In the Hebrew culture and economic set up, glass was a common material. The Bible doesn’t say much about glass as a material, but inventions from glass paintings to stained glass has been seen in various excavations. Places such as tombs, have preserved glass for over 3500 years. Fragments of glass have been discovered in Egypt and in places that were occupied by ancient Assyrians.
Glass is mentioned in a couple of verses in the Old and New Testament which we shall look at. In addition, we will draw inferences from verses that mention words that are close to glass such as crystal.
What You'll Learn Today
Glass as a Symbol of Value
The Bible mentions glass alongside other precious materials such as gold. This shows how precious glass was especially due to the fact that it had to be blown in a furnace. In the Book of Job 28:17, the Bible tries to compare the superiority of wisdom as a virtue to the value of gold and glass.
It is Job’s response to his three friends including Bildad the Shuhite. The Bible says,
“Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.”
According to Job, wisdom which included the knowledge of God and how he works is much more important to life than the pleasures and status that comes with gold and glass.
A Symbol of the Heavenly Realms
Ezekiel, the prophet, was used mightily by God. As with other prophets, Ezekiel was the bearer of God’s message to the people of Israel and some of these messages were in the form of visions.
In one of the instances recorded in Ezekiel 1 which coincided with the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin in Babylon, God showed him the heavenly realms.
In Ezekiel 1:22, the prophet talks of a vault sparkling like crystal. This is what the Bible Says,
“Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome.”
Crystal is used interchangeably with glass in many of the Biblical verses.
A Symbol of Partial Revelation
Paul and Sosthenes writing to the Corinthians in Ephesus, address the subject of love in 1 Corinthians 13. They speak of the importance of love among the Corinthians both love for one another and love for God. Paul takes them through the characteristics of love and why it is important. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, he tells them,
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
The use of glass in this passage of scripture shows the imperfection in revelation and spiritual sight. In our human bodies there are things that we can’t see as perfectly, and these are the things that Paul symbolizes through the glass of obscurity.
However, when the completeness or the fullness comes, and we see God face to face then we are able to understand why some of the things including love were important.
A Symbol of The Truth
The Bible teaches us that we shouldn’t just hear but also do what we are taught. In this way, our faith will be complete in the word of God. Today, as it was in the times past, people used to hear the truth, but did not take time to exercise what they were taught.
In the Book of James 1:23-24, the Bible says,
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
The glass in this case represents the true reflection of how a person is, their behavior, and everything else that makes them. The desire of God is that once a person finds out their true self, they ought to do everything it takes according to the instruction of the word to change.
A Symbol of the Throne of God
While in the island of Patmos, John sees a lot of visions. These visions consisted of things yet to happen in different periods. In one of the visions recorded in Revelation 4:6, the Bible talks of a sea of glass in front of the throne of God. This is what it says,
“Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.”
The sea of glass is mentioned again in Revelation 15:2. The second mention lays an emphasis of what John saw. While it may not necessarily have been a sea of glass, but the Bible talks of something similar to a sea of glass.
Digging deeper, John must have likened what he saw to a sea in terms of expansiveness and glass in terms of its shiny appearance. In other words, it could be described as a vast expanse of purity.
A Symbol of the New Jerusalem
In Revelation 21, the Bible records the descent of a New Heaven and a New Earth. According to John, the New Heaven and New Earth were coming down as a replacement of the first heaven and earth that had passed away.
In this new phenomenon, John catches the glimpse of the Holy City, Jerusalem that was coming down from God. In Revelation 21:18, the Bible records,
“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.”
The mention of glass was in reference to its purity as that of gold. The New Jerusalem will be guarded or surrounded by purity as what God intended from the beginning.
The mention of glass therefore symbolizes several things depending on the context. Whether it is purity, brightness, or truth, the Bible is as clear as glass on what each context means.
Looking for more symbols? Here is our guide to an eagle symbolism in the Bible.