Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Ruby & Carnelian

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.

Ruby is the red variety of corundum known as the 'King of Gemstones'. In the Sanskrit language Ruby is called 'ratnaraj', which does in fact translate as 'King of Gemstones'. The actual name 'Ruby' was derived from the Latin word 'rubens' meaning 'red'. Ruby was the first stone in the first row (a cornerstone) in the Breastplate of Aaron and represented the tribe of Judah.

Carnelian is a reddish-brown mineral which is commonly used as a semi-precious gemstone. The word carnelian is derived from the Latin word caro, carnis meaning flesh, in reference to the flesh color sometimes exhibited. Carnelian was used widely during Roman times to make engraved gems for signet or seal rings for imprinting a seal with wax on correspondence or other important documents because hot wax does not stick to Carnelian. Carnelian is a variety of the silica mineral chalcedony, colored by impurities of iron oxide. The color can vary greatly, ranging from pale orange to an intense almost-black coloration. Carnelian will decorate the sixth foundation of the New Jerusalem and represent the apostle Bartholomew.

Two interesting attributes shared by both of these gems are: 1) their membership in the trigonal crystal system, which is one of the seven crystal systems, both of which were mentioned in the previous post on Ruby and 2) their color - red.

In the previous post on Ruby, I shared how the color of Ruby reminds of the Blood of Jesus, and that it's Sanskrit name 'ratnaraj' (translated "King of Gemstones') also reminds of the 'King of Kings'. Now we see that Ruby's placement in the Breastplate of Aaron represented the tribe of Judah, AND is a cornerstone. In Matthew Chapter 1, the lineage of Jesus is listed beginning with Judah. The first ever prophecy of the coming of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, and his never-ending Kingdom appears in Genesis 49:8-12. The reference was made by Jacob on his deathbed. Revelation 5:8-10 and 6:12-17 declare Jesus as the Lion of Judah. Zechariah 10:4 states "From Judah will come the cornerstone, from him the tent peg, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler" and 1Peter 2:6, "For in Scripture (a reference to Isaiah 28:16) it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." So again, in looking back at the construction of the Breastplate of Aaron, we see God using 'signs' that point to Jesus Christ.

Carnelian will represent the apostle Bartholomew in the 6th foundation of the New Jerusalem. It's interesting to note here that the Latin root for the word 'carnelian' means 'flesh' (in reference to color sometimes exibited) and that the means of martyrdom for Bartholomew was by flaying (skinned alive), then crucified head downward, by order of an enraged Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. The flayed Bartholomew can be seen holding his own flesh in Michelangelo's Sistine painting of the Last Judgement. A statue by Marco d'Agrate from 1562 portrays much the same sight. It would seem fitting that the gem whose name means 'flesh' would forever memorialize the apostle who lost his own flesh for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Again, these red stones should serve as a reminder to us all of the price that has been paid for our salvation, and for the furthering of The Gospel.

NEXT POST: Peridot

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ruby - Kings, The Trinity, and The Blood

Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July. Ruby is the red variety of corundum known as the 'King of Gemstones'. The term 'corundum' which we use today is derived from the Sanskrit word 'kuruvinda'. In the Sanskrit language Ruby is called 'ratnaraj', which does in fact translate as 'King of Gemstones'. The actual name 'Ruby' was derived from the Latin word 'rubens' meaning 'red'.

The red of rubies is in a class all by itself: warm and fiery. Two elements are associated with the symbolism of this color: fire and blood, implying warmth, illumination and life for mankind.

Ruby occurs as a trigonal rhombohedral crystal i.e., a crystal having threefold symmetry. In crystallography, the trigonal crystal system is one of the seven crystal systems, and the rhombohedral lattice system is one of the seven lattice systems.

The trigonal attribute and threefold symmetry of Ruby's crystal structure reminds me of the Holy Trinity of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Three in One and One in Three. Ruby's membership in one of seven crystal systems and seven lattice systems reminds me of the number 7 representing spiritual perfection, fulness, and completion. Seven is also the number of Covenant and the Holy Spirit. These things combined with ruby's red color brings to mind so many things about Jesus.

Jesus is the Son of God, One of Three and a Third of One. Jesus' sinless life with us on earth confirmed He is spiritually perfect. Time and again He did things that fulfilled scripture, and His death and resurrection completed the plan for our salvation. He made a covenant with us, "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20 NIV). After His ascension to heaven, He sent us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).
Of course the most prominent attribute about ruby that reminds of Jesus is it's color, red. Red is the color of blood, and the red color of ruby always reminds me that Jesus shed His Blood for our sins. It is the Blood of Jesus that cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness.

Ruby, known as the 'King of Gemstones' has many attributes that remind of the 'King of Kings' when examined a little closer with an eye toward deeper things than just mere beauty.

NEXT POST: *The Gems of Exodus and Revelation - Ruby and Carnelian

*The Gems of Exodus and Revelation are 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.