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, August 31, 2012

A Final Look at the Minerals of Revelation

When I wrote the first blog for this study, I envisioned that it would be a series of three or four blogs. Little did I suspect that I would write a separate blog entry for each of the foundational stones. But as I began to research each stone, I realized that there was a wealth of information, and mis-information, on the history and identity of the stones. As I worked through them all, I have tried to identify what seems right to me. But this is just my opinion, and it is just for now. I may go back and review this in the future and come to different conclusions about the stones, their colors and their significance.

The New Jerusalem
- Public Domain

As I studied I found good arguments for labeling the stones differently. Some Bible searchers considered the types of stones known to be present in Egypt at the time of the Exodus, assuming that the Israelites received the gems as gifts when they left Egypt after the last plague. One source identified the stones so that the colors would have significance, moving from a clear Jasper prism to a red Ruby and ultimately to a violet Amethyst passing through all of the colors of the rainbow. Others still examined the Hebrew and Greek roots, the Biblical text associated with these words and as much history as they could find to anchor their interpretation.

I tried to mix the first and third approach, assessing all I could discover in the light of history and then settling on a choice. As I said before, my thoughts of today may change as I uncover more about these precious gems. Here I am presenting the "facts" as I see them today but take them with a grain of salt and do your own study into the "Minerals of Revelation."

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

Here is a brief description of each mineral listed in Revelation 21:19ff. I have linked each stone to its blog entry.
  • 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 (Peridot) - is a Magnesium Silicate with the formula (Mg,Fe)2SiO4.
  • 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 (SiO2).

This first table assembles the chemical facts I reported in each of the individual blog entries. Many of the stones are Quartz, a common mineral - as abundant as the sands of the sea - but with various mineral structures and impurities that create the different stones. Most of these minerals come in a variety of colors but I listed the one color that seems the best fit to me. The Mohs hardness is a scale where a Diamond, the hardest gem, is a 10.

Sardonyx5SiO2QuartzBanded Red/White/Brown6.5-7
with Iron Oxide
Chrysoprase10SiO2 with NickelQuartzApple-Green6-7
or ZrSiO4
SilicateDark Red6.5-7.5
Amethyst12SiO2 with Fe+3QuartzViolet7

This next table connects the stones to the Breastplate of the High Priest in Exodus 9:8ff. As mentioned in the individual blog entries, each stone is tied to a son or grandson of Jacob by either birth order or by the order of the tribes in the camp. In addition, the stones each reference an Apostle of Jesus. Several stones have multiple apostolic links but I have listed just one.

Emerald3LeviZebulonJohn the Evangelist
Sardonyx11JosephAsherJames (son of Zebedee)
Sardius1ReubenJudahBartholomew (Nathaniel)
Jacinth7GadEphraimSimon the Zealot

Finally, this last table lists some possible alternative stones that could have been the true identity of the stone listed. This is due to the fact that the names of several stones have changed over the years such that the name from the Bible does not point to the stone we know today by that name. Only Amethyst is lacking another possible stone. I include here as well the Hebrew and Greek words linked to the King James Version of the Bible that point to the stones along with a short description of my interpretation of the symbolism of each foundational stone.

JasperDiamondyashĕphehiaspisThe sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross
SapphireLapsis LazulicappiyrsapphirosThe divine connection between God and man
ChalcedonyAgateshĕbuwchalkedonOur service to the Lord that is done in secret
EmeraldCarbunclebareqethsmaragdosThe Shekhinah Glory of God
SardonyxOnyxshohamsardonuxThe Blood of the Martyrs
or Ruby
odemsardinosThe Shed Blood of Jesus
or Peridot
nophekchrysolithosThe Counsel of the Holy Spirit
BerylAquamarinetarshiyshbēryllosGod's Power as the Giver of Life
TopazChrysolitepitdahtopazionSeeking and finding the Kingdom of God
ChrysopraseEmeraldyahalomchrysoprasusThe Apple of God's Eye
or Zircon
leshemhyakinthinosThe Light of God reflected in His Creation
AmethystNAachlamahamethystosThe Royal Priesthood

I hope you have found this series interesting and informative. May it spur you on to your own study of the greatest book ever written.

