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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:
The high priest wore a white linen tunic, white linen pants, and a turban on his head which was also made of white linen. The white linen of these garments symbolized the righteousness of Christ. Christ's Righteousness is given as the covering of every saved, child of God:
Revelation 19:8 "And to her (the Bride of Christ) was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."Over the white linen tunic, the high priest wore a blue robe. The blue robe symbolized the Law of God and obedience to it. Christ, our Heavenly High Priest, perfectly obeyed every part of the Law of God. This is why we can truly say that He was sinless (for sin is transgression of the Law - 1 John 3:4). God's people were also to make "fringes" of blue to wear upon the "borders" of their clothes. This was to be a constant reminder of the Law of God, and to encourage the wearer to obey its Principles:
Isaiah 61:10 "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD (Yahweh), 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..."
Numbers 15:38-40 "Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the Commandments of the LORD (Yahweh), and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all My Commandments, and be holy unto your God."Sanctified living involves obedience to the Will of God and loyalty to His Law.
The high priest also wore an ephod made of embroidered red, blue, and purple threads. These colors signified the Blood of Christ, shed for the remission of our sins (red), the Law of God and our Covenant with Him (blue), and royalty (purple) - for we are all called to be kings and priests in our Father's Service, after the Example of Christ.
Upon the high priest's forehead was a golden crown, or mitre, which was engraved with the words "Holiness unto Yahweh". This is a reminder of the importance of guarding our thoughts and keeping God as the center of our minds.
Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy Sight, O LORD (Yahweh), my Strength, and my Redeemer."At the hem of the high priest's robe was a fringe upon which hung bells and pomegranates. The tinkling of the bells was a symbol of keeping always in a state of praise to God (Psalm 34:1).
The pomegranates symbolize the Statutes, which are contained in the Law of God (Genesis-Deuteronomy). In Hebrew thought, a pomegranate contained 613 seeds, which represent the 613 Statutes found in the Torah. Just as a Grace-filled obedient life bears sweet fruit, from walking in harmony with the Statutes, so a pomegranate traditionally contains 613 kernels of sweet fruit.
Finally, upon the high priest's breastplate, there were twelve gemstones, one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel:
Exodus 28:15-21 "aAnd 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.
Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. 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. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.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."
Leslie Harding, in his book Stones of Fire did an excellent job researching the breastplate stones and discovering what each stone would have looked like. This research was important because the old English words found in the KJV Bible do not accurately call to mind the correct gemstone to which that name referred in the 1600's (when the KJV) was written. Based upon Harding's well-documented research, portrayed in this book, the image on the right shows what color the stones were and how they were placed in the high priest's breastplate.
Notably, these are the same stones which appear in the foundation of the New Jerusalem, as it says in Revelation. Each of the 12 stones bears a Heavenly Message, conveyed in both the name of the stone, its tribal ensign and the name of the son of Jacob which the stone represents.
This 12-point Message is reiterated in the sky. The 12 cardinal constellations were designed by God to correspond to the ensigns and prophetic messages of the 12 tribes of Israel. So, God has repeated this amazing 12-point Message in the following venues:
- SONS OF JACOB - The names of the 12 sons of Jacob have prophetic meanings
- 12 TRIBE'S ENSIGNS - The 12 tribes of Israel had tribal ensigns (symbols, which appeared on their tribe's flags) - all of which came from Jacob's death-bed prophecy to his sons
- CONSTELLATIONS - The 12 cardinal constellations correspond to the 12 tribes of Israel, echoing their prophetic Message
- BREASTPLATE STONES - 12 stones were set in the high priest's breastplate, representing each of the 12 tribes, and echoing the prophetic Message to each tribe.
- FOUNDATION STONES - the 12 foundation stones of the New Jerusalem are these same stones. The form the foundation of the New Jerusalem, because all who dwell there will be overcomers, who have heeded God's 12-point Message, and have experienced these sanctifying steps (by God's Grace).
Genesis 49:1 "And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the Last Days."
How to read the above chart (each column is a different tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel):
- Top Row - the name of the tribe (12 sons of Jacob) appears on the top row.
- Second Row - The ensign, or symbol of that tribe appears on the second row.
- Third Row - The third row shows the name of the tribe in Hebrew, as it appeared on the breastplate stone.
- Fourth Row - The fourth row shows the breastplate stone which represented that given tribe.
