It shall be doubled into a square: a span shall be its length, and a span shall be its width. And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones. (Exodus 28:16-17)
Upon the breastplate, which was foursquare, were twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These were not just common stones but would be considered as precious stones — emeralds, sapphires, diamonds etc. Thus, per God’s instructions, the stones that were to represent His people were, in fact, jewels which then reveals how God saw them and how others were to see them as well. That point is made in Exodus when God told Moses to tell the children of Israel:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
The Hebrew word translated as “special treasure” is סגלה segulah and literally means “jewels.” This word comes from a root that means “to shut up” as in securing it somewhere safe; it is “shut up” to protect it because of its value. In other words, God considers His people to be of such value that He wants to secure and protect them. He doesn’t regard them as just common and worthless; they are of great value and, consequently, of great interest to Him. As the Psalmist said, ““For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure” (Psalm 135:4).
That the High Priest wore these precious stones upon his heart speaks to the fact that our Heavenly High Priest keeps His people close to His heart. It is a comfort to know that He continually represents us before the Father as special treasures and not common invaluable pieces of rock. Therefore, even in the midst of a corrupt and chaotic world, we can have the confidence that our Creator has not forgotten us and has not lost interest in our well being. We are His treasures and, as such, let us make certain that all of our treasures are not found in this earth but in Heaven. May we always strive to keep Him in our heart even as we are upon His.
Blessings and Shalom,