Revelation 21:2-4 (NIV) - I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Amethyst - The Royal Stone

So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" John 19:1-3a (NKJV)

Many Catholic churches cover their spiritual images with purple cloth during Lent, especially the large crucifix overhanging the altar, to impact the faithful, creating a spiritual hunger to see the face of their savior, Jesus Christ, once again. This covering shifts the focus from simple worship and adoration to a deeper form of meditation, remembering Christ's redemptive acts through His sacrifice on the cross.

Amethyst - The Final Foundational Stone
The Color of a Royal Priesthood

The color purple has long symbolized Royalty. The dictionary defines purple as “any color having components of both red and blue” and as a “symbol of royalty or high office.” Purple's elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it. The earliest archaeological evidence for the origins of purple dyes points to the ancient land of Canaan.

The twelfth and final foundational stone is the Amethyst, a deep purple or violet stone, the only gem of this color. Amethyst is a purple variety of quartz (SiO2) and owes its violet color to irradiation of trivalent iron impurities (Fe3+) and the presence of large trace elements. It is the most precious member of the quartz family. The hardness of the mineral is the same as quartz (Mohs 7) and thus it is suitable for use in jewelry.

The Amethyst is also found in the Breastplate of the High Priest, the third stone in the third row. It represents Issachar by birth order and Benjamin by the order of the camp. For the Apostles, it has been linked to Andrew and also to Matthew because of its fiery aspect.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word is "achlamah" meaning the precious stone now known as Amethyst. It is thought to have derived from the root "chalam," meaning to dream, and thus the Amethyst is sometimes referred to as the "dream-stone." The Greek word "amethystos," used in the New Testament, means "not drunken" and thus the Amethyst was thought to ward off drunkenness. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that Amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence.

Amethyst signifies the heart of the lowly that die with Christ. It represents those who pray for their enemies and their persecuters. It is worn by Roman Catholic Bishops as a symbol of trust, piety, humility, sincerity and spiritual wisdom. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the High Priest of the Jews.

As the last foundation of the New Jerusalem, it is only proper that this stone symbolize the royal nature of the King that will rule and reign forever!

1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) - But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jacinth - The Light of Noah's Ark?

The Talmud has it that in Genesis 6:16a God said "A light (tsohar, also translated here window and elsewhere noonday) shall you make for the Ark" and so Noah gathered luminous stones and jewels, that they might give light as bright as the noonday sun. Noah, it is reported, used the light from the jewels as a lantern to safely steer his Ark through the darkness of the night. These stones provided the only source of light inside the Ark.

When Noah entered the Ark, he brought precious stones and jewels with him to keep track of day and night. When the jewels shone dimly, he knew that it was daytime, and when they shone brightly, he knew that it was night. It was important for Noah to be able to tell day from night, for some animals eat only during the day, and others eat only during the night, and thus Noah could determine the proper feeding times for the animals under his care. Noah needed the jewels because the account of him bringing jewels into the Ark followed the view that the celestial bodies – including the sun – did not shine their light during the year of the Flood and thus no sunlight entered the Ark.

Now "tsohar" is translated "noon" or "noonday" everywhere else it appears in the Bible and "challown" is the word in Genesis 8:6-7 that is used for the "window" that Noah sent forth the raven looking for dry ground. It seems reasonable to say that there could be some truth to the story found in the Talmud.

In some accounts, the stone identified above is said to be the Garnet. The Garnet is a red stone, chemically a magnesium aluminum silicate with the formula Mg3Al2(SiO4)3. The Jacinth, the eleventh foundational stone we are discussing here, is sometimes thought to be a Garnet or possibly a red transparent variety of Zircon (ZrSiO4), another type of silicate. In any case, the stone is likely dark red bordering on black.

Jacinth is a semi-precious stone that can be a lustrous orange-yellow, orange-red, yellow, or yellow-brown in addition to dark red. It has been prized since antiquity. The brilliant and intense fire it displays surpasses that of even the diamond. Jacinth has a hardness of about 6.5 to 7.5. It changes its color with the condition of the sky, clear and it shines, cloudy it does not.

The Light of God
Is reflected in His Creation

The Ligure (in Hebrew "leshem") is considered the same stone as the Jacinth. Ligure is mentioned in Exodus 28:19 as the first stone in the third row of the High Priest's Breastplate, the seventh stone, and thus represents Gad in birth order and Joseph's son Ephraim in the order of the camp. Jacinth represents the Apostle Simeon the Zealot for his passion.

