Over Christmas my aunt showed me something extraordinary from the Old Testament that I just have to share. I adore the Old Testament – it is so exciting and full of life! I always have a giggle when new believers complain how boring they find the OT and I say “But Jesus is on every page!” And to watch their confused expression is endearing.
This is no exception.
Satan would love for Christians to think that he is untouchable and has no limitations on us whatsoever. But God did place limitations on him – three!
God in His superb foreknowledge obviously knew that Satan would fall and take a third of the angels with him; so God planned this well. And He used precious stones to make His point.
I must admit, every time I read about all the jewels placed on the High Priest’s breastplate, I kinda just skim through it quickly, “jasper, da da da…all blinged out, awesome….next verse…” Now I regret doing that! Dumb, actually, as God does everything with purpose. It holds such valuable information, as this is how God meticulously placed the three limitations on His once highest-ranking angel.
In Exodus 28:17-20 we read about Moses listing the twelve precious and semi-precious stones, set in four rows, which were to be placed on Aaron’s breastplate. God wanted him adorned in sacred garments so that he served Him with dignity and honour:
“And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings. And the stones shall have the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names…”
Then we look at Ezekiel 28:13-14 (funny how they’re both Chapter 28), where the cherub (Satan) is described:
“You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering:
The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle, with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.You are the anointed cherub that covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”
Note that three stones are missing from the cherub! Why?
When reading this I did a little table (please excuse the handwriting which leaves much to be desired!):
As you can see, the cherub was only given 9 stones as opposed to Aaron’s 12 stones. There are three stones missing. Each stone represented each tribe, and on each of the stones was inscribed the name of one of the tribes of Israel (Ex 28:21).
But I wanted to know how we know which stones represented which tribe, but Scripture does not say unfortunately. And I was disappointed to see that there are many speculations about it, but the most popular is that it is presumed it was done in order of their birth, as the instruction was to make the breastplate “like the ephod” (Ex 28:10).
So lets’ look at that. Genesis 29 lists the order of their birth as follows:
1st: Reuben (Ruby)
2nd: Simeon (Topaz)
3rd: Levi (Carbuncle)
4th: Judah (Emerald)
5th: Dan (Sapphire)
6th: Naphtali (Diamond)
7th: Gad (Jacinth/Ligure)
8th: Asher (Agate)
9th: Issachar (Amethyst)
10th: Zebulun (Beryl)
11th: Joseph (Onyx)
12th: Benjamin (Jasper)
The third row gives you the 7th, 8th and 9th sons, with the stones ligure, agate and amethyst, and they correspond with the tribes Gad, Asher and Issachar respectively. The cherub was not given these stones.
Now this begs the question why these stones were omitted, and the answer lies in Genesis 49 where Jacob was blessing his sons with a prophecy:
14-15: “Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.”
19: “Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.”
20: “Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties
Asher means happy and he was the eighth son of Jacob and eight represents new beginnings. The word yield comes from the Hebrew word ‘nathan’ which means ‘to give’. Royal obviously means kingly. Dainty is also of Hebrew origin and means ‘soft’ or ‘pleasant’, which is the perfect representation of our King. No better new beginning than Jesus’ birth!
Limitation 1: Jesus Christ came to be both priest and King, but Satan will never be able to produce a royal seed!
Gad’s one is simple – Satan will sometimes overcome us, but in the end God’s people overcome Satan
Limitation 2: Satan can only go so far, he is already defeated
Issachar was the ninth son of Jacob and the fifth son of Leah. Nine is the number of strength and five the number of grace – the strength of grace. The two burdens is that Issachar sees that the land is pleasant, which is our inheritance, Heaven. But, it comes with burdens to get there. Issachar ‘bears a burden’. We are given grace to “bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Jesus is our burden bearer as well (Matt 11:28). We are to lay down our lives and overcome. Revelations 12:11 says “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; they loved not their lives unto death.”
Limitation 3: Satan is only a burden maker and will never bear anyone’s burdens! Christ alone carries our load! Satan will never have the glory of Heaven again and is overcome by the blood of the Lamb!