A Hidden Mystery within Aaron’s Breastplate
In Exodus 28 the Lord gave specific instructions to Moses concerning the sons of Aaron, and in particular the form of apparel he was to wear. Our present investigation centres on just two of the items mentioned in the chapter, namely the shoulder-pieces, and the breastplate. These are the relevant passages.
V9. You shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the children of Israel; six of their names on one stone, and six names of the remainder on the other stone, according to their birth.
V15. You shall make the breastplate of judgment with skilful workmanship – – – foursquare it shall be – – a span in length and a span in breadth. And you shall set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones, in the first row shall be a Sardius, a Topaz, and a Carbuncle; in the second row an Emerald, a Sapphire and a Diamond; in the third row a Ligure, an Agate, and an Amethyst, and in the fourth row a Beryl, an Onyx and a Jasper. – – – And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve,according to their names.
The diagram shows the arrangement. The stones that are of particular interest to us are the first (Sardius) and the last (Jasper). We are told that the names are inscribed “according to birth” for the shoulder stones, and “according to their names” for the breastplate. It would be pointless to make the order different for the breastplate than for the shoulder stones. We may therefore safely conclude that the Sardius is Reuben’s stone, the first-born, and the Jasper is Benjamin’s stone, the last born of Jacob.
Turning now to the 21st chapter of Revelation, where John describes the New Jerusalem, we find the following information –
21:11 The Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a Jasper stone, clear as crystal.
21:18 And the building of the wall was of Jasper.
21:19 And the foundation of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner precious stones. The first was Jasper, the second Sapphire, the third Chalcedony, the fourth Emerald, the fifth Sardonyx, the sixth Sardius, the seventh Chrysolyte, the eighth Beryl, the ninth Topaz, the tenth Chrysoprase, the eleventh Jacinth, and the twelfth Amethyst.
The order is specifically mentioned, just as it was for the breastplate. Therefore we are being asked to concentrate on the order as a matter of importance. Our focus is once again on just two of these stones, and we note that whereas Jasper was last in the breastplate, it is now first in the foundation. The Sardius, which was first in the breastplate, is now found in the sixth position. Why is this? Because it reverses the order found in Ezekiel 28:13, where the stones of the King of Tyre, the type of Satan, are found. “You were in Eden the Garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the Sardius, Topaz, and the Diamond, the Beryl, the Onyx and the Jasper, the Sapphire the Emerald and the Carbuncle, and Gold.”
The tribe of Benjamin, the last born of Jacob by natural birth, is now transferred spiritually to the first place in the New Jerusalem foundations. It is a principle frequently found in Scripture that God ordains a reversal of natural order by faith. Hence Abel was preferred to Cain, Shem (the youngest) to his brothers, Isaac to Ishmael, Jacob to Esau, the house of Joseph to the house of Reuben (as a consequence of default by Reuben in respect of his immorality), Ephraim to Manasseh, and David to his older brothers. Our Lord declared that this would always be so in the realm of election by faith. “There shall be many of the first that shall be last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:30. The word “many” indicates that it is not always so, but frequently is, as Paul pointed out to the Corinthians, “Consider your calling, brethren, there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many powerful, not manyhigh-born. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world, that He may put to shame the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world, that He may put to shame the strong; and the ignoble things of the world, and the despised, has God chosen, and things that are not, that He may annul the things that are; so that no flesh should boast before God.” (1 Cor.1:26-29)
Does God have a message for us from the Tribe of Benjamin? Is there something we can learn from the Scripture that may help us at this present time? I believe there is, and the following information has come to light as a result of a bit of digging.
The Book of Revelation was given to John with a stated purpose, “to show His servants things which must shortly come to pass”. (1:1) The visions of the seven candlesticks follow, and then John is called up into heaven, and told, “I will show you things which must be after these,” i.e. after the candlestick visions. (4:1) If the candlestick visions refer to the church age of the last 2000 years, then that which follows must refer to the judgment era, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. So we read in 12:10 that at a certain stage, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the Kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down.”
One of the first things John saw on going through the door into the heavens was a vision of the Lord. “Behold, a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne, and He who sat had the appearance of Jasper and Sardius.” (4:3) This vision prepares the way for the end result in chapter 21, where thefirst foundation was Jasper. But notice that the Sardius is not excluded. Jesus may have spoken about the first and the last, but (as I have written elsewhere) He did not say “the first and the LOST.”
Jasper is normally an opaque green stone; Sardius is an opaque red stone. Both have veins running through them. However, what John saw may have been “as clear as crystal” to use the words from Rev.21:11. To be sure, what John saw must have been a very strange sight. But he recalled something that had deep spiritual import. The actual appearance may therefore be laid on one side, whilst attending to the lesson given by the vision. This lesson is clear enough. The Tribe of Benjamin, depicted by the Jasper stone, is placed first in the judgment scene, and we must pursue this truth to find what else the Lord has in store.
