And he made the breastplate, artistically woven like the workmanship of the ephod, of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and of fine woven linen. They made the breastplate square by doubling it; a span was its length and a span its width when doubled. (Exodus 39:8-9)
The Breastplate or Righteousness, resting upon the heart of the High Priest and adorned with twelve precious stones representing the tribes of Israel, was “foursquare” in shape. That is very interesting because this similarly describes the New Jerusalem that John saw coming down out of heaven from God. He described it thus:
“The wall of the city had twelve foundations … the city is laid out as a square; its’ length is as great as its breadth…. Its’ length, breadth, and height are equal… The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones:” (Revelation 21:14, 16, 19)
In fact, there are twelve different precious stones mentioned in relation to the foundation of the city that is foursquare. Obviously, those who were familiar with the Breastplate would have immediately noticed the connection, just as we do here. It falls to us then to try and understand the “why” of this connection — what is God saying to us through this? Personally, I believe it hearkens back to something we have discussed previously — God’s desire to build a house in which He and His people could dwell together. That is His heart — to have a people and to be their God. The New Jerusalem is the culmination of His heart’s desire and, consequently, the thematic connection to the Breastplate of Righteousness — that which is worn on the heart of the High Priest.
Not surprisingly, the New Jerusalem is described as being a “bride adorned for her husband.” Perhaps not because the city itself is the Bride but that it is the personification of the Creator’s desire to have a house in which He and His beloved could commune. In other words, the New Jerusalem doesn’t fulfill its function if God’s people aren’t there to inhabit it and dwell with Him. The point is that this — to be one with His people — is what has been on the heart of our Father from the very beginning and, frankly, that should touch our heart. It seems fitting to close with the words of John in regards to the purpose of the New Jerusalem.
“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:2-3)
Blessings and Shalom,