Color of the Ages

Daily Pompt: Purple

Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) ruled England and Ireland from 1558 until her death. The childless queen was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.  She also forbad anyone around her to wear purple, except the royal family.  Not that many would, or could, since the cost of purple fabric was so outrageously expensive, only rulers were wealthy enough to afford it.  What became modern-day Lebanon was, in the ancient world, the Phoenician city of Tyre, where the dye used to make purple was traded like gold or silver.  When Paul the apostle arrived in Philippi, in Acts 16:13-15, his first meeting was with women washing clothes at the riverside.  There Paul met a woman, “a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God.”  This woman was from Thyatira, and quite wealthy from her business selling purple cloth. Her wealth afforded her a large dwelling, so she invited Paul and his traveling party to come stay in her home. However, this is not the most ancient use of this purple dye.

When God was instructing Moses in the wilderness to build a tabernacle, the instructions included this command:  Moreover, from the blue and purple and scarlet material, they made finely woven garments for ministering in the holy place as well as the holy garments which were for Aaron, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. [Exodus 39:1]

Where did this purple material come from?  The simple answer is from Egyptian royalty.  Since only the extremely wealthy could afford the purple material to make royal robes, this cloth is associated with the ruling classes of Rome, Egypt and Persia.  As such, this color also became associated with spiritual holiness because in most of these ancient cultures the emperors or kings were thought of as gods or descendants of a god.

When God-Jehovah assigned Moses the task of leading the Hebrew people out of bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt, there was a time of challenge between the gods of Egypt and the God of Moses, the true and living God.  Finally in the last battle for authenticity, God gave the Hebrew people instructions for their last night in captivity.  They would take a lamb without blemish into their homes and treat it like a family member.  Then, on a specific night, they would kill this lamb, collect the blood and splash it over the header to their front door.  Then they would eat the lamb according to specific instructions from God.  If they followed these simple commands, God’s Holy Death Angel would passover their house and not harm them.  For every door header that didn’t have this blood, God’s Holy Death Angel would take the firstborn from that family in death.  It was only after Pharaoh’s firstborn was taken in this way that he allowed the Hebrew people to leave and follow Moses into the wilderness.  Still not the end of the story…

Where did all the stuff for building this Tabernacle come from?  Exodus 12:33-36

The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders. Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Did you see it?

Now fast forward back to Jerusalem in the New Testament circa 33 A.D., and the day following Passover.  Jesus has been arrested, hustled back and forth between Caiaphas and Pilate, where Pilate attempts to placate the Jewish leaders by having Jesus beaten.

Mark 15:16-18
The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 

Here the Creator of the color purple, is mocked by His highest creation, in derision calling Him a king, when in their hearts they believed no such thing.

There was a small mollusk found only in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea where this purple dye was found.  It is said that more than 9,000 mollusks were needed to create just one gram of Tyrian purple dye.  Expensive beyond measure.  Some would say, priceless.

But what of the grace shown by the Son of Man, who without resistance or reticence would yield to such brutality as Jesus suffered, to pay our debt of Sin?  At what cost our salvation? The death of Jesus.  Rightly He wore the color purple, yet men today still mock Him, and unyieldingly use His name in vain.  Regal and royal, the color still remains a constant reminder to me, of a King who loves me personally.  Loves me so much, He gave His life for mine.

Purple is the color of the Ages.  It is Priceless.

Squatting in the House of God

via Daily Prompt: Squat

The church building – the structure itself – is often called the house of God.  Traditionally it has been thought of as a sacred place, where God’s Spirit dwells.  That concept comes out of ancient Hebrew culture, where in the Tabernacle in the Old Testament, and the Temple in the Old & New Testaments, both were constructed with an inner chamber called the Holy of Holies, the place where God’s Spirit was present on earth.  As a man came to worship in the Temple, Jewish law stated that every man should pay a tribute for the service of the Temple with a Jewish coin known as a “shekel.” [Exodus 30:11-16]

By the time of the first century, many Jewish people scattered all over the Roman world in the Middle East no longer used Jewish coins or money.  They worked, lived, and were paid in Roman currency.  It became a matter of necessity (convenience?) to have a place where sojourners to Jerusalem could change their money from Roman to Temple currency.  The outer courtyard of the Temple was called the Courtyard of the Gentiles, and was actually more or less a thoroughfare from the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem connecting a passageway to the city on the West.  In this courtyard the money-changers would provide their services for a “fee” the “exchange rate.”  During the Passover week when almost one million Jewish natives would come to Jerusalem to celebrate their heritage, changing money was a profitable business, which led to fraud and corruption at the highest levels of the priesthood.


Money is one thing, but these leaders extorted the Jewish people in another way.  Again, according to Jewish Law [Leviticus 14:22], two doves or pigeons were required as a sacrifice.  Most travelers didn’t bring these birds with them on their distant journey, deciding to simply purchase the offerings at the Temple on their arrival.  The sacrifice brokers would set up shop and have plenty of animals, but at outrageous prices, extorting God’s people for profit.  There were merchants selling cattle and sheep as well, all at exorbitant costs.

Enter Jesus.  There are two specific recorded times when Jesus cleansed the Temple: John 2:13-22, and Matthew 21:12-13.  The first time was right after His first miracle at a wedding feast in Cana.  The second time was after His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem beginning the week of Passover, just before His arrest and crucifixion.  The description of the cleansing process employed is much more detailed in the first account.  Jesus observed, then acted.  He made a “scourge of cords” and whipped the merchants into shape, overturning tables of coins, and commanding those selling animals, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.

In many places across our land today, church has become big business.  Recently I’ve seen coffee bars, bookstores, and money raising plans out the wazoo.  I’ve listened to different church leaders talk about money in ways that make me wonder who’s kingdom they are really trying to build.  It feels like “squatters” in the Temple all over again, and it makes me wonder what Jesus would do if He visited these places.  Would He lash out like in the Temple and say, “My house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a robber’s den,”?

How do we return to the intended purpose of making a journey to God’s house?  Perhaps by entering in the spirit of prayer, by not going through the motions of tradition, by not succumbing to the temptations to turn our places of worship into temples of enterprise.

We need to quit being squatters in the House of God.  We need to return to the heart of worship.