|BIBLE STUDY SERIES: #10-11|
5 January, 1992
On our last programme, we were considering the magnificent witness which was afforded to those of succeeding generations by the simple block of stone, which formed the pillow upon which Jacob had rested his head, on that night when he saw the vision of the ladder stretching to heaven. This vision was shown to him as he slept, in the neighbourhood of the Canaanite city called Luz, at a spot which Jacob called Bethel, a word which means "House of God." However, we must remember that it was specifically the stone upon which his head had rested on the night of the glorious vision that Jacob termed "Bethel" or "House of God." Genesis 28:22 quotes Jacob's words: "And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house...."
On the night of this vision, Jacob had been following a route back to Haran, to obtain a wife from among the young women of his mother's family, in compliance with his parents' wishes, and it appears that in doing this, he was re-tracing the route by which Abraham, his grand-father had first entered the Promised Land, having come from that direction.
Thus, when Jacob encamped for the night at Bethel, he was choosing a spot which had already been hallowed as the site of an act of worship many years before, for Abraham had encamped between Bethel and Hai at the time when he was a stranger in the land. Genesis 12:8 tells us that between Bethel and Hai, Abraham had built an altar, and had there expressed his worship to God. Perhaps that act of devotion had taken place on this very spot upon which Jacob now lay. Certainly it happened very close to this location.
Geological surveys have recorded the presence of sandstones at a number of localities in Palestine, and a peculiar calcareous sandstone occurs a few miles from Bethel. This point is important because a false statement, has circulated quite widely for some time, to the effect that only limestones occur in that area of the Holy Land.
This sandstone, found not far from Bethel, is of a type which is stated to match that of the Coronation stone now resting in Westminster Abbey, in London, England.* Back in 1950, when Scottish nationalists stole the Coronation stone from the Abbey, and spirited it back to Scotland, it was broken into two segments. When the stone was being repaired, in order to supply structural strength at the point of the break, a Scottish stonemason is stated to have inserted copper pipe. Chips of the stone had, perforce, to be removed for the insertion of this pipe, and these became available for microscopic geological comparison with samples of stone from the Bethel area. We are told that they matched so well that they might reasonably have originally come from the same stone!
But now let us return to the Biblical scene. Jacob, upon rising the next morning after receiving that vision, had poured oil on the rock which had lain beneath his head. This is an outstanding event in Biblical history. It was this same rock of Bethel which evidence shows to have travelled with the Children of Israel in a later generation, throughout the Exodus from Egypt.
There might be something more to say about that anointed rock. That stone was apparently carried from place to place on the wilderness journey, and we find St. Paul, in I Corinthians 10:1-4 using it as a symbol of the presence of Jesus Christ with His people. There may even be a more complete symbolic connection in the matter than is generally realised. As the stone passed from place to place with the Israelites, it may well have been a prophetic symbol for Christ's presence with Israel historically, down through their generations; even on through the subsequent Christian dispensation.
Let us re-examine the two occasions upon which Moses struck the rock in the wilderness, for it appears that these hold immense significance for us today. The first occasion was at Horeb, by Mount Sinai, under God's command, and it related to the giving of The Law. The second was at Kadesh at the nearest gateway to the Promised Land, and it seems to be related to the entry of Israel into that place as their inheritance. The second time, Moses was simply commanded, you may remember, to speak to the rock. Thus it would bring forth water for the people. Moses struck the rock on that second occasion, which was a transgression of God's injunction as it broke the symbolism intended by the simple act of speaking to the rock.
If the transgression embodied in the act of striking the rock a second time was of sufficient importance that this sin disbarred Moses from entry to the Promised Land, then the intent of the symbol must have very great significance too.
Let us take another look at this whole matter, for we may see in the two occasions, at which the Rock brought forth water, symbols of the two occasions of especial inter-action between Christ and His people, namely, the First and Second Advents.
Let us consider the matter of the Rock acting as a source of water for God's people. You may remember that Christ, in John 4, had come to Sychar, a city of Samaria, "near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph." "Now Jacob's well was there", we are told. What more appropriate spot could Christ have chosen at which to teach a great truth concerning Himself and this matter of water, which so clearly parallels those occasions when water issued from Jacob's Pillow.
Christ was speaking to the woman at Jacob's Well; a woman who had asked Jesus if he was greater than "our father Jacob... . Jesus replied in these words: "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Jacob's Stone, or rock, was indeed a symbolic "type", standing for Jesus Christ, for St. Paul definitely states this in I Corinthians 10:4, saying "that Rock was Christ."
Just as the Rock was anointed with oil by Jacob, so Jesus was "The Anointed", for the very word "Christ" means "anointed." Scripture certainly affirms that Jesus was indeed "The Anointed." We can confirm it if we look up Acts 4:26-27. After hearing the report of Peter and John upon their release by the council, the company of believers expressed their thanksgiving in a Psalm. They quoted the Psalmist where he speaks of the rulers being gathered together "against the Lord and against his Christ." In the next verse, Christ is described as "thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed.
