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Pure Gold

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:07 am    Post subject: Pure Gold  Reply with quote

The chemist in me found the  comment in Revelation 21:18 kind of perplexing.
18 The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.

As a chemist, I know that even the purest gold is not transparent. Some commentators, including The Moody Bible Commentary opines that it means it is without impurities. It is not clear (sorry for the pun) whether they intend to say that the pure gold is transparent or not. Some have suggested that the glass back then was sparkly, so "glittering" gold would look like sparkling glass. This seems to miss the point in v. 18, "clear" glass.

Another explanation is that when God originally created gold, it was clear, then became opaque with the fall.(Not to rain on anyone's parade, but why would God use "fallen" gold so extensively in the tabernacle and later the temple? Not sure that I appreciate or agree with that interpretation.)

David Jeremiah recently postulated that to a resurrected body, the pure gold was so highly polished that it appeared to be transparent. That is feasible. How often have you seen anyone, or you yourself, experienced an encounter with a mirror that stopped your hand short of reaching the object you "see" on the other side of the glass wall? It really stood on the shelf in front of you and its image was what you attempted to grasp. And to a pure eye, as our heavenly bodies will possess, things that are opaque now may become something else. That is feasible.

Another idea that I have heard was a takeoff on the contaminated glass of that time. Most glass was roughly formed and retained minute bits of sand that distorted the image. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 uses the phrase, "For now we see in a mirror dimly...." The image was not sharp, and probably even looked cloudy, like condensed steam on the bathroom mirror.

Their mirrors were polished metal or the poor quality glass. So "pure or clear" glass represented a very high degree of refinement, and therefore value. So John's comment was that the gold was pure, completely, as is glass that is perfectly clear.

Then I read Job 28:17. (Recall that a lot of the early chapters of Job are not "inspired" as the actual utterances of God. Most of Job's comments and virtually all of those of the accusers often called "friends," consisted of common sense and observations. I am not sure that some of them even rise to the level of worldly wisdom. The Holy Spirit chose to report them so that we could see their erroneous reasoning. We should not quote them as Scripture.) But Job did make a statement that reflected the values and circumstances of the time.

He is describing wisdom and its worth:
"Gold or glass cannot equal it, Nor can it be exchanged for articles of fine gold."

He equates "gold and glass." Are we reading too much into the text to infer "clear" glass? If he says gold and glass are comparable in value, then our interpretation of the Revelation phrase seems to take on more weight.

Gold was probably the most valuable commodity, and "pure" or "fine" gold would be even more desirable. If John was going to convey the concept that even the most valuable "wealth" on earth, was merely paving material in heaven, then using the concept of pure gold and pure glass would serve nicely.

What a thought. All of our treasured and sought after "values" here on earth are merely building materials in heaven. I picture a guy walking out to the street or highway and exulting, "Asphalt! The streets are paved with asphalt!" And then prying up a chunk and trotting it home to be mounted in rings, pendants, and even crowns.

Yet, our value system here is as primitive as our "asphaltophilic" friend. (Just made that up.) It is no wonder that we would have tears in our eyes when we first get to heaven. (Revelation 21:4) We might grieve for all eternity at being so foolish, disoriented, and having wasted so much time on baubles. God's grace and love will overrule that as well as he wipes the tears from out eyes.

And how startling to run across this in the depths of Job's discouragement and despair. It probably did not encourage him too much, but with this new perspective we have a new taste and understanding of heaven.

I cannot wait. Maranatha. (1 Corinthians 16:22) Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:21) Job points us to heaven.

Addendum: This is a problem when you keep thinking about the Scripture. More interpretations keep popping up and of course, they must be shared. Job seemed to equate glass and gold in our verse. At that time, clear glass was a very rare and precious commodity, rivaling gold, it seems.

With time, and technology, the art of glass making turned into a science. Now it is literally no problem to produce virtually clear glass with not distortions or occlusions. You can look right through it and not even know it is there.              

Now back to our related values. With the development of technology, we see something, clear glass, change in value from very high to ordinary. How much more radical will our value system adjustment be in heaven, when all of the flawed aspects are removed. Imagine the rich guy who bought up all the clear glass that his fortune would allow and was placed in  suspended animation until now. He planned to corner the market on “clear glass” and be the king of the world.

What a sad awakening awaits him. (For several reasons.) Some science fiction stories mimic this same theme having some bandits in 1880 steal all of the gold that they could find and wake up 100 years later. In actual fact, they would have succeeded, as the price had skyrocketed in the intervening 100 years. But in the story, gold had been synthesized and was now about as valuable as, oh say,  glass.

Earthly values are constantly changing. How much more will heavenly values have an impact on our “treasure troves” that remain when we get there.

I am pretty sure that Job did NOT think of this, but we can. And he led us to the point by his comparison. Check your values. Keep looking up.

I'm Tellin' It Like It Is! ~
Reflections from Jim
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