And the one seated was similar in appearance to jasper and carnelian stone, and a rainbow was around the throne similar in appearance to emerald.Revelation 4:3 — The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012)
This fascinates me. John in His later years was given a revelation by Jesus. In the midst of it, he was caught up to heaven. He finds himself immediately before the throne of God.
One God is on the throne. Other translations use the pronoun He, as in He that sat on the throne. There is One God.
John doesn’t describe a human-like figure. Nor does he uses personal descriptions. Instead, He describes the appearance. He uses depictions of color based on three precious stones.
The first is jasper. While what is called modern jasper favors the earthy ruddy tones, this is probably not the stone being referenced. Other places this stone is referenced in the Bible it is considered most precious. Jasper is a predominating clear-to-purplish stone. Some say it is most likely a diamond.
Carnelian is the second stone. Carnelian (or Sardis stone) is fiery red.
The third stone is emerald. We know that is bright green.
It’s no mistake that John doesn’t see a figure He can identify. It is also no mistake that John sees three distinct visual brightnesses that He describes likened to precious stones. It is also no mistake that John uses the word translated to rainbow (iris.)
Now think of what is known of a rainbow. It is the spectrum of visible light humans can see. You might even recall the colors in order; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
These are the seven colors in the rainbow. Questions come to mind.
Why not six?
Why not eight?
The colors John sees are notably those of both ends of the rainbow and the exact middle color.
Think of it as one complete (seven) God with an appearance described in a distinct three ways.
The visual spectrum, what we see with our eyes, is only a small portion of the known electromagnetic spectrum. Sound waves and radio waves are also a part of that spectrum. The colors of the rainbow are as ordered from the lowest wavelength (red) to the highest (violet.)￼
There is order and beauty here that enthralls the mind. I cannot imagine what John saw. Yet God is described as filling the visual spectrum. God is not limited to that. We know there is far more there than what we can perceive.