William Nicholson, 1862
"They will be Mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17
However the children of God may be despised by the carnally-minded — yet they are beloved of the Lord. The appellations by which He addresses them, through the inspired writers, strikingly express His infinite affection. They are called . . .
His redeemed people,
the flock under His care,
His beloved children,
His special possession,
a holy nation,
a royal priesthood,
the chosen, and the elect, etc.
To represent their honor and blessedness, the Spirit of God has employed the choicest imagery furnished by the heavens above, the earth beneath, and by things under the earth.
The sun indicates their progressive splendor unto the perfect day.
The stars, or innumerable suns, indicate the brilliancy with which they shall shine when mortality shall be swallowed up in eternal life!
The flowers in their beauty and fragrance, indicate their moral excellence and beauty.
The fruits of the trees, the grain of the field, and rain, and springs, and streams, and rivers of water — denote their fruitfulness and utility in the world. Hosea 14:5-7.
And the very foundations of the earth, furnish imagery to represent their present and future worth and glory.
I. Consider the Comparison. Jewels are precious stones, or gems made of silver, gold, or other valuable materials, of the most attractive form and beautiful appearance, manifesting the skill and contrivance of the artist. Just so, Christians are compared to jewels!
1. Christians are compared to jewels for their origin. As beautiful as jewels may appear — yet they were originally found in the bowels of the earth, or in the ocean's bed, and often in mixture with other materials of little value. To obtain them involves great labor, patience, and perseverance, in digging and quarrying into the places of their concealment.
Look at the origin of Christians. "Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug!" Isaiah 51:1. "From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness — only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil!" Isaiah 1:6
They are all possessed of dreadful depravity,
covered over with vileness,
active in the service of Satan,
the slaves of sin,
dead in trespasses and sin!
The Lord finds all His people in the rough quarry of nature.
By the ministry of His word, by providential dealings, in conjunction with the Spirit's omnipotent energy — He digs them out, and rescues them. "For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves!" Colossians 1:13. He brings them all out of a horrible pit — from the miry clay of sin, that they may be purified and become His jewels. Their outward circumstances are base, poor, and, perhaps, degraded; but "God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him!" James 2:5. Lazarus, the degraded beggar, was one of God's jewels.
2. Christians are compared to jewels on account of the refining process to which they are subjected. Jewels are made of precious stones, and sometimes set in gold and silver. But much preparation has given them their beauty. The artist has been employed to cut, form, and polish them — He has removed their roughnesses, smoothed their surface, and brought out their colors. Some jewels may have required rougher and harder treatment, others more gentle. Gold and silver have to be purged from dross by fire.
And by the Operations of the Divine Spirit, Jehovah polishes His jewels. After having extracted them from the quarry of natural depravity, and the deep pit of sin and condemnation — He molds and smooths them to the fashion of His own moral likeness, Ephesians 2:10; 4:24. Formerly they were like rough and rugged stones, but now they are like those hewn and polished after the similitude of a palace.
The work of refining is carried on by the Almighty Artist, to prepare and beautify them for the "day of their manifestation," before the assembled worlds, and for their gathering together in the city of the great King.
As in the erection of Solomon's temple all the stones were hewn, squared, and polished for their places at some distance from the site of erection — so all the precious stones of God's celestial temple, are in this world purified, formed, and adorned for the Church above.
Sometimes they are subjected to painful operations to purge them from sin. "Fiery trials," afflictive dispensations, persecutions, and generally the influences of the Spirit. To this refining process, Job was subjected, "But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as pure gold!" "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver!" Malachi 3:3
The process may in some cases be painful, in others more gentle — but the progressive effect is delightful. The excrescences of sin are removed — and the beauties of holiness imparted. The affections are being weaned from earth, and aspiring after Heaven. The graces of the Spirit are flourishing in the soul, and the path has become like that of the just, "shining more and more until the perfect day!"
Some jewels are long in making — as the work is carried on gradually. Every day's work adds to their beauty and richness, and ultimately they are perfected.
So some of God's children require a long process . . .
to deaden them to sin,
to wean them from earth,
and to ripen them for glory.
