Friday, January 15, 2010

The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Jasper

It's notable that the exact identity of a few stones mentioned in Exodus 28 and Revelation 21 are uncertain and differ from translation to translation. Since many of the stones are now contemporary birthstones, I will highlight them in the months in which they correspond, not necessarily in the order they are mentioned in scripture. It's also notable that the number 12 (the number of perfection in government, and completion) is a key theme throughout these particular posts.

The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Jasper

Jasper is an ornamental rock composed mostly of chalcedony, microcrystalline quartz, in association with other minerals, which give it colorful bands and patterns. Jasper was a favorite gem in the ancient world; its name can be traced back in Hebrew, Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Latin. Jasper is often named according to its pattern: landscape jasper, the most popular, offers a small panorama in stone. Ribbon jasper, picture jasper, and orbicular jasper are the names of other varieties. Jasper is found in many countries. It is sometimes used to create bowls and other objects and to adorn buildings, such as the Saint Wenceslas Chapel in Prague.

It's interesting that this stone which is mentioned last (of twelve stones) to be placed in the breastplate of Aaron in Exodus, is mentioned first (of twelve stones) in the foundation of the walls of the New Jerusalem in Revelation.

This reminds of Jesus' teaching from Matthew 20:16 NIV in which He stated "the last will be first and the first will be last." Because Jasper can take on so many different patterns and names, it reminds me of what Jesus said in John 8:58 NIV "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!" Just like so many different patterns, Jesus is the answer to so many different needs; when we say "Lord, I need...(fill in the blank), Jesus says "I Am...(the answer to whatever is in the blank). Just like so many different names, Jesus is known as Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, Star out of Abraham, Lamb of God, Son of Man and on and on. And just like Jasper, Jesus was First (as God in Heaven) - became Last (as man on earth) - and now is First again (at the right hand of the Father).
Jasper represented the tribe of Benjamin (of the 12 tribes of Israel) in the breastplate of the High Priest Aaron when God established the Old Covenant Church, and represents Peter (of the 12 apostles & Matthew 16:18) in the first of 12 foundations of the walls in the New Jerusalem in God's establishment of the New Covenant Church of which Jesus is The Great High Priest. Jasper's placement in both the breastplate and the foundations makes it a cornerstone.

In a day and age when we consider many stones much more precious than jasper, is it any wonder God does not?

NEXT POST: Amethyst and The First Miracle remix

Friday, January 1, 2010

Garnet, Grain, and Light

Welcome to the 2010 edition of JG&J. If you're a regular reader you've figured out that I post on the 1st and the 15th of each month. If you're not a regular, now you know the plan too. I covet your comments and thoughts and hope you choose to follow along as together we learn more about jewelry, gems, and Jesus.

Garnet, Grain, and Light

Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January. Most folks think of garnet as a dark red stone with some hint of brown hue. Fact is garnet comes in every hue of color except blue, and can also display characteristics like asterism (stars) and even color change between certain lights. Garnets are quite sturdy and resistant to everyday wear and tear, and uncomplicated to work into jewelry. Another point in favor of garnets is their high refraction of light, the reason for the amazing brilliance of garnets. The shape of the rough crystal is also interesting. Garnet, after all, means something like "the grainy” and is derived from the Latin word "granum” meaning "grain”. This refers to the typically rounded shape of garnet and also reminds of the seeds of the pomegranate.

Garnets are found in jewelry from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras. Many courageous discoverers and travelers wore garnets for protection, as they were considered popular talismans and protective stones, because it was believed in those days that garnets illuminate the night and prevent their wearer from any sort of evil. Today science explains to us that the proverbial luminosity of garnet is caused by its high refraction of light.

When I consider these characteristics of garnet, they remind me of things Jesus taught about grain and light. In Mark 4:14-21 NIV Jesus tells the parable of the how the Gospel is spread like grain seed. Verses 14-20 reveal how the farmer (that's all us Christians) sows the Word (Gospel, seed). Sometimes the (Gospel) seed finds soil that is rocky or thorny and does not grow to make grain. Sometimes the (Gospel) seed finds good soil, takes root and produces a bumper crop. Verse 21 reveals that when we receive a lamp (light) that we shouldn't hide it away only for our personal benefit, but that we put that light on a stand so that others may be illuminated. These verses are simply saying to us: Go, Tell, and Teach (Matthew 28:19-20)NIV; Share with others what has been freely given to me and you...the Grace and Salvation of Jesus Christ.
Garnet, whose name means "grain" and has a wonderful ability to greatly spread (refract) light should serve as a reminder to to all who claim the name of Christ to spread the Word, and to shine the Light.

NEXT POST: **The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Jasper

**The Gems of Exodus and Revelation will be presented in twelve monthly installments and will explore the similarities between the stones in the ephod (breastplate) of Aaron and the stones of the New Jerusalem, and their relation to Jesus.