Friday, September 22, 2017


There's one more place where we see the scarlet thread running through the Bible, and that is in the holy things that Israel built in the wilderness. From the fabric coverings over the Tent of Meeting to the embroidered angels on the priests' robes to the pomegranates dangling from their hems, one of the recurring themes of the holy place was scarlet thread, woven in.

And in every place where the instructions are given, they are precisely the same: do this "creatively." 

It seems like an odd instruction. This is the God who makes explicit how many inches tall the table in the Tabernacle ought to be, how many rings should be used to hold the tent together at its seams, how many stands should make up its foundation. This is the God who gives precise instructions for slaughtering an offering, exact measurements for mixing incense, a detailed description of the anointing of His priests. But when it comes to this particular detail, the way that the scarlet thread should be worked in, His prescription is a little vague.


We have to think about this in context a little bit. Unlike in the other places that we've looked at, the scarlet thread is not alone here. It's not the only thing hanging in a window, the one marker of the firstborn son. Rather, the scarlet thread here is among other beautiful things - blue and purple yarns and fabrics, to be exact. These together are worked into the holy things in the prescribed places. So it's not like the whole Tabernacle is bland, desert brown and there's this splash of red running through it. 

It's bland, desert brown with splashes of color. And that makes things a little different.

It means that, if the artists and artisans do it right, Israel might not even notice the scarlet thread at first. It's the way you look at a picture or a painting of something and see the whole, not the parts. You would know that there was red in it, but you wouldn't consciously think about the red being part of it. It's just a beautiful design, a splash of color that draws the eye to its whole, not its parts. Even the pomegranates, which we know from the grocery store are mostly this reddish color, wouldn't strike them as red; they'd strike them as pomegranates. 

It is, I think, what God wants us to see about Creation itself. God worked this entire world together out of nothing, and He's woven this scarlet thread through it - the blood of His Son, working toward the Cross, calling us toward Heaven, the song of the redeemed. But it's not like the whole creation is dull, drab, totally boring and then, there's this thread, this streak of red standing out against a bland, desert brown. 

Not at all. God's Creation is full-color. It's a rich blend of everything in the rainbow, all the colors of His promise. Red, yes, but also blue and purple and orange and green and yellow and...and everything! We know the red runs through it, but we don't consciously think about the red until something draws our eye to it. We see God's world in full, living color - just as He intended us to - and then, sometimes, we see the scarlet thread. Not necessarily for any particular reason; it just sort of happens. 

It's woven in "creatively," from the very Creation itself, from the very beginning when God spoke the word. 

In the quiet little way that God whispers all the most important things, there's this scarlet thread that we see without even seeing. To truly know the depth of its beauty, we'd have to look for it, even though it's right in front of our eyes. 

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