God compares His people to quite a variety of earthly objects that serve to lend a lively interest to various phases of the Bible. He likens them to trees as the tall Palm, the stately Cedar and to lovely flowers as the lily and the rose. Again in another place they are likened to stars and to the light of the sun. Likewise to doves to portray light of innocence; also to gentle lambs and even to lions to show courage and boldness. Eagles too are mentioned to picture farsightedness and heavenly dwelling places.
When God compares His people to jewels, the similitude becomes worthy of special consideration. Their preciousness, value, and beauty make them most apt in their symbolism. Goodly gems have been appropriately termed “the blossoms of the rock” and “the flowers of the caves and torrent-beds”. Their diverse properties well picture the many excellent qualities and characteristics of a true child of God. The jewelers of the East have been among the greatest travelers of the world. They have journeyed even to the remotest lands to secure, if possible, the finest stones. It has sometimes happened that they have come across a gem so valuable and costly that they have sold all their possessions to secure it. Our Master used this to illustrate a great truth. He said that, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls; who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and brought it”. (Matt 13:45-46) For nearly two thousand years now, the Lord has been watching and waiting for His precious jewels. He declares “Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God” and his elect class, or precious jewels of the Lord. Their answer to the Lord is, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation. He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” The word jewels in the texts is from the Hebrew SEQULLAH elsewhere translated “peculiar” or special treasure. The word occurs in yet another passage: “Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my commandments, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure sequllah unto me above all people: for all the earth is Mine”(Ex 19:5) Now we come to the Breastplate of Judgment. The Breastplate lends a pleasing emphasis on the symbolism of jewels. The Lord commanded twelve different precious stones, embedded in gold, to form the breastplate of the High Priest. It covered the heart to betoken the love and affectionate trust that Jesus has for his followers.
The Ruby is the first stone in Breastplate. The original word is ODEM, which means blood red, and the letters are similar to that of Adam, which signifies “taken out of red earth. This physical makeup corroborated by science, which proves that the human body is composed of the elements of air and earth. An analysis of the ruby reveals the astonishing discovery that it is red earth or clay in crystallized form. Its very coloring matter is the same as that which gives blood its color, namely oxide of iron. For this reason the ruby has been called “petrified blood”. The test of a perfect ruby is when it compares most favorably to the flesh blood of a pigeon dropped upon a sheet of white paper. What an amazing symbolism, it represents the precious blood of Jesus, his blood he gave himself a ransom for our sins. Rubies can so cleverly be imitated by artificial methods but the microscope however reveals the presence of bubbles and straps. This reminds us of our master’s warning of “false Christs who shall deceive many”, but the Lord grants His true followers the power of perception thru the Holy Spirit of truth.
There are many gems upon this earth which have strange histories attached to them. It would not surprise us if these have not been overruled by the Lord to teach some great lesson. For instance, there is a valuable ruby in the crown of English royalty valued at 10000 pounds. In the seventeenth century some robbers, led by a certain Colonel Blood, determined to steal it. They actually overpowered the guard of the jewel room in the Tower of London and seized the crown. The thieves were overtaken at Tower Hill where a soldier wrenched the crown from the grasp of Colonel Blood. Then a strange thing happened, some stones, including the valuable ruby fell into the mire and were lost. Not even a diligent search could discover the whereabouts of this most precious stone. Some days later, however, an old woman who was sweeping the crossing found the ruby. This shows how the lowly and poor can become in possession of a precious stone. This brings to mind our Ruby the precious blood of Jesus, which we must guard with jealous care.
Now let us consider other stones of fair colors. Variations are apparent everywhere in creation. Consider the designs of different snowflakes. The different stones’ hues and colors are due to differing materials and processes of formation thus the different character individual makeup of people, no two of us are alike. Topaz – the second stone in the breastplate. Topaz reminds us of the sun. Ruskin speaks of it as symbolic of the sun, like a strong man running his race rejoicing standing between light and darkness and representing all good work. Its symbolism is heightened as we learn that the topaz is strongly electrical whether created by heat or by friction. Our attention is turned to the sun as we remember the sun worshipers who looked to the object, rather than God. If the earth were suddenly deprived of the sun everything beneath would cease to exist. In Psalms, our God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly. Carbuncle, third stone, has deep purplish red color mingled with scarlet. The word Carbuncle signifies “burning coal”, given an account of its fiery appearance. It is positively electric by friction, and affects the magnetic needle. From its general description it brings to mind the fiery judgment of the Lord that burns against all injustice and unrighteousness.
