I am a Christian. I believe in the God of the Bible, in God the Father, in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit. I believe in Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (NIV)" I am a biochemist and a pharmacist by education. As such I have a desire to understand nature. I am writing this blog as my way to express the facts of true science as I understand them, from the perspective of one who believes that all things were created by God, for God and for His purposes.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Emerald - We're Not in Kansas Anymore

Located in the center of the Land of Oz, the Emerald City is at the end of the famous Yellow Brick Road. Although the walls of the City are green, the city itself is not. Everyone in the Emerald City is made to wear green-tinted eyeglasses, supposedly in an effort to protect their eyes from the "brightness and glory" of the city, but in effect the glasses make everything appear green when it is, in fact, "no more green than any other city."

From the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum (1900).

The Emerald City we all remember from Oz gave the illusion of being green. But it was neither Emerald nor green. Neither was it bright and glorious. However, in God's Heavenly City, mentioned in Revelation 21:19, the Emerald foundation is truly Emerald and truly green. The New Jerusalem is built on a strata of twelve precious stones, the Emerald being the fourth foundation (See The Minerals of Revelation). It is also brilliantly bright and profoundly glorious radiating the Shekhinah of God.

The Lush Green Color of the Emerald
Reflects the Shekhinah Glory of God

Emerald is found in the Bible five times. In the New testament it is the Greek word "smaragdinos" in Revelation 4:3 and "smaragdos" in Revelation 21:19. Smaragdinos means "made of Emerald" and is derived from smaragdos which translates "a transparent precious stone noted especially for its light green color."

In the Old Testament, however, there is some confusion. The Hebrew word "bareqeth" is sometimes interpreted as Emerald (NKJV, NLT), sometimes Carbuncle (KJV) and sometimes Beryl (NIV) in Exodus 28:17 when referencing the third stone in the first row of the priestly Breastplate. An Emerald is essentially a transparent green Beryl but a Carbuncle is more likely a red Garnet. In the KJV the Hebrew word "nophek," from an unused root meaning to glisten, is used to describe the fourth stone in the High Priest's Breastplate and is translated Emerald. Nophek is translated as Turquoise in the other three Bible versions. As the third stone, Emerald would represent Levi by birth order or Zebulon by the order of the camp. As the fourth stone of the Breastplate it represents the tribe of Judah (by birth) or Reuben. The more appropriate position seems to be the third stone.

The Emerald, with a transparency and beauty that does not change, signifies John the Evangelist. He soothes the soul dejected by sin with his doctrinal writings, lending strength to our faith. The Emerald, bearing the color of life, represents the Apostle who enjoyed the longest life.

An Emerald is a transparent light green stone, a variety of the mineral Beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6) colored by trace amounts of Chromium and sometimes Vanadium. Structurally, it is a transparent hexagonal crystal with a brilliant reflecting color. The Emerald is highly polished and is found in metamorphic rocks, granites, and mica schist. Although claims have been made that the ancients knew nothing of the Emerald; this is clearly refuted by Pliny, Theophrastus and others even though the name may possibly have been used to refer to other stones. The ancients could have obtained the stone from Egypt or India.

The Emerald signifies the glories of God and His saints, the fresh, flourishing essence of life, growth and integrity. Its rich lush medium green color glitters brilliantly in the light. In the Middle Ages miraculous healing powers were attributed to the Emerald, among them the power to preserve or restore sight. Its green color represents increase, prosperity, immortality and incorruptibility.
Psalms 57:10-11 (NIV) - For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth.

1 Corinthians 10:31 - So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Revelation 21:23-24 (NIV) - The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Chalcedony - The Secret Stone

The third foundational stone of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:19 (NIV) is the Chalcedony. (See also The Minerals of Revelation). It is a variety of Silicon Quartz (SiO2) characterized by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. When Quartz forms as finely grained micro-crystals, it is known as Chalcedony. Chalcedony really is a family of gems that includes Agate, Jasper, Carnelian, and Onyx. It is translucent and has a waxy luster. It can assume a wide range of colors, but the color most likely represented in Revelation is a grayish-blue.

Blue Chalcedony

The Greek word "chalkedon" is used in the Book of Revelation and means a precious stone of misty grey color. It comes from "chalkos" meaning brass, and "eidos" meaning the external or outward appearance, form, figure or shape. It is possible the chalcedony shined like brass. It is translated into Latin as "calcedonius," where we get the name "chalcedony," and is found only once in the Biblical text. Chalcedony is derived from Chalcedon, in Bithynia (Turkey), where the ancients obtained the stone.

