Have you ever considered how important color is to our lives? Have you wondered how color affects our lives?
Color splashes your life every day. A red car zips past you on the freeway. The red flash looks like a red blaze of fire. The sun crawls toward the horizon, an orange ball descending. A yellow bus picks up students as they begin their morning ride to school.
Or it’s Springtime. You fertilize your yard. Green suddenly appears. You wonder why you fertilized it now that you mow it every five days. Or you hike the mountains only to stop for breath. Your pause gives you a beautiful view of the valley, the backdrop of the sky shades a beautiful blue.
Or you walk the mall. You notice the window in a women’s clothing store. A mannequin stands dressed in blue jeans, a bright purple shirt, with a purple head band, and purple shoes. After all, purple is the color of wealth.
And when was the last time you were captivated by a rainbow, its array of colors inviting you to applaud its beauty? Consider the colors of the rainbow as an invitation to explore the colors of preaching.
When Rebekah and Isaac had twins, Esau and Jacob, she named Jacob heelcatcher, or supplanter, as he struggled with his brother in the womb. Esau, the first born, was named “hairy,” but he came out red (Genesis 25:25). Today his buddies would call him “Big Red.” Why not preach a ser-mon on Esau and Jacob? Call it Big Red and Little Brother: How God Worked In One Family.
Your colorful preaching then travels the Red Sea. Tell the story of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt (Exodus 10:19). Declare God’s deliverance by drowning the mighty Egyptian warriors and their chariots in the Red Sea. Title the sermon: When God Knocked His Enemies Dead in a Sea Of Red.
Red is the color of blood. Blood arrives at birth (Esau) and death (defeated Egyptians). Blood flows freely as it runs down the altar, an offering placed before God (Exodus 29:21). The Bible announces, “for the blood is the life” (Deut. 12:23, KJV). Abner experienced this first hand when Joab stuck him with a sword in his fifth rib (II Samu 1:22). He lost his blood, and his life. The Old Testament gives snapshots of a brutal world where blood splotches the landscape as military heroes prove their worth. Death wreaks cold blood.
Ah, but blood gives life. In the grace-filled pages of the New Testament you read Jesus’ words, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28, KJV). What preacher has not proclaimed the glory of the color red? Jesus shed his blood so that we might have abundant life. This is one of the bright colors of preaching.
Follow the rainbow to orange. You cannot find orange in your Bible. You will find the color vermilion. This is orange. In both instances the Scriptures place orange in a color which contrasts righteousness. Hear the woeful prophet Jeremiah. He sends a message of doom to the rotten sons of Josiah, “Woe to him who builds a house by unrighteousness ….” (Jer. 22:13, KJV). Jeremiah announces that the sons of Josiah boast in their building, cut out windows, panel their building with cedar, and paint it with vermilion [orange] (22:14).
Ezekiel proclaims the indignation of God at the sins and wicked leaders of Israel. He portrays the fallenness of Israel as two sisters: Oholah and Ohol-ibah. Both sisters lust after false gods. The second sister increases her harlotry, lusting after men where artists sketched their pictures on the wall, “Images of Chaldeans por-trayed in vermilion” (Ez. 23:14, KJV). Orange stands out as a color which tarnishes the landscape of God’s in-tended plan. Preach from one of these passages of Scripture and call it Orange: The Color of The Fall.
Orange is the color of unrighteousness, the lure of sin baiting God’s people in the fishing hole of life. Orange is the color of harlotry, the painted face of a woman seducing God’s people. Orange is the color of lust, the consuming passion which attracts the eyes with its bold images, but kills the soul when looking gives way to digesting. Orange draws us to the imagined, pulling us away from the real. Red gives abundant life. Orange slowly drains the abundant life.
Trace the rainbow from orange to yellow.
When I think of yellow I am bound to think nice thoughts: a sunflower amidst weeds, a smiley face looking at me from a car bumper, a soccer team running the field in yellow shorts. But the Bible reveals yellow as a color of the leprous spot. Listed in the Levitical laws, the priest examines the yellowish plague on a person. All garments touching the leprous spot are examined, then discarded or washed as needed. Yellow becomes the color of plague, a color crying out for cleansing.