It requires many trials, sometimes very severe dispensations — to refine them, remove their dross, and to detach them from earth. Yet God has promised to perfect the work He has begun. He will never cease His work until He has perfected it. "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!" Philippians 1:6
3. Christians are compared to jewels on account of their brilliancy and beauty. Jewels, in their original state, are rough, impure, and dull — but by the process of refining and polishing, they become exceedingly bright and splendid. They are so polished, which causes their beauties to shine forth and dazzle the eye; and some are so brilliant and sparkling as to reflect a radiance in the dark.
So the Lord's jewels,
washed from their sins and guilt by the precious blood of Christ,
regenerated and adorned by the power and graces of the Spirit,
shine as "lights in the world," to illuminate its dark moral atmosphere, and to lead men from the regions of death to the light of Heaven.
How bright and wise are their minds, compared with their former state of ignorance! How different is their conduct, compared to what it once was! How lovely and beautiful is the life of the true Christian, compared with that of the wicked, who frequently degrade themselves lower than the brute creation!
Arrayed in the robe of righteousness, and having the mind of Christ, how beautiful and lovely they appear! For this they are indebted to grace. See Ezekiel 16:6-14. They are not perfect, but, like the sun, they have some spots in their conduct. But these they confess to God, and ask for more grace, that the sanctifying and beautifying process may go on. Here they shine amid much infirmity; but they are gradually ripening for Heaven, where they will have "neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing." Their bodies will be changed and glorified, united to their souls in perfect light and glory, surpassing the brightness of the meridian sun!
4. Christians are compared to jewels for their beautiful variety. Precious stones greatly vary in color, quality, and in value. Some are clear and crystalline, like water. Hence a diamond of this nature is called a diamond of the first water. Some are red, or brown, blue, green, black, and yellow, with an endless variety of shade, mixture, fineness, hardness, and size.
Just so, the Lord's jewels are greatly diversified! They are varied in their gifts and graces, in their tempers and dispositions, in their talents, etc.
One is courageous — another is timorous.
One is strong — another is weak in faith.
One is zealous — another is cold and lifeless.
One burns with love — another mourns its deficiency.
One is full of hope — another is despondent.
One has five talents — another only one.
And while all possess the graces of the Spirit in degree, we shall find that one is eminent for this, and another eminent for that.
Abraham was eminent for faith,
Moses was eminent for meekness,
Joshua was eminent for valor,
Job was eminent for patience,
David was eminent for devotion,
Isaiah was eminent for sublimity,
Jeremiah was eminent for sympathy,
Daniel was eminent for courageous faith,
James was eminent for discretion,
Paul was eminent for zeal, and
John was eminent for love.
Look into the Church and see. Such a variety gives beauty to the Church!
5. Jewels are highly ornamental, and, therefore, people fond of appearance attach them to their dress, or some part of the body. They are placed in rings, seals, earrings, and crowns, which adorn the hands, arms, bosom, head, etc. The breast-plate of the high-priest under the law was thus adorned. See Exodus 28:15-28. The same may be said of his ephod, verse 6-9.
Just so, believers, as jewels, are "the glory of Christ."
"No longer will they call you Deserted. But you will be called Hephzibah, for the LORD will take delight in you!" Isaiah 62:4. They are called Hephzibah — the Lord delights in you. No prince sets a higher value on his crown and jewels, than God does on His people!
Like the Jewish High-priest, the Lord has engraved the names of His people on His heart, on the palms of His hands, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!" Isaiah 49:15-16.
The engraving of their names indicates His firm and perpetual love, care, esteem, and preservation of them. "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned!" Song of Songs 8:6-7
Christians honor and glorify God by their devotedness to His service — by glorying in His cross, and having no confidence in the flesh.
When they enter Heaven they cast their crowns at His feet. At the day of judgment, Christ will come to be "glorified in His saints," etc. And in Heaven they will be . . .
the ransomed of His blood,
the trophies of His grace,
the gems and the jewels to bestud His royal diadem forever and ever!
6. Saints are compared to jewels, for their scarcity. They are to be found only in a few places. Comparatively they are confined to a few people — to the wealthy and the noble, to princes and kings. Their scarcity makes them valuable, and the objects of desire.