In Acts 10:38, Peter, speaking to the household of Cornelius, said that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power... ." John 12:3, speaks of an occasion wherein Jesus was physically anointed. "Then took Mary a pound of ointment, of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair... ."
A passage wherein Jesus Himself makes the claim to be The Lord's anointed is found in Luke 4:18. Here, Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord... ." Then Jesus says "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears... ."
Just as Jacob called the stone "God's House", a term which can mean God's Temple, Jesus spoke of his body as "This Temple" in John 2:19-21. You may remember the circumstance. Challenged by the Jews to produce a sign and thus to demonstrate His authority to cast out the money changers from the temple, Christ replied:
19. ...Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21. But he spake of the temple of his body.
In Matthew 26:61 and Mark 14:58, this same saying, mis-understood, was quoted by false witnesses at His trial, and by those who reviled Him as He hung on the Cross, as shown in Matthew 27:40 and Mark 15:29.
St. Paul extends that temple symbol in several passages to Israelites who submit themselves to Christ. I Cor. 10:1-5 shows us that this epistle is addressed to Israelites, and in I Corinthians 3:17, Paul writes thus: "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." He reinforces this in I Corinthians 6:19, "What, know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you... ."
In II Corinthians 6:16, Paul again returns to this theme, saying: "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."
In Ephesians 2:20-22, Paul says they "are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
We read of a Masonic tradition that Jacob's Pillow stone had been considered and rejected by the builders of Solomon's temple. This would accord with Christ's words in Matthew 21:42, where He quoted Psalm 118:22-23, to remind those who rejected Him that: "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner... ."
Just as St. Paul told members of Christ's Israelitish church that they were parts of His temple, so the sandstone block of the Coronation Stone is composed of sand grains, answering to the promise given to Jacob that his seed would be numerous as the dust of the earth in Genesis 28:14. Curiously, even the colour of the Coronation Stone, a "purplish-red", comprises the colour combination symbolic of royalty and of blood!
The Rock, if we accept that identification with the Coronation Stone which I have suggested, was slung on a supporting pole by iron rings stapled into its extremities. Was it not also on a pole or "stake", fastened by iron spikes through His extremities, that Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree?
Even the dimensions of the Coronation Stone's extreme measurements lead us to certain peculiarly significant numeric considerations which have been diagrammed and outlined in a small booklet. We will be glad to send you a copy if you write to us.**
We shall continue our studies next week.
* The statement was true at the time this broadcast was delivered in 1992. The Stone has more recently, of course, been taken back to Scotland.
** A later edition of this booklet, "The Stone of Destiny: The Meaning of Its Dimensions" may still be available through our book rooms, but at the price set in the Catalogue listing.
12 January, 1992
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In this series of Bible studies, we have been tracing the development of God's Great Plan whereby He is opening a way of salvation for mankind and also a way of redemption for those, His servant peoples, descendants of a chosen line of patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and now, Jacob.
We have seen that God deals with people in a manner best designed to teach them to respect and to obey His Laws, and thus to live in harmony with Himself and with His creation. We have seen how the Almighty God has made certain covenants, to which the human commitments and responses were completed by these Patriarchs in their own lifetimes, and so those covenants, on God's part, henceforth became irrevocable.
As God's Holy Name is the seal upon these undertakings, we must be able to point to their fulfilments down through subsequent history, or we must hold God to be a liar. Our Salvation depends upon the assurance that God is true and honourable in all His commitments, and thus Christians should be exerting every effort to find and to proclaim the unfolding fulfilments of those promises.
It is astonishing that so many who profess to be leaders in the Christian community should so completely miss this point. It seems that they have become blinded by some pre-conceived theological "hang-up" or other. Instead of seeking to find and to proclaim those literal fulfilments of The Almight God's irrevocable, plain commitments down through subsequent history, (fulfilments which the clear words of The Almighty prophesy), all too many Christian leaders seem content to latch onto some particular verse to "spiritualise" plain prophecies, and they thus twist themselves into theological knots to evade the obvious correspondence of prophecy and history.
If God told a patriarch that his seed would develop literally in a certain way, with certain characteristics, we had better be in a position to show that God has, indeed, honoured His word literally where a literal outcome was clearly intended. Excuses which blind leaders offer will not bring them credit when their blindness finally lifts. Can we not sense that climactic events are fast breaking upon the world's stage; events long prophesied?
At the "time of the end", Daniel was told that "the wise shall understand". Where are those "wise"? Are not the pressures of events even now assembling the participants on stage for the great Exodus of God's people from the modern bondage? We must not mis-understand the plot of the story through mis-labling the players.
In this series of talks, we are attempting to provide the needed evidence that will identify the players on the stage, to show that Almighty God has not left His words to fail. He is, indeed, bringing all to pass as He has promised, if we will but open our eyes to it.
Let us return to our studies concerning the lives of those Patriarchs. We had arrived at the point in the life of Jacob, where he has anointed the Bethel stone, following the great vision of the ladder which stretched to heaven, during which he had received certain promises from God.
