Saturday, January 31, 2015

Triplets of Treasure: Gold, Bdellium, and Onyx

From the beginning of the Bible, God foretold of man’s sin, His judgment, and ultimately His redemption through sending His Son as the perfect sacrifice to reconcile sinful man to Holy God. We see God’s Triune nature in His plan of creation; the three lands comprising the Garden of Eden, and even in three treasures specifically mentioned in these lands. These are gold, bdellium and onyx from the land of Havilah (Genesis 2:11-12), echoing the themes of sin absolved by God’s reconciliation and grace.

Gold, being the costliest metal known in Bible times, was offered by the people to decorate the holy furnishings of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:11-39; 26:6-37, etc.) the priestly ephod or breastplate (Exodus 28:5-36; 39:2-25), and the temple (1 Kings 6:20-35). These offerings honored God, and yet sinful man also used gold to dishonor God by making a golden calf to worship as an idol (Exodus 32:2-31), and a golden statue to glorify king Nebuchadnezzar instead of the true God Who created Him (Daniel 3).

Gold is a symbol of kingship, as in the crown placed on King David’s head (Psalm 21:3; 2 Samuel 12:30), the golden scepter extended by King Ahasuerus to Esther as a token of his favor (Esther 4:11; 5:2; 8:4), and the royal gift of gold from the wise men to the young child Jesus (Matthew 2:11), reflecting His status as King of Kings (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).

But gold also reflects God’s judgment, in that He tests us, our works, and the motive for our works  by placing them through the refiner’s fire like a goldsmith burning out impurities until He sees His own reflection in us (Job 23:10; Proverbs 27:21; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 1 Peter 1:7).

Thankfully, our trials on this earth are temporary, and our rewards in Heaven last forever, for those who have trusted in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6). In Heaven the church is represented as seven golden candlesticks (Revelation 1:12); our King of Kings is clothed in a golden girdle and crown (Revelation 1:13; 14:14); and even the streets are paved with gold (Revelation 21:18).

The second treasure in the land of Havilah is bdellium, which is a precious resin from a tree. As the sap exudes from the tree and hardens, it resembles a pearl that may be used in jewelry. The white manna God provided in the wilderness to feed His people was the color of bdellium (Numbers 11:7).

Pearls in Scripture refer to the precious truth of God’s Word that should not be cast before swine (Matthew 7:6); the priceless kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 13:45-46), and the gates of that glorious city, each made from a single pearl (Revelation 21:21).

But pearls in the Bible also symbolize costly treasure that may be used sinfully to adorn ourselves in pride (1 Timothy 2:9), to trade in the world system glorifying Satan (Revelation 18:12,16), or to decorate the whore of Babylon. This symbol of the false church of the Tribulation is described as decked out with gold and precious stones and pearls (Revelation 17:4).

Aromatic oils in the resin of the bdellium tree are also used in perfumery, as incense and in traditional medicine, reminding us of Christ’s qualities as fragrant Lily of the Valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1), as the great High Priest after the order of Melchizidek (Hebrews 7), and as the Balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22; 46:11) Who is the Great Physician.

Because bdellium oil resembles frankincense and is sometimes added to myrrh for the above uses, its appearance in the Garden of Eden also foreshadows the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh given to Jesus by the wise men (Matthew 2:11), signifying His role as King, Priest and Sacrifice to atone for our sins.

Onyx, the third treasure from Havilah, is a precious stone with stripes or bands of the mineral chalcedony in alternating colors, resembling agate. These stripes are often in shades of red, black, and white, representing Christ’s shed blood that washes away the darkness of our sins until we are white as snow (Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:7; John 1:7)., His perfect purity, holiness and righteousness are imputed to our account (Romans 4:6-24; 5:13; 2 Corinthians 5:19), for by His stripes we are healed! (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)

Like gold, onyx was used to glorify God in the priestly ephod or breastplate (Exodus 25:7; 28:20; 35:9, etc.) and in the temple (1 Chronicles 29:2), and onyx (also known as sardonyx) is one of the precious stones foreseen in the foundation of the city of Heaven (Revelation 21:20). Before God expelled Lucifer from Heaven for his sin of pride, onyx and gold were included in the precious materials covering the anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:13).