Chalcedony is not found in the Breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:15ff - NKJV) but is thought by some to have been the same stone as the Agate, found in the Third Row of the Breastplate. If this is correct, then the Chalcedony(Agate) would represent Jacob's eight born son Asher by birth order and Joseph's son Manasseh by the order of the camp. Chalcedony has also been said to represent the apostle Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter.

Chalcedony Represents Our Christian Living
That Which We Do in Secret
Be it Fasting, Prayer or Acts of Service

The biblical meaning behind the Chalcedony gemstone is our faithful service to the Lord, done in secret (Matthew 6:6 - NIV). When we go out into the world, our goodness is revealed and we can shine but we must resist excessive praise with great strength, lest we boast. Blue Chalcedony encourages reflection and meditation on the Divine and its light blue color represents heaven and communication with the Spirit of God.

...so that your giving may be in secret... (Matthew 6:4)
...when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray... (Matthew 6:6)
...so it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting... (Matthew 6:18)

...but only to your Father, who is unseen; then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV) - I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day - The Chemistry of Balance

Today is Father's Day and it can bring a mixture of emotions for many of us. When you think of your father, would you create a mnemonic that looked like this?

F - Faithful
A - Available
T - Teacher
H - Honest
E - Energetic
R - Resourceful

Or like this?

F - Fights
A - Absent
T - Tyrant
H - Hateful
E - Exploitation
R - Rejection

If your childhood was one of "Father Knows Best" or "My Three Sons" reruns, you might respond as in the first mnemonic but if your childhood was like "All in the Family," or much worse, you might give answer number two.

It is said that as many as 25% of all children today don't have their father physically present in their lives and the number increases dramatically when you consider the number of fathers who are there physically but are not engaged mentally or emotionally. A father at home can mean a whole lot or nothing at all. In my own father's life, the Great Depression and WWII, and my generation as well, fathers were to be the "strong silent type," loving from a distance, a distance that could be seen by the child as a chasm that could not be broached. Many a father was an overly strict disciplinarian, seen as cruel and unusual punishment - following the unbiblical admonition (not found in the bible) to not "spare the rod lest you spoil the child."

My Dad cared but his focus was providing for his family. I knew he loved me but he did not show it well. I myself struggled with that as well, seeing my main job as "bringing home the bacon." I knew my Dad was emotionally distant, and I tried to do better. I think I was successful in that my connection with my children is closer than mine with my Dad but not in the full sense it could have been. Now that my boys are fathers, I see their struggles with this as well. I took a step forward and am proud to see that my sons, and sons-in-law, are doing the same. They are all great fathers in their own right.

Fathers need to strike a Balance
Between their Need to Provide
And the Needs of their Children

Today though things are a'changing. More fathers, when they are engaged, are being "Mister Mom" and sharing the load with their wives for the betterment of the family as a whole. I found this great list on the meaning of being a Dad by Eric Novak, the father of four. It is one fathers thoughts on what he wants to be for his children, now that he is a father.

What are some things that God says about Himself as a father and how does His Word instruct us to be as fathers to our children? The word "father" occurs over 1100 times in scripture. Here are some verses on fathers and family:

Joshua 24:15 (NLT) - "...as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD."
  • We as fathers need to put God first in our families.
Ephesians 5:25 (NIV) - Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
  • We must love our children's mother unconditionally.
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) - Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.
  • We should teach our children to be responsible,
Proverbs 23:13 (NLT) - Don't fail to discipline your children. They won't die if you spank them.
  • And enforce discipline and give fair punishments,
Collosians 3:21 (NLT) - Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.
  • But do not be overbearing.
Genesis 49:28 (NIV) - ...this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
  • We should bless our children,
Deuteronomy 32:7 (NKJV) - "Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you:
  • And create memories.
1 Kings 9:4 (NIV) - "...walk before me in integrity of heart and uprightness... and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws... Proverbs 20:7 (NLT) - The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them.
  • As Fathers, we must have integrity and follow God's commandments,
Matthew 5:48 (NLT) - ...you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
  • Be like Christ as best we can,
2 Kings 22:2 (NIV) - He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father..., not turning aside to the right or to the left.
  • And teach our children how to live also, for generations.
Proverbs 17:6 (NLT) - Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.
  • We should build a lasting relationship with our children, and grandchildren,
Matthew 7:11 (NIV) - If you, ...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!
  • Give good gifts to them,
Proverbs 13:22a (NIV) - A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children.
  • And plan for generations to come.
Psalms 103:13 (NLT) - The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
  • As Fathers, we are called to love our children,
Proverbs 23:24 (NLT) - The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise.
  • And delight in them always.
And if your father forsakes you, God will be your father. He is the Father to the Fatherless.