Our first line of enquiry must be the prophetic word of Jacob to his sons, found in Genesis 49. Concerning Benjamin we read, “He shall ravin as a wolf. In the morning he shall devour the prey; in the evening he shall divide the spoil.” (Verse 27) Later on we find Jacob blessing his twelve sons. His word to Benjamin is was follows, “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long; and he shall dwell between His shoulders.” (33:12) The phrase “dwelling between the shoulders” could well have reference to Benjamin’s Jasper stone on the breastplate, which was literally “between the High Priest’s shoulders.” God’s promise to Benjamin was that he would stay there.
As we attempt to evaluate the meaning of these words, let’s have a brief look at the history of Benjamin in the Bible. As to the man himself, we find that he is very near to Jacob’s heart, causing him great grief when having to send him down to Egypt with his brothers. There Joseph gives Benjamin an extra portion, and treats him in a special way. From the tribe of Benjamin there arose Ehud, a mighty deliverer in the era of the Judges. But he was “weak”, being “a left-handed man.” However, he used this weakness cunningly to overcome an enemy. Later in Judges a very tragic situation arose which resulted in the decimation of the tribe, so that when Samuel anointed Saul for kingship, Saul commented, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Wherefore then do you speak thus to me?” (1 Sam.9:21)
Samuel said to Saul, “When you depart from me today, you shall find two men by Rachel’s sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah.” (1 Sam.10:2) They were enquiring about Saul. It was from here that he sent word to Kish, his father, that all was well, and from that moment he became fully devoted to God’s word. The mention of Rachel’s sepulchre is interesting because it refers back to Benjamin’s birth, just within the boundaries of what was to become Benjamin’s land allotment. He was the only son of Jacob to be born in the land, and it was right next to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Furthermore, Mount Moriah where Jesus was crucified was also just within the confines of Benjamin’s land. These are no coincidences.
Saul began his reign well. He acted the “wolf”, and “devoured his prey.” He also “divided the spoil” amongst his subjects. Later however, he departed from rectitude, and lost his kingdom to “the man after God’s own heart,” of the tribe of Judah, belonging to the sign of Leo.
In the New Testament we find another Saul, the Tarsan, who began his career as a “wolf”, devouring his prey in the “morning”, which in his case were the Christians. However, Saul’s career was the opposite of that of his name’s sake in the Old Testament, in that he began badly, but repented, and ended well. In the “evening” he divided the spoil (taken from Satan) amongst the disciples of Jesus. The Apostle Paul said of himself, “I was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. The grace of the Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 1:13-14)
In Philippians Paul tells of his origin. “I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew (parents).” (3:5) Here is a Benjamite who no longer takes pride in his natural heritage. “Those things which were gain to me I counted loss for Christ.” (v.7) Here is the vital key to understanding the “Benjamin-Jasper story.” As quoted before, “that no flesh may glory in His presence.”
Now Paul was given a very special task, and an anointing to carry out the Master’s will. Ananias was told, “Saul is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) Notice the order. The Gentiles come first. The history and letters of the New Testament bear this out, that Paul was the chosen vessel to send the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles. He said himself, “He who wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.” (Gal.2:8) The last 2000 years have, in a very special sense, been under the influence of Paul, the Benjamite. To all those who have received grace and mercy, forgiveness of sins, and sonship in Jesus Christ, have received the Gospel through Paul’s preaching. We have been clothed in the Jasper stone, as those who are “the offscouring of the world”, least in the eyes of men, and having crucified our flesh with all its pride.
And now for the days to come. We stand, as it were, at a railway station, having alighted from one train, and awaiting the next to take us to our new destination. This is the junction of the ways. The “Fullness of the Gentiles” has almost been reached. (Rom.11:26) God is about to begin His new work, the setting up of His Kingdom on earth. The days of Benjamin/Paul/Jasper are almost complete, and that which awaits God’s elect is written in the heavens, where the city is of Jasper, the walls are Jasper, and the first foundation stone Jasper. It belongs to all those who have “laid up their treasure in heaven, where moth and rust have no power to corrupt.”
Here is an interesting fact. In the Old Testament the twelve tribes were arranged around the Tabernacle in the wilderness according to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Benjamin was in the Sign of Gemini, just as Judah was in the sign of Leo. This month, May 2002, has been spectacular for the line-up of the planets in the western sky. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter have all been visible along the ecliptic about 9.30 p.m. when the sky becomes dark enough to see them. Jupiter at present sits right in the middle of the sign of Gemini. As the days advance, Venus rises to join Jupiter as the sign of Gemini descends. Between June 1st and June 4th Jupiter and Venus will reside close to each other within the constellation of Gemini, and will be a very spectacular sight. Thereafter Venus rises further and finally descends again.