Emerald is the fourth stone of the breastplate and it is the beautiful grass green. It was at one time supposed that the color was due to a mineral oxide, but an authority gives, as his conviction that an organic substance termed chlorophyll produces it. In support of this thought, the stone loses its color when subjected to heat, while those tinted by mineral oxide remain unaffected. The remarkable thing is that chlorophyll is the life giving green sap of plants and for this reason it becomes a striking emblem of eternal life. Graciously God has promised life to all who put their faith in Him. The story is told that the Czar of Russia gave his wife on her birthday Nov 26 1887 a necklace of forty large emeralds. For nine months his agents had been secretly traveling over the whole continent seeking the most precious of stones. When the wife received it, she danced around the room with supreme delight, and what a day of rejoicing it will be too when we are given the present of everlasting life.
Sapphire, the fifth stone of the breastplate is sky blue color. The Hebrew sapphire makes its identity certain for almost every language has a similar word to describe it. Its hardness is equal to that of ruby, and nearly approaches that of a diamond. The sapphire has always been considered valuable and was most highly prized by the ancient inhabitants of the East. The heavenly blue of the sapphire reminds us of God and the unchanging laws that govern the universe. The eternal safety of all things depends upon Divine faithfulness in maintaining those vast and intricate movements of the heavens. The sapphire therefore becomes an emblem of faithfulness. “Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds, “Thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. This blue had a prominent place in the sacred colors. The high priest had a blue robe and when the sacred furnishings were moved they were covered with a cloth of blue to remind the Israelites of their need of faithfully fulfilling the Divine requirements with respect to these. The sky blue of the sapphire amply illustrates the same truth, “Behold I will lay thy stones with fair colors and lay thy foundations with sapphires – 1 Tess. 5:24, also in Ezekiel “and above the firmament was the likeness of throne, as the appearance of sapphire stone.
Crystal-Beryl is the sixth stone. Yahalom, the crystal that has been translated diamond in the Authorized Version. While a true diamond is transparent, yet there is a marked difference in the two. The crystal here is a mineral. The diamond is organic origins. The crystal was at one time largely used in the manufacture of optical lenses. The ancients supposed the transparent rock crystal to be eyes that had been congealed through intense cold. To lend emphasis to this supposition, the mineral has been found in the clefts of granite rocks that rise to sharp peaks above the snow line in the Alps. So clear, so ice like were these prismatic crystals that they seemed fair enough to be considered frozen water. However it is, it may well serve as a goodly reminder of water, yet its actual substance is silica or flint. The word used in the New Testament, which stands for the same substance is Beryl one of the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. In Rev. 15:2 the saints are depicted as standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God”. This pictures a possession of lucid truths; our Lord Jesus is truth personified for a striking symbolism we go to the wilderness of Sinai, where the Israelites wandered forty years. We read of one who brought forth water out of the rock of flint. Modern research testifies that many of these rocks are composed of the same materials as the Rock Crystal under examination and which formed one of the jewels of the breastplate. Thus is brought to light a stone that represents truth.
Ligure, 7th stone, appears to be the jacinth of the New Testament. It is a reddish orange variety of zircon. Commentators vary so much with regard to its color – red, blue, orange, purple, etc. that we must look for other tokens to denote its symbolic meaning. It is distinguished from other gems on account of its possession of a strong, double refraction after the order of its tourmaline. The optical properties of such crystals are of exceptional interest. A single ray of light is split up into two rays. If, for instance, the stone is placed on a single lien, it will appear as two distinct lines. Thus a true child of God will have their blessings doubled because they have pursued a righteous course under adverse circumstances. Words are inadequate to express the inheritance awaiting the world. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him”
Agate, 8th stone of the Breastplate, is capable of a high and beautiful polish, and it is for this reason that it is so largely used for ornamentation. It is composed of sand that has been subjected to the strange fierce heats of subterranean fires. During its formation gases, chemicals and vapors enter into the substance, which result in agates of goodly variety and color. There is the Moss Agate, tree agate and star agate besides those that
are striped, branded and cloudy. Originally, agates were found near the River Achates in the volcanic region of Sicily. The word ACCHO means “heated sand”. Issachar’s name appeared in the stone and it is significant to note that Moses alludes to the tribe as “treasures hid in the sand”, which so aptly fits the production of the agate. The jewels all tell their story, and this one speaks of “treasures hid in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). It brings to light strange and extraordinary fiery experiences which changes “sand into gems of real worth.” The mankind will undergo fiery trials before attaining Eternal life. No wonder they are spoken of as jewels. They have endured much, and
great is their reward in heaven.
