Wednesday, December 28, 2016

JACOB'S PILLOW


JACOB’S PILLOW

Jacob’s Pillow is also known as the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, (Scots: Stane o Scuin, Scottish Gaelic: An Lia Fàil). For years it sat under the throne at Westminster Abbey upon which kings and queens were crowned.

The Bible has many mentions of rocks and stones. Indeed, Jesus Christ is referred to as “the stone the builders rejected” (e.g., Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42; 1 Peter 2:7). The Apostle Peter quotes the Prophet Isaiah where he says, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” 2 Peter 2:8. It is clear that that Isaiah verse refers to the LORD (i.e., Jehovah), yet Peter applies it to Jesus. Thus Jesus Christ is Jehovah!

The Welsh hymnist, William Williams, wrote the hymn with the opening lines: “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim through this barren land.” From Adam, through Noah, through Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob and on to Moses and Israel in the wilderness, Jehovah has been guiding His people down through the ages. Of the time of the Exodus from Egypt, the Apostle Paul writes, “All passed through the sea, all were baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, all drank the same spiritual drink. For they all drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:1b-4. Thus, it was the preincarnate Jesus Christ, i.e., Jehovah, who was guiding His people.

Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” Genesis 28:10-12.

It’s a strange thing to use something as uncomfortable as a stone for a pillow! One can only assume that he put some sort of padding on top of it or perhaps it’s just as the text says, notice the word “at” in the following: “Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it” Genesis 28:18. The bottom line is that to Jacob, this stone was very important!

Is Scotland’s Stone of Destiny really Jacob’s Pillow? Or is it just another “relic” story? Of relics, referring to the true cross of Christ, John Calvin says e.g., “if we were to collect all these pieces of the True Cross exhibited in various parts, they would form a whole ship’s cargo” and that there were more relics of the cross “than three hundred men could carry!”

Legends are legion regarding the search for the “Holy Grail”, i.e., cup Christ used at His Last Supper. Speculation abounds as to its supposed whereabouts and even as to whether the “Holy Grail” refers to a cup! However, we can clearly see that Jacob’s Pillow was a real stone. Jacob set it up as a marker stone, a pillar, anointed it with oil. “And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house…” Genesis 28:22. Therefore, this stone wasn’t just one rock among many. According to Jacob it was “Bethel”, i.e., God’s house.

Setting up commemoration or memorial stones are important in the Bible. When Israel crossed the dried-up Jordan river and entered the Promised Land they set up stones. “Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the Lord had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day” Joshua 4:7-9.

The Celtic peoples carried on this tradition. After Stonehenge, the Standing Stones of Callanish being the most famous. I recently viewed the Clava Stones, near Inverness. Theories abound as to purpose and meaning of these and the other standing stones. However, just like those memorial stones mentioned in the Bible, the general consensus is that they hold some sort of religious function. Why not? But what religion? That of the Bible sort or some aberration? Who are the Celtic peoples anyway?

The Stone of Destiny was removed from Scotland by Edward Longshanks after he had invaded Celtic Scotland from his own England in 1296. The Stone had been used by the Scots (and their Irish forefathers before them) at the coronation of their kings. But where did the Stone come from? Could the Celts not have brought it with them as they travelled to their present destination?


The Preamble of the 1320 Scottish “Declaration of Arbroath” says,

Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since. In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.

“The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would He have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles -- by calling, though second or third in rank -- the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter’s brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever.” Thus The Declaration of Arbroath.

“They journey from Greater Scythia.” The Scythians were a nomadic people who dwelt roughly around the area of the Black Sea. How did they end up with Jacob’s Pillow and how did they end up dwelling in Scotland? Well, the Scots have to come from somewhere as does the Coronation Stone. So what’s wrong with the Scythians bringing the Stone with them in their travels? Keep in mind that The Declaration of Arbroath was a plea to the pope of the day for protection against the invading King Edward I. Why blatantly lie to the pope about your origins if you are desiring his favour? To be sure, there is no mention of the Stone in the Declaration. However, it is referred to as Jacob’s Pillow.

Would an analysis of the type of rock found in Bethel against that found in Scotland confirm or deny that the Stone of Destiny is Jacob’s Pillow? Perhaps, but we need to keep in mind that there is still confusion as to whether the Stone we have today is the original, and that it is not hidden away somewhere as may have happened when Edward invaded! Is that block of red sandstone really Jacob’s Pillow?