In Revelation 21:20, the Greek word for Jacinth is "hyakinthinos" or "hyakinthos," signifying a precious stone of dark red or dark blue. There is one scripture that seems to tip the scales as to pin point the color the stone "Jacinth" represented to John. In Revelation 9:17 we are told the horsemen have breastplates of fire (red), Jacinth, and brimstone (sulfur or yellow). But then we are told they breath out fire, smoke, and brimstone. This strongly suggests that the color of Jacinth corresponds to the color of the smoke accompanying the fire, favoring the dark red interpretation.

The Jacinth signifies the angelic life. It represents those who are wise and comprehend how to contend with wise men in understanding, preparing themselves just as the apostle Paul said, yet among the mature believers they can impart wisdom. In the Jacinth is the wisdom of discernment.

The Garnet symbolizes fire, faith, courage, truth, grace, compassion, constancy and fidelity. Garnets have been widely known for thousands of years and are found in jewelry from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras.

The Zircon is a stone of purity and innocence, helping us to be more at peace with ourselves.

Isaiah 60:19 (NKJV) - "The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chrysoprase - The Apple of God's Eye

What do you think of when you hear the word apple? The computer company (see my last blog)? A ruby Red Delicious or a soft green Granny Smith? William Tell and his arrow or Newton sitting under the apple tree? Maybe even Adam and Eve eating that first forbidden fruit? Then there are the sayings "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" or "you are the apple of my eye."

The Chrysoprase, the tenth foundational stone, is a rare gemstone variety of chalcedony that contains small quantities of nickel. The nickel silicate inclusions impart the stone with an opalescent apple-green hue. It is this unique golden-green color that gives the stone its value. Did God make the stone this hue to remind us that we are the apple of His eye?

The Greek word chrysoprasus, translated Chrysoprase, comes from the Greek chrysos meaning 'gold' and prasinon, meaning 'green'. It is often mistaken for Imperial jadeite, a light green Sodium-Aluminum Silicate form of Jade. Chrysoprase has a hardness of 6 - 7 on the Mohs hardness scale which makes it a good gemstone to create ornamental jewelry. Chrysoprase is cryptocrystalline, it is composed of crystals so fine that they cannot be seen as distinct particles under normal magnification.

Chrysoprase has been known to man since ancient times. It was valued and formed into cameos and intaglios by the Greeks and Romans. Ancient Egyptians also saw the worth of this fine stone and used it in decorations that adorned the pharaohs. Chrysoprase is said to have been the favorite gemstone of Alexander the Great. In the 14th century, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV used Chrysoprase to decorate chapels including the Chapel of Saint Wenceslas in Prague.

God cherishes us above all Others
We are the Apple of His Eye

The Chrysoprase, along with Chalcedony, is not specifically mentioned in the Breastplate. Possible matches could be the third stone - the Emerald, the fourth stone - the Turquoise or Carbuncle, or the eighth stone - the Agate. We have matched all of these stones previously with other foundational stones. The only unmatched stone is the sixth stone, most often referred to as the Diamond but in a couple of translations it is named as the Emerald. Since the Chrysoprase is a type of Chalcedony, it could be the eighth stone we named as Chalcedony or possibly the sixth stone as a stretch because of its green color. If it references the eighth stone it would signify Asher by birth order and Joseph's son Manasseh by the order of the camp. Placed as the sixth stone, it would be Naphtali by birth order and Gad by the order of the camp. The Chrysoprase, more brightly tinged with a gold hue than gold itself, symbolizes the Apostle St. Thaddaeus.

Chrysoprase helps to make conscious what was unconscious. It encourages hope and joy, symbolizes spiritual protection and increases grace and equilibrium. Chrysoprase is demonstrated in the work of the righteous and their reward. It portrays unity and is the perfect charity of which no ferocity can defeat. It signifies those who spend their life in hardships, labor and suffering, yet always remaining in love.

So did God color Chrysoprase to remind us that we are the apple of His eye? He could have! This phrase first appeared an Old English work attributed to King Alfred (the Great) of Wessex in AD 885. Shakespeare also used it in the 1590s when he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream. Its first appearance in the Bible was in the King James Translation of 1611. Referencing back to the Greek, in most instances it refers to the pupil but more specifically to the refection of the person you are looking at, "the little man in the eye." Thus we are the reflection in God's eye - reminding us how He loves and cares for us. Chrysoprase, with its apple-green color, can remind us of our special place in God's plan, how He cherishes us above all others - "Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows" Luke 12:7b (KJV).

