The first ever report I did was in third grade and it was on Rocks and Minerals. Good thing it was something I was interested in because I was absolutely not interested in doing an assignment that required a bunch of research and footnoting and writing and illustrating and...thinking. That was third grade and now, I do that stuff for fun everyday. I had to start somewhere.
God started somewhere. With the Israelites, it was Moses. Moses was asked by God at two different occasions to...interact with rocks. Both instances were with reference to the children of Israel and water. See, the Israelites were released from their indentured servitude to the Egyptians (to put it politely; forced slavery) and struck out on their way to the Promised Land. You'd think that after so many astounding and outstanding miracles that they'd be willing to believe God for something so abundant and necessary as water. They were in the desert so that had to have been a strike against their confidence in God as provider. Water's not necessarily plentiful in a desert. But with God, "nothing shall be impossible" nor impassable. So God tells Moses at Horeb (a Hebrew name meaning desolate, and reffering to the mountains of Sinai) to "smite the rock" (Exodus 17:6). Which Moses does and voila! Water. From a stone. Just so you know, this is symbolic of Jesus. The blow that He sustained made it possible for us to receive the Holy Spirit. Later on in the sojourn, Moses again encounters the incessant griping of the Israelites for water and in Kadesh (Hebrew for sacred or sanctuary) is asked by God to speak to the rock. Well, you gotta hand it to Moses for doing the best he knew how. You can understand when you have the entire company of Israelites (over a million people) of one mind, complaining about the perceived treatment they were receiving, how he could fly off the handle and lose his cool. This time, in spite of being asked to speak to the rock for water, Moses struck it again. See, the act of speaking to the rock is necessarily an act of faith. God said "because you believed Me not"...(Numbers 20:12). Moses failed. Jesus only needed to die once. The symbolism of striking the rock a second time means His sacrifice was not enough to cover the sins of the people. This was unacceptable with God. The water flowed from the rock and sated the thirst of the Israelites, but you can't squeeze blood from a stone. Two strikes and you're out.
Jesus is that rock. He refers to Himself as "The stone which the builders rejected" (Matthew 21:42), which in turn refers to a prophecy in Isaiah (28:16). Paul again refers to it in his letter to the Ephesians (2:20). He's the rock on which we are to build up from a secure foundation (see Luke 6:48). We, as Christians, are called "lively (or living) stones" (1 Peter 2:5).
Diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth. When sharpened, able to cut through pretty much anything. Have you ever wondered how diamonds are formed? Pressure and time. Simple as that. Given enough of both, if you're willing to endure, you get something of incredible beauty and rarity. And that's what God is getting at in your life should you find yourself in a prolonged situation of suffering and hardship and torment. Please make sure you forgive everyone involved and pray for them, but keep your head down and your eyes on God and he will take you—like a diamond from the rough—polish you up, remove the sharp edges and make you a sight to behold. It's what He's doing even now. Hang in there.
Sand, when you think about it, is a good analogy for...how can I put this? An abundance of input. Anytime someone from the Bible spent time in the desert, inside they were effectively dealing with tons upon tons of information. When Jesus speaks of the foolish individual "who built his house upon the sand" (Matthew 7:26), He's saying that they took from wherever—within, without—and substantiated their life and existence on anything and everything but Him—the Rock.
Gold is so abundant and so pure as to be pavement for the streets of Heaven. (see Revelation 21:21) Though, they must have discovered a smelting process that we on earth aren't familiar with because the gold of Heaven is "as it were transparent glass." Here's a cool play on words for you: when something is gilded, or gilt, that means it's covered in gold, the root of which means covered in blood. The blood of Jesus. Conversely, the antonym, or opposite is also a homophone. To be covered in guilt means to be covered in shame.
is an alloy—an admixture of two metals effectively becoming one—of gold and silver.
Touchstones: a place of remembrance for something God has done in your life. We see this lived out by the children of Israel after they had crossed over Jordan. Joshua asked a representative from each of the twelve tribes to pull a stone out of the river, hoist it upon their shoulder, and carry it out to the shore and make a monument to the wonders that God had done for them in bringing them from Egypt to the Promised Land (see Joshua chapter 4).
"What mean ye by these stones?" (Joshua 4:4)
At any moment in our life, we should be able to dig down deep and dredge up some gem that God has given us to show us His involvement in our life. It could be something as simple as seeing a rainbow after a thunderstorm on a day when you felt gloomy and down. Maybe it was the spontaneous interaction you had with a stranger on the bus, train, way to work. You don't know that person wasn't an angel! (see Hebrews 13:2) Thank God for each touchstone you find and they maintain their polish and luster.
The last stone I will touch on is spoken of in Revelation (2:17). Those who overcome, says Jesus, will be given a "white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he (and she) that receiveth it."