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“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not (Ch.28:16). ”

This well known story throws up some important theological concepts.

Firstly sleep is a symbol for death.

What is sleep? God caused Adam a deep sleep and he slept (Ge.2:21) The Spirit used it in the sense mentioned above.

We shall consider sleep now in normal sense. The idea here is that sleep is from God. It is a blessing. It is a rest that is a shadow of God’s Rest from his labours. He sanctified end of His Creative Day as a Holy Day. The Preacher has this verse to observe what man may rightfully claim as his due at the end of each working day. “The sleep of a labourer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep (Eccl5:12-NIV)”. In contrast to what God has provided for man, what is wealth but what he generates by his own efforts. This boils over even after the day is done so much so it is insomnia that he has to cope with.

Secondly it gives us an insight into God’s Time, which is how the Spirit correlates God’s Will with life of man. Time and space do not make sense for eternal God. When God visited King Abimelech in a vision and warned him on account of Sarah it was for the present. When He gave Daniel a series of visions (Dan.10-12:9) it was for ‘the time of the end.” The vision of the ladder with each rung going up to the Lord must be several events hinged on one another. Angels going up and down signifies a door has been opened for the sleeper. It is reminiscent of St John’s vision (Re.4:1-2). The Spirit gave him a foretaste of the Salvation Plan of God as it were, which in narrating is for our benefit. As soon as he woke up he realized where he was. He exclaimed, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” This indicates our foreknowledge comes from God who equips each man for His service. Gift of prophecy is a gift. Gift of interpreting is yet another. Such are gifts the Spirit distributes to each accordingly so glory of God must be set as paramount.

Thirdly we need address an often-overlooked piece, namely the stones that served Jacob as pillows.

“…He (Jacob) took stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep (28:11).”

These stones serve as a memorial. This act is to be seen as a symbolic act very similar to Joshua at the crossing of Jordan (Jos.4:23). Jacob was a man fleeing for safety and was in a strange place settling down for a night’s rest. God’s vision was a private and it was to assure His protection.

Like the Shekinah glory of God separated the mercy seat and the Ark of the Testimony from surrounding areas the vision was a memorial to him. From what Jacob did following day we get the idea as to what it meant to him. Each of us is Bethel meaning the house of God. This idea is transferred to stones that served for pillows in the night. He set the stone up and poured oil upon the top of it. ‘He called the name of that place Beth-el; but the name of that city was called Luz at the first (vs.19).’This holds spiritual significance for us. Born again experience in a child of God marks a change over from serving the world. Pouring oil over the stone naturally indicates the infilling Spirit. The following verses are of help to us.

“Know you not you are the temple of God?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;(1 Co.6:19;3:16-NIV)”

We can well appreciate the seven churches in Asia minor were such stones as Jacob found; these local churches were not the Church of Christ but indicative of God’s Will concerning the Body of Christ.

Benny

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1.

According to Cassian(c.400 AD)St. John an Apostle of Jesus was seen sporting with a tame partridge by an archer, who thought the holyman should not waste his time in frivolities. St. John replied that if the archer didn’t at times relax his bow, it would lose its spring.

2.

Marcion,the son of a bishop made his fortune at sea. While in Rome he became a Christian about 140 AD. He gave a gift of 1600 pounds to the Church which was returned to him when he turned to gnosticism. The canon of Marcion recognized only the gospels of St.Paul and St. Luke. This prompted the Church to lay down her canon of the New Testament( 180 AD) and it was confirmed in Antioch,Ephesus and Rome.

Marcion’s teachings caused a sharp division in the Church which later caused him much distress and he sought a reconciliation.

When Polycarp(c.AD 69-156)the Bishop of Smyrna came to Rome Marcion sought him out and asked,’Do you recognize me?’

‘Yes,’ replied Polycarp,I recognize the firstborn of Satan.’

3.

Athanasius,Bishop of Alexandria(AD.256)

was caught in the Arian controversy where his life was often only one step away from disaster since there were great many enemies who wanted to destroy him. None came more implacable as Bishop George, formerly a pork contractor from Cappadocia. He supported the Arian doctrine. He was merciless,hard and mercenary in hunting down who didn’t subscribe to it. He was appointed a Bishop at a gathering of 30 bishops at Antioch.

He terrorized churches that smacked of Orthodoxy and Athanasius became the symbol of everything that he hated.

The contest between them became mixed up with the same Bishop who was martyred during the reign of Emperor Julian the Apostate. This confusion of two events have given us an iconic image of George contending for the Empress Alexandra against the magician Athanasius. The same George is the patron saint of England!

ii

Athanasius was an ascetic and steadfast in his belief and he was targeted by both Meletians and Arians. Once charge was brought before Emperor Constantine that the Bishop had killed a Miletian bishop named Arsenius. In fact he was hidden away by his faction in a monastery. They produced a dismembered hand in a box stating that Athansius had cut it off for purposes of magic.

Luckily for Athanasius, he could spirit away Arsenius from his place of hiding. His enemies didn’t know this.

Athanasius produced a muffled body in front of the emperor. He first showed his face asking,’Is this Arsenius, whom I murdered?’

Then he revealed one hand and then the other to say:’ Let no man ask for a third; for two hands,and two only was everyman from the Creator of all things.’

In the manner in which he could wriggle out of all the traps set for him naturally his enemies believed that he was a magician.

Origen(c.AD185-254) considered as the father of textual criticism came from a devout Christian family. From young age it fell on his shoulders to support the big family which he did by taking on pupils,copying manuscripts in his elegant handwriting. He was the pupil of Clement who headed the first Christian university set up in Alexandria.

At 17, he became the he head of the Catechetical School, a perilous post at that time. As there was no stipend attached to his post he sold off his library for an annuity of money equivalent of six pence a day, and for the rest of his life lived on this small amount. He wore but one garment ,went barefoot,slept on the ground and ate and slept sparingly. His holiness and deep erudition brought flocks of pupils to his lectures.

Having female pupils he,in order to avoid any scandal that may arise made himself an eunuch literally following an injunction of Jesus. The father of textual criticism and allegorical method in explaining the Scriptures took it literally!(Ack:Lights and shades of Christendom-Bishop Pakenham-Walsh,The Christian Literature Society-1935)

benny

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What is a symbol? A symbol places an abstract idea in concrete terms. Considering that we are physical beings we use aspects of our spiritual world in terms of persons and objects: bride of Christ and being built on the foundation of Christ etc., Such similitude of one world in terms of another is necessary owing to our imperfect state.  As spiritual beings whatever devices we employ here and now, be it symbols or parables shall be made unnecessary. It is thus hereafter.
In Bible we read of  the matter of baptism. ‘As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.’ (Gal3:27) Controversy of this has divided the Church into so many sects. Man, how can you say adult baptism is the correct way by citing a few verses from here and there? Cannot parents of a baby stand guarantor for bringing up the baby in every manner that is pleasing in the eyes of God and man? Or do you think a man who has indulged in every kind of vice by an act of baptism (which in all probability may be the result of ‘a momentary madness’ such as one we often find during revival meetings at the time of altar call) will not backslide?  In whatever state one ‘puts on Christ’ can never run the course without His grace. This being the case those who cause unnecessary controversy (on matters that are open to dispute,) have put on Christ but it doesn’t fit them.
benny

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