov (Job) 25:6). The red or blood color is the basis for which we understand the very meaning of adam or man, i.e., the earthy, ruddy, or "blood in the face". The scarlet or reddish color pictures the nature of man as opposed to the blue of perfection or heavenly things. Scarlet is the picture of man in his sinful nature. Yesha’yahu says:
Yesha’yahu 1:18Come now, and let us reason together, saith YHVH: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Blue and red are primary colors, each one containing no other colors or mixture of colors. These colors, as they stand, are forever separate and distinct. But God will show us a wonderful picture with the color that stands between blue (God) and red (man).
The color purple, in every occurrance of these three colors, is between the two, a color that is a combination of blue and red. Purple is not half blue and half red, but 100% blue and 100% red! A perfect picture of the nature of the Messiah in the curtains of the righteousness of YHVH. In Sha’ul's first letter to Timothy he states: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, the Messiah Yeshua‘." You can begin to see this reality in many places, when you can see the specific placing of the colors in the linen curtains. When the woman with an issue of blood (red) reaches out to take hold of the tzitzit (blue) of Yeshua‘’s talit, she, because of her faith, is made one with the Messiah (purple). That may be stretching it a bit, but this is what I see. Yochanan tells us:"We love Him, because He first loved us." I see God coming to man so that we may be given the free opportunity to be like Him, but only through our being plunged into the Messiah. Even the word "baptism", which in the Hebrew is a dyeing term, pictures this relationship with the colors. Once blue and red dyes are mixed together and a garment is plunged into the purple color it is forever purple. When blue reaches out to scarlet, and when scarlet responds, a "new color" is born. Am I getting too corny here? I could go on and on, but I pray you can see that this constant arrangement is no coincidence. It also may not be a coincidence that the record of the Messiah on earth in the New Testament does not mention the color blue, but purple is mentioned nine times.
I believe that the colors in the tabernacle are Yah's way of showing us the nature of the Messiah. Next time, we will see a beautiful picture of YHVH uniting Jew and Gentile in these linen curtains of the Holy Place.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