It is difficult today to avoid the marketing of gems or stones with claims that these gems have some kind of meaning or power. You might here or read that an agate allegedly is for stability and strength; an amethyst is for stress relief and intuition; citrine is for happiness and abundance; hematite absorbs negativity; ruby opens you to love; and so forth. I recall looking at rings from a vendor in a shopping mall as she kept telling me what each stone represented and what it would do for me until I told her I did not believe in that since I had become a Christian.
A Personal Story
When going through an extremely difficult time while in the New Age, a clairvyoant friend of mine gave me crystals (I think they were amethysts) to place around my apartment. Years earlier, I had been given a crystal by another person and told how to cleanse and personalize it. This involved letting it sit in the sun for a certain time and a couple of other things I’ve since forgotten, then meditating on it to “imprint” it with my “energy.”
But the time I was placing the rocks from the clairvoyant around my apartment was when the Lord was drawing me to Christ, although I did not know that then. I came to feel uncomfortable about the crystals around me, and after I trusted in Christ, I got rid of them. I think it only bothered me because the Lord was working on me, even though I believed that postiive and negative vibrations, frequencies, and energies were emitted by objects. Interestingly, this same clairvoyant (a type of psychic) had done a reading for me a few months earlier during which I had a “memory” of myself in a past life picking up stones. She asked me what I had understood when having that “memory.” I told her that what I learned was that the stones were alive. I remember pondering that for weeks afterwards.
As a Christian, I think the crystals were mere objects and were harmless. It was the idea that they were supposed to have some kind of energy or power that I came to realize was wrong. The problem was the beliefs behind what they represented, not the objects themselves (which, after all, are part of God’s creation).
The Breastplate of the High Priest
One of the common ideas to run across in the church is supposed meanings of the twelve stones in the breastplate of the High Priest (Ex. 39:9-14, see also Ex. 28:9-12). There is no need to speculate on meanings since God tells us what they mean:
The stones were corresponding to the names of the sons of Israel; they were twelve, corresponding to their names, engraved with the engravings of a signet, each with its name for the twelve tribes. (v. 14)
The gems were made to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. No special meaning is given to the types of stones or their possible colors other than this. To read anything into it beyond the fact they represented the twelve Tribes is a form of divination, that is, reading a hidden meaning into an object, color, number, shape, or anything in creation (like the planets and stars or the lines on the palm).
It is the same situation with Revelation 21:19-20:
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.
Furthermore, there are disagreements about what some of these stones in both Exodus and Revelation are since the names given in Hebrew or Greek are not always crystal clear (pun intended). For example, this article tells us:
The name jacinth, or hyacinth, now refers usually to the orange-red and red-brown varieties of zircon. However, the classical Greek name huakinthos (Rev 21:20) appears to have been our blue sapphire. The Greeks generally referred to hyacinthus as blue. (However, the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder speaks of it as golden colored).
In the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version accounts of the breastplate of Aaron (Exodus 28:19; 39:12), hyacinth is used instead of the “ligure” of the King James Version for the Hebrew leshem. In these cases, the name apparently refers to a deep yellow gem, possibly our zircon. Nevertheless, the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament, uses huakinthos for the Hebrew tekelet in all the descriptions of the Tabernacle furnishings. The English versions use blue. Since various ancient writers refer to hyacinthus as some shade of blue, there can be little question that jacinth is our sapphire…<snip>… One other item which may be of interest. The biblical term “sapphire” was not always the sapphire we know today. “Sapphire” in the Mediterranean and Middle East in biblical times was almost always what we now refer to as lapis lazuli.
Some commentators and scholars believe that the stones in Revelation 21 represent the Apostles while others vigorously reject that idea. The text itself does not give any indication that the stones represent Apostles.
New Age Views
It is the pagan and New Age world that gives meaning and powers to stones, crystals, and gems – powers of healing, clarity, attraction of love or wealth, balance, strength, inner calm, spiritual insight, etc. Crystals are worn, carried in pouches, placed around homes, used in massage and healing, meditated on, and used in any conceivable way possible in the New Age.
This idea of special powers in stones has gone on for centuries. For example, one article notes:
“In ancient Sumer,” writes Scott Cunningham in his Encyclopedia of Crystals, Gem and Metal Magic,“lapis lazuli has timeless associations” with royalty and deities. People believed the stone contained “the soul of the deity, who would ‘rejoice in its owner.'”
The belief that a stone had powers or even contained the presence of a deity is an occult belief and also related to animism, the belief that objects, whether manmade or natural like plants, stones, or trees, contain a spirit. To believe a stone has power, as the New Age does, is not far from animism. These beliefs are distinctly pagan and unbiblical as nothing in the Bible supports such ideas.
However, it is common to run into such thinking online and even in stores that sell jewelry. Here is a typical New Age view of amethyst:
The properties of Amethyst crystal are deeply connected to the third eye chakra, the center of spirituality and intuition, and the crown chakra, the chakra that governs our connection to the universe. The purple crystal meaning of Amethyst is associated with energy centers. This helps to explain why Amethyst crystal is such a powerful stone to balance, open, and activate the third eye and crown chakras.
The chakras are part of Hindu beliefs, made popular by the practice of Yoga in the West.
Here is another somewhat less blatantly New Age explanation that one might run into when buying a stone:
Amethyst is the most popular variety of quartz crystals that is considered the most powerful and protective stone. It is a semiprecious violet stone that is often used in jewelry and for healing purposes. It has been sought after throughout the ages for its stunning colors and ability to stimulate the mind and emotions.
I encountered these beliefs in the New Age, and had stones given to me for meditation and healing purposes. I was never that interested in stones or crystals because astrology and Zen Buddhism were my main spiritual paths, but I was surrounded by people who did use crystals.
Reading meanings into objects is also a form of divination, a practice God denounces and forbids. So attempting to give a meaning for these stones or gems in Exodus and Revelation, or anywhere else, is related to animism and divination, pagan practices that go against reality and God. Stones, crystals, gems — no object has any supernatural power or inherent meaning. An object can be a symbol of something but that meaning is given to it, it is external. It does not have an internal meaning in its nature.
Do not go beyond the meaning given or suggested in the biblical text or texts, and do not conjure up a meaning where there is none. This goes for all biblical interpretation, which must be done in context of the text, in comparison with other Scriptures, and, ideally, aided by Bible tools with information on the culture, language, and history of the relevant region and times, and using sound commentaries.
A Biblical Explanation of the Gems in the Priest’s Breastplate
CANA article related to animism, They Have Eyes But Cannot See
Short link: http://tinyurl.com/w58kx972