Let us consider for a little the precious gems of Scripture, taking as our first reference Ezekiel 28:12–19. In this chapter, God is speaking through the prophet to the wicked prince of Tyrus, but from verse 12 the King of Tyrus, another person, is addressed. Of this person it is said, “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering.”
Who was this that was in the Garden of Eden? Not the prince of Tyre, nor yet is it Adam that is indicated here: it was none other than Satan, who had the precious stones mentioned, and who walked amidst their fire, which expresses their brilliance. This great being is addressed as the “Covering cherub,” most beautiful of created beings, with authority over angelic hosts, but being lifted up with pride he aspired to the throne of God, but God cast him from his eminence and stripped him of his glory.
There were nine precious stones in the covering of this “Anointed cherub,” but twelve in the breastplate with which the High Priest was provided, as described in Exodus 28:15–21; and how beautiful it was, its every feature expressing the glories of the Lord. It was made of “exquisite work,” of great skill and beauty, for it was designed to express the features of Him who is the embodiment of all wisdom, beauty and perfection.
“Thou shalt make it of gold, of blue, of purple, of scarlet and of fine twined linen shalt thou make it.”
Gold is a wonderful metal, precious, and when pure not readily stained by the atmosphere. How fitting, then, that gold should have been chosen to symbolize what pertained to One who is divine. The Lord Jesus was not defiled by any of His contacts with man; no matter what atmosphere, what circumstances He was found in, He remained untainted, pure and holy.
The blue speaks to us of the heavenly character of the Son of God; the scarlet of His kingly glory; the purple, a blending of blue and red, of the heavenly One who will rule as Son of Man. As in the veil, the purple is interposed between the blue and the scarlet, showing that while the glories of the Lord are distinct, they are yet merged and inseparable. The mounting was of fine twined linen, speaking of the Lord’s perfect life on earth, giving a beautiful pattern, pure, white and even, without a blemish. He was the Lamb of God, without blemish and without spot, and God is careful to preserve the purity of His well-beloved Son in every symbol used to present Him to us.
The breastplate was foursquare, speaking of Christ’s universal authority; it was double, indicating the strength and power that lay behind His authority; its measure was a span—the measure of a man, for Jesus our Lord was perfect Man though very God. The precious stones were set in enclosures of pure gold, for every glory of Christ is secured in relation to what He is as essentially divine. Now let us consider the precious stones of the breastplate, which set forth the varied glories of Christ.
The Sardius is a red stone, which represents the Lord to us as “The Prince of Joy.” There was joy at His advent into this world, the angels from heaven announcing His birth as “Glad tidings of great joy.” And how great is the joy that has been brought to the multitudes who have come to know Him as Savior and Lord! He said to His disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
The Topaz is a stone of yellow luster. The yellow, or sodium ray, reflects the maximum of light, and is the life-supporting ray, speaking of Him who said, “I am the Light of the world,” and of whom John wrote, “The true Light was that which, coming into the world lightens every man.” The meaning of the name on this stone is “recompense”; and what recompense there was for the Father, who spared His Son from His side, to find Him perfectly accomplishing His will, so that He could open the heavens and announce, “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
The Carbuncle is a flashing red stone which speaks of the moral glories which were revealed in the life of the Lord Jesus on earth, and which will be displayed in His millennial kingdom. The meaning of the name on the carbuncle is “dwelling in”; and are not the moral features of Christ found in those in whom He dwells?
The Emerald is an apple-green stone, referred to in Revelation 4, where the rainbow round about the throne is “in sight like unto an emerald.” Amidst the divine glories of that heavenly scene there is the remembrance of God’s covenant with the earth. When the Lord Jesus comes from heaven He will not only be displayed in His Father’s glory, but will be seen as Son of David, and King of kings and Lord of lords; all the glory of the kingdoms of the earth will be His. The name on the stone is “pervading”; and His glory then will pervade the whole universe.
