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Symbolism

Biblical Symbols

The whole idea to incorporate Biblical symbols into unique jewelry came, in part from the Bible.  

Deuteronomy 6: 4-9  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.      

Many symbols take on special meaning for the wearer or giver and are a wonderfully unique way to capture a message, share a belief, or express a thought or idea.  The meanings expressed herein are mostly commonly understood symbols that we sometimes recognize and sometimes take for granted. If you have questions or comments on these or any other symbols you would like me to try to find or create, please let me know.  Enjoy!

 

Main Symbols Used in Diakonos Designs Jewelry 

Most Diakonos Designs jewelry pieces incorporate clay beads, brass and/or copper beads, leather cording, and jasper and carnelian accents.  These core elements have significant Biblical meaning described below. 

Clay Beads:
The clay itself is hugely Biblically symbolic, as the many references to God, the potter, describe. References to the way clay is formed and fired and made strong are analogous to the life processes that form people and make us strong and beautiful and useful.

 

Isaiah 64:8   “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

 

Romans 9:21“Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” 

Brass & Copper:  For me, brass and copper represent man’s search for wisdom as revealed in Job 28. It’s an amazing chapter that talks about how men knowledgeably choose to search deep under a mountain to find treasures like iron-ore, from which copper and brass are smelted. In the same way that we have to search the mountain and process the iron-ore to find the valuable copper, we have to search the Bible and process its message to find true wisdom. The chapter ends with “The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding”. Once I started looking, I found many references to copper in the Bible. The usefulness of copper in Old Testament times is revealed in a description of the promised land in Deuteronomy 8:9, which says it is “a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.” I find it intriguing that way back then, the substance of copper was so valuable that it was worth specific mention. They used copper for making everything from eating utensils to weapons to personal adornments. The first few chapters of Proverbs also discuss the importance of pursuing wisdom and have significantly influenced my bead and jewelry making.

Job 28:2-3 “Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore.  Man puts an end to the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest darkness.” 

Job 28:12 “But where can wisdom be found?  Where does understanding dwell?” 

Job 28:28  “And he said to man, 'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’” 

Revelation 19:14-16 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.                         

Leather: Leather represents the covenant that God made originally with Abram about his descendants in Genesis chapter 15. An animal sacrifice was made and God was represented by the smoking pot and flaming torch. The leather ultimately represents the covenantal promise God made with the sacrifice of His Son to redeem us. An animal died to make the leather, Christ died to make us His.

Genesis 15:18 “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your decendants I give this land, from the river Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates-‘” 

Isaiah 42:5-7 "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.  I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles" 

2 Cor 3:6  
. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 

Jasper & Carnelian: represents the “face of God” as expressed in Revelation 4:3, “The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—jasper and carnelian."

Additional Symbols Used in Diakonos Designs Jewelry 

Anchor:  Hebrews 6:18-20  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

Bet/Mem beads:  These beads are imprinted with the Hebrew letters that title two different sets of verses in Psalm 119 that speak about living life God’s way. 

Bet (Psalm 119:9-16):  How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.   I seek you with all my heart;  do not let me stray from your commands.   I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees I will not neglect your word.

Mem (Psalm 119:97-104) Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.   I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.  I have kept my feet from every evil path so that I might obey your word.   I have not departed from your laws, for you yourself have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!  I gain understanding from your precepts;  therefore I hate every wrong path.

Butterfly:  This classic Christian symbol represents transformational change, renewal and rebirth.  Butterflies are not specifically referenced in the Bible, but the sense of significant change as it transforms from caterpillar to butterfly is a traditional meaning.  It is a picture of the change that occurs when we are “created anew in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10).

Dragonfly:  Dragonflies are not specifically mentioned in the Bible.  It has come to be used as an alternate symbol for the butterfly, and thus  takes on the butterfly’s symbolism.  The dragonfly nymph lives its life initially in the water until it undergoes a metamorphosis into the adult form, where it lives on land.  I like to pair the dragonfly symbol with fish, as the nymphs are a common form of bait.  This works then as a “fishers of men” symbol, from Matthew 4:18-20 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. 

Eagle feather: Isaiah 40: 30-31  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;  they will run and not grow weary,  they will walk and not be faint.

