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Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Mysterious White Stone of Revelation 2:17

Revelation 2:17 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give to him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it.

For a study on the "hidden manna" in this verse go to my post HERE.

For our study today we will be looking at the "white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it."

Jesus is promising hidden manna and a special engraved white stone to all true believers in Him. We have believed in Him and trusted in Him for our salvation and because of Him we are overcomers. Through Him we overcome sin and death and we are forgiven and have been given eternal life! So this hidden manna and the white stone are for Christians.

In studying this I must preface this study by saying no one really knows for sure what this white stone is or what is inscribed on it. But we can look at stones in the Bible and get an idea.

First, the word that is translated as "stone" in this passage of Revelation, means a smooth pebble. This is not a large stone but small stone. It is described as being "white". According to Thayer's Greek Definitions:
white = leukos
1) light, bright, brilliant
 1a) brilliant from whiteness, (dazzling) white
  1a1) of the garments of angels, and of those exalted to the splendour of the heavenly state
  1a2) shining or white garments worn on festive or state occasions
  1a3) of white garments as the sign of innocence and purity of the soul
 1b) dead white

So this stone is a brilliant, dazzling white. Which could mean like a super white marble stone or even something like a pure diamond of the highest quality.

Something is engraved on this white stone. Of course, only God could engrave on a diamond but this is engraved by God so it could be something like a diamond.

Knowing the Bible in it's entirety I remember other mentions of stones in the Old Testament. So I began to look into it. (By the way, this is why it's important to read the Bible all the way through from beginning to end so that you have input the Word and therefore can draw on that knowledge in your studies.)

God engraved something on stones once before. Let's look at it.
The Giving of the Ten Commandments, not once, but twice!

Exodus 19:1-25 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) The Israelites reached the desert of Sinai in the third month of their trip from Egypt. (2) They had traveled from Rephidim to the Sinai desert. The Israelites camped in the desert near Mount Sinai. (3) Then Moses climbed up the mountain to meet with God. The LORD spoke to him on the mountain and said, "Tell this to the Israelites, the great family of Jacob: (4) 'You people saw what I did to the people of Egypt. You saw that I carried you out of Egypt like an eagle and brought you here to me. (5) So now I tell you to obey my commands and keep my agreement. So if you do this, you will be my own special people. The whole world belongs to me, but I am choosing you to be my own special people. (6) You will be a special nation—a kingdom of priests.' Moses, you must tell the Israelites what I have said." (7) So Moses climbed down the mountain and called the elders of the people together. Moses told the elders everything the LORD had commanded him to tell them. (8) All the people spoke at the same time and said, "We will obey everything the LORD says." Then Moses went back up the mountain and told the Lord that the people would obey him...
(16) On the morning of the third day, a thick cloud came down onto the mountain. There was thunder and lightning and a very loud sound from a trumpet. All the people in the camp were frightened. (17) Then Moses led the people out of the camp to a place near the mountain to meet God. (18) Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. Smoke rose off the mountain like smoke from a furnace. This happened because the LORD came down to the mountain in fire. Also the whole mountain began to shake. (19) The noise from the trumpet became louder and louder. Every time Moses spoke to God, God answered him with a voice like thunder. (20) So the LORD came down to Mount Sinai. He came from heaven to the top of the mountain. Then he called Moses to come up to the top of the mountain with him. So Moses went up the mountain. (21) The LORD said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people not to come near me and look at me. If they do, many will die.

Exodus 20:19-21 (ERV) Then the people said to Moses, "If you want to speak to us, then we will listen. But please don't let God speak to us. If this happens, we will die." (20) Then Moses said to them, "Don't be afraid! God has come to test you. He wants you to respect him so that you will not sin." (21) The people stood far away from the mountain while Moses went to the dark cloud where God was.

Exodus 31:18 (ERV) When God finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets of the Agreement. God had written on the stones with his finger.