Think of yellow as a sunflower growing, hope springing up though surrounded by sickness. Imagine yellow as the a smile bursting through the sadness of plague. View yellow as life, activity on the run, vitality rising up in the dread of plague.
The Psalmist voices the glory of yellow (68:13). He revels in a song of victory. He celebrates a day when the righteous sing to God. Gladness brightens the day. Enemies lay waste. The wicked fade. Enemies flee, driven back by the power of God.
The joy of victory leads the Psalmist to refer to the victors as those “like the wings of a dove covered with silver, And her feathers covered with yellow gold.” Here yellow becomes the color of God’s hand of victory. Yellow shines as the spoils of war. It gleams as the color of gold glistening in the sunlight. God’s people humbly acknowledge God’s role in securing victory. A yellow sun rises over the darkness of military battle. God’s light quenches the darkness of his enemies. The Psalmist exclaims,
O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people (Ps. 68:35).
Announce the sermon: “Yellow: God’s Invitation to Cleansing and Victory!”
We love the color green – the color of Spring: a golf course, leaves budding on an Oak Tree, a turtle crossing the road, a snake slithering on the grass, or a finger painting taped on the refrigerator door. Green sprouts. It adds freshness. It smells like a fragrance, fresh and pleasant.
Job knew the disappointment of suffering. Eliphaz preached God’s retribution to Job. He told Job that a man who does not trust in God will not flourish, or green. While he preached a black streak, he did know something about God’s blessing. If only, though, he understood Job’s dilemma.
Eliphaz hints at a Scriptural consistency: green alerts us to growth while contrasting the decay of evil. King David contemplates his wicked enemies, those who devise deceit, twist words with their tongues, and do not make God their strength (Ps. 52:7). King David appeals to the color brown, decay molding to the heart, the uprooting of the unrighteous from the land of the living. Then David proclaims, “Green!”
I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name for it is good
Green is the color of God budding in the soul, a green leaf drinking in light, coming up green.
Genesis (1:30) reveals green as the color of vegetation. This is food rising from the ground. Green is nourishment for the beasts of the earth, for man who eats this vegetation and gains strength. Yet Isaiah (15:6) displays green as absent for Moab who is ruined. Moab’s pride is no longer green, her rivers dry up and her grass withers.
Then Jeremiah speaks thunder. He booms judgment. He sees the face of man as squeamish, glowing an ugly shade of green like a sick person. He paints the picture of a woman in labor. Her face pales. It greens. Men will pale the same in the day of God’s judgment.
Read Mark’s account of the feeding of the five thousand. You will find Jesus inviting the apostles to a deserted place (6:31). He compassionately looks upon them. He desires to feed them. His apostles respond, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is late.” They further suggest sending the great crowd away because there is nothing to eat (Mark 6:36). After all, the place is deserted.
What happens next? Jesus instructs His disciples to seat the crowd in groups on the green grass. Does grass grow in a deserted place? Apparently so, patches making headway, surrounded by the dust of the desert. And when Jesus shows up, he provides nourishment where there is nothing to eat. He sup-plies green grass in desolate places. Brown dust disappears. Green blossoms in the heart.
Was Mark attesting to the words of the prophet Isaiah, a day in which God would visit the remnant? He declares, “Once more the remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above” (37:31). Had that day come when Jesus seated the five thousand? Might Mark’s key detail awaken those familiar with Isaiah’s words to the coming of Christ? Why not advertise the message: When Green Shows Up in Desert Places?
Green is the color of God’s new work — chlorophyll soaking in light giving off oxygen for life. Green bursts with newness, the finger of the Father painting fresh color over a brown world. Green is the color of freshness, Jesus feeding in desolate places, turning the wilderness into a sea of green. Green is the life-giving power of the Spirit, driving spiritual roots deep, bearing fruit of love, joy, longsuffering (Gal. 5:22). A world of green is a world where God creates, moves, and breathes. Genesis fills the world with green. God sees green. “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (1:31).
