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In Revelation 4:3 the One sitting on the throne was likened to a jasper stone and a sardius, which is another precious stone. We have already seen how the city of Sardis was named for the sardius stone. In that case, as a rare or precious stone, it pictured the remnant of grace, whose small number in the church is precious to God.
Sardius is a Ruby
The sardius (not to be confused with sardonyx) is what we know today as a ruby.
It was the first stone on the high priest priest’s breastplate in Exodus 28:17. In that verse the KJV renders it “sardius,” but the NASB translates it “ruby.” Even as a jasper was the last stone in the breastplate (representing Benjamin, the last son of Jacob), the ruby was the first stone in the breastplate representing Reuben, “Behold the Son.” When Jacob blessed his twelve sons, he began with Reuben, saying in Genesis 49:3,
3 Reuben, you are my firstborn; my might and the beginning of my strength…
Pictured together, we are reminded of the description of Christ in Revelation 1:8, “the Alpha and the Omega.” This is repeated at the end of the book in Revelation 21:6 and again in Revelation 22:13, which reads,
13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
In other words, He is the first and the last gemstone in the breastplate of the high priest. When John first bore witness of Jesus as the Christ, he said in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This announcement is suggested in the name Reuben, “Behold the Son,” and also in the idea that Christ was to be “the first-born of all creation” (Colossians 1:15) and “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18). This is the passage which speaks of the reconciliation of all creation, He being the first-born from the dead, followed by all of creation.
The blood-red ruby is a fitting symbol of the blood of Christ that was to be shed in His first work. The jasper, in the big picture, represents the second work of Christ. Yet when the two stones are viewed in the tight view of Christ’s first work, the ruby represents His death, and the jasper (green laspis) represents His resurrection. Either way we view the stones, they picture the two works of Christ and involve the two-fold process of death and life.
Without understanding the color and symbolism of these stones, it would be difficult to see how the One sitting on the heavenly throne could be like mere stones. The metaphor is odd until we know the prophetic meaning of each gemstone and their placement on the breastplate.
The Emerald Rainbow
The Emerald was the third stone in the high priest’s breastplate, representing Levi, the third son of Jacob (Genesis 29:34). Levi’s name means “joiner,” from the root word lava, “attached.” According to Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon, Levi means “adhesion, garland, or crown.”
So the emerald, picturing Levi, is seen in the single-colored rainbow over the throne, positioned as a crown or garland. It also pictures the unity of two being joined together. Colossians 1:17 says that “in Him all things hold together.” The rainbow thus joins two entities on each end. This can have many applications, but in the broadest picture, we see God and “the all” (ta panta) being reconciled through the ministry of Levi. The ministry of a true Levite is “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18), which brings unity between God and “all things.”
This is best pictured in Colossians 1:15-20,
15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation [Reuben]. 16 For by Him all things [ta panta, “the all”] were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together [Levi]. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning [Reuben], the firstborn from the dead [ruby] so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.
The divine purpose is then shown to reconcile all things (ta panta), which is the same ta panta that was created at the beginning. Colossians 1:19, 20 concludes,
19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things [ta panta] to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
The overall purpose of God, then, is pictured in the stones of the breastplate. Christ is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is the first and the last stone in the breastplate, joined together by Levi through the (emerald) ministry of reconciliation. Like the laspis (green jasper), the emerald is green, signifying life that comes through the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is “the ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3:7), but the New Covenant is “the ministry of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:8), and “gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6).
John saw the throne of God while he was in the Spirit. Every detail was a heavenly or spiritual principle that was supposed to be duplicated physically on the earth, particularly in the tabernacle of Moses and the temple of Solomon—but also in our own lives as we conform to the image of Christ. Likewise, our ministries, callings, and messages ought to reflect that which is pictured in heaven.
Reuben failed to represent accurately the picture of the Son and was replaced by Judah and Joseph. Likewise, Levi failed and was replaced by Melchizedek. Israel as a whole failed as a fleshly nation and is being replaced by “a nation producing the fruit of it” (Matthew 21:43), that is, those bringing forth “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
The intent of God is to reconcile all of creation, but no one gets into the Kingdom until they come in through the Door, which is Christ, the Passover Lamb. They must then grow into maturity through Pentecost in order to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit at Tabernacles. Only then is their journey complete. Those who fail to come to spiritual maturity in this life time will do so in an age to come, for this is the only way that God can fulfill His oath to “establish you today as His people and that He may be your God” (Deuteronomy 29:12, 13).