Exodus 32:1 (ERV) The people saw that a long time had passed and Moses had not come down from the mountain. So they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, "Look, Moses led us out of the land of Egypt, but we don't know what has happened to him. So make us some gods to go before us and lead us."
(The Israelites desired an idol and Aaron made them a golden calf to worship. When Moses comes down from the mountain with the first stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments to find God's people worshiping and carousing around a golden calf, he drops, or hurls the tablets, and breaks the Ten Commandments and the people are punished. Moses intercedes for them and God calls him back to the mountain to receive a second pair of tablets with the Ten Commandments on them.)

Exodus 34:1-4 (ERV) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make two more stone tablets like the first two that were broken. I will write the same words on these stones that were written on the first two stones. (2) Be ready tomorrow morning and come up on Mount Sinai. Stand before me there on the top of the mountain. (3) No one will be allowed to come with you. No one should even be seen anywhere on the mountain. Even your herds of animals or flocks of sheep will not be allowed to eat grass at the bottom of the mountain." (4) So Moses made two more stone tablets like the first ones. Early the next morning Moses went up Mount Sinai, just as the LORD had commanded. Moses carried the two stone tablets with him.

Exodus 34:28-29 (ERV) Moses stayed there with the LORD for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses did not eat any food or drink any water. And he wrote the words of the agreement (the Ten Commandments) on the two stone tablets. (29) When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he carried the two stone tablets of the Agreement. Because he had talked with the Lord, his face was shining, but he did not know it.

The Ten Commandments (also known as the Decalogue)
Exodus 20:3-17 (MKJV)
(3) You shall have no other gods before Me.
(4) You shall not make to yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
(5) You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I Jehovah your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me,
(6) and showing mercy to thousands of those that love Me and keep My commandments.
(7) You shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain. For Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain. (8) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
(9) Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
(10) But the seventh day is the Sabbath of Jehovah your God. You shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger within your gates.
(11) For in six days Jehovah made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore Jehovah blessed the Sabbath day, and sanctified it.
(12) Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long upon the land which Jehovah your God gives you.
(13) You shall not kill.
(14) You shall not commit adultery.
(15) You shall not steal.
(16) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
(17) You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor's.

The entire Jewish Law of the Old Testament were summed up in the Ten Commandments. What happened to these engraved stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them? God directed Moses to have a chest built called the Ark of the Covenant. It was to contain the Old Covenant between God and the Israelites as given through Moses thus the name of the chest was called the Ark (container) of the Covenant. The chest had a lid on it called the Mercy Seat. There were two golden angels on this lid.
Exodus 40:20-21 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) The stones with the Ten Commandments written on them were stored in the sacred chest, the place of mercy was put on top of it, and the carrying poles were attached. (21) The chest was brought into the tent and set behind the curtain in the most holy place. These things were done exactly as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The Ark of the Covenant contained 3 items: Aaron's rod, a golden jar of manna and the tablets of the Ten Commandments. This Ark was only to be touched by the Jewish priests. It could only be carried by the priests. It resided in the innermost room of the Tabernacle, and later the Temple in Jerusalem. It was not accessible to the regular man. Only the High Priest saw it once a year. I did an extensive study on the Tabernacle and the the Ark of the Covenant as part of the Tabernacle HERE. The Tabernacle was the Tent of Meeting. It was a tent that traveled with the Israelites. But once they had permanent residence in the Promised Land, King David began to plan for a permanent Temple for the Lord in Jerusalem. It was built according to the directions God gave Moses in building the Tabernacle. King David died and his son, Solomon, became king and he actually had the Temple and Temple Court built in Jerusalem. This Temple was called Solomon's Temple because he built it.

The Ark was mentioned in the scripture during King Josiah's reign and the next King was King Jehoikaim who lost his life, and Jerusalem, to the King of the Babylonians, King Nebuchadnezzer. Jerusalem and the Temple were completely destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant went missing and it's never been seen again. For the whole story see my post HERE. We can probably be sure the tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments were in the Ark.