Eye the rainbow as green yields to blue. Blue blankets the sky, a canvas of blue serving as a backdrop for God waltzing across the stage. Creation worships, beholding God’s splendor.
Blue first appears in the context of worship. God’s early instruction for worship included building a tabernacle. Weave the curtain with fine linen. This was God’s word to Moses. “Use blue on the curtains,” God added (Ex. 26:1). The ancients extracted this blue from shell fish. Do not ask me how they did it. Simply trust that blue invites us into the presence of Almighty God. Once there, we bow. We call on his name. We praise God for color.
When Queen Esther saved the Jews, God’s providence spared Mordecai. His life seemed headed for the gallows, a public hanging at the hands of wicked Haman. But God intervened. Instead of rising to the gallows, Mordecai rose to second in command. The king dressed him in white and blue (Esther 8:15). Folks in the city of Shushan celebrated. Mordecai symbolized the providence of God, his hand delivering the Jews once again. Blue became the color of worship. An annual festival followed. Yearly Jews joined in a festival to praise God for his deliverance in Persia. When you see blue, why not think of God’s wondrous deliverance? Why not get on your knees to worship?
And have you heard some one say, “I am beaten black and blue”? The Proverbs (20:30) describe blue as the color of a wound. Literally, “the blueness of a wound cleanses away evil, so do stripes the inward part of the belly.” Blue pierces the body with pain. This pain has a cleansing effect. Again we are invited to worship. We pause to pray, asking for oil of healing upon a wound of blue. We invoke God’s comfort. We look to God, the One upon Whom we depend.
I am not sure I understand all the writer of Proverbs declares, but he hints at drawing near to God in the agony of our wounds. Shout the sermon, When God Paints Blue in the Heart of You.
Watch the rainbow as blue bleeds to purple. Purple proudly marches in the Bible as the color of wealth. The Phoenicians exported purple dye as their chief source of commerce. Murex shells collected near the coast produced purple. Since the Phoenicians went to such great efforts to secure purple, it became a testimony to wealth. The wealthy wore garments dyed in purple.
Kings paraded among their constituents in long, flowing robes of purple. When Gideon defeated the Kings of Midian, the spoils of war included “crescent ornaments, pendants, and purple robes which were on the kings of Midian ….” (Judges 8:26). Sadly, the Bible tells us that Gideon’s sudden wealth became a snare to him and his house. The purple of wealth ensnares us, if we focus on it. Instead, we ought to acknowledge God as King.
Was this the witness of Mark (15:17, 20) and John (19:2). The Roman soldiers thrust a crown of thorns upon Jesus’ head. They dressed him in a robe the color purple. Were they not mocking his kingly reign? This act of robing the Christ became their game. They rolled dice while cackling in laughter, jeering in mock tones. While engaged in a lottery for Jesus’ clothing the world began to change colors.
Red dripped. Jesus’ brow raced in rivers of red. The orange sun faded, giving way to ominous clouds of darkness. The earth quaked. Yellow flowers wilted as all creation groaned. Green hillsides cried out, writhing in agony as the Son of Man grimaced in pain. The blue sky turned an angry black, the anger of God thundering to a world under judgment. Yet purple, the prize of soldiers, a take-home treasure from the crucifixion, trumpeted for all to hear, “Hail King Jesus!”
Put the sermon on the marquee in front of the church: “When A Robe of Wealth Clothes the Heart!”
Purple erupts, forgiveness flowing freely from God’s throne of grace. Purple sings, love melodiously reaching the ears of those in awe. Purple cheers. It awakens creation to the glory of God. Purple rides gloriously into heaven. Jesus takes his seat at the right hand of the Father.
A rainbow encircles the throne, the colors of preaching proclaiming the artistry of God enjoying His finished work (Rev. 4:3). A rainbow surrounds His head, the colors of God reminding us of His covenant (Rev. 10:1). Suddenly, we remember Noah and the rainbow. We recall God’s promise. The rainbow glows as a promise of hope, color illumining a gray world, God brushing light tones over a black canvas. For where God is, there is color!
The Colors of Preaching
Have you ever considered how important color is to our lives? Have you wondered how color affects our lives?