God has blessed our planet with beautiful treasures, but His truth, or wisdom, is priceless, worth far more than the gold, bdellium, and onyx found in the Garden of Eden (Job 28:12-18). May we hold fast to His truth that our sins demand His judgment, but that His amazing grace has reconciled us to Himself! 

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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Linda said...

Thanks for this lesson in the meaning of the three treasures. I love to study the Word for the historical lessons and the thread of overlaps and continuity. For me, it deepens the meaning and hopefully, helps me in the personal application to my faith and actions. Blessings, Linda

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I have a documentary video "After People!" which speculates what would happen to the earth if the world population suddenly becomes zero.
Buildings would slowly deteriorate, starting at the roof, where its most exposed to the weather, with the roof falling in, then much later the whole edifice would crumble to the ground.
Every man-made structure, whatever it might be, will suffer the same fate, even if the structure remains intact for hundreds of years after the vanishing of every human - until the whole planet will become a combination of ocean and forest -
Except at the vaults housing gold bars under New York City. After hundreds,or even thousands of years, the vaults themselves would be no more, but the gold itself will be as fresh as the day they were placed there.
In short, gold is the only mineral that will remain forever, symbolising God himself, whose word will remain, even after heaven and earth will pass away.
A brilliant post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Linda, for your encouraging words! It is a blessing to "meet" a sister in Christ who loves to study Scripture and uncover God's truth. May God bless you richly for being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Excellent point about gold lasting forever, as will God's Word and God Himself. In today's world of "smart bombs" it is entirely conceivable that an entire population, in the US, for example, could vanish while leaving all the buildings and structures intact. And, if the US were able to retaliate before their population disappeared, the whole world might be left in that state resembling a Twilight Zone episode.
Thanks as always for your enlightening comment. God bless you.

Donald Fishgrab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donald Fishgrab said...

Knowing God's word is worth more than the most precious things on earth, isn't i amazing how little attention most Christians pay to it?

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Donald! God's Word teaches us how to be saved, shows us the Father through Christ, and is the only source of true wisdom and understanding, worth far more than gold and silver. Yet nowadays it is even difficult to find churches that preach God's Word instead of man's philosophy. Thanks for your comment & God bless.

Wise Hearted said...

Love the information on the treasures our earth hold because it was created by the best treasure of all, the Lord Himself.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Betty! May we love Him not for His many blessings, but for Himself. Thanks so much for your comment, and may you have a blessed week in Him,

Unknown said...

Wow - this is a rich post. I never thought about gold being a symbol of God's judgment, but of course I have even sung songs about the Refiner's fire. Thank you for making such a tangible connection for me.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Jen, for your lovely comment! I'm blessed to hear that you liked the post.
Love in Christ,

a joyful noise said...

Three treasures even from the Garden of Eden and their value used for worship and not to make us proud. Your words are inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for sharing at Tell me a Story.

Laurie Collett said...

Thank you, Hazel, for your kind comment and for hosting. May we always use His gifts for His glory and not our own.
God bless,

Unknown said...

Wow! This post is so informative! I love to learn more and to dig deeper into God's Words and the meaning of the symbols He used. It's no wonder this post was popular at the Saturday Soiree Blog Party! You're featured this week!

Marie said...

Hopped here from What To Do Weekend. Well written! Blessings to you and yours! Marie @

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much for the feature, Sarah Ann, and for your sweet comment! I'm blessed and honored.
May you have a wonderful week in Him,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Marie! God bless you & your family too!

Tina at said...

This is interesting. I knew nothing about bdellium or onyx before reading this. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Tina! I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post. Thanks for hosting & God bless!