Most of us are familiar with the story of Moses getting the ten commandments from God during this time. If you're old enough, you may envision Charleton Heston with the two stone tablets in his hand, coming down the mountain.
That is a relevant part of the story, but God delivered to Moses more than just commandments during those talks on the mountain.
God gave Moses a vision of a dwelling place for himself. One that was portable and could be moved fairly easily and set up fairly quickly. There are all kinds of instructions for the materials, the colors, the measurements, and many details waiting for you to discover. If you are a detail oriented person, you may enjoy digging around and seeing for yourself.
A particular assignment given to Moses by God was to make sacred garments for the priests who would be the ones to offer sacrifices to God. There were very specific details as to all the pieces of the garments and one of the most fascinating pieces for me was the ephod.
The ephod was to be made of gold, blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen. It was made by the work of a skilled craftsman (remember, these craftsman were slaves in their previous profession). There were two onyx stones which had the names of the 12 boys engraved on them. Six names on one stone, six on the other in the order of their birth. These stones were then mounted in gold filigree and fastened to the shoulder pieces. Attached to the ephod was the breastpiece and on the breastpiece, made by the work of a skilled craftsman, with the same beautiful colors as the ephod, were mounted twelve stones in four rows of three stones each.
The first row of stones were ruby, topaz, and beryl.
The second row was turquoise, sapphire and an emerald.
The third row held jacinth, agate, and an amethyst.
The fourth row had a chrysolite, onyx and jasper.
Each stone represented one of Jacob's sons.
Why? Good question.
"Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place (the Tabernacle) he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart...as a continuing memorial before the LORD....Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD."
Each time Aaron entered into God's presence, on behalf of Jacob's descendant, he carried their names on his heart.
God's plans for those twelve original sons of Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhahb extended far beyond just their birth and the circumstances of their conception. Those twelve boys were the root of a promise God had made to their great grandfather long before they were born. The one that not only promised Abraham he would have more offspring then the stars in the sky but also that his offspring would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years.
God was not the one who needed the reminder worn by the priest. The priest and Jacob's descendants needed the reminder that God keeps his promises, the good ones and the not so good ones. As there was nothing haphazard about any of the details of any of their lives, so there was nothing haphazard about the details God put into designing his tabernacle, the clothing the priests wore, the design of the holy articles, and even the color of the tabernacle covering.
When the believers of Jesus get to heaven we will see that many of those same precious stones will be part of the walls of the new Jerusalem. The walls will shimmer and sparkle and display a beauty far beyond the walls that surround present day Jerusalem.
Exodus 28; Revelation 21.