|Now begins one of
the more difficult passages. We shall
take the easy part first.
|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 Israel.
|• 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
|• The thunder and
lightning, the rumbles are known before (see Chapter 1); we are clearly in the presence of God the
|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
|• 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 purity.
|• 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
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.