Thoroughly Equipped: The Purple Robe

Today’s reading includes Exodus 28:1-43, Matthew 25:31-26:13, Psalm 31:9-18, Proverbs 8:12-13.

Yesterday we looked at the repetitive symbols of colors in our current readings.  We talked first of the color blue used in the curtains of the tabernacle and the robes of the priests.  The color blue represents heavenly things.  It can also represent the sky, heaven itself, holiness, and the Holy Spirit.  Another of the prominent colors displayed in the building of the tabernacle and the robes of the priests was the color purple.  This color was the most precious of ancient dyes made from a shellfish found in the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 250,000 mollusks (or more!) was required to make one ounce of the dye, which partly accounts for its great price. It was highly valued within the nation of Israel.

The color purple symbolizes kingship and royalty.  At times in ancient history, this color was banned from common use and was only allowed for royal family.  We all can picture kings in purple robes, which announced the prestige and authority of their position.  The color purple was used in several features of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, 27:16) and the temple (II Chronicles 2:14); the color of royal robes (Judges 8:26); the garments of the wealthy (Proverbs 31:22; Luke 16:19); the clothing of a harlot (Revelation 17:4); and the robe placed on Jesus (Mark 15:17, 20).

It occurred to me that the purple in the curtains and in the priests clothing represented two things, which still apply to us.  First, they pointed to the King of kings.  The purple was a reminder that they served a king—The King.  Secondly, it pointed to the fact that because they belonged to the King—were children of the King—they, too, were royalty.  And so, as children of God, we too must remember His royalty and realize our own.

9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

                                                                                                            I Peter 2:9-10 NIV

I love to read this verse in several different translations.  Here are a few of my favorites:

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,f a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

“Once you had no identity as a people;

now you are God’s people.

Once you received no mercy;

now you have received God’s mercy.”g

                                                                                    1 Peter 2:9-10 NLT


9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

                                                                                      1 Peter 2:9, BSB


9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

                                                                                        1 Peter 2:9-10, ESV


There is only one reason we are chosen as royalty, and that is to proclaim to others the goodness of God, to proclaim the excellencies and virtues of Him who has called us.  We often live as spiritual paupers when our true identity is as a prince or princess.  We are made a prince or princess so that we may proclaim His goodness and point others to the King of kings.

Notice that neither the robes of the priests, nor of the people were solid purple.  There was a smathering of purple. My interpretation of that is one that we can remember every day.  We are not the big deal, He is the big deal.  We are not the king of our life, He is.  We are not the famous ones, He is the famous One—and we proclaim His fame to others that they may become royalty, too.

In Mark 15 we see that Jesus was mocked when a purple robe was placed on Him.

16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

The intent of the soldiers was to mock, to ridicule, to taunt.  But in reality they were proclaiming who He really is.  He wore the mocking robe so we would not have to.  And this sacrifice for the love of His people showed His greatest authority, His greatest strength, His greatest power.  He is the King of all kings.  He could wear the full purple robe, we can only wear a smattering of purple, which points to Him.

Today, know who you are and Whose you are.  Don’t ask like a pauper. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are a royal priesthood.  Bravely dress in a the spiritual robe sprinkled with purple and point to the Only One worthy of wearing a purple robe.

2 Comments Thoroughly Equipped: The Purple Robe

  1. Cathy kalish

    A thought I had while reading this… the color red… Christ’s blood … and the color blue… Heavenly things… Red and blue combined make purple: Royalty. Just my thought!


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