Expensive jewelry is not very important to me. I’ve been known to purchase buttons, snip off the shank, and glue fittings on the back to make cheap earrings. Lately my wedding ring has become too tight and I’ve not rushed to the jeweler to get it resized (even though I feel somewhat undressed without it).
However, my devotional book is making me rethink the value of precious stones. It says that the dwelling place of God is described using gems. This includes His throne in heaven and the temple made by Solomon where the sacrifices were made. It also includes the new city that God will build for His people. This is described in Isaiah and fulfilled in Revelation.
Isaiah 54:11-13 say, “Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.”
The description in Revelation 21 is longer: “Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. . . . The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
Obviously these precious stones symbolize the purity and value of God Himself, the beauty that surrounds Him, and the glory of His Person and Presence. Those one-pearl gates remind me of Jesus, the pearl of great price who is the entrance or one-way to God, the gate where His sheep go in to find safety and eternal life.
Yet my devotional book suggests that these stones may also be literal. I don’t know about that. What pops to my mind is an amazing statement in Malachi 3:16-17. Before he quotes the Lord, the prophet Malachi encourages those who love the Lord but who may be discouraged by hearing all his prophecies about judgment. He says, “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” God will not forget His own people.
Then Malachi quotes Him: “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Those who belong to God are His special treasure, His jewels.
As my mind plays with literal and symbolic, I wonder if the amazing city of God spoken of in the language of precious jewels is a symbolic description of a city built on and inhabited by those who love the Lord and serve Him. 1 Peter 2:4-5 say, “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
As I read and think on these things, another verse pops to mind, Romans 11:33. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
Surely my opinion of precious stones will change. I will not swing to looking at them with desire or being overly impressed by their beauty, but I will think of what God is doing. He is making a holy city adorned with jewels, and perhaps, if the symbolism is what I suspect, then I will be one of them.