Psalms 27:10 (NLT) - Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
Psalms 68:5 (NLT) - Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is Holy.

Being a father is both wonderful and frightening all at once. Now that our children are grown and have children of their own, my wife and I look back in amazement that we ever made it. We are blessed to have many fond memories to warm our hearts for the years ahead, with more coming everyday with our grandchildren.

Happy Father's Day to all of our sons and sons-in-law. We love you all!

Psalms 71:18 (NLT) - Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation, Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sapphire - In a Blue State of Mind

In the US we have "red" States and "blue" States to signify their political temperament, with red being conservative and blue being liberal. In gemstones we have the same, a Sapphire is the blue sister to a red Ruby, both being a variety of Corundum. Corundum is a colorless crystal of Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) where trace amounts of other elements give it a blue, red, yellow, pink, purple, orange or greenish color.

Sapphire (pictured to the left) as we know it today was essentially unknown in the Middle East before the era of the Roman Empire. It is likely that the stone referred to in Exodus was a mineral of similar color to the sapphire, the most likely candidate being lapsis lazuli. Lapsis lazuli (pictured below) is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized for its intense blue color. It is largely formed from the mineral lazurite, with the formula (Na,Ca)8(AlSiO4)6(S,SO4,Cl)1-2. In ancient Egypt, lapsis lazuli was a favorite stone for amulets and ornaments such as scarabs for the sun god Ra and have been found in great abundance in ancient Mesopotamia. This easily could have been found among the spoils given the Israelites when Moses lead them out of Egypt towards the Promised Land.

The word translated "sapphire" is cappiyr in the Hebrew (OT) and sapphiros in the Greek (NT). Both refer to a precious stone known for its beauty and splendor. They stem from the root "caphar" which means "to number" or "to inscribe as on a stone." The translation could be taken as either a sapphire or lapsis lazuli but a true sapphire, with a hardness second only to diamonds, could hardly be inscribed in biblical times. It may be that the original term referenced the more common lapsis lazuli but gradually came to point to the true sapphire.

Was the Sapphire of the Bible
A true Blue Sapphire
Or the semi-precious Lapsis Lazuli?

Using the same system as in our last blog, the sapphire in the breastplate of the High Priest would reference the Tribe of Dan based on birth order or the Tribe of Simeon based on the order in the camp from Numbers. Of the apostles, the sapphire signifies Paul.

A star sapphire is a type of sapphire that exhibits a star-like phenomenon known as asterism. Star sapphires contain intersecting needle-like inclusions following the underlying crystal structure that cause the appearance of a six-rayed "star"-shaped pattern. The inclusion is often the mineral rutile, composed primarily of titanium dioxide. The stones are cut as a cabochon with the center of the star near the top of the dome. Probably the most famous star sapphire is the Star of India, weighing over 563 carats, and thought to be the second-largest star sapphire. The Black Star of Queensland is believed to be the largest, weighing 733 carats.

Some ancient peoples believed that the firmament was an enormous blue sapphire in which the Earth was embedded. Blue is often associated with feelings of sympathy and harmony, friendship and loyalty - as is the sapphire. The sapphire fits with everything that is constant and reliable. It symbolizes truth, faithfulness, love and longing. The blue sapphire represents God's promise to be faithful without fail to man, and that man is to faithfully maintain a righteous character and relationship to Him. Hebrew tradition holds that Moses was given the Ten Commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it the most sacred of gemstones. Because the sapphire represents divine favor, it was the gemstone of choice of kings and priests.

Lapsis lazuli has been worn since ancient times in the belief that it protects the wearer from evil. It was used by the ancient Egyptians in many religious ceremonies, and often as an inscription stone for passages from the Book of the Dead. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to free the soul from error, envy and fear. Lapsis lazuli is the source of a highly prized ultramarine pigment immortalized in paintings by the Renaissance Masters.

