The God of Sardius-like Passion (Rev. 4:3)

Revelation 4 and 5 give us the highest revelation of God’s beauty in Scripture.

2 I was in the Spirit and…Throne set in heaven, and One sat on the Throne. 3 He…was like a jasper and a sardius stone…there was a rainbow around the Throne…4 Around the Throne were 24 Thrones…I saw 24 elders…they had crowns…5 From the Throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning… 6 Before the Throne there was a sea of glass…around the Throne, were four living creatures… (Rev. 4:2-6)

God gave us this passage to help us meditate on God’s majesty. Each detail is significant. We fill our thoughts of God by long and loving mediation on what God’s Word says about God.

5 I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty… (Ps. 145:5)

It is not enough to study about God’s majesty, we must talk to God about it. Bible study must create an active dialogue in our heart with God. The power of God’s Word touches us as we declare it back to God. First, we thank God for His Throne. Second, we ask God to reveal (release) a spirit of revelation about the Throne (Eph. 1:17).

What God Feels Like: Sardius Like Fiery Desires

3 He who sat there was like a jasper (diamond like) and a sardius stone (deep red) in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the Throne, in appearance like an emerald (green). (Rev. 4:3)

God did not describe Himself to John by human characteristics, but rather by His translucent brightness. What struck John was the color (light) that radiates from God’s countenance and Presence. His appearance is like a jasper and a sardius stone.

John recorded what God looks like in His jasper like radiance, what He feels like in His sardius like fiery desires, and how He acts in His emerald rainbow of mercy.

The sardius stone is a fiery red or ruby like gem. The word sardius is translated as carnelian by some. In the ancient world it was the gem that was used to engrave on. God has fiery desire and burning passion. God gave us insight into what He feels like.

24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous (passionate) God. (Deut. 4:24)

23 …that the world may know that You…have loved them as You have loved Me. (Jn. 17:23)

This stone points to God’s passion as manifest in redemption or judgment. The fire of God’s desire is the same as His zeal to judge or remove all that hinders love. God’s desire is shown forth both in redeeming or punishing sinners, depending on their response to Him through Jesus. Note: the city of Sardis (area of modern-day Turkey) was named after this stone.

The Sardius Stone in Scripture

There are three primary lists in Scripture that highlight the precious stones that speak of the beauty and majesty of God’s countenance and radiance.

The first list describes the 12 gems in the High Priest’s breastplate. Each stone represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel. When the High Priest went before the altar, he represented the 12 tribes before God’s Throne. Therefore, his breastplate and their jewels spoke living in nearness to God.
17 You shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius (tribe of Benjamin), a topaz, and an emerald…18 the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper (tribe of Reuben). (Ex. 28:17-20)

The first stone on the breastplate was the sardius stone. It represented the tribe of Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son. The last stone was the jasper stone. It represented Reuben, Jacob’s first born son.

The two stones represented the first and the last of God’s covenant people. Thus they are understood to represent all the other stones in between them.

The second list describes the majesty around God’s Throne as seen in Lucifer’s garments before he rebelled against God. The king of Tyre was a prophetic picture of Satan’s fall. There are nine stones mentioned. The sardius is first and the jasper is sixth. However, in the foundation stones in the New Jerusalem it is reversed, the jasper is first and the sardius is sixth (Rev. 21:19-20).

12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering (garment): the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers…you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16 …You became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub…. 17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground.” (Ezek. 28:12-17)

The third list describes God’s glory in the New Jerusalem. The stones in the New Jerusalem include the jasper (Rev. 4:3; 21:11, 18, 19) and the sardius stones (Rev. 4:3; 21:20).

19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. (Rev. 21:19-20)

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