“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to father: for I say unto you, God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”
John was the son of a priest (‘kohan’) who should have been following in his father’s footsteps in the service to the Temple in Jerusalem. Instead, Yehovah God had ordained that this young man abandon the extensive preparations in the Jewish traditions and law and go off into the wilderness to ‘prepare the way of Messiah’. Many wonderful and exciting things accompanied this man’s conception and birth which indicated that God had separated him unto Himself for the service in the Tabernacle not made with hands. Thus in the fullness of time, John went forth into the wilderness, preaching and baptizing.
John did not wander out into the wilderness and when he came upon a body of water, begin to baptize people; he was sent into the wilderness to a specific body of water and the exact location decreed of God. Here he lived in isolation and simplicity as he preached the acceptable year of the Lord. He did not advertise in the local news media about his endeavours nor did he solicit people to come down for a dip. The Spirit of Yehovah God moved people to come to John, some in repentance, some of curiosity and some to be rebuked before all people. The Pharisees came forth to see and hear something new (a trait which is common in all sons of Adam) as the Spirit brought forth His anathema against them by the mouth of His servant.
The place where the Spirit of God directed the feet of John unto was Beth-avara, ‘the house of the ford’ (John 1:28). This was a place in the Jordan River which was shallow enough for passage where the traveler would not be swept away by the current. It was a well used thoroughfare for commerce and trade which led from Gilgal (the wheel) across the Jordan (from above) to the east border of Jericho (the moon) (Josh. 4:19). It was here that the children of Israel came to the end of their forty year journey through the wilderness to cross into the Land of Promise and it was here that the voice was crying in the wilderness; “Prepare ye the way of Yehovah”.
When God created the havens and the earth, in the beginning, He included all that would ever be and there is nothing new added to His creation from that time. He separated the dry land above the sea with a firmament above. When He destroyed the earth in the flood, the fountains of the deep opened up and the dry land was rearranged. When the waters receded, rivers and valleys remained where the waters flowed to the sea, yet the sea was never filled. The mountains were covered with the snow and the springs gave forth the waters as they traveled the courses which the hand of God prepared for them and the hand of man was not included. When the fountains of the deep erupted and the dry earth in the form of dirt and rock were scattered abroad, the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God decreed the ways and means necessary to accomplish His will. This perfect Will would be made evident in the fullness of time when the feet of the priests, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, would be dipped into the brim of the waters of the Jordan at the place afore prepared as suitable for the crossing. The geographic intricacy of this location was designed as the fountains of the deep broke forth many thousands of years earlier so that this spot, and this alone, was the place where travelers were able to cross the waters of the Jordan. The passage way came through the wide open gaps in the clefts of the rocks (Beth-peor) and passed along the pouring out of streams between the clefts (Ashdoth-pisgah) which crossed the Jordan at the house of the ford (Beth-avara). Nothing was left to chance, nature or man, as God brought His people to this exact location.
God had removed Moses as the leader of the people of Israel because the time of his habitation was over and the labours assigned unto him had been accomplished. Now Yehovah God began to “magnify thee in the sight of all Israel that they may know that as I was with Moses, I will be with you” (Josh.3:7). He gave His word unto Joshua (the Salvation of Yehovah) to cross over into the land of promise but first Joshua must circumcise the nation of Israel. Then, after the time of healing and restoration, when the banks of the Jordan river “overflowed all his banks all the time of the harvest” the priests took up the Ark and came to the waters. Here was the testimony of the Law of God in the coffin (ark) signifying the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world, with the pot of manna (the bread of life) and Aaron’s budding rod (an almond bud signifying the resurrection). Above this was the type of the precious blood struck upon the crown of the altar of the Mercy seat where Yehovah God met with His people. This testimony and the cherubs over it stood for the propitiation of sin for the whole house of Israel, the righteous fulfillment of the perfect Law of God and the satisfaction of the Judge that the work is finished. No one else had any right or memorial in this testimony but the chosen house of ‘he who prevailed with God’, Israel. And when the feet of the priest which bore the Ark “were dipped into the brim of the waters” which came down from above (Jordan), the waters stood up in a heap; “very far from the city of Adam that is beside the fortification of distress (Zaretan) and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, the salt sea, failed and were cut off and the people were passed clean over Jordan” (Josh. 3:17).
The hand of God had placed, in this exact location hidden from the beginning, twenty four stones, shaped and fashioned by time and nature, to be set up as a memorial of the power of God. These lay concealed until the fullness of time when, as predestinated by the Will of God and ordained of old, Joshua came to that place to do as Yehovah had made he and His people willing and able to do and here He revealed the mystery of the gospel.