- Fifth Row - the Constellation which goes with that tribe.
- Sixth Row - the original Hebrew name of that constellation.
REUBEN - Ruby Stone - We are called to be Overcomers, by God's Grace
The Ruby is formed from clay. Under heat and pressure it is transformed into a gem.
Sir Walter Raleigh records that the Jews anciently believed that a Ruby was hung within Noah’s Ark to give light to all within. (History of the World).
Our word “Ruby” comes from the Sanskrit word “Rudhira” meaning “blood”.
The Ruby is far too hard to take an engraving. However, when a magnifying lens reflects the hot sun onto it for several hours it becomes soft enough to take a beautiful impression without any damage. (Precious Stones, p 226)
It is considered more valuable than a diamond of similar weight. (De Gemmis, p 104)
Just as the Ruby is not suited to engraving until it is heated, so, we cannot carry the insignia of Christ to the world until we have tasted the refining fires of trials. Then, we who have been covered in Yahshua’s Blood, and transformed, may bear the Name and message of salvation to a sin-sick world. It is a message of Christ’s transforming Power – and the value He places upon the soul of the overcomer.
Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.”
SIMEON - Sapphire stone - Obedience to God's Law is Part of being His Sons
The Sapphire represents “the colour of the blue sky at the height of noon, a type of the fulfillment of all joy and love in heaven.” (Heraldry, by Ruskin)
The Sapphire is a reminder that “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His Handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
God’s glorious Throne, when seen by Ezekiel, appeared with the same ethereal blue of the Sapphire. (Ezekiel 1:26; 10:1)
The Jews believe that the original tables of the Law were made of Sapphire. The religious significance of this stone is “emblematic of God’s throne, His dwelling place, His law, His character, and His love for mankind.” (Stones of Fire, by Leslie Hardinge)
Like the high value Heaven places on the transformed life, the Sapphire is the rarest of gems. When first found it is encrusted with earth which must be removed. This represents the cutting and polishing process we must endure in order to reflect heavenly loveliness. Once cut and polished it is among the most beautiful of precious stones. The Sapphire points to the throne of Grace, the law of God, and the high calling to which we are enabled to attain when the Holy Spirit is allowed to work in our lives.
The Sapphire reminds us of our calling to be part of the final Elijah team. This is the group who will call the world to “remember the law,” as it says in Malachi 4.
1 John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”
LEVI - Jacinth Stone - Endure the Refiner's Fire
When held up to the light, Jacinth looks like “petrified honey”. “Jacinth” is derived from the Persian word “Jacut”, meaning yellow or flame-colored. Jacinth is also known as “Zircon” meaning “golden” Jacinth is colored by minute quantities of Iron Oxide. Sunlight fades the stone. In fact, when heated for a long time, the stone will completely loose all color and appear as a diamond. (London Lapidary)
Jacinth, or Zircon is made up of Silica (common sand), and Zirconia (a more rare substance). It is brilliant and resembles the diamond in luster. Jacinth is brittle and can easily break.
Spiritually, we also start out as common sand, but when the lovely and rare Yahshua is added to our life, we are transformed, just as Jacinth is changed by the adding of the rare Zirconia.
While dazzling, the stone is brittle, just as we possess the brittleness and glitter of human values. We still need the Refiner’s Fire. But, like the stone, as we are repeatedly passed through the fire, we are strengthened and lose our former brittleness. Then we become transparent, reflecting and revealing only the loveliness of the Saviour.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 - "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
JUDAH - Sardius stone - We are transformed by the Blood of the Lamb
The word “Carnelian” is the Latinized version of the “Sardius”. It literally means “raw (red) flesh”.
“The Carnelian’s superior variety is the Sard.” Diamonds and Precious Stones Carnelian is chemically identical to sand, with one exception. The same iron oxide that colors blood, gives the stone its blood-red hue.
The color of this gem is heightened by exposure to the sun. It is capable of taking on a very high polish.
Once engraved, the Carnelian is so wear-resisting that 3,000-4,000 years later the insignia upon it is still plain. (By comparison, most harder stones will wear and their polish dull with time)
Like us, spiritually, the Carnelian starts out as mere sand. It is chemically transformed through the addition of water and iron. It is the iron that colors blood. This stone reminds of our calling to intercede for our fellowman. We are to call all who hear to repentance.
