1 How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.
The scriptural use of stone speaks to us of a foundation, a pillar, a witness, and as an object of support or soundness. We find that stone pillars were used as a remembrance of covenants or agreements. We call to mind the incident ofthe strife between Jacob and Laban, and the pillar of witness that they set up, giving it the name of Mizpah, meaning
"The heap of witness."
Peter the apostle, was called Cephas, meaning a rock or stone.
His record of faithful service gives force to his typical name. In the dark days toward the end of Christ's ministry when asked if he would leave his Master, he said-
"To whom shall we go?-thou hast the words of eternal life" (Jhn. 6:68).
With these things in mind, Peter was later inspired to write
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
And he continues, quoting from the Old Testament Scriptures-
"Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious ...
Unto you therefore he is precious" (1 Pet. 2:6 7).
In the wilderness wanderings at Rephidim, Moses was commanded to smite the Rock to make provision for Israel's thirst for life-giving water. The spiritual thought of this incident is
shown by the words of Paul and Peter- .
"Our fathers did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4).
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner" (Acts 4:11).
The prophet Jeremiah would witness the desolations which had been brought upon the glorious Temple of Solomon by generation after generation of wickedness, plunder and neglect; finally culminated by the destruction under Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah records the details of the devastation both of Temple and city in the final chapter of his prophecy, chapter 52.
But to such a man of faith the literal Temple was but a temporary stepping stone to the spiritual Rock which was to come afterwards. His mind was on the stones of faith, those prophets and faithful men who had suffered and died to maintain alight the embers of the Spirit's teaching.
There are many illustrations which could be shown of the pouring out of the lively stones from God's Temple at the hands of wicked men, both in imprisonments and death. It was a long and bitter record Israel had inscribed against God's faithful ones-
"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets and wise men, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify ... that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias" (Matt. 23:34-35).
It was shortly after this that Christ's disciples pointed out the Temple of Herod with its beautiful stones, to whom he replied
"There shall not be left one stone upon another" (Matt. 24:2).
All the literal stones would be thrown down. Another day of darkness was fast approaching for Israel. It was brought about by the Roman legions under Titus in AD. 70. The ruined state was to continue until the end of Gentile times. The Abomination that maketh desolate still stands on the glorious holy mountain.
Is it possible that Christ had a deeper meaning in his words when referring to these stones? Isn't it possible that the real stones are again the faithful servants who have been poured out in the top of every street, through the long night of Gentile times? Pagan and nominal "Christian" alike have lent their hands to the destructive work.
The destruction and scattering of the living stones is but for a period. The glorious return of the Chief Cornerstone and the resurrection to endless life of the faithful stones draws very near.
...So also the lively stones
"Behold the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3).
Bro E .. F. HIGHAM
The Berean Christadelphian, Dec 2018
2 The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
The age of faith in God had passed. That spiritual frame of mind illustrated by David, who was precious in God's sight, who was termed a man after God's own heart, had given place to flesh glorification.
Man, as naturally constituted, is considered but an earthen pitcher, or container. His acceptability to God as a container is only measured by what he puts in. If he has but earthly sensual thoughts, he simply remains an earthen vessel. He has added no other characteristics to distinguish him from his original elements-
"Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou. return!" (Gen. 3:19).
But if he fill himself with the Divine attributes of mercy, kindness, longsuffering, gentleness and meekness - having responded with wholehearted obedience to God's requirements he takes on a reflection of his Creator, Who is the Potter ..
"God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ...
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:6 7).
If we permit the Divine impressions to be molded into our characters we become vessels meet for the Master's use. We become precious sons of Zion, comparable unto fine gold. But if there is no response to the hand of the Potter, if we are brittle and not pliable, if we become marred in the forming, we remain vessels of wrath, fit only for destruction.
The prophet Jeremiah now was witnessing the fulfillment of his earlier words to Judah in chapters 18 and 19. In chapter 18 the prophet is instructed to go to the potter's house and observe the potter at his work. The lesson was that God was the Potter and would direct the circumstances of men and nations according to their attitude toward Him. If they repented of evil ways, God would turn from His wrath and bless them. So also if a people had been promised blessings at the Creator's hands, and they turned away to wickedness, God would withdraw His blessings.
The enacted parable was lost on Judah for they replied to the prophet's words of exhortation to repentance-
"We will walk after our own devices, and we will everyone do the imagination of his evil heart" (Jer. 18:12).
Bro E .. F. HIGHAM
The Berean Christadelphian, Dec 2018
3 Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness.
The prophet now draws our attention to a characteristic which was evident amongst the greater part of the population of Jerusalem in his time. It is only necessary to make a comparison or two to observe the reasons for this degeneracy in God's people. First let us consider God's attributes as proclaimed by Himself-
"The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and in truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin!" (Ex. 34:6-7).
These loving characteristics were manifested throughout God's dealings with His people. They were exhibited, not only for Israel to honour and reverence their Heavenly Father, but also for the people to develop in themselves and to manifest in their actions one with another and to all people.
The spiritual aspects of their Law were designed to promote these very things. They were commanded to instruct their children in the fear of the Lord, and to feed them with spiritual food, that they also should know the real meaning behind God's commandments. Did not Christ say (Matt. 22:37) that the whole Law was enwrapped in the first two commands?
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy soul, and all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. " "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. "
The constant repetition of seedtime and harvest with their loaded blessings were to impress upon their minds God's ever-present goodness and love, teaching that He is a Rewarder of them that seek Him with their whole heart and mind. God epitomized these blessings through Moses in Deut. 28: 1-14, making them contingent upon their observance of His commandments.
All of God's actions are done in love and kindness and mercy.
It is on this basis that He has framed the present principle of salvation from death (In. 3:16)-
"God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
But what of Baal and Molech and the base and sensual worship connected with those idolatries? They completely destroyed the finer characteristics which God's law sought to develop. Parental affection was submerged in the hard principle of passing their children through fire to those pagan demons.
Such a cult produced cold individuals, indifferent to the instincts of love and affection, and careless to the life of their offspring, both from the natural aspect as well as the spiritual. Paul told Timothy that such a class would again appear in the last days. He used language which would well apply to degenerate Israel-
"Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:2-4).
It is not surprising then that with such idolatry competing with the worship of God, Jeremiah should say that the natural brute beasts put Israel to shame-
''Even the sea monsters give suck to their young" (Lam. 4:3)
-while the children of this faithless generation wandered for the precious fruits of the earth, and their cry went unheeded.
Bro E .. F. HIGHAM
The Berean Christadelphian, Dec 2018
20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Yahweh, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen.
THIRTEEN years after his great passover, Josiah's reign, so full of hope and promise, came to an abrupt end. Unwisely opposing Pharaoh Necho in battle, he was shot by the archers and died, plunging the nation into deep mourning.
He who was the breath of their nostrils, the anointed of Yahweh, was taken (Lamentations 4:20), and, as Judah's only king to fall in battle, his eath was a great tragedy in the history of the nation.
The House of Asaph keenly felt the loss, as they always did when a faithful leader died, and they mourned this man who had loved the holy ark, and with whom they had so gladly cooperated for spiritual good.
Bro Roger Lewis - Asaph Ch 9