Sunday, 25 October 2020
And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Revelation 4:3
John now makes a detailed description of what he sees concerning the scene before him. As noted in the previous verse, he saw “a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” This is what he continues to describe, beginning with, “And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance.”
It is of note that he doesn’t attempt to describe the One on the throne, except in relation to these two stones. The sight of Him is so magnificent and gleaming that this is all John could relay. He must have been completely overwhelmed by the amazing sight.
Of the two stones, Jasper is believed to be the same as the last stone mentioned in the breastplate of the high priest in Exodus 28:20. In the Hebrew there, the name is yashepheh. That comes from an unused root meaning “to polish.” It is believed to be jasper because of the same general sounding name – yashepheh/jasper. Likewise, it is the Greek word iaspis, again sounding similar to our modern “jasper.”
It will be the first of the twelve stones named in the foundation of New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:19. It is also mentioned in the construction of the wall in verse 21:18. And, it is also mentioned as a comparison to the light of the glory of God in Revelation 21–
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Revelation 21:10, 11
Jasper stone varies in color, and the specific color is speculated on. However, the symbolism of Revelation 21 speaks out what John is trying to relay. There is the light of the glory of God emanating through the color, or from the color, that speaks of His infinite perfection, glory, and holiness.
The sardius is generally accepted as corresponding to carnelian, and thus it is a red stone. It is also seen in Revelation 21:20. It is the sixth foundation stone of New Jerusalem. It can only be speculated as to what the significance is. Red could correspond to the scarlet robe of a king. It could also signify atonement, as in the blood that Christ shed. Or it could symbolize judgment, war, and so on (see Isaiah 63:1). The description simply provides us with a sense of glory and awe at the marvelous nature of the One on the throne.
Next, John says, “and there was a rainbow around the throne.” The word “rainbow” comes from the Greek iris. It is seen only here and in verse 10:1. Charles Ellicott’s view on this is suitable. He says it is “the evident symbol of the divine mercy. The allusion to the bow in the cloud (Genesis 9:12-16) is obvious; the bow completely encircled the throne, as mercy encompassing judgment.”
John continues to describe it, saying it was “in appearance like an emerald.” The emerald is also seen in verse 21:19, being the fourth stone of the foundation of New Jerusalem. 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 there 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.
The color of the emerald may symbolize mercy. If so, the green rainbow encircling the throne could possibly signify the mercy that can only be found at the throne of grace. All believers who behold the blood-red appearance of the Lord will also know that it is through His redemption that we find mercy. If the rainbow is, in fact, circular, it would then signify unending mercy to those who have called on the Lord by faith. These are best guess evaluations and should not be stretched too far or argued too dogmatically.
Life application: The comments for the previous verse included the thought that every manifestation of God that is given in the Bible is seen through the Person of Jesus Christ. Far too often, Bible commentators attribute this scene or others like it to God the Father. Such is not the case. To understand who this is speaking of, we need to refer to 1 Timothy 6:14-16 –
“…that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, 15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
As God the Father reveals Himself to us, He does it through His Son, Jesus Christ – the “blessed and only Potentate” and the “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
The heavenly throne room we are viewing is the glorious position of Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father. This is not a physical position, but rather a position reflecting authority. As no man can see God, and as John is seeing One on the throne, then John is seeing a vision of the One who reveals the unseen God to us – the God/Man, Jesus Christ. The vision is apocalyptic in nature, but it is given to describe Jesus.
What a glorious thing we hope for some wonderful day, to see the One who has brought us back to You, O God. We long to see Jesus in all of His glory and splendor as He reveals You to us for all eternity. How wonderful it will be to walk in the light of Your glory and to behold His splendid majesty for all eternity. What a wonderful hope the believer in You has. Hallelujah… our hearts rejoice in what lies ahead! Amen.