Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A Pearl of Great Price

I love reading the description of the New Jerusalem, the city of God. (Rev. 21:9-27)
John describes for us his vision of her descending from heaven , having the glory of God, shining with a pure light, her twelve foundations adorned with all kinds of precious stones, sapphire, emerald, topaz, jasper….…the twelve pearl gates, the streets of gold, the river of water as clear as crystal flowing from the throne of God.

Oh what a sight!! And to think that one day it will be our home!

I was thinking of this celestial city today and my thoughts focused on the pearl gates and the fact that each gate was made of one pearl. I had never before stopped to consider the significance of this fact.
Pearls are totally different from all the other precious stones and jewels that are used to build this city. All of the building materials are found in the earth, except for pearls. Pearls are made, not found and not only are they made with living material , they are formed out of suffering.

Contrary to popular belief, the beginning of a pearl is not a grain of sand irritating the oyster. It is much more serious than that. It is actually a parasite, an attacking intruder that drills through the oyster’s shell and imbeds itself in the mantle tissue.. The oyster to protect itself begins to coat the foreign invader with thin layers of nacre (crystals of calcium carbonate) , the same substance that makes up its shell. It can take a year for the oyster to just coat the offending unwelcome irritant , and it takes 2-6 years more to form the pearl.

In cultured pearls , which come from oyster farms, a piece of muscle or mantle tissue is surgically implanted into the mantle tissue of the oyster. It is a delicate procedure and puts the oyster into shock so severe it takes six weeks for it to recover..and some never do.

A natural pearl is found in only one out of 10,000 oysters. And it takes sorting through 10,000 pearls to find 50 uniform enough to string together for a necklace. No wonder that Jesus in the parable of the Kingdom of heaven compares it to the Pearl of great price.

A pearl is the result of pain and suffering - and it is the gates of the city that are made of pearls. Why?
Because entrance to this city was won through the suffering of Jesus.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God…” (I Peter 3:18)
Not only did Christ suffer for us but we are called into His suffering as well, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow His steps.” (I Peter 2:21)

I am sure that the gates to the eternal city will be big and beautiful and for a pearl to be so large that each gate can be made from just one, can you imagine how long it would take to create that pearl? If the tiny pearl in a necklace takes 3 or more years… then a pearl the size of a gate would take thousands!! Perhaps exactly the number of years that men and women have suffered - for the sake of righteousness in the old testament , for the sake of the gospel in the new , the martyrs who gave their lives.

Just as the suffering of the oyster reminds it to continue layer after layer to form the beautiful pearl, so our suffering in the flesh reminds us that we need to be changed layer by layer into the glory of Christ…
“Therefore since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (I Peter 4:1)

All through the ages suffering has always been part of the lives of godly men and women. How symbolic that forever and ever as we go in and out of the city through the Pearl gates we will be reminded of the price in suffering that was paid for us to gain entrance. Rev, 21:27 tells us only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be allowed to enter those pearly gates! Only those who have excepted the gift of forgiveness that Jesus’ suffering paid for.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy!” (I Peter 4:12,13)


Demara said...

OH how that is so special Julie!!! God takes time to build things for he waits for our "return". I feel like God's masterpiece reading this, because if spent that long on a pearly gate...then just think about how much time he spent preparing a room for us there (with clean linens and such?) Aw...what a host!

A Side Note: Also hopefully making the bucket bigger over there on my site will fit longer comments...I think I fixed it!

Anonymous said...

Your writings continue to stretch me. Somedays your thoughts cross over my mind and cause me to stop and meditate on the greatness of our God. I have been drawn to scripture passages that I have not visited for some time, and they have come alive in a new way for me. God is using you to stir my heart. Thanks!

Lovella ♥ said...

Ah Julie, you have such a gift and God Bless you for using it.

Carolanne said...

Wow! I didn't know all that and hadn't even thought about the "pearly gates".