Gold and the Glories of the Lord Jesus
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
Gold has always been important to man. His civilisations and empires of the past waxed and waned according to its availability. From the ancient civilisation of Ur through to the modern day, gold has never lost its importance.
Gold is one of the three so called noble metals (silver and platinum being the other two) and is special, not only because of its outstanding ability to resist corrosion and oxidation but also its extreme malleability. A nugget the size of a lump of sugar can be beaten into a 108 square foot sheet of gold leaf 1/250,000 of an inch thick! It is then so thin that even though it is one of the densest of metals it is virtually transparent. Compare the description of the heavenly Jerusalem whose walls and streets are of pure gold, as it were transparent glass, Rev. 21. 18, 21. Gold is also the rarest of the noble metals. It is because of these qualities that it is especially suitable to set forth the glory of deity.
In the scriptures Solomon's kingdom above all others was characterized by an abundance of gold, 1 Kings 10. 14, 21, and yet at the height of his glorious reign this abundance fell short, as do all the types and shadows, of the glories of our Lord Jesus. Witness the annual revenues of gold that accrued to him totalling 666 talents, 1 Kings 10. 14, the ultimate number of man at the apex of his power and blasphemy, Rev. 13. 18.
Gold and the Personal Glories of the Lord Jesus
Solomon was however dissatisfied with all this as the refrain of Ecclesiastes witnesses, 'All is vanity'. Our Lord Jesus therefore spoke of Himself as Solomon's antitype, the greater than Solomon, Matt. 12. 42. It is in the Song of Songs that uniquely depicted we find this greater than Solomon. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in Chapter 5. 2-8. Here the bride responds lethargically to her beloved's overtures, and when she does finally open to him he is gone. She realizes her mistake and seeks him diligently. To assist her in her quest she charges the daughters of Jerusalem to convey a message of her deep affection should they find him, v. 8.
Wonderingly they ask why her beloved should warrant such attention, v. 9. She then gives an awe inspiring and breathtaking description of her beloved which clearly finds an echo in the hearts of believers today concerning the glories of our heavenly Bridegroom.
She begins with three general statements concerning his character, viz.
- 'My beloved is white', lit. 'dazzling bright'. This speaks of His absolute holiness. Concerning our Lord this was shown on the 'holy mount' when 'his raiment became shining exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them', Mark 9. 2, 3. There was absolutely no flaw, no stain or blemish of sin that could taint Him.
- 'My beloved is . . . ruddy', lit. 'red', emphasizing His true humanity. The same Hebrew root is used in describing the 'rams skins dyed red', Exod. 35. 7, and this would convey the thought of His consecration to God; the One who confessed, 'I do always those things that please the Father', John 8. 29, and of whom it was written, 'The zeal of thine house hath consumed me', John 2. 17.
- 'My beloved is . . . chiefest among ten thousand', lit. 'marked out by a banner'. Ten thousand is a limit of biblical numerology, cf. 'A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand', Ps. 91. 7. This also applies to the worship of the Lord in glory as John records, 'I beheld and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand . . .', Rev. 5. 11. How easily distinguished He is, infinitely above all others, the incomparable Bridegroom of our hearts.
The bride then gives a detailed description of her beloved which includes prominently the figure of gold in three particulars concerning his head, his hands and his feet.
- 'His head is as the most fine gold, v. 11. As coequal with the Father He was fully intelligent of the divine mind. It was written of Abraham and Isaac that 'they went, both of them together', Gen. 22. 6, and this is eternally true of the Father and His beloved Son. What divinely golden thoughts were His as He trod that pathway to Calvary, John 10. 30. The prayer of the Lord in John 17 is the supreme example of this where he says, 'O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee', John 17. 25.
- 'His locks are bushy and black as a raven', v. 11, He is characterized by undeteriorating vigour and energy; no grey hairs here.
- 'His eyes are as the eyes of doves', v. 12, implying tenderness and gentleness, Luke 22. 61.
- 'His cheeks are as a bed of spices' to the Bride, v. 13, cheeks which had been exposed to man's hatred and violence during the days of His flesh, Isa. 50. 6; Mic. 5. 1.
- 'His lips like lilies', v. 13, recall how all wondered . . . at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, Luke 4. 22.
- 'His hands are as gold rings', v. 14, the hands able to carry out the divine will in all its fullness. They touched and healed the sick, raised up the lame and dead, gave sight to the blind and distributed food to the needy, etc. Those same hands eventually, through God's infinite grace, were pierced by men and nailed to the cross at Calvary. How strong were those hands in fulfilling the work which the Father had given Him to do, and which even now are outstretched in love and grace.
- 'His belly is as bright ivory', v. 14, signifying His deep inward feelings and compassion, though glorified in heaven, cf. v. 4.
- 'His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold, v. 15, describing One who is utterly stable; nothing could shake Him from the pathway which the Father had laid out for Him. Satan sought to cause Him to deviate from the pathway at the very beginning of His public ministry by misquoting the scripture, 'He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee', Luke 4. 10, in omitting the essential last phrase 'in all thy ways', Ps. 91. 11. It was the way of the Father that He should tread the pathway leading only to Calvary. For Him, never was there need to retrace a step because of sin or failure.
A perfect path of purest grace unblemished and complete, Was Thine Thou spotless Nazarite pure even to the feet
- 'His countenance is as Lebanon', v. 15, describes His majestic bearing. How ravished was the bride to behold His countenance!
From head to foot then here is One characterised by the most fine gold of deity, and the gold of that glory which is His.
It is surely a challenge to believers today to meditate upon the answer of the bride and to be ready to give an answer concerning Him to those who ask of us, 'What is thy beloved above another?', cf. 1 Pet. 3. 15.
Gold and an Official Glory of the Lord Jesus
In Exodus Chapters 28. 26-38 and 29. 6 the High Priest's mitre and its plate of pure gold as a holy crown are described. The mitre was a turban of fine linen bearing upon the front a pure gold plate with the words HOLINESS TO THE LORD engraved on it. This was put upon Aaron's head that he might 'bear the iniquity of the holy things', and being continually upon his forehead it assured the people's acceptance. Absolute holiness for them in the presence of God was in a man with 'the holy crown of gold' upon his head, Exod. 39. 30.
So our Great High Priest in all the perfection of His own holiness encourages us to draw near, free in spirit to bring our gifts and holy things with a holy boldness not otherwise possible. For He himself is holiness to the Lord, completely separated unto God, in the sanctuary for us. Sin mars our highest service even in holy things, but nothing is presented on our behalf which is not suitable for God, Exod. 28. 28.
How clearly then does gold set forth the unique and divine nature of our blessed incarnate Lord in His person now glorified in the presence of God, and who is crowned with glory and honour in His royal priestly work in heaven. How infinitely beyond comparison is He who is incorruptible in essence and nature, and whose offices set Him far above all in His lofty exaltation at God's right hand.