A White Stone – 5

A House of Bread

There are two kinds of whiteness in the Bible, and an understanding of this explains a great deal. There is the whiteness of covering and the whiteness of uncovering. And, as mentioned, the Bible makes a great deal out of the concept of covering.

Bone Collector

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Touching a corpse made an Israelite unclean. The remains of those slain in battle were marked with lime for two reasons: so that they could be avoided by the clean, and so they could be gathered up and burned to lime by the bone collectors. Jesus said that the righteousness of the Pharisees was like a whitewashed sepulchre. Not only were they full of the ceremonial uncleanness of broken Covenant, their so-called righteousness was actually a mark from God upon them. They would be gathered to their people not by the Father sending His angels to the four corners of the Land, but by the father of lies and his scavengers sent by God to clean the wound.

This image goes right back to Genesis. Like the angels, the Covenant scavengers, though demonic, are also God’s servants. They are the raven of Noah surviving on floating corpses until the water goes down; they are the scavenging dogs that lick up Jezebel’s blood; they are the maggots in misused manna and abandoned grapes (false bread and wine); they are the unclean birds and animals that screech and howl inside the corpse of a defeated Babylon; they are worms inside Herod ‘enthroned’ as a human Gehenna.

The whiteness of the Pharisees was the whiteness of Miriam’s and Gehazi’s skin-plague. It is the whiteness of flesh and bones exposed as unclean to the eyes of God. Satan himself appeared as an angel of light, but like the Pharisees, he was a false lightbearer, a tutor guiding his children the wrong way.

Vindicated by the Redeemer/Avenger

‘To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Jesus says this at the end of the letter to the church in Pergamum. As James Jordan observes, the imagery in the seven letters takes us through Old Covenant history, beginning with Eden, and ending with Herod’s ‘Laodicea’. Pergamum is the church in the wilderness, hence the references to Phinehas’ sword, Balaam and Balak, testing by temptation to sexual immorality and the mighty men (Nicolaitans).

The white stone speaks of a faithful priesthood publicly vindicated, the wilderness manna transfigured into glorious metal by resurrection.

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died…”
(John 6:48-49)

The Hebrew word for redeemer is the same as avenger. A kinsman redeemer not only rescued his brother’s widow and inheritance by marriage, but was charged with avenging and vindicating her over her enemies. Like Boaz, he was to bring her in from the wilderness, cover her, and give her ‘a new name’ by adoption (like Ruth). Resurrection always involves a judgment, a division between those who are covered (Ruth) and those who love their widowhood and choose to remain uncovered (barren) and return to the fields of Moab (Orpah). The choice is between the bread of the Covenant and the bread of Moab, Covenant children or the children of Lot’s incest.

Beth-lechem Ephratah (fertile house of bread)

The Revelation is Jesus’ judgment between two women like Ruth and Orpah, and in fact, as the story is expanded it becomes a judgment between two prostitutes. Each has a son, but one is dead and one is alive. The woman who lies is uncovered by the words of wise Solomon as the destroying angel of Passover. She is left barren like Egypt.

There are the harlots and tax collectors who come into the kingdom and take up the Messianic line as Rahab. Then there is Judah herself, the greatest of all tax collectors, riding the Roman beast and saying in her heart “I sit a queen. I am no widow.” She was indeed married, but not to Boaz. She had returned to the incestuous bread of Moab like Orpah, a wicked and adulterous generation who shunned a Bethlehem (House of Bread) restored (after the sins recorded at the end of Judges) and made fruitful again by Greater Boaz.

A false house of bread is a false resurrection, a whited sepulchre. It is bread made glorious with the leprous leaven of the Pharisees. It is a phantom pregnancy, a ‘rising’ that turns out to be a mere breaking of wind. But Jesus as Boaz has His children (Hebrews 2:13).

Big White Stones

At the centre of the Creation matrix that runs right through the Bible is the wilderness. It is the burning bush, the Lampstand eyes of God’s Law judging–threshing–His people. The annual feasts follow the same pattern. In that case it is the harvest of Pentecost and its tongues of fire.

The wilderness is God’s threshing floor. It is the place where Boaz covers Ruth as the foundation for a later Temple. And the grinding of the millstone is a euphemism for sex.1  The Old Testament helps us make sense of Revelation 18. Not only would Judah’s Temple no longer enjoy the light of the lampstand filled with olive oil (the Spirit), the fruitfulness of the millstone would be taken away. No more bread.

The face of the unfaithful Old Covenant ‘baker’ would be uncovered as the bread in white baskets was eaten by ravens under the Covenant curse. He would be executed by Jesus as Pharaoh. The cupbearer was resurrected from the ‘tomb’, but the baker was not. The Old Covenant priesthood was exposed, but the New Covenant oil and wine would not be harmed.

Jesus as wise Solomon built His new house on the rock of obedience. The Herods ignored Jesus’ warnings for forty wilderness years and built a great and glorious house–on sand. Even in Jesus’ day, long before its completion, the disciples admired it. At the end of the Restoration Covenant, it was the ultimate form of Zerubbabel’s white capstone, covered in gold and white marble. When it reflected the early morning or afternoon sun, people had to avert their eyes from its brightness. It should have been a house for Eve built upon the sacrificial obedience of Adam, but it was a pretense, a covering of leaves. Jesus saw its future.

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more.”

Herod’s house of bread was submerged under the Gentile sea, a big white stone sinking to the bottom like Pharaoh’s armies. It was not Ezra’s Resurrection Temple as he had hoped. Zerubbabel’s white stone, the Restoration Temple, had been the outcome of a priestly people who put their pagan wives away. But Herod’s kingdom was built on the intermarriage of red Edomite clay and Roman iron–sex with the beast in the wilderness. It was not a capstone but a gravestone.

After the end of the Roman siege, not one stone of this white house remained upon another. Roman soldiers tore up the masonry to retrieve the gold that melted in the fires and ran into the cracks. As the Man of Sin, the Herods had spoken as though they were God, sitting in Moses’ and Solomon’s seat of judgment where they ought not. But their house was left desolate, uncovered and eaten by scavenging maggots. As anti-Christ, Herod was the living dead instead of the dead living–the manna of disobedience. It was not another restoration of Ezra’s Temple. It was the whiteness of a false resurrection, a leprous house that would be torn down.

And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the mortar of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean place. (Lev. 14:45)

Herod’s house pretended to be the top of the mountain of God, but it was filled with corpses like the Valley of Hinnom, covered with bones like the altar of Jeroboam, unclean and outside the true city of God.

Jezebel was indeed thrown down, and all that the dogs left were her head, hands and feet, a cruciform memorial for the bone collectors. The angel had said, “He is not here. He is risen” and the apostles and prophets rejoiced. Now the angel said, “She is not here. She is eaten,” and the apostles and prophets rejoiced again (2 Kings 9:37; Rev. 18:20). Her whited bones remain as a memorial to the leaven of the Pharisees, a faith that is a collection of unclean bones. Only the breath of Jesus can resurrect a Jew from the dust.

But there were two lime-washed pillars that Joshua set up as a memorial to his church’s river crossing. At the church’s crossing of the crystal sea into the promised heavenly country, Herod’s Temple was the second pillar. What was the first?


  1. Samson’s adultery condemned him to a symbolic harlotry, pushing the millstone, grinding grain in the house of a foreign god. But his repentance made him ‘fruitful’ again, and the once adulterous and barren ‘warrior-bride’ rejoiced to see the destruction of that house.


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