But this is not only stones in the Bible. Let's look at some more.

When God directed Moses on how to build the Tabernacle and the Tabernacle furniture (including the Ark of the Covenant), He also gave Moses very detailed instructions on the High Priest garments including the breastplate the High Priest wore on his chest. Once the Tabernacle and it's furniture were made and the High Priest's garments were made, Moses consecrated it all to the Lord. Here he consecrates his brother, Aaron, as the first High Priest.

There were stones in the High Priest's garments. There was a golden breastplate. It was secured to his outer garment (called the ephod) with golden chains to two stones on the shoulders of the ephod. These stones were made of onyx and had 6 tribes engraved on one stone and the other 6 tribes engraved on the other stone.

Exodus 28:9-14 (MKJV) And [Moses] shall take two onyx stones, and you shall engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel. (10) Six of their names shall be on one stone, and six of the remaining names on the other stone, according to their birth. (11) With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall make them to be set in settings of gold. (12) And you shall put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial to the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before Jehovah upon his two shoulders for a memorial. (13) And you shall make plaited work of gold, (14) and two chains of pure gold at the ends. You shall make them of woven work, a work of cord, and fasten the woven chains to the plaited work.

The High Priest had the burden of the people of God on his shoulders when he went into the presence of God.

Then the golden breastplate that the High Priest wore on his chest had a precious stone for each of the Tribes of Israel. God selected a stone for each tribe and instructed Moses to engrave on the stone the name of that tribe. Then it was placed in it's gold setting on the breastplate. This was worn over the High Priest's heart to keep him aware that he was one of the people and represented the people to God and God to the people. The High Priest should love the people as he identifies with them, being one of them. He represents God's love and mercy to the people. At this time we can easily see how Jesus Christ is the perfect High Priest. He bore our sins on His shoulders. He loves us. He identifies with us as He was human once too. He represents the people to God and God to the people.

Exodus 28:15-28 (MKJV) (15) And you shall make the breast-pocket of judgment with embroidered work. After the work of the ephod you shall make it; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined bleached linen, you shall make it. (16) It shall be square, doubled; a span the length of it, and a span the breadth of it. (17) And you shall set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones. The first row shall be a ruby, topaz, and carbuncle in the row. (18) And the second row: an emerald, a sapphire. and a diamond. (19) And the third row: an jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst. (20) And the fourth row: a chrysolite, and an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold in their fillings. (21) And the stones shall be with the names of the sons of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet. They shall be each one with his name according to the twelve tribes. (22) And you shall make chains upon the breast-pocket, work of cords, in pure gold. (23) And you shall make upon the breast-pocket two rings of gold, and shall put the two rings on the two ends of the breast-pocket. (24) And you shall put the two woven chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breast-pocket. (25) And the two ends of the two cords you shall fasten on the two plaitings, and put them on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod before it. (26) And you shall make two rings of gold, and you shall put them upon the two ends of the breast-pocket in the border of it, which is in the side of the ephod inward. (27) And you shall make two rings of gold, and shall put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the front of it, near its joining, above the band of the ephod. (28) And they shall bind the breast-pocket by its rings to the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it may be above the band of the ephod, and so that the breast-pocket may not be loosed from the ephod

And this does not end the stones in the High Priest's garment. There was also the Urim and the Thummim. These were mysterious stones that were carried in a pocket called the Pocket of Judgment. In that pocket were kept two stones called the Urim and Thummim. According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions, these are stones: "stones provided for the means of achieving a sacred lot".

Exodus 28:29-30 (MKJV) (29) And Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breast-pocket of judgment upon his heart, when he goes in to the holy place, for a memorial before Jehovah continually. (30); And you shall put in the breast-pocket of judgment the Urim and the Thummim. And they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goes in before Jehovah. And Aaron shall bear the judgment of the sons of Israel upon his heart before Jehovah continually.