Fish: The fish is another historical Christian symbol that dates back to the first century.  Early Christians, fearing persecution, would draw a semi-circle on the ground with a stick, or on a surface with their finger, when meeting someone they didn’t know.  If the person was also a follower of Christ, they would complete the “fish” with an overlapping semi-circle.  This is the tradition open ichthus style fish.  There are many Biblical references to fish, from the “fishers of men” verses (see Dragonfly definition above), to the miracle of the loaves and fishes in Matthew 15:13-21:

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.  As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, "This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food."  Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."  "We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered.  "Bring them here to me," he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Flowers:  Isaiah 40:7-8  
The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. 

Frog:  Frogs show up in the Old Testament, primarily as part of various plagues, as a demonstration of God’s awesome power.  Additionally, a more recent meaning is the acronym for FROG, which spells “Fully Rely On God”. 

Heart:  Well it hardly seems like this needs any explanation.  The heart symbolizes love, of course, and most importantly the extraordinary love of God toward His creation.  The hearts with a hole in them represent the ‘God shaped hole’ that is inside each of us and seeks to be filled with His most amazing love.   

Leaves:  Leaves and trees show up all over in both testaments and are symbolic of everything from God’s provision of clothing, food, shelter, healing, etc.  In Psalm 1:3 a righteous man is described thusly: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.   Whatever he does prospers”.  

In the New Testament leaves show up only three times:

Matthew 21:18-22  Early in the morning, as he [Jesus] was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered. When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Matthew 24:31-33
  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.  "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.”

Revelation 21:1-3  Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.

Lily:  Matthew 6:27-29  “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”  My little lily charms are made up of crystals and jasper to somewhat represent a lily flower. 

Net:  Matthew 13:47-48  Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  

 

Plumb bob/line:  The plumb line is referenced in several places in the Bible and represents measuring for truth, accuracy, much like it is used today.  It is a symbol used in the logo for Precepts bible studies as well. 

Isaiah 28:16-17b   
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:   "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line

Amos 7:7-8  This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.  And the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Amos?"   "A plumb line," I replied. Then the Lord said, "Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

Sparrow:   Matthew 10:31-32  “So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” 

Star:  The star is a common Christian symbol, most significantly representing the birth of Christ.  I like to use it as a reminder of the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 15:5-6:  He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 

It also encourages us to “shine like stars” and be a light in this world as in Philippians 2:12-18:  Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

Starfish:  Starfish are not specifically mentioned in the Bible.  However, the starfish is a symbol from the traditional Christian story about a boy walking along the beach noticing lots of stranded starfish.  It symbolizes recognition of our being called by God to the purpose for which He created us. 

One day, an old man was walking along the beach in the early morning and noticed what appeared to be thousands of starfish washed up on the shore. Up ahead in the distance, he spotted a boy who appeared to be gathering up the starfish and tossing them, one by one, back into the ocean.  Overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of the suffering creatures, the old man just stood and watched as the boy picked up another starfish, and yet another, releasing them in the healing safety of the cool green water. 

Finally, he approached the boy and asked him why he spent so much energy doing what seemed to be a waste of time. The boy replied, "If these starfish are left out here like this, they will bake in the sun, and by this afternoon all of them will be dead."  The old man gazed out as far as he could see and responded, "But, there must be hundreds of miles of beach and thousands of starfish. You can't possibly rescue all of them. What difference is throwing a few back going to make, anyway?"

The boy then held up the starfish he had in his hand and threw it to safety in the waves and replied, "It made a difference to that one!"

Tears:
  Tears show up all over the Bible and generally can represent  tears of brokenness, struggle, joy, anguish, remorse, etc.  Psalm 126:5 tells us:Those who sow in tears  will reap with songs of joy.  They evoke recollection of the woman who washed Christ’s feet with tears in Luke chapter 7. 

Revelation 7:17 says: For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." 

And  finally, Revelation 21:4 assures “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Water drop:  Traditionally represents the cleansing water of baptism in Christ.  See notes for “tears”.  

Widow’s Mite:  The widow’s mite charm is a replica of the ancient coin that is referenced in Luke 21:1-4:  As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."  I like to use this is a symbol of giving all  to Christ…not money so much, but rather heart, soul, mind, fears, doubts, worries, time, energy, worship, and so on.