Psalms 17:8 (NIV) - Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Topaz - Seeking the Fire of the Son

Back in 1992 I got a Mac Portable, one of the first laptop computers. I bought it second hand to take along on a once in a lifetime motor-home trip with three of my kids. It was great for recording the events of the trip and to keep the kids entertained at night on the long stretches of deserted highway as we toured America. My how laptops have changed!

Macintosh Portable (photo from OldComputers.net):
  • Release date - September 20, 1989 (Original), October 15, 1990 (Backlit)
  • Introductory price - $6,500
  • Weight - 16 lbs
  • Discontinued - October 15, 1990 (Original), October 21, 1991 (Backlit)
  • Operating system - 6.0.4 (Original) 6.0.7 (Backlit) - 7.5.5
  • CPU - Motorola 68000 @ 16 MHz
  • Memory - 1 MB, expandable to 9 MB, 8 MB backlit version (SRAM)
The previous owner of the Portable had loaded an engaging maze game on it called the "Scarab of Ra." The goal of the game was to search the Great Pyramid of Ra and learn its secrets, and (if you can) survive to tell the outside world of its wonders. The ancient Egyptians considered the scarab beetle sacred as it seemed the young beetles emerged spontaneously from the dung burrow were they were born. This connected them to the sun god Ra who rose spontaneously out of the darkness of Nun, the primordial waters. Nun was more than an ocean, he was a limitless expanse of still water and the all-powerful Ra arose from the water to bring the full creation into existence.

The plagues of Moses, poured out on the Egyptians by God when the Pharaoh would not let His people go, were each directed at a different god of the Egyptians. The plague of darkness that could be felt, the ninth plague, was a direct attack on Ra. The plagues showed that Yĕhovah was the one true God, the true Creator.

Ancient Egyptians said Topaz was colored with the glow from the sun god Ra. It is found in various colors - white, yellow, pink, green, pale gray, reddish-orange, blue brown, and black; but it is with one of the first three colors that it is most familiar as a gem. Blue Topaz is actually quite rare but can be artificially created by irradiation. Pure Topaz is colorless and transparent but is usually tinted by impurities, mostly iron and chromium, and is commonly opaque to transparent or translucent. Topaz is a silicate mineral of Aluminium and Fluorine, a fluorosilicate, with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2. With its relatively high refractive index and a Mohs hardness of eight, it makes a beautiful gemstone.

Topaz - Fiery like the Sun
Symbolizes those who love God
Burning ever brighter for the Cause of Christ

Topaz is the second of the twelve breastplate stones of the High Priest referred to in the Book of Exodus. It represents Simeon in birth order and Issachar in the order of the camp. With its ruddy color, Topaz denotes the apostle Matthew for he was animated by divine zeal and his blood was fired for the cause of Christ.
The name Topaz is believed to have been derived from the sanskrit word ‘tapas’, meaning fire. Another possible source for the name is from Topazos, a small island in the Red Sea, where the Romans obtained a stone which they called by this name. The word Topazein, after which the island was named, means "to seek after." The island was often lost amidst the fog and so the legend goes that some pirates, trapped by the weather and pressed by famine, discovered the stone while tearing up roots for food. The Topaz from the island was later found to be Peridot.
American Gem Trade Association

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word "pitdah," meaning a precious stone - Topaz or Chrysolite, is rendered in most biblical translations as Topaz. Pitdah is derived from Sanskrit words (pit = yellow and dah = burn), meaning "yellow burn" or, metaphorically, "fiery". The New Testament word was "topazion," a greenish yellow precious stone. In each case the word could be interpreted to be Chrysolite or Peridot. It is thus possible that the stone referenced here was something other than the Topaz of today.

The Topaz has been known for at least 2000 years and is the ninth gemstone in the foundation of the New Jerusalem. All of the apocalyptic stones are intended to serve as protection against the enemy and as a symbol of beauty and splendor. The Topaz was called by Pliny "The Stone of Strength," and he describes it as the most valuable of stones having a predominate tint of orange. Topaz is a symbol of truth and forgiveness and is known as a “stone of true love” and success in all endeavors. It is said to promote individuality and creativity, and provide self-confidence in expressing ideas.

Topaz signifies seeking and finding as in Luke 11:9 (KJV) - "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Topaz symbolizes those who love God and their fellow man, being intent always on heavenly things they become clearer, purer and more beautiful.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV) - But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Ephesians 3:14 (KJV) - For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.