Let's look at verse 30 in a couple of different translations:
Exodus 28:30 (ERV) Put the Urim and Thummim inside the judgment pouch. They will be over Aaron's heart when he goes before the LORD. So Aaron will always carry with him a way of judging for the Israelites when he is before the LORD.

Exodus 28:30 (CEV) He must also wear on his breastpiece the two small objects that he uses to receive answers from me.

Exodus 28: 30 (KJV) And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

What was the Urim and Thummim? We aren't exactly sure. They were stones that were used to by the High Priest to determine God's direction. Here are some examples:

Numbers 27:21 (ERV) If Joshua needs to make a decision, he will go to Eleazar the priest. Eleazar will use the Urim to learn the LORD'S answer. Then Joshua and all the Israelites will do the things God says. If he says, 'go to war,' they will go to war. And if he says, 'go home,' they will go home."

Nehemiah 7:64-65 (ERV) These people searched for their family histories, but they could not find them. They could not prove that their ancestors were priests, so they could not serve as priests. Their names were not included in the list of priests. (65) The governor ordered them not to eat any of the most holy food until a priest could use the Urim and Thummim to ask God what to do.

1 Samuel 28:5-6 (ERV) Saul saw the Philistine army, and he was afraid. His heart pounded with fear. (6) He prayed to the LORD, but the LORD did not answer him. God did not talk to Saul in dreams. God did not use the Urim to give him an answer, and God did not use prophets to speak to Saul.

The Urim and Thummim were a way for the High Priest to determine God's direction. Now, we have Jesus who is the embodiment of God's wisdom and He reveals the Father and the Father's Will to us through the Holy Spirit who resides in us.

Colossians 2:2b-3 (CEV) And they will truly know Christ. Not only is he the key to God's mystery, (3) but all wisdom and knowledge are hidden away in him.

John 12:46-50 (CEV, Jesus speaking) I am the light that has come into the world. No one who has faith in me will stay in the dark. (47) I am not the one who will judge those who refuse to obey my teachings. I came to save the people of this world, not to be their judge. (48) But everyone who rejects me and my teachings will be judged on the last day by what I have said. (49) I don't speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say. (50) I know that his commands will bring eternal life. That is why I tell you exactly what the Father has told me.

John 16:13 (CEV) The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn't speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen.

Now let's go back to the mysterious white stone in Revelation 2:17.

Revelation 2: 17b I will give to him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it.

In studying engraved stones, we've seen some examples in the Old Testament. We still don't know exactly what the white stone is or what is engraved on it. But we know that Jesus has these stones made and ready for us. He has engraved on the stones. We don't know if it's a new name for the Christian or a new name of Christ that is uniquely given to the believer. We know that God changed people's names like when He changed Abram's name to Abraham and Jacob was renamed Israel. We also know that Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter. So it's possible that we will be assigned a new name representing our new life. In Revelation we also see Jesus receiving a new name:

Revelation 3:12b (MKJV, Jesus speaking) "I will also write on them My own new name".

We don't know. But what we do know is that Jesus will be waiting for us to give us the hidden manna and the engraved white stone. It is a welcome into Heaven and to our new eternal life with Him. It is a token of His favor and love. It is also a sign of intimacy with our Savior. I am unique to Him and He is unique to me and no one but He and I will know what is engraved on that white stone.

Will this be some type of engraved diamond that I will wear, maybe on my forehead? Dazzling white marble that I wear on my shoulder like a pin? Some other type of white stone that I wear on my chest, over my heart like a necklace? Will it be an engraved stone that I wear on my hand like a signet ring? I don't know but I do know that whatever it is, it means the world to me. Literally! I am called to die to the world and live to Christ.

Romans 6:6-8 (ERV) We know that our old life was put to death on the cross with Christ. This happened so that our sinful selves would have no power over us. Then we would not be slaves to sin. (7) Anyone who has died is made free from sin's control. (8) If we died with Christ, we know that we will also live with him.

I can only humbly accept this stone, whatever it may be, and fall at His feet in worship with a heart full of thanksgiving.

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