Amethyst –ninth stone – the beautiful violet color is due to a minute proportion of oxide of manganese. Violet or purple is a symbol of royalty. The color is due to a mixture of blue and red that means faithful until death. When mocked by the soldiers our Master was clad in a purple robe. He alone proved His worthiness as King of the earth. The Greek word for amethyst is amethustos that means, “not to intoxicate”. The ancients
believed that wine from an amethyst cup would not inebriate. The stone is the color of wine and memory goes back to the Last Supper when our Master passed the cup of wine to his disciples, saying “Drink ye all of it”. That cup represents the cup of experience, the cup of sorrow the cup of joy which each follower of God must drink and it does not cause one to lose their senses, but it brings the spirit of a sound mind.
Chrysolite, 10th stone, has been mistranslated Beryl in the Authorized Version. The word comes from Tarshish, which most ancient historians translate Chrysolite. The word literally means gold stone. It is transparent, and when cut and polished reminds one of a yellow diamond. Gold represents things divine and the additional thought of transparency suggests an understanding of spiritual truths resulting in Heavenly Wisdom. In Ezekiel, cherubic forms surrounded by wheels, wheels within wheels in appearance like unto a Chrysolie. It will be noted the similarity between the topaz and Chrysolite, the difference as indicated before is the electrical energy of the topaz. Divine Love and Divine Wisdom as revealed in the scripture bear a striking relationship. One is impossible without the other. Divine Love is warm, fervent and extremely pleasant in its drawing power. It is the sum total of God’s character. For God is Love: This is aptly illustrated by the inherent electrical energy of the topaz. Divine Wisdom on the other hand is calm and reflective, how marvelously appropriate to portray this by the tranquil Chrysolite.
Onyx is the 11th stone of the Breastplate. A pair of these stones adorned the shoulders of the High Priest as told in Exodus. The onyx is a striped stone that may be white, black and red. The ruddy variety is usually termed the sardonyx, owing to its appearance of flesh and blood. It has always been much valued for cameo engravings. The layers appear like separate stones, though actually and absolutely they are one. These layers might represent the basic truths that, while distinct from each other, are nevertheless inseparable. Wonderfully, therefore, the onyx does proclaim the taking away of the sin of the world (black) through the blood of Christ (red). Thus all people of the earth will become pure holy and righteous as shown by the emblem of white.
Now we come to the last stone (12th) in the breastplate. The Diamond – a whole study or talk within itself, but we will just get the highest points. When symmetrically cut and polished it is transformed into a gem, beautiful, valuable and lasting. It reflects light of rainbow colors that command our wonder and admiration. The extraordinary thing about this gem is that it is derived from pure carbon. In other words a diamond is a piece of crystallized charcoal. It is just like the great Creator to take hold of quite simple material and to fashion them into articles of supreme worth. His own precious jewels, His elect, are chosen from degraded humanity. He has visited the pit of sin and offered some His highest and best. Still more amazing is the knowledge that He has not drawn the so-called elite of the earth but His outstretched arm has beckoned mainly those who have been considered of little worth in human eyes. The origin of the diamond, therefore is from soft black and grimy soot, which in the Divine laboratory becomes practically the hardest of known crystals, true to the picture, the Lord’s own have been born in regions of darkness and despair but, under the power of infinite grace they are transformed into beings of strength and beauty. Psalm 96 says, “…strength and beauty are in thy sanctuary”. The more a diamond is ground down and shaped the more beautiful it becomes. The same with people the more we grind off the rough edges of our character – jealousy, hatred, and envy, etc. the more beautiful people we become. There are many stories of the diamond. Kobenorr Shah Rokh, traced back to a 56 BC., endured tortures, getting his eyes put out in order to obtain the gem as well as there is a story of Neder Shah’s novel way of obtaining the huge diamond that was in possession of Mohammad Shah. One astonishing feature of the diamond is that it may be ground to a point of infinitesimal fineness. Mr. J. R. Farrants, one time president of the Micros Optical Society, had executed upon a piece a glass the Lord’s Prayer. The writing done by a diamond was so small that the whole of it resembled a dot made by a fine pen. It needed a very delicate machine to accomplish this, and a very powerful microscope to distinguish the writing. Were the whole of the New Testament written in this manner the space occupied would be about the size of a small thumbnail. Thus Gods precious jewels will comprehend thing great and small. Recall, for instance, the minute formations that make up organisms. Think of the marvel of brain structure. Millions and millions of impressions stored in a small space. Let us all be refined as purest gold. These jewels were embedded in gold in this breastplate – gold represent the divine nature. Let us all put on the breastplate of Christ righteousness. For God is love and it has been well expressed that as “every lovely hue is light, so every grace is love, so let us be as jewels in the sight of the Lord.