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Precious Stones of the Bible*

*(This is not a thorough study of the precious stones of the Bible, but it is limited to those stones that represent Jesus as per our study.)

Exodus 28:15-21
15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
16 Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row.
18 And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
19 And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.
21 And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.

     "And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone:..." (Revelation 4:3a).  The first mentioning of these precious stones in the Bible is found in Exodus 28:17-20, and as we just read, it has to do with the stones in Aaron's breastplate--each stone representing one of Jacob's 12 sons, and subsequently, the tribe that came from their loins. 

     To understand the significance of Christ looking like a jasper and a sardine stone, we need to refresh our memory as to how Jacob's two wives, Leah and Rachel, serve as types.  If you'll recall the story of Jacob's marriages, Jacob had worked for Rachel's father seven years for Rachel's hand in marriage, but was tricked into first taking her older sister, Leah, to wife to fulfill the custom of the time and place.  Then he was given Rachel on the condition that he would work seven more years for her (See Gen. 29).  The story is chock full of symbolism and types, but for our purposes here, we simply need to know that Leah is a type for the Law while Rachel is a type for Grace.  Furthermore, Leah's first child (of many) was Reuben whose stone on Aaron's breastplate was the sardine (sardius)--the first stone on the breastplate.  But Rachel had only two sons: Joseph and Benjamin--whose stones were the onyx (sardonyx) and the jasper--the eleventh and twelfth stones on Aaron's breastplate.  That the Christ of Revelation was to look upon like a sardine stone and a jasper stone refers back to the stones on Aaron's breastplate. 

Reuben's stone, the sardine, was placed first in agreement with the Hebrew's patriarchal blessing of the first born for which Christ was qualified--being the firstborn of a Hebrew family under the law of Moses.  Joseph's and Benjamin's stones, the onyx and the jasper, (the children of Rachel [grace]) were place on Aaron's breastplate in positions 11 and 12 respectively according to Scriptural numerology.  

Although Revelation does not refer to Joseph's stone per se, it is very interesting that like Benjamin, he was also born of "grace."  Joseph served both as an example for the Hebrews and a type for Christ.  As an example for the Hebrews, he demonstrated how that those who lived by the faith of Father Abraham, trusting fully in the grace of God, were blessed beyond measure.  As a type of Christ, he suffered the rejection of his brethren who thought they had done away with him.  He endured all that came his way, not riling against those who thought to do him evil.  Eventually, he was raised to a position even higher than what he should have had as a Hebrew; and in that position, he became the savior of his brethren and of the world around him.  In Biblical numerology, the number eleven stands for judgment/the cross.

Benjamin's stone, the jasper, was placed in the 12th position on Aaron's breastplate and this is full of significance.  The number 12 stands for the foundations of the church (called out ones).  The first church in the Bible was Israel and its 12 foundations are the 12 sons of Jacob from which came forth the 12 tribes of Israel.   The second Church of the Scriptures (2 is the number for the Church) is the New Testament Church, the Bride of Christ (His Rachel).  Benjamin with his twelfth stone on Aaron's breastplate is a type of the New Testament Church who was especially loved of his father and for no apparent reason other than he was his father's baby.  The 12 foundations for the Church are the 12 Apostles upon whose teachings the Church is built. Christ is said to "look upon like a jasper" because He is in the midst of the Grace-Age Church.  In fact, the believer is admonish to live like Paul whose goal was to live in such a way that others did not see him, but Christ Jesus living in him. 

The emerald is also full of spiritual/prophetic significance.  To understand this significance, let's look at a table of the precious stones that represent the 24 elders of Revelation (the 12 plus 12 of Biblical numerology: i.e., the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles).

The twelve Tribes----stone on Aaron's breastplate----The Twelve Apostles--stone in the foundation of the New Jerusalem
(For order, see Gen. 49.)                (See Ex. 28; 39)                              (For order, see Mt. 10.)                          (See Rev. 21)
1. Reuben (Leah)          Sardius (sardine)--first                       1. Peter                             Jasper
2. Simeon (Leah)          Topaz                                                2. Andrew                        Sapphire                            
3. Levi     (Leah)           Carbuncle                                          3. James (of Zebedee)           Chalcedony
4. Judah   (Leah)           Emerald                                             4. John                             Emerald
5. Dan     (Bilhah)          Sapphire                                            5. Philip                             Sardonyx
6. Naphtali (Bilhah)       Diamond                                            6. Bartholomew                 Sardius
7. Gad   (Zilpah)            Jacinth                                                7. Thomas                         Chrysolyte
8. Asher (Zilpah)          Agate                                                  8. Matthew                       Beryl                     
9. Issachar (Leah)        Amethyst                                             9. James                          Topaz
10. Zebulun (Leah)       Beryl                                                  10. Lebbaeus (Thaddaeus)     Chrysoprasus
11. Joseph (Rachel)     Onyx  (Sardonyx)                                  11. Simon                         Jacinth
12. Benjamin (Rachel)  Jasper                                                12. Paul*                           Amethyst

Let's note first that the emerald is the only stone that occupies the same position in both law and grace: i.e., the fourth position.  Let's note that the number four speaks to the earth.  Also, let's note that both Judah and John had a very important attribute in common--they had compassion and love for their fellow man!   For example, when Joseph's brothers threw him into the pit to die, it was Judah that talked them into selling him to a slave caravan to keep him alive.  And John's tender heart is reflected in John 13:25: "He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?"  Now, let's apply our prophetic interpretation to the emerald, the stone that represents Judah, John, and Christ. In Judah and John we saw the "salt" of the earth, those of God's creation with attributes pleasing to Him.   And in Christ Jesus (Who liked to be know as the Son of Man,  thereby identifying Himself with His Creation) we saw this love and compassion personified and demonstrated to its zenith when he walked among the people and healed the sick and afflicted. "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick" (Matthew 14:14).

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