But, there is more. In the message of the stone name, “raw flesh, and bloodied,” also points to sacrifice of Yahshua’s martyrs. This bloody stone reminds all who come to God that we must shine for Him no matter the cost.
Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
ZEBULUN - Emerald Stone - We are called to be Fishers of Men
When cut with a plane surface, the emerald reflects objects like a mirror.
The emerald also has magnifying qualities. Nero watched the gladitorial combats through a lens made of an emerald. The German term “Brille” meaning “spectacles” was applied to this gem. Hence it is also known as Beryl. (Stones of Fire)
When an emerald is first found, it is encrusted with red iron oxide. It looks as though it was melted on it.
The Emerald, when first unearthed is covered in red iron oxide. So we, before we can reach mankind must be fully covered in the blood of Christ. Named and colored for the sea, this stone reminds the people of God that they are being called to be people of the sea, "fisher's of men", and those who offer a spiritual safe haven for shipwrecked lives.
Matthew 4:19 "And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
ISSACHAR - Peridot stone - Be Patient and You Will Receive the Promise
Its green hue has earned it the nickname “evening emerald”. The Peridot, while found near Egypt and the Red Sea is most notably found in meteorites. (Stones of Fire)
The green color of the Peridot and its presence in meteorites remind us of the green pastures that await in Eternity and the Heavenly focus we must maintain. As the stone takes a while to polish, so God’s work in our lives often seems slow and painstaking. Yet if we will remain submitted in the hands of the Master Jeweler, we will gleam brightly at last.
Because our spiritual eyes our focused on that promised Eternity and the green Pastures of the Kingdom, all that we will endure while here is borne patiently.
Hebrews 10:35-37 "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the Promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.“
DAN - Topaz stone - By Reflecting Christ's Character, we draw others to Him
Topaz means “to break in pieces, or to subdue”. Chrysolite is another name for Topaz. This name means “golden stone”. Topaz in Sanskrit is “Tapas”, meaning “fire” or “heat”. Topaz feels warm to the touch when exposed to the sun. Topaz must be handled with great care for it can easily be broken. When rubbed, the Topaz becomes electrified and magnetic. (Stones of Fire).
This stone reminds us again of the importance of passing through God’s Refining Fire. Only then, will we shine forth with the pure gold characters that He is calling us to display. But, within this stone is also a promise. Because the stone, like us, can be easily broken by careless cutting, the Heavenly Father carefully filters all that He allows us to experience. Lovingly He shields us from anything that would be too much. As He promises us in
1 Corinthians 10:13 “…God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Like the Topaz, which is warm after having been in the sun, so our lives will radiate heavenly warmth to those around us. Also, like the Topaz, because we have been “rubbed” or in close contact, with our precious Saviour, we are spiritually magnetized to draw others to Him.
John 12:32 “12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me."
GAD - Sardonyx Stone -Be Transformed by the Renewing of your Mind
O’er jetty black the brilliant white is spread,And o’er the white diffused a fiery red…The man of humble heart and modest face,And purest soul the Sardonyx should grace.”
(Marbodus, quoted in Stones of Fire)
According to the ancient gem expert, Tacitus, “Sardonxy is from the Hebrew word “Yahalom” meaning “to strike” or “to give a blow”. It is from the root “Shamir” meaning “a point or thorn”. “It is a triple gem, the layers of which alternate in colour, and all form one whole:… black; white; and red as fire.”
From more recent times, Sir Edwin Arnold explained, “The Sardonyx starts out as sand. It is then quartz. The water with its precious minerals must deposit onto the stone in just the right order for a sardonyx to be made. First the black is deposited in many successive saturations. Then the chalcedony layer is deposited, resulting in the white layer. Finally, the top layer of Carnelian is laid.”
What does this all symbolize, spiritually? In the Sardonyx we first see the black, symbolic of death and the darkness of sin. Gad must first die to sin, if he clings to the sin, it will claim his life. Yet this is just the first layer.
Upon this rests, completely covering it, the white Chalcedony. Just as the purifying grace of Christ so completely changes us that our old ways of sin are no longer discernible, so the white completely covers the former black.
Finally, on top comes the red of the Sard. Tinged slightly with the golden hue of faith, the red speaks of the sacrifice through love. We find transformation and salvation through our Saviour, Yahshua.
Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, Will of God."
ASHER - Onyx stone - He Who is Forgiven Much Loves Much
The lesson we can learn from the onyx is a warning. Our natures cause us to be easily dyed (influenced) and colored by the world. But, if we become tainted by its influence, we will no longer have Heavenly value.
Also, we lose our intensity without heat. And the heat is something we endure because of our loyalty to our dear Lamb, remembering the nails He took for us.
Luke 7:47 "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."
1 John 2:15 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
NAPHTALI - Jasper Stone - Hope in God
Jasper is actually a transliteration of the Hebrew, as are the Greek iaspis (Rev 21:19) and the Latin jaspis. Viewing the glory of the New Jerusalem John exclaimed: "her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal" (Rev 21:11, 18.) But the stone we generally call jasper today cannot possibly be thought of as "clear as crystal," it is opaque. The stone which we think of when we see the word Jasper, is not the same as the stone associated with this name anciently.
"The ancient jasper and beryl were often confounded and mistaken for emerald. They were considered almost as valuable. . . . Its general color is green.“ The finest jasper came from India. A perfectly transparent specimen, however, was most uncommon. Oriental jasper was described as a "very translucent, rich leaf-green stone.“ This is the color used on the breastplate.
Green was the color in which God clothed the earth at creation (Gen l:11, 29). It universally calls attention to spring and life. A green oasis in the desert is always found near water (Isa 41:17-20), and to green pastures the Good Shepherd leads His flock (Ps 23:2). The Saviour promises that "in old age" the righteous "shall be fat and green." (Ps 92:14, margin).
The Psalmist exulted at the prospect of being "like a green olive-tree in the house of God" (Ps 52:8) through the Lord's blessing. Green is the color of growth, life, hope and immortality.
Jasper, the color of hope and eternal life is the reminder to keep our eyes on the eternal. Thus, we have great hope. As David said in
Psalm 16:8-9 “I have set the LORD (Yahweh) always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
JOSEPH / MANASSEH- Agate stone - Be Whole-hearted (Perfect) in love for God
“Agate” comes from the word “Acka” or “Acho” meaning “heated sand”. Truly the agate is heated sand, for it starts as sand and is transformed into a geode through igneous action. Agates come in every conceivable color, however the most precious are the dark Lapis hue. (Stones of Fire) This is why the dark blue stone was used in the breastplate.
When first found, Agates are covered with rough earth and rocks. They are rounded nodules or geodes. These geodes fall out of the decomposing rocks in which they originally formed and are washed down by the mountain streams to be deposited in the river gravel. (Stones of Fire)
Because of the unassuming environment and how hidden these stones are, finding them requires some tenacity. This stone shows us the loving search our Saviour goes through in seeking out men whose hearts will be fully turned to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 “ For the eyes of the LORD (Yahweh) run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him..”
What Yahweh is searching for among mankind is shown in the color of this stone. He is seeking hearts that are “perfect toward Him.” What characteristics do such hearts reveal? Loyalty to Yahweh’s Law.
Hebrews 10:16-17 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
BENJAMIN - Amethyst Stone - We are Called to Live Soberly as Kings & Priests
According to Leslie Harding in his book Stones of Fire, “Amethyst comes from the root word “Achlamah” meaning “to recover from sickness, to grow fat or to flourish.” In all languages, Amethyst is toted as the antidote for wine. Perhaps this myth was started by its color. Amethysts come in many colors. Purple is the finest. This is the color that was used on the breastplate.
Because the Amethyst is not rare, it is no longer rated highly among gems. Still, in the ancient times, Amethyst was known as the “gem of Venus” because of its beauty. As the stone deepened in color, it lost its brilliance. Thus the ancients preferred the lighter tinted stones.
The Amethyst was heralded as an anti-intoxicant. So, we must walk soberly along the path to life. We must only be watchful and sober in our own walks with God, but we must call others out of their drunken condition having partaken of the wine of Babylon. This is the work of God’s end-time priests and kings. As purple color is the color of royalty, this stone reminds that we are called to be “kings and priests” a holy and set apart people.
Psalm 24:3-4 “Who shall ascend into the Hill of the LORD (Yahweh)? Or who shall stand in His holy Place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD (Yahweh), and righteousness from the God of his Salvation.”
Revelation 5:9-10 "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."