The Sapphire has an intense blue color, suggesting the heavenly glories of Christ. Scripture tells us that “The second Man is the Lord from heaven,” and “As is the heavenly [One], such are they also that are heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:47, 48), for the saints take character from the Lord Jesus. The children of Israel were bidden to bind “a ribband of blue” on the borders of their garments, which signifies that the saints should be marked by the heavenly features of the life of Christ in their every step as they pass through this world. The meaning of the name on the sapphire is “set apart,” and how blessedly it speaks of the Lord Jesus as wholly set apart for His Father’s will, while here on earth, and also now in heaven. In addressing the Father in John 17, the Son said, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”
The Diamond is a clear stone which owes its brilliancy to its quality for transmitting and reflecting light when cut and polished, and speaks of Him in whom the light of God shone undimmed, the transparent light that fully revealed God in His nature of love. The name on this stone means “troop” or “great company”; and through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus there has been secured and brought to light a mighty company, purchased for Himself to be the bride of His heart.
The Ligure (or the opal) had on it the name “double fruit.” How rich and how varied are the colors seen in this precious stone; and how rich and diverse were the traits of the heavenly life manifested in the Son of God in Manhood, and how richly and profusely His glories shine from the place in which God has glorified Him. “Much fruit” has been procured through Christ’s death (John 12:24); fruit for His God and Father, in those who are like Himself, the many sons; and for Himself He has a bride, who will soon be seen at His side, all glorious, without spot or wrinkle or any such things.
The Agate is a variegated stone, at once reminding us of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Joseph was a lovely type of the Lord Jesus, and the name Pharaoh gave him has been interpreted as “the revealer of secrets,” and “the savior of the world.” In Jesus there have been displayed all the lovely features of the divine nature, and all the wonderful secrets of God’s heart. The name on this stone is “forgetfulness,” reminding us again of Joseph, who called his son Manasseh: “For God,” said he, “hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” And how wonderful is the compensation for Christ who, for the present, is separated from His earthly people, Israel, receiving the church from the Father as His love-gift.
The Amethyst is the first stone on the third row, that is on the left, for the Hebrew order is from right to left. None of the stones in this row were included in the adornment of the king of Tyrus. The amethyst is purple, and reminds us that men, in mockery, clothed the Son of Man in purple. But the Son of Man will soon be displayed in the glory set forth in the purple, and every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. “Gift” is the meaning of this stone’s name, recalling to us that He was the One that God gave for the salvation of men. But He has received a gift from the Father and speaks of His own as “those whom Thou hast given me.”
The Beryl is sea-green, and leads our minds to thoughts of pastures, restfulness and peace. When we think of the Lord as the Good Shepherd leading his sheep into green pastures, where they sit down in peace to rest under His protection, we realize something of what is indicated in the beryl. The name on the stone means “subduing,” and the One we know as the Good Shepherd will yet “shepherd all nations with an iron rod” (Revelation 12:5), subduing all evil, establishing peace, even as it is written of Him, “A King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment.”
The Onyx is a precious stone in which the different colors appear as layers, each having its own distinct attraction, yet blending with all the others. And is it not so with the glories of Christ? Whether we read such Scriptures as John 1, Colossians 1 or Hebrews 1, in all there are wonderful presentations of the distinctive glories of the Son of God, yet all blend to present to us His glorious Person, in His majesty, greatness and excellency. The meaning of this stone is “flashing splendor,” and as we read the Scriptures referred to, do we not see the outshining of the splendor of Christ’s glories?
The Jasper directs us to the Scriptures in the Revelation where it is used to set forth divine glory. In Revelation 4 there is the vision of the throne of God, and He “that sat was to look upon like a jasper”; and in Revelation 22, the glory of God shining in the heavenly city is “like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” How wonderful is the privilege given to the church to bear in display the divine glory of the Millennial age. The meaning of the name of the jasper is “strength”; and how great is the strength of Him who sits upon the throne; who upholds all things by the word of His power, and who will sustain all in the coming kingdom.
In all, there are twelve stones in the breastplate, this number symbolizing the great administration that has been given to the Son of God. Connected with the breastplate were the Urim and Thummim, which mean “Lights and Perfections”; and which express the blessed perfections of Him in whom the mind and will of God are found, who upheld God’s claims in life and death, and who will sustain all rule in His universal government in the coming day.