Back in the days of August B.C.3 the Chaldaean magi were observing a similar conjunction between Jupiter and Venus in the sign of Leo, in fact the planets were stationed “between his feet”, near to the star Regulus, meaning “royal”. It was this sight that directed the magi to our Lord, “the Lion of Judah”. Jupiter was the “king star”. Venus was considered to be “male” as a morning star, and female as an evening star. Although they would have been unaware of it, Venus represented John the Baptist, descending in the morning sky, as Jupiter ascended. John said “He must increase, I must decrease.”
I wrote about this in “Seven Steps to Bethlehem”, referring to Jacob’s prophecy in Gen.49:9-10. “Judah is a lion’s whelp . . . The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto Him shall the people be gathered.” Jupiter and Venus were stationed in exactly that position in the sign of Leo on August 11th B.C.3. The magi, interpreting it of the Messiah’s conception, started preparing themselves to travel to Jerusalem. The Lord was born on 29thSeptember B.C.2, on the day that became known as “Feast of Michael and All Angels,” the ones who appeared to the shepherds.
I am now going to make a suggestion. Whether or not this new planetary conjunction has significance, time will tell. The ancient magi saw their event in the east in early morning, with Jupiter “in its heliacal rising”. The present set of circumstances is in the evening. The “rise” of Jesus, and the Gospel of God to the Gentiles, has now almost run its course. If now it is “evening” prophetically, maybe we are being shown a planetary conjunction suggesting the change to Kingdom Rule. If Venus, (now considered female,) representing the Church, is seen to be rising to meet Jupiter, and Jupiter is descending, then as Paul said “the Lord will descend from heaven, and we shall arise to meet the Lord in the air.” (1 Thess.4:16-17) The fact that this “meeting” takes place within the sign of Gemini seems very right and proper, following on from what we have learned about Benjamin/Jasper. But I must emphasise the fact that I am not suggesting dates for the second coming, no matter how tantalising the circumstances may appear to be.
We can learn even more by investigating the sign of Gemini. But as E. W. Bullinger points out in his remarkable book, “The Witness of the Stars”, “All the pictures of this sign are confused. The Greeks claimed to have invented them, calling them Apollo and Hercules. The Latins called them Castor andPollux. . . . The name in the ancient Denderah Zodiac is Clusus or Claustrum Hor, meaning the place of Him who comes. . . . The old Coptic name was Pi-Mahi, the United. The Hebrew name is Thaumim, the United. The root is used in Exodus 26:24, ‘They (the two boards) shall be coupled together beneath.’ In the margin we read, Hebrew, twinned. The Arabic Al Tauman means the same.” This reference concerns the corner boards of the Tabernacle, where two boards were fixed together at right angles. The same Hebrew word is used again of these corner boards in Exodus 36:29, and twice in the Song of Solomon (4:2 and 6:6) “Your teeth are like a flock of sheep evenly shorn, . . whereof every onebears twins, and none is barren among them.” There were no gaps in the Shulamite’s teeth!
Clearly the Hebrew word has been responsible for the original idea; hence the sign name Gemini, the twins. However, it must be stated that the “twins” are not twins by birth, but two people “united”. As one of them is called He who comes, this must refer to the Lord Himself. But a closer look at the DenderahZodiac reveals that the second person is female, and therefore represents the Bride of Christ. They are seen walking hand in hand as depicted in the photograph and drawing below, taken from the Zodiac. They have nothing in their hands. There is no sign of warfare or weapons. All is at peace. A marriage has taken place, and the Lord Jesus brings forth His Bride for the world to see. The Hebrew Zodiac also shows a male and a female. From ancient times, in retrospect, they were symbolic of Adam and Eve. In prospect, they symbolise the Second Adam and Second Eve.
To quote from Bullinger once more, “This is what we see in this sign – Messiah’s peaceful reign. All is at rest and repose. We see ‘His days,’ in which ‘the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, as long as the Moon endures.’ (Psalm 72:7)”
Psalm 68 depicts the scene of the coming Kingdom. “Let God arise! Let His enemies be scattered! Let them also who hate Him flee before Him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away. As wax melts before the fire, so let the lawless perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yea, let them rejoice exceedingly.” Further on in the Psalm we read in verse 27, “There is little Benjamin with the Ruler; the princes of Judah and their Council; the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali.” Four tribes are mentioned, not “just at random” but geographically the two southernmost and the two northernmost to include ALL the tribes. But Benjamin is mentioned first, with the Ruler.