Joshua commanded twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, “out of every tribe a man”, to remove a stone from the dry bed of the river and to carry it upon his shoulder to a place of rest; “That this may be a sign among you, when your children ask in time to come saying, What are these built stones?” (4:6). God revealed that He had reserved unto Himself a people, before the nation was conceived in Jacob, Isaac or Abraham, “for being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calls” (Rms. 9:11). This sign was placed in an open place, the house of the pass over (Beth-avara), and the testimony was given; “that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah; when it passed over Jordan, that waters of Jordan were cut off and these stones shall be a memorial unto the children of Israel forever”.
When John stood at Beth-avara, preaching repentance and baptizing he was at the same place as the memorial to the children of Israel. He was not speculating about how God could change stones into children, he was attesting to the mercy of God according to His covenant which was sealed by the death of the Lamb before the foundation of the world and manifested with power and glory in His resurrection. But the twelve revealed stones testified to only half of what Joshua left as the memorial to the power of God.
“And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priest which bare the Ark of the Covenant stood, and they are there unto this day” (Josh. 4:9).
The Pharisees came forth as the chosen elite of God within the nation of Israel. They concluded themselves blameless as pertained to the righteousness of the Law. Their attention to detail in the observance of the hand-writings and ordinances established them above their kinsman who themselves stood head and shoulders above the nations of the world. When they spoke to Jesus they boasted that they were of the seed of Abraham (the exalted father of many) and “were never in bondage to any man”. Jesus acknowledged that they were indeed naturally of Abraham’s seed but that they sought to kill Him because they were of their father the devil. They, insinuating impropriety on the part of Mary and Joseph, said “We be not born of fornication; we have one father, God”. But Jesus told them that they were of the seed of the serpent and that they did their father’s work (John 8). These righteous men boasted and thanked God that they were not like other men such as publicans and sinners for they were the sons of God and they proved this by their daily labours (Luke 18:10). But the testimony of the stones indicated that they are not all Israel who are of Israel (Rms. 9:6).
The Israel of God is the body and Bride of Christ. She is comprised of the redeemed of Yehovah “of all nations and kindreds and people and tongues” (Rev. 7:9), yet for the time of the type she was hid. This is not to insinuate that there was a salvation which was under a former dispensation and now another under a new dispensation for these two sets of stones were manifested and erected at the same time. Joshua was declaring here in this place and at this time that there were other sheep not of this fold (John 10:16) whom Yehovah God gave testimony to when He declared His generation at the house of the pass-over. They were no more a people in prospect than the children of Israel which stood before them or the children who would ask for the testimony. The stones were a testimony prepared of God from the beginning, manifested in time and brought forth by the hands of those He prepared unto the labour; “them I must bring and they shall hear my voice and there shall be one fold and one shepherd”.
Adam has no part in the wonder of this magnificent work. The power of the rushing waters were the means ordained of God to bring the evidence of this memorial to the place where; “when it pleased the Father, who had separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, to reveal Himself in me, that I might preach Him among the nations” (Gal. 1:15). Adam had no part in the voice crying in the wilderness, nor in the repentance of the people who gave a testimony of a good conscience before the Lord as they went down into the water at the house of the pass-over and he certainly had no part in bringing the Pharisees to the place where John would rebuke them for as masters in Israel they should have known these things.
“And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month and encamped in Gilgal, in the east of Jericho” (Josh. 4:19).
On the exact day that the Law of Moses commanded to be the day when the Passover Lamb was to be taken, “every man a lamb according to the house of their father’s, a lamb for an house” (Ex. 12:3), the type of the Israel of God came forth and were bowed down (encamped) to find mercy before God at Gilgal. Here in the wheel (Gilgal) which in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel (God is my strength) is “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yehovah” (1:28) the stones were established and the testimony confirmed. Here when the children to come asked; “what are these builded stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan fro before you, until you were passed over, as Yehovah your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us until we were gone over, that all the people of the earth might know the mighty hand of Yehovah and that you might fear Yehovah your God forever” (22ff).
The testimony of the pass over was not for the natural nation of Israel alone, it was for all the people of the earth. Yehovah has shown forth His salvation, the glory of Yehovah has been revealed and all flesh has seen it together (Is. 40:5). He has set forth the testimony to His works as the heavens declare the glory of the Lord and “the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rms. 1:20). He has sent forth His Spirit into the hearts of His people wherein He compares spiritual things with spiritual things from faith to faith. He has set up His memorial and although the world may either see it in Gilgal or not see it in the Jordan yet the foundation of God stands sure for Yehovah knows them that are His. Nationality, creed, gender, colour or social status has no bearing upon the election according to grace which was chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be Holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4).
The twelve hidden stones represented the fact that the Gentiles should be partakers of the same Spirit as the twelve revealed stones, for there is no difference. Together they stand as members in particular of the singular body, joined together as one, of the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah. They are builded up unto an Holy habitation of God together as His church was builded in the wilderness. They are set upon the firm foundation of the eternal love of the Father for His children, His Anointed Salvation being the chief cornerstone, and every piece being fitly framed together with their hearts knit together in love. They are the Jerusalem which is from above which no man has a right unto, no works can secure passage unto and nothing that defiles or makes a lie may enter in. The generation of vipers (offspring of that which is born of snakes), being of the seed of the serpent, were summoned by the Spirit of God because the wrath of God was about to be manifested against all unrighteousness of man and so John proclaims to the Pharisees; “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to father; for I say unto you that God is able OF THESE STONES to raise up children to Abraham.”
