For mine superintendent Frederick Wells, Jan. 26, 1905, ended up to be a day like no other!
The day had started like any other day of work at the mine. But when a portion of the tunnel wall crumbled, revealing a glasslike shape unlike any he had mined before, his heart started pounding. He just couldn't believe his eyes. Thomas Cullinan, his boss, would forever be grateful to him for the fame to befall him that day.
Thomas Cullinan owned the Premier Diamond Mining Company of Gauteng, in South Africa. And Frederick Wells had just unearthed a diamond weighing more than 3,100 carats, that is, more than a pound or half a kilogram. It is the largest gem diamond ever found.
(Note: A carbonado weighing 3,600 carats was found in Brazil, but it was not made of gem-quality material.)
The stone was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to British King Edward VII. It was cut into three large parts by the Asscher brothers of Amsterdam, and eventually into 11 large gem-quality stones, 96 smaller brilliants and 9.5 carats of unpolished pieces.
Cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. Reports say the brothers studied the diamond for three months before deciding where to make the first cut. In order to enable Joseph Asscher to cut the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specially designed cleaving blade was placed in the incision. Some say the first blade broke! But eventually the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The stone split through a defective spot as planned.
The Cullinan I—also called the Great Star of Africa—was the largest gem produced from the rough stone. It is a pear-shaped stone of a little over 530 carats, and it is the world's largest cut diamond. It is now in the head of the royal scepter in the British crown jewels.
The second largest cut diamond, the Cullinan II—the Lesser Star of Africa—is a cushion-shaped stone just a little over 317 carats and is set in the British imperial state crown.
In this physical world of ours, when one talks of jewels, he or she refers to some very precious, beautiful, rare and expensive stones, metals or pearls. It seems God has placed in us an innate desire to adorn ourselves or surround ourselves with the precious bounty of the earth in terms of splendid pearls, crystals, gems and metals of all kinds.
And splendor there is! The Bible speaks of treasures, of precious stones and of an incredibly beautiful jewel—the new capital of the world, the New Jerusalem to come down from heaven. And it speaks of other jewels as well, so precious and expensive that no amount of money could ever buy them, because they are spiritual in nature. They are more precious than the most valuable bounty of the earth.
The prophet Malachi wrote of such a spiritual treasure:
"Then those who feared the L ord spoke to one another, and the L ord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the L ord and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be mine,' says the L ord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels'" (Malachi 3:16-17).
If we check that passage in a number of versions, it is expressed in a variety of ways, perhaps indicating that the translators had a hard time believing what God is actually saying here. From reading different versions, we discover that God is speaking here of making His "jewels" or His "special treasure."
We usually do not think of ourselves as jewels. Yet that is precisely what God thinks of us! We are His jewels in the making—we are His special treasure. And I would venture to say that, in God's eyes, we are far more precious than the Great Star of Africa—the Cullinan I! Gems like these run in the multiple millions of dollars. Priceless. Uninsurable. But how about us? In God's eyes, we are infinitely more precious.
How do we see ourselves? It is true that God does not want us to have a high opinion of ourselves. We are to be clothed with humility. But we also need to understand how important our life is to God—the incredible human potential.
The Bible reveals that God is making His jewels, and you are one of them! To grasp that concept is of the highest importance. Having that in mind as we go through life—especially trials—is paramount!
We are often asked to pray for one another in our trials. And indeed we need to. But we need, as well, to remember that taking a rough diamond and working with it, grinding it, polishing it with different abrasives, giving it its final brilliance and luster, with its many facets, takes time and a lot of grinding!
As any diamond in the rough that takes a lot of time and work and love, we have been specifically selected, because—like the Cullinan I—God has made us of "gem-quality material."
Facets of Character
Once a "gem in the rough" is discovered, it takes the "gem masters" a considerable time and lots of efforts to cut the different facets. There are many facets to true Christianity. And God is working in each of us to create in us a unique gem. And for God—the Master Gemologist—to smooth the rough edges and polish us and cut the different facets of His character, it is vital that we feel like gems in His expert hands. We have to allow Him to work in us.
"We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Romans 5:3-4).
As the writer of Hebrews expressed it, "Let us run with endurance...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith... Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:1-2, 11).
Asaph came to understand that the making of a gem requires some abrasions. He wrote:
"For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning... When I thought how to understand this [he refers earlier to the apparently good old times the wicked have], it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end...
"Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind... Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:14, 16-17, 21, 23-24).
To glory! That's our future, our destiny! "The Spirit [itself] bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).
Now the gems of God's special treasure are being worked on. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (verse 18).
Do we let God finish His jewels, or do we insist on our own designs? We should remember that "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (verse 28).
Several Facets of God's Gems
In the spiritual gems God is working on, some facets are compulsory. We won't be allowed in His Kingdom without them for the simple reason that our God will not have another Satan in His glorious realm.
When we are going through trials, do we remember that we have to be poor in spirit, to mourn the terrible degeneracy of the present evil world, to be meek, to literally hunger and thirst for righteousness, be merciful, be pure in heart, be peacemakers and not warmongers, rejoice in persecutions, be the salt of the earth, the light of the world (Matthew 5:3-16)?
How about those facets of the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22)? Neither can we live eternally without them! Do we work on these? Do we allow the Master Gemologist to work on us?
How about adding to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love (2 Peter 1:2-8)?
We are being created in God's spiritual image. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
When God's special treasure is finished, our Savior "will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21). Never lose track of that when you are going through trials.
What Malachi prophesied is now happening. We now are God's. Today is the day the Master Jeweler is making His jewels, and you are one of them! UN
The author works as translator for UCG's French publications.
The Master Refiner
Not only is God the Master Diamond and Gem Cutter, but He is also the Master Refiner. The prophet Malachi also uses that analogy. Speaking of Christ's return, he says, "He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver" (Malachi 3:3).
That's what God does to us, His very special treasure. He refines us.
Consider some lessons from the silversmith.
1. During the silver refining process, the silver has to be put in the middle of the fire where the flames are hottest to take away all impurities.
Peter talks of our loving God who has begotten us again "to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you... In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:4, 6-7).
In order for God to remove all impurities in us, He has to put us in the middle of the fire—so to speak—where the flames are hottest. Remember, God is making His precious treasure, and that is what it takes to be refined! What else?
2. During the silver refining process, the silver must not be left too long in the fire.
Paul writes: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
As with the silver, God always makes sure that we are not in the heat too long. He lovingly watches over us. He doesn't rejoice in our sufferings. He would rather avoid them. But He knows that they are necessary.
3. Moreover, in the refining process, the silver is fully refined when the silversmith sees his image in it!
As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18: "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
When God sees us now, does He see His reflection? Does He see His image? Only in part. If we're still being refined, it's because the Master Silversmith is still at work. And what an honor that is! I know it hurts. We all hurt to different degrees. Some of us are going through very heavy physical or mental or spiritual trials. But God is making in us something that neither Satan nor his demons will ever be. Do we realize that?
Do we see ourselves as God's special treasure or His jewels? It certainly was what Peter had in mind when he wrote: "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people." In other words, God's very special treasure (1 Peter 2:9).