Sunday, 22 August 2021
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, Revelation 21:19
The twelve foundation stones that had the names of the apostles of the Lamb written on them are now to be further described. As John says, “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones.”
The idea being conveyed is that the foundation stones are actually composed of these gems. They are not merely bedecked with them, but it is what they are fashioned out of. Here we see a contrast to the city of Mystery Babylon noted in Revelation 17 –
“The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” Revelation 17:4
Though she was adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls, her beauty was temporary and ended in destruction. New Jerusalem, however, is adorned with these things as well, but its foundations are solid and fixed. The city is pure, holy, and eternal. The symbolism for this goes back to a prophecy found in Isaiah –
“O you afflicted one,
Tossed with tempest, and not comforted,
Behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems,
And lay your foundations with sapphires.
12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies,
Your gates of crystal,
And all your walls of precious stones.” Isaiah 54:11, 12
Of these stones, John continues, saying, “the first foundation was jasper.” This stone was just described in the preceding verse. In short, it is believed to be a blue-white diamond. John next says, “the second sapphire.”
It is a word found only here in Scripture. The Greek is sapphiros, coming from the Hebrew sappir. It is the same Hebrew word as that which was used to describe the pavement under the feet of the Lord when Moses and the leaders of Israel had their meal on Mount Sinai after the ratification of the covenant in Exodus 24:10. The Hebrew sappir, comes from the word saphar, meaning to count. Thus, it is probably a very hard stone used for scratching other surfaces. It is believed to perhaps be a lapis lazuli.
John next notes, “the third chalcedony.” The word is found only this once in Scripture. The Greek is chalkédón. Some say that the word comes from chalkos, signifying “copper” or “brass,” and from eidos, signifying “appearance.” Thus, it is copper-like in color. Others say that it is from the location Chalcedon, a town in Asia Minor where copper is mined. Thus, it is not copper-colored, but a stone from a copper area, and therefore has the green color of unrefined copper. As such, it is argued to be emerald green. Others say it is misty gray or some other color.
John continues with, “the fourth emerald.” Again, it is a word found only here in Scripture, smaragdos. However, it is the same stone as mentioned in Revelation 4:3, which is the adjective smaragdinos. The name “emerald” is used to translate the third stone in the first row of stones in the breastplate of the high priest in Exodus 28:17. The stone noted there in Hebrew is the bareqeth. That comes from the word baraq, which means “flashing” or “lightning.” That tells us pretty much nothing of value in determining what the stone there actually is, and it may or may not be the same stone as is seen now in Revelation. It is a green stone.
Life application: One thing to note is that “the foundations of the wall of the city” will be visible to all. In other words, they are a part of the New Jerusalem which will come down from heaven and sit on the new earth. The foundations will be above ground, not below. Therefore, they will be astonishingly beautiful to behold.
They are according to the names of the 12 apostles, and they will have a variety of beautiful colors to dazzle the senses. The meaning of the names of some of these stones has changed and the same terms have been used for a variety of different stones throughout history, so it is not entirely possible at this time to know for certain what they will look like.
These four stone foundations, along with those to be mentioned, will be wonderfully beautiful to behold. We have a city coming with foundations that will excite the eyes and stir our souls with its beauty. What is planned for the dwelling place of God’s redeemed will be beyond our comprehension. But none of what we see will even compare to the marvel of beholding JESUS!
Lord Jesus, all the gems and jewels in the world couldn’t compare to Your beauty. Amen.