So the people of God have always been few in number. In the patriarchal age, at the time of the deluge, in the days of Christ, and in subsequent ages — the Church is found to be only "a little flock." Separate from their number, mere professors, formalists, and hypocrites; compare the remnant with the great mass of ungodly people on the face of the earth — and it will be seen that the jewels of the Lord are limited in number. But the Church shall increase. The time shall come when the jewels of the Lord shall be numerous as the drops of the morning dew.
7. Jewels are highly prized and carefully preserved. Silver and gold are valuable, but jewels are more highly prized. Some even idolize them. They will part with anything before them. The loss of them has ever been regarded as a great calamity. Therefore they are carefully preserved and guarded.
We have read of nobles and princes deprived of their dignity and reduced to necessitous circumstances, who might have bettered their condition by disposing of their jewels at an immense price. But so greatly have they esteemed them, that they have retained them with the greatest tenacity.
Just so, Jehovah highly esteems His jewels, and He will also preserve them. "While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe!" John 17:12. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand!" John 10:28-29
True, they possess nothing excellent of themselves; but they are . . .
the trophies of His grace, and
the vessels of His mercy.
See how He expresses His love for His ancient national people, "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession!" Deuteronomy 7:6. "Now if you obey me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession!" Exodus 19:5. "For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be His own, Israel to be His treasured possession!" Psalm 135:4. The word jewel is above translated "treasured possession," implying not only costly gems, but all valuable possessions. But the word "jewels" is not an improper translation; for it intimates that God's esteem for His people is infinitely greater than the esteem which men have for the most valuable of all their possessions, even their jewels.
That God highly esteems His people, and will preserve them — think . . .
of the covenant of mercy He made on their behalf,
of the amazing price paid for their salvation,
of His creative energy to form them after, and for Himself,
of all the arrangements of His providence, and
of the influences of His Spirit on their behalf.
It appears also from the charge He gives to the wicked, 1 Chronicles 16:21, 22. "Those who touch them — touch the apple of My eye!"
He pities them as a father pities his children.
He punishes their enemies.
He gives His angels charge over them.
He overshadows them with the wings of His mercy.
He is their refuge, their hiding-place, the pavilion of their safety, the rock and shield of their defense.
They are the crown-jewels of the Lord, and they shall never perish, etc.
And as nobles and princes place their jewels in a cabinet for a future occasion, so the Lord, when His people die, places their ransomed spirits in Heaven — that rich, glorious, and immortal cabinet, created and prepared for the beloved of His soul, His treasured possession, His choice and goodly jewels.
8. Jewels are frequently counterfeited. That which is not silver or gold — may be mere alloy. That which is not a diamond, or a pearl, or a ruby — may be only glass, or some other composition of materials ingeniously wrought by imitative artifice. Their apparent resemblance may deceive the unskillful and unwary.
So the Church is frequently deceived by those who "are not really of them," who become troublers in Israel, and eventually reveal themselves, or are detected, and "go out from them."
Some enter the Church from mere excitement, but have not the root of the matter within them.
Some enter the Church from mercenary motives; but as they have not been extracted from the quarry of nature, and polished by the Divine artist — they will soon lose their assumed luster, their superficial polish. Trials, reproof, Church discipline, will unmask them, and exhibit them as counterfeit jewels.
Some enter the Church to display their talents — loudly they talk, and much they display themselves. Great is their eloquence, and much are they admired. But when their power is expended, and their excitement dies, they will stand forth in their real character — as counterfeit jewels. "It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are His descendants are they all Abraham's children." Romans 9:6-7
Take heed, therefore, to your conduct. We cannot deceive God. He knows us; He searches the heart. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!" Psalm 139:23-24
9. Jewels are frequently exhibited by their possessors to their friends and guests, to indicate their wealth and honor, and to excite their admiration.
At the day of judgment, the jewels of the Lord shall be gathered together from all parts of the universe. These redeemed sheep will appear at His bar, and be placed at His right hand — distinct from the goats on His left. They will be perfect then, body and soul glorified, resembling the glorified body of Christ, bearing the image of the heavenly, shining forth as the sun did in the firmament, and as the stars forever and ever!
Behold them there! Their countless multitude, their unspotted purity, their joy unspeakable — and full of glory! All earthly glories have faded before them. Angels view them with rapture. Demons regard them with envy, while Christ proclaims to the universe, "These are My jewels! Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world!" Come, take your palms, tune your harps, and wear your crowns forever!