May 21. by Grant Marshall
Dream Date: 13th May
Several days ago the Lord gave me a dream. In this dream a group of elderly church goers were walking down the road past me. They were endeavouring to bring their message to a group of people further into the town.
On the other side of the road was a table. It was either in or outside a coffee shop. Two Vicars came to sit down and have a coffee. There was no problem in me joining them. Their Church was called St Mary’s. They had with them a white box. Inside the box were old and broken communion wafers. Some were stuck together. They asked if I wanted communion. I remarked that the wafers were old. They said it was all they had and that, they would do. As I sat with them, they gave me a small tablet screen in a black leather cover. I asked what they were reading. They told me Psalm 127. The dream ended.
I read the psalm later that day. In the group meeting that night, we read from Isaiah 62:6 ‘I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest.’
Psalm 127 says: Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
We see that if God has not built the house then there is another house that will rise. If the watchmen watch over the other house, their watch will be in vain and futile.
Now I think of Israel. It has not been on watch. However, if it has then it has watched over something the Lord has not built. The enemy of Israel is within its walls and around its borders.
‘It will do’ is what the Vicar said over the old bread wafers. The evangelism of the elderly group of worshippers was vanity.There was no spirit in their mission, and they were tired and running through the motions. Their mission and message had no power or impact. They looked bedraggled and heartless.
When God is in the house labourers bear fruit, and the eye of the watchman is sharp and acute.
If the house we build for the Lord is acceptable to Him, and the people attend to it as the priests attended in the temple and to their ministry of YHVH, according to God’s word, then the Lord will occupy it. There is no point in attending to the house God has not built. He will not occupy it and the enemy will breach the walls.
One my friends in our group, told me that her friend had spoken to her and found herself in a dilemma. She had been thinking for some time about leaving her church, because she felt that the word was not being preached. She wanted to help in the food outreach programme from my friend’s church. The name of the woman’s church was St Mary’s.
The week following, saw my wife and I on a few days break with our grandchildren. When the children had gone home, the rest of the week was ours. The days took us on many walks along the eastern Northumberland coast. The Lord blessed us with good weather, blue green seas, and a warm sun. On one of the walks we came a cross a path with a directional sign on the hill. It pointed to St Mary’s Church.
On a subsequent trip, we went to the holy island, Lindisfarne, the first parish of St Aidan. St Aidan died in 651AD, He was recruited by King Oswald, a Christian zealot whose mission was to convert the pagans to christianity. Aidan along with twelve monks began their work among the island people and a cross the Kingdom of Northumbria.
Leading up to the old abbey, one enters into the old small village. Various sign posts direct you to places of interest. The first sign read: ‘To the Abbey, The Castle and to ‘St Mary’s Church.’
I took the route to the church. St Mary’s is a beautiful little church. On entering, the local covid restrictions meant that nearly all the inside of the church had been