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A Gem of a City
by Alan Allegra
7/12/2013 / Devotionals
Were you born in August? If so, do you know what your birthstone is? If you say, "Peridot," you're right. If you say, "Sardonyx," you're right. If you say, "Flintstone," then check Guinness World Records to see if you're under "World's Oldest Person."
August is one of the unusual months that have more than one birthstone. Both stones are beautiful and popular, but we're going to focus on sardonyx, although not because of my sardonic personality!
Ancient warriors would engrave heroes, such as Mars and Hercules, on sardonyx talismans, believing they would partake of the virtues of these valiant victors.
About 2700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah warned Judah that they would be removed from their land and exiled to Babylon (Isaiah 39). This was during a time of great national prosperity, and the land itself was always very precious to the people. During the "Golden Age" of Solomon, the temple and many other buildings were covered with gold, and silver was counted as nothing (1 Kings 10:21). Soon, the "Beautiful City" (Psalm 48:2) would shine no more.
Lest the country fall into terminal despair, Isaiah also comforted the people with God's promise of restoration: "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. . . . 'As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,' declares the Lord, 'so will your name and descendants endure'" (Isaiah 65:17; 65:22).
Seven hundred years later, the apostle John, viewing the future, related, "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away . . . " (Revelation 21:1). John saw the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophesy with stunning detail: "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband" (v. 2).
"It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates. . . . On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Revelation 21:11, 12, 14). The Beautiful City will shine again, and the heroes of the Bible are immortalized on the gates and foundations for the residents who partake of their faith.
"The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. . . . And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass" (Revelation 21:19 - 21). Did you notice the fifth stone, sardonyx? Might I also point out that it is a variety of chalcedony, which happens to be the third gem? The streets are gold, which beats Solomon's gold walls and vessels.
Now the best part: "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He 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" (Revelation 21:3 - 4).
Who will be there? "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27). Whether or not you were born in August, Jesus says, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again" (John 3:3). "I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it" (Revelation 2:17). Now THAT'S a birthstone!
Alan is Content Coordinator for Lifestyles Over 50 (Thrive Media) and contributor to the Allentown, PA, Morning Call. He is also an adult Sunday school teacher and Bible study leader. Passionate about reviving theology and church methodology, and being a senior citizen!
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