“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees, therefore every tree which brings not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire” (Matt. 3:10).
Five hundred years before John was came to prepare the way of the Lord, the prophet Isaiah was given the Word of God to proclaim that the vineyard, called Israel, was defiled. The long-suffering, patience and kindness of the husbandman, who had prepared, planted and tended to his vineyard, could not change the wickedness of the wild grapes. Therefore He said; “and now go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof and it shall be eaten up; and I will take down the wall thereof and it shall be trodden down: and I will lay it waste. It shall not be pruned, nor digged but there shall come up briers and thorns and I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it; For the vineyard of Yehovah of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His pleasant plant, and He looked for judgment but behold oppression, He looked for righteousness but behold a cry” (Is. 5:5f). Now was come the day of the Lord when the fury of the wrath of His indignation was to be manifested simultaneously with His love. He who knew no sin became the sin of His people as He drank the cup of the wrath of God as the chastisement of our sin was laid upon Him and He came forth to pour out that same cup upon the ungodliness of all mankind. The house of Israel was left desolate as thorns and briers cover the altar of that sacrifice while the Israel of God has an altar which they have no right unto (Heb. 13:10). The preparation of the way of Yehovah was not the beginning of message of universal charity for whosoever will come; it was the declaration of the end of the world when the Father manifested those works which were finished from the foundation of the world.
The Pharisees came forth with their labours of righteousness which were performed so that man could see them. They gave long prayers of many words and were wanted to be heard for their much speaking. They dressed in a manner that brought attention to themselves as they fasted and prayed begging the onlookers to “Come see my zeal for the Lord”. The fruits meet for righteousness are a contrite heart and a broken spirit which no labours of man could perform. Adam cannot repent of anything that is contrary to the nature he was created with nor can he change his seed in him. Every child of the dust must live according to the needs of the flesh and there unto is he drawn away after. The children of the Kingdom of God live move and have their being in Him for He is the Way the Truth and the Life of His people. He is the living waters whereof if a man drink thereof he shall never thirst again. He is that bread of life which is the Word which proceeds from the mouth of God and His people abide in Him as He abides in the Father. The stones testified to the fixed number which cannot be added unto or diminished in any fashion. They reside forever in the circle, with no beginning or end, and in that which descends from above. Nothing can move them for they are “sanctified by God the Father and preserved in the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah” (Jude1).
“Whose fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly purge His floor and gather His wheat into the garner, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).
The refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap is universally applicable to all the children of Adam. This fire is the house of Praise unto our God (Judah) and the flame thereof is the other son (Joseph). The house of Edom which is Adam is the fuel for this flame and fire which burns to consume and devour so that “there shall not be any remainder of the house of Esau for Yehovah has spoken” (Ob. 18). This house of Esau is the earthen vessel and the works of the flesh which shall be revealed by fire. The works of man “shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is”. This refining fire shall remove the wood, hay and stubble of the works of righteousness which Adam has sewed together as his apron of fig leaves in the garden and, if the incorruptible seed be within, then shall the gold, silver and precious stones be revealed as Yehovah raises up children unto Abraham of these stones.
This is the work of Yehovah God for only He knows that which is wheat and that which is tare. He has prepared His garner for His wheat which He shall gather into His barns (Matt. 13:30). He has not commissioned the local assembly to go forth and judge wheat and tare nor has He employed the sons of Adam to come and sweep out the floors of His garner. This is the Lord’s doing which even if it were shown unto the natural man yet would he not know the matter nor perceive the way, for these are the things of the Spirit.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the glad tidings of great joy of the power of God unto salvation. It testifies of the work that was finished before time began and continues to give evidence of the work that is being manifested daily as He adds unto the church such as should be saved. The gospel testifies to the fact that the branches which abide in the vine shall be pruned and purged by the Husbandman to bring forth the prescribed peaceable fruit of righteousness in their appointed time. It also testifies to the anticipation of the time when the fruit assigned to the branches has all been produced and the loving hand of the Master shall come and take them away. Then when the trials and labours of this habitation are over, the branches of the Lord shall hear Him say,”Come thou blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34).
The gospel is the declaration that no flesh shall ever glory in the sight of Yehovah God and that according to His great love, where with He delivered His people from His wrath, He shall deliver them from the bondage of this corruption unto the manifestation of the sons of God. Then shall the refiner’s fire burn no more as His people shall manifest the glory that He has with the Father before the world began.
“For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part but then shall I know even as I am known. And now abide faith, hope and clarity, these thee, but the greatest of these is charity” (I Cor. 13:12).
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
February 7, 2015