Now he is arriving at the end of his journey to join his mother's people, and to seek for a wife, as his parents, Isaac and Rebekah had ordered. He is under God's protective oversight, as we noted in Genesis 28:15, but he is about to receive a most important lesson. We reap what we sow.
You will remember that, at his mother's urging, Jacob had dressed himself in Esau's cloths, and the skins of kids, and presented himself to his aged father, Isaac, whose dim eyes had not discerned the subterfuge. Too late, Isaac and Esau learned what Jacob and Rebekah had done. The blessing which Isaac had intended for Esau had been placed, instead, upon the supplanter.
Now, God has a very sharp lesson in store for Jacob. He is to find himself on the receiving end of such a substitutionary arrangement as he had dealt to Esau. It would seem that at this stage the whole family, while generally existing in agreeable tribal relationship, was not above some trickery where an advantage was to be had. Rebekah, Jacob's mother, had so dealt; now her brother is about to display a similar characteristic.
As he arrives in the fields of his uncle Laban, Jacob sees, and is quite smitten with, his very beautiful cousin, Rachel and greatly desires that she become his wife. Asked by Laban what wages he desires, Jacob makes his request known. Genesis 29:16-18 sets the stage:
16. And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
17. Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.
18. And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.
Here, Jacob is binding himself to seven years of labour for this beautiful girl. At the end of that time, we may imagine his shock when, after the veiled bride becomes his wife, he discovers that he has been tricked! Let us read the passage from Genesis 29:22-26.
22. And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
23. And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.
24. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.
25. And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?
26. And Laban said, it must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.
Laban has substituted the "tender eyed" Leah for the beautiful Rachel. Did this not counterpoint the case exactly? It had been by wearing the clothing of Esau and a neck-covering of hairy skin, and at the urging of one of his parents that he had obtained the blessing of the firstborn, Esau through Isaac's dimness of sight. Now, by wearing the clothing of a bride, and under the direction of her parent, Leah, the firstborn, has been substituted for Rachel and Jacob has not been able to discern who is his bride because a veil hid her identity from his sight in the evening light! As Esau was angry at being supplanted, now Jacob is angry at Laban's double-dealing.
Jacob finds himself on the receiving end of a most wrenching parallel, and probably a rather devastating lesson has been imparted to him. However, all is not lost. He can receive Rachel too, but must bind himself to another seven years of duty in his uncle's service. God's plans move forward. Jacob came to Laban's family to gain a wife. With the addition of Bilhah, Rachel's maid, Jacob will now have two wives and their two maids, and by each of the four he will father sons who will become the heads of tribes in Israel.
Of Leah, there are born Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah. Rachel, unable to bear, presents her maid Bilhah to Jacob, in hope of attaining some slight parity of honour, and of Bilhah, are born Dan and Naphtali. Leah, not to be out-done, then presented her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob in her stead, and of her were born Gad and Asher. To Leah were then added two more sons, Issachar, and Zebulun. By this time, three of the four women had given sons to Jacob. Only the beautiful Rachel was left without child.
Apparently all of this was a necessary part of God's plan. Rachel had been the beautiful girl whose appearance had attracted Jacob when he first arrived. Perhaps it was in part a beautiful, slender figure which graced her appearance. A figure more slender than that of her sister might not possess a bone structure robust enough to bear children with relative ease. Had she been given to Jacob at the time he had assumed her to be his bride, and thus become his only wife, he would not have obtained this large family, for, as we note later, Rachel apparently found childbearing very difficult; indeed, we will learn that she will die at the birth of her second son. Leah bears a daughter, Dinah, who inherits the general genetic tendency of the womenfolk of the family, towards great beauty, and Jacob's clan nears completion. Finally, Rachel bears a son, Joseph, who is to become Jacob's favourite, and thus the cause of envy by his half-brothers.
Let us see what else God has in store for Jacob through his present relationship with his uncle. Contracting to undertake six more years of labour for Laban, Jacob asks that all the cattle, sheep and goats which are born with a colour variance, being spotted or speckled shall belong to him. In accordance with God's instructions, inparted to him in a vision, Jacob breeds the animals to his advantage, thus redressing Laban's cheating ways, until finally Laban and his sons become angry at the obvious disparity between their flocks and herds.
At this point, the LORD tells Jacob to "Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee." Jacob sees that, indeed, this will be his wiser course of action. Fearful, however, of what may happen if he gives official notice of his departure, he quietly consults with his wives, and moves off while Laban is unaware of his departure.
In departing, Rachel takes along her father's household "gods." These may well have been the title deeds to Laban's property. Upon Laban's pursuit and confrontation, Jacob, unaware of this additional infraction, invites Laban to inspect the camp to search for them, which Laban does without success. We see that the Biblical record is a very truthful one, regarding the personal failings to be found within this family, yet it is through this family that God will work to bring blessings to mankind! Perhaps this lesson should give us all hope. God can use each of us to His glory, even though we are conscious of our own many personal faults and failings, just so long as we are repentant, and willing to try to serve Him and please Him. We shall continue our theme on forthcoming programmes.
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