Guesses as to the whereabouts of the real Stone are many. There’s even a pub in Glasgow, The Arlington, that claims to have the original Stone built into its own brickwork!

Regardless whether the Stone on view is the original Jacob’s Pillow or not, let it and every other stone and rock be a reminder that points us to the THE Rock, THE stone the builders rejected, Jesus Christ! For He has been anointed, for He is THE Anointed, i.e., the Messiah, the Christ! He has been crowned as King of Kings! He sits on His throne and rules all creation. Therefore, let us bow the knee before Him and swear fealty to Him!


(Photo on left from Internet)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Jesus Welcomes Little Children


People were also bringing babies to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”’ Luke 18:15-17


What can anyone say at a time like this? We’re all left stunned. We’re shocked that little baby **** is gone! It breaks our hearts. Why ****? Why not me? Why now? Why not when he was 100 years old? Yes, what can anyone say that would bring us some little comfort at this time of our grief?

We read in the Bible that people were bringing their babies to Jesus. They wanted Him to bless their little children. They believed that there was something very special about Jesus. Some even believed that He was God in human form. Jesus believed Himself to be the Son of God.

The Disciples of Jesus, His close followers, tried to stop the parents from bringing their babies to Him. They were telling the people off. But what did Jesus say? “Jesus called the children to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’”

When I was training to become a minister I knew that as part of my job-description I would have to conduct weddings – and funerals. The thing I dreaded most is to conduct the funeral of an infant child! What will I tell the parents if they ask: “Where is my baby now?”

What would I say? Well, we just heard what someone far greater than me has to say: “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these!” I believe, therefore, that little **** has entered into the kingdom of God. To know that baby **** has gone to be with Jesus and is safe with Him in His kingdom should at least give us some little comfort.

What is the kingdom of God? Well, for a start, it belongs to God. And if it belongs to God we know that nothing can destroy it. But Jesus says that it also belongs to little children, like ****, and adults who receive it like a little child would, i.e, believing. Think about it: little children believe what their parents tell them.

According to what the Bible says, the kingdom of God is really just another name for Heaven. And though invisible at the moment, it’s a real place, where there are no more tears, no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain and certainly no more death. It is a place of happiness, a place of everlasting bliss. It’s a place of safety. It is true Paradise!

I grew up in Scotland, and Scotland, a bit like New Zealand, is known for its sheep. I used to live next to a farm where they had cattle, chooks and sheep, lots of sheep! I went to school with the shepherd’s son. During the spring lambing-season we used to do the rounds with the shepherd, trying to make sure that the newborn lambs were safe. We would chase away stray dogs, foxes, crows and the like.

In the Bible, Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. He is a Shepherd who lays down His life to save His sheep! Even today He still looks after His flock, which includes His little lambs, such as ****. The shepherd’s son and I used to hear about Jesus, when, along with the rest of the kids at the school we attended, we would all be marched to the local church at Easter and again at Christmas.

At Easter we’d hear about how the Good Shepherd had laid down His life for His sheep, and perhaps we’d hear how the thief, who was dying on a cross next to Him, had said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And what did Jesus say to him? “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

We would also hear how Jesus was dead and laid in a tomb, only to be raised back to life again after three days! This, of course, points to our future resurrection when the, for the moment, invisible kingdom of God becomes visible.

At Christmas we’d hear about the baby Jesus in the manger, and we’d always get to sing the little children’s hymn, the words of which are:

“Away in a Manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus, laid down His sweet head,
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

“The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes,
I love You, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask You to stay,
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray,
Bless all the dear children in Your tender care,
And fit us for Heaven, to dwell with You there.”

It is hard for those of us who have never lost a child to know the pain the family is going through right now – especially as Christmas approaches. We all know that Christmas is a special time – especially for all the dear children.

So, what can we say? Well, it is my hope that God will wipe away the tears of grief by reminding us this Christmas and beyond that His only Son Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has wrapped His everlasting arms around one of His little lambs, ****. - In the arms of THE Angel!

For Jesus says, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

R.I.P. Lenyx Sydney Clarke 04 July 2016 - 01 December 2016.