Now begins one of the more difficult
passages. We shall take the easy part
The stones listed here - jaspar,
carnelian and emerald, have some history.
As we shall see at the end of
Revelation, they have a more important duty as well.
• Jaspar is found on the breastplate of the
High Priest (Exodus). It is a green
quartz (the word today actually means a red
quartz; a change in meaning). It is also used as a description of the first foundation of the New
Jerusalem, and one of the gates.
• Carnelian is found nowhere else in the Bible
but in Revelation. It is used as a gate
of the New Jerusalem. It is a dusty red quartz. Translated as “ruby” in the Hebrew, it is the first stone in the High Priest’s breastplate.
Jaspar is the last. Hence, these two stones are the “first and last” of the Tribes of
• Emerald (which is descriptive here, as are
the others. It forms the fourth
foundation of the New Jerusalem. The fourth son of Israel was Judah, from
whom came Christ. Depending on how you order the stones on the
breastplate, it could be the fourth stone there
as well (it is listed seventh; but you
can go left to right on the first row, drop down and go right to left and achieve this point. I’m not entirely convinced.)
• The thunder and lightning, the rumbles are
known before (see Chapter 1); we are clearly in the presence of God the Father.
The sea of glass bears a little
closer examination. The description
here would be quite unusual for the time,
for glass in the Roman period was rarely “clear.” The best that could be hoped for was a transparent glass, with color in it (i.e., a
tint that was not opaque). Such glass was hard to get; clear glass was nearly impossible. Commentators
see these possibilities”
• The rareness of the glass -- along with the
precious stones -- imply a vast wealth, one
in which (later) asphalt paving is replaced with gold.
• The clearness of the glass implies
• The use of the word “sea” implies a vast
distance between mortal man and God. In
light of what is coming up, this is a good
Interestingly, we have a picture of
this sea before Revelation. That
picture was found in Solomon’s temple, in
which there was a great bronze basin called the Sea. 2 Chronicles
4:6 tells us that this Sea was used by the priests for washing. Taking the concept of Hebrews 9 (that the tabernacle was a picture of heavenly
things) to cover the Temple as well, we
would see the bronze Sea of Solomon as the picture of the glass sea of God.
Can we then extend the concept?
In Revelation 15:2 we see what may
be the same thing, mixed with fire -- a sign of purification. This, in my opinion, is sufficient to establish this as the equivalent.