Whichever stone is referenced in the biblical text, sapphire or lapsis lazuli, it symbolizes a divine connection between God and man.

Psalms 71:22 (NLT) - Then I will praise you with music on the harp, because you are faithful to your promises, O my God. I will sing praises to you with a lyre, O Holy One of Israel.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jasper - A Diamond in the Rough?

Jasper - what is it? Today it is classified as an opaque, impure variety of silica from the family of quartz. It can come in almost any color but most commonly as red, yellow, brown or green. It can be found worldwide. But what about in biblical times? Jasper is known to have been a favorite gem in the ancient world; its name can be traced back in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek and Latin. Probably the jasper of the ancients included stones which would now be considered chalcedony, and the emerald-like jasper may have been akin to modern-day chrysoprase.

Two different Hebrew words are translated as jasper in the bible, "yashĕpheh" and "iaspis." Yashĕpheh was the term in Exodus 28:20 and 39:13 for describing the last or twelfth jewel in the Breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest. This stone signified the Tribe of Benjamin (from birth order) the last of the twelve sons of Jacob, or Naphtali from the order of the camp (found in Numbers 2:1ff); scholars don't agree on how to match up the sons and the stones. The stones of the breastplate have also been ascribed to the Apostles, with the yashĕpheh given to Peter.

Literally translated, yashĕpheh means "to polish" and was a precious stone of different colors. The word yashĕpheh probably designated a green jasper. The odem, the first stone on the High Priest's breastplate, may have been a red jasper and tarshish, the tenth stone, may have been a yellow jasper.

Jasper is the Last Stone on the
Breastplate of the High Priest
And the First Foundation of the New Jerusalem

Iaspis is considered as a derivative of yashĕpheh, albeit the feminine form. It is a Phoenican word signifying a translucent stone of various colors, especially that of fire, as in the appearance of the Lamb of God sitting on His throne in Revelation 4:3. It is used in our quoted verses, Revelation 21:19-20 (NIV), as well as in Revelation 21:11 (NIV) - the light of the New Jerusalem - "clear as crystal" and in Revelation 21:18 (NIV) - the wall of the City - "like unto clear glass."

These references to being "crystal clear" have led some to think that a diamond is referenced here, but it is not the same word as used in Exodus (28:18 and 39:11) when describing the diamond in the High Priest's breastplate. The diamond was in the second row, the sixth stone and signified the Tribe of Naphtali (birth order) or Gad (Numbers 2:1ff). The word used for diamond is yahalom, which refers to the hardness of the stone - diamond is the hardest substance known to man. However, the characteristics of the jasper stone as far as they are specified in Revelation, that it "was most precious," and "like crystal," and that is was a stone of brilliant and transparent light seem to uphold the theory that the diamond may more adequately fit the description for the foundation.

Most biblical scholars agree that the color of the stone in the breastplate was green. Many also assign green to jasper in the foundation of the New Kingdom. However there is a school of thought that both jaspers may actually be red. The breastplate stones were probably spoils from Egypt and Egyptian jasper was known to be only one of three colors — brown, yellow, or red, but not green. Also, the appearance of Jesus sitting on His throne in Revelation 4:3 is described as "to look upon like a jasper and a sardius stone.” The sardius stone is a red carnelian and the reference is equating the two stones as looking very similar. Jesus is elsewhere described as having fire in His eyes (Revelation 1:14 - "His eyes like a flame of fire") and He shed His blood for our salvation (Matthew 26:28). Red jasper is found in "bloodstone." Bloodstone is dark to medium green with small spots of red jasper scattered throughout. Many early Christians wore it to remind themselves of Christ's sacrifice. Legend maintains that the red formed when drops of Christ's blood landed on green jasper at the foot of the Cross although bloodstone originated in India long before Christ's birth.

Jasper symbolizes the glory of God; His splendor, brightness, magnificence and beauty. It symbolizes the blood atonement we have through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the passing over of God’s judgment. It also represents royalty, prosperity, prestige, and valiance. Just as jasper was known for its highly polished finish, in the same way we should be known for our high moral standards and the character brought forth in us by obedience to God. In no way does this imply we are sinless, just hopefully meek enough to recognize our weaknesses and willing enough to take the actions necessary to overcome them.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) - Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Minerals of Revelation

We have all, at one time or another, most likely played the game "20 Questions." In that game, the questioner asks the answerer up to 20 questions, trying to guess what the secret subject is. Sometimes the game is played as "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral" where the secret subject is in one of these three categories. We define the subject as being either Animal (if it is alive) Vegetable (if it grows) or Mineral (if it isn't alive and doesn't grow.) Within these three divisions of nature we can classify just about everything in existence.

