The Topaz (Heb. Pitdah)

Exodus 28:17  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Most writers agree, that this is the gem known in modern days as the topaz, a precious stone of a rich yellow luster. The derivation of the Hebrew word seems doubtful. On this stone was engraven the name Issachar; the meaning of which is learned from Gen. 30:1818And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband: and she called his name Issachar. (Genesis 30:18), " hath given hire, or recompense." This word carries us back to Gen. 15 I. Abram had fought a great battle against the four confederate kings, had rescued Lot, and had retaken all the spoil. That wonderful personage Melchizedek, had met and blessed him; and Abram had lifted up his hand to Jehovah, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that he would not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet of the captured booty, lest the king of Sodom should be able to say, he had made Abram rich. It was after these things, that the word of the Lord came to him in a vision, saying, " Fear not Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." The word reward is the same as is found in the name Issachar. God is Himself the reward and the rewarder of faith. His glory is the defense and portion of those who obey with the obedience of faith. The father of the faithful would not touch even the spoils he himself had taken from the enemy; lest in the slightest degree, he should seem to be indebted to the King of Sodom. It had been in the strength of God, trusting in Him, that he had gained the victory: and he would receive his recompense only from God. And large indeed was the recompense. "I am thine exceeding great reward."
The Lord Jesus Himself is the true Issachar, as He is the true Judah. He trusted in God, and has been delivered; having finished the work which God gave Him to do, and glorified His name on the earth. He has received His reward, for which He prayed, John 17:55And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. (John 17:5). " And now, 0 Father, glorify Thou me, with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was." Having been obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, God has highly exalted Him, and given Him the name which is above every name.
And in this reward, the Church of God partakes. " The glory which Thou gavest me, I have given them."
To this the Apostle presses forward, as he says, " that I may win Christ, and be found in him." Like Abram of old, the apostle despises wealth, honors, fame, and (what is far more ensnaring) his own self-righteousness; counts all things but loss, suffers the loss of all things, and counts them but dung compared with the glory and beauty of Christ, his prize; his crown of righteousness; his crown of life; his crown of glory; his aim; his goal; his exceeding great reward.
It is said of Issachar: " Issachar is a strong ass, couching down between two burdens. And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute." (Gen. 49:14,1514Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: 15And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute. (Genesis 49:14‑15).)
Instead of " between two burdens," this is translated by Mr. H. Craik, " between the cattle-pens." Robertson translates it, " between two hearth-stones." In either case, the idea sought to be conveyed seems to be this: that Issachar, anticipating the goodness of the rest, and pleasantness of the land, (the rest, like that which the beast of burden experiences after the day's toil, when he stretches himself at ease in the home of his master,) resolved, for the sake of this reward, to bow his shoulder to bear, and become subject to servitude Something in accordance with this is the exhortation (in Heb. 3 and iv.) Israel despised the pleasant land, and also questioned their ability to enter and possess it, because they disbelieved God's promise, and God's help. Their carcases therefore fell in the wilderness."
God has set before us His own rest. Let us therefore labor to enter into His rest; let us view the pleasant land, the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Let us contemplate the rest, and see how good it is; and let us labor on in faith, assured that God, by the mighty hand of our great Captain of Salvation, Jesus, will bring us safely in and give us that fullness of joy, and those pleasures for evermore which are at His right hand.