One final point in this astronomical enquiry. One often hears about “the Age of Aquarius”, which we are supposed to be entering, now that “the Age of Pisces” is almost through. This is based upon what astronomers call “the Precession of the Equinoxes”, whereby there is a very slow but noticeable retrogression of the signs of the zodiac. Each sign lasts for approximately 2000 years. During the last 2000 years the sun has been rising in the sign of Pisces at the Vernal Equinox, but is now gradually slipping back into the sign of Aquarius. This is brought about by a gradual shift in the earth’s axis.
The next diagram shows the twelve signs, and if we assume the normal method of computation of time from Bible chronology, we reach the following conclusions –
From Adam to Abraham, 0 – 2000 years, the sign of Taurus
From Abraham to Christ 2000 – 4000 years, the sign of Aries
From Christ to the present time, 4000 – 6000 years, the sign of Pisces
From the present time onwards, 6000 – 8000 years. The sign of Aquarius.
However, these signs relate to the rising of the sun at the Vernal Equinox. Why should we be concerned about the rising of the sun, when from Genesis 1 we are told that days begin at eventide, at the setting of the sun? We should rather be asking which signs are appropriate to the setting of the sun, and these may be found on the opposite side of the zodiac, as one faces East, as shown by the connecting lines. Making this adjustment, we find the following modified result –
From Adam to Abraham, 0 – 2000 years, the sign of Scorpio, (not the original symbol.)
From Abraham to Christ, 2000 – 4000 years, the sign of Libra
From Christ to the present time, 4000 – 6000 years, the sign of Virgo
From the present time onwards, 6000 – 8000 years, the sign of Leo.
There is a clearly depicted prophetic sequence here.
From Adam to Abraham, the world was under the influence of Satan, the Scorpion.
From Abraham to Christ, the world was under test, hence the Scales, and is “found wanting.”
From Christ to the present time, the world has been under the influence of the Virgin, the Church.
From now on, we are entering the age of Leo, the Lion of Judah, together with His reign.
The Cherubim of Ezekiel’s vision consisted of Lion, Man, Ox, and Eagle. These are the four cardinal points of the zodiac, shown above. (Leo opposite the Man Aquarius, Taurus the Ox opposite Scorpio.)The Eagle was evicted, and replaced by the Scorpion, and Genesis 3 explains why. The original sign was that of an Eagle. Students of archaeology have often wondered why composite creatures were carved in stone in ancient times, called sphinxes, from the Greek word sphingo, to join. Hence the Egyptian sphinxes with a woman’s head, and a lion’s body, in fact depict the “joining together” of Virgo and Leo, and although the ancients may not have appreciated the rationale behind this, in fact it points to the present time, as we transfer from the Church Age, (Virgo) to the Millennial Age (Leo). And it is the chronological “uniting” of Bride and Groom in readiness for the Kingdom. (The female head on the sphinx must not to be confused with the symbolism of the Lord being Head of the Church. The sphinx is chronological whereas the symbolism of the Body of Christ is theological.)
The Bible shows that there are (at least) two stages to the Kingdom. The first stage is the Millennial Rest, the thousand years during which all who are raised are “blessed” in the “first resurrection.” The next thousand years sees “all the rest” brought back to life. The 8th thousand years is the time when “all things shall be put under His feet.” The musical octave rings clear as a type. The 7th note on the diatonic scale is Te, and one cannot finish on that note, even if it typifies the Great Sabbath. It must be followed by Doh’, the eighth note, but also the 1st of a new octave. For a deeper analysis of this (little known) truth, please read George F. Trench’s book, “After the Thousand Years”, published by Morgan & Scott, London, 1895. (I have recently been able to purchase a copy from www.abebooks.com at a very reasonable price.)
Finally, then, we ask, has “evening” really come? Is it time to “divide the spoil”? But who is going to divide the spoil? See Isaiah 53, the great chapter that speaks of Jesus, our Suffering Servant. “He shall see of the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied; by His knowledge shall my Righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shalldivide the spoil with the strong.” Even so come, Lord Jesus. Establish Your reign on earth.
Here is a table showing the twelve tribes of Israel, with their corresponding stones and zodiacal signs.
in patriarchal birth order
As named in the A.V.
|Sign of the Zodiac|
|Reuben||Sardius||Aquarius. Man carrying water|
|Simeon||Topaz||Pisces. Two fishes|
|Levi||Carbuncle||Libra. The balances|
|Judah||Emerald||Leo. The Lion|
|Naphtali||Diamond||Capricorn. The Goat/Fish|
|Gad||Ligure||Aries. The Ram|
|Asher||Agate||Sagittarius. The Archer|
|Issachar||Amethyst||Cancer. The Crab|
|Zebulun||Beryl||Virgo. The Virgin|
|Joseph (Ephraim & Manasseh)||Onyx||Taurus. The Bull or Ox|
|Benjamin||Jasper||Gemini. The Twins|