Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Jacinth

Let me say on the outset that this was an extremely difficult study given the limited amount of information on both the (original) gem of jacinth and the apostle Simon (the Zealot). But lack of information doesn't mean there's nothing to learn.

Jacinth is one of the few stones mentioned in both the breastplate of Aaron in Exodus chapter 28 and in the foundations of the New Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 21. The Jacinth mentioned in both cases is not the modern (reddish-orange) jacinth, but a blue stone. In Revelation 9: 17 the color of the breastplates of jacinth worn by the horsemen is likened to ‘sapphire’(NRSV). Jacinth is from the Greek word "hyacinth", which is a flower that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is also a name given to a variety of zircon, a precious stone of that flower's color (under oxidizing heat treatment, zircon can range in color from reddish-blue or deep-purple to yellow).

Of the twelve stones in the breastplate of Aaron, Jacinth was the first stone in the third row and represented the tribe of Ephraim. Jacinth will decorate the 11th foundation of the New Jerusalem and represent the apostle Simon (the Zealot).

The tribe of Ephraim was powerful among the other tribes. Shiloh was located in land belonging to the tribe of Ephraim and for a time was home to the Ark of the Covenant. When the ark was removed from Shiloh to Zion the power of Ephraim was humbled. From the settlement of Canaan until the time of David and Solomon, Ephraim had held the place of honor among the tribes. When Jerusalem became the capital of the kingdom, and the center of power and worship for the whole nation of Israel, Ephraim declined in influence.

Let's take a look at Jacinth's placement in the breastplate of Aaron, first in the third row.
In scripture, one, ('ehad' in Hebrew) represents unity and is the quintessential number of monotheism, the worship of one God. This concept of 'one' as a unity of one God is expressed in the opening lines of the first profession of faith found in Deuteronomy 6:4 which reads: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one."(NIV)
'One' as a number symbolizes Unity. The number 1 is indivisible and not made up of any other number representing the unity of the One true God in which there is no division. One as an ordinal number denotes primacy, sovereignty, divine completeness or perfection. Christians recognized the number "one" in Scripture as symbolic of the First Person of the Most Holy Trinity, God the Father.
In scripture the number 3 represents that which is solid, real, substantial, and something in its completeness. This number usually indicates something of importance or significance in God's plan of salvation by identifying an important event in Salvation History. This number operates as a "sign-post" in Scripture study for the reader to "pay attention" to the significance of the next event.
Perhaps Jacinth's placement in the breastplate suggests more of what was to come than what was at the time.

Simon the Zealot, (probably given this moniker in order to distinguish him from Simon Peter) may be the most obscure of all the twelve apostles, and that's saying something, given how little some of them have to do in the gospels. Simon the Zealot appears in all the lists of twelve apostles in the synoptic gospels and in Acts (1:13), but that's it. No dialogue or acts are attributed to him anywhere in the gospels, in Acts, or in any of the epistles of the New Testament. The gospels also don't say anything about his background before becoming an apostle or the circumstances under which Jesus called him. But there must be a reason he was called "the zealot". Perhaps he held fast to the scripture that "The Lord our God, The Lord is One", and had difficulty reasoning that Jesus WAS God, and Jesus WAS man. Perhaps he was more like Thomas, doubtful. It's difficult to imagine anyone more 'zealous' than Simon Peter concerning a love for Jesus, but perhaps Simon the Zealot was given to even more enthusiasm than Peter.

I'm afraid we may not know anything conclusive until we are with Jesus in eternity.

NEXT POST: Emerald and Life

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Diamonds and The Real Thing

This post is a remix from June 2009

Diamonds and The Real Thing

There are diamonds and then there are diamond simulants. Diamond simulants are known by names like Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (a.k.a. YAG), Strontium Titanate, Synthetic Rutile, Synthetic Spinel, Cubic Zirconia, and most recently, Moissanite. These diamond simulants all have a particular characteristic about them that easily or readily distinguishes them from a diamond. But recently (in the past 2-3 years) we have had laboratory-created diamonds introduced into the marketplace. These lab-created diamonds are extremely difficult to distinguish from a “natural” diamond without a strong background of experience in examining natural diamonds. The bottom line is it takes an expert to tell the difference between an imposter and the real thing.

Let’s take a look at the distinguishing characteristics of two of the previously named simulants. The easiest way to spot the difference between a diamond and cubic zirconia is to weigh it. Cubic zirconia weighs 55% more than diamonds with the same measurements. Moissanite has what is known as a “double refractive index” which means if you look at them under magnification the number of facets on the gem appear to be ‘doubled’.

Lab-created (manufacturers vehemently shun the words 'man-made') diamonds though are created using a ‘seed’ of natural diamond to grow a complete new crystal from additional carbon which is subjected to strictly controlled heat and pressure over a period of about 45 days. But even these stones can be distinguished from diamond by someone with extensive experience in dealing with ‘the real thing’.

In the gospels of Matthew (
24:5), Mark (13:6), and Luke (21:8), Jesus warns that many will come in His name and will deceive people. Jesus says there will be false Christ’s and false prophets that will perform great signs and miracles. Simulants. Imposters. People who will have taken a 'seed' of the gospel and twisted and perverted it, mixing lies and half-truths to meet their own evil means....deception.

So, how will we be able to tell the difference between the imposters (false teachers, false preachers, etc.) and “the real thing”?
We must make ourselves experts on “The Real Thing”….Jesus. How do we do that? We must read the authoritative book on “The Real Thing”….the Bible. Case in point: In most if not all of Matthew Chapter 24, Jesus Himself explains things we can look for that will tell us the difference between an imposter and The Real Thing. The entire Bible gives us word pictures of Jesus and His Love for us and also includes the characteristics that make Jesus truly unique to Him. Jesus has conquered sin AND DEATH. How about asking one of these imposters to raise himself from the grave?
Here’s an interesting comparison: The diamond derives its name from the Greek word adamas, meaning 'unconquerable'. No other gem has that name ‘adamas’, unconquerable. And there’s no other name by which we can be saved than by the name of Jesus, whom the Bible declares to be unconquerable.

Just as diamonds are the purest form of only one element (carbon), Jesus is the purest form of Love from The One and Only God. Diamonds are the hardest rock (or substance) on the earth. Jesus Christ is the Living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds (
1Peter 2:4) and the Rock of our Salvation (Psalm 95:1).
There is no real substitute for diamond, and certainly no substitute for The Real Thing…Jesus.

NEXT POST: The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Jacinth