God has also used all three in His story of history from the Creation in Genesis to the new Creation in Revelation. All play significant roles: The Lamb of God, the Fruit of the Tree of Life and the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments to name a few. He used precious stones on the breastplate of the high priest to symbolize the 12 Tribes of Israel (Exodus 39:8-14 - NIV) and again (essentially the same gems) as ornate coverings for the foundations of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 21:19-20 (NIV) - The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (agate NLT), the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx (onyx NLT), the sixth carnelian (sardius NKJV), the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

Again God is representing the 12 Tribes of Israel, but also His 12 Apostles, as part of the foundation of His Glorious City that He has prepared for His Bride (Revelation 19:7 - NIV).

A gem, gemstone or jewel is a piece of mineral which, in its cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. The traditional classification begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones. The precious stones are generally considered to be diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. This distinction reflects the rarity of the respective precious stones in ancient times, as well as their quality: all are translucent with fine color in their purest forms, except for the colorless diamond, and very hard.

A few gemstones are used directly in the form in which they are found. Most however, are cut and polished. The two main designations are stones cut with facets (small flat polished windows) at regular intervals and exact angles or stones which are cut as smooth, dome shaped stones called cabochons (a gemstone which has been shaped and polished). Stones which are opaque (generally the semi-precious stones) are commonly cut as cabochons. These gems are designed to show the stone's color or surface properties as in opals and star sapphires. Grinding wheels and polishing agents are used to grind, shape and polish the smooth shape of the stones.

God also shapes us by the trials we endure: James 1:2-4 (NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

A Gem cannot be Polished without Friction,
Nor a Man Perfected without Trials.
Chinese Proverb

Gems which are transparent are normally faceted, which best shows the optical properties of the stone's interior by maximizing reflected light and making the stones sparkle. Faceted stones are cut into one of many commonly used shapes. The facets must be cut at the proper angles, depending on the optical properties of the gem. If the angles are too steep or too shallow, the light will pass through the stone and not be reflected back to illuminate the facets.

The "four Cs" (color, cut, clarity and carats), generally used to grade a diamond, can be useful in understanding the grading of all gemstones. In gemstones that have color, it is the purity and beauty of that color that is the primary determinant of quality. Cut relates to the esthetic shape of the polished stone. Clarity relates to translucence but also to inclusions or unusual optical phenomena within the stone such as color zoning (the uneven distribution of coloring within a gem), and asteria (star effects). Finally, carat is the size of the finished gem.

Here is a brief description of each mineral listed in Revelation.
  • Jasper - is an opaque, impure variety of Silica (SiO2), usually red, yellow, brown or green in color.
  • Sapphire - is a variety of Corundum, an Aluminium Oxide (Al2O3). Trace amounts of other elements give it a blue, yellow, pink, purple, orange or greenish color.
  • Chalcedony (Agate) - is a microcrystalline variety of Silica characterized by its fineness of grain and brightness of color.
  • Emerald - is a variety of the mineral Beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6) colored green by trace amounts of Chromium and sometimes Vanadium.
  • Sardonyx (Onyx) - is a banded variety of Chalcedony. The colors of its bands can be almost every color.
  • Sardius (Carnelian) - is a brownish-red mineral variety of Chalcedony colored by impurities of Iron Oxide.
  • Chrysolite (Chrysoberyl) - is an Aluminate of Beryllium with the formula BeAl2O4.
  • Beryl - is a Beryllium Aluminium Cyclosilicate with the chemical formula Be3Al2(SiO3)6.
  • Topaz - is a silicate mineral of Aluminium and Fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2.
  • Chrysoprase - is a variety of Chalcedony that contains small quantities of Nickel. Its color is normally apple-green.
  • Jacinth - is a red transparent variety of Zircon (ZrSiO4).
  • Amethyst - is a violet variety of Quartz (SiO4).
Over the next few blog entries we will examine the significance and character of those gems used to decorate the foundations of God's ultimate Heavenly City.

Isaiah 54:11-12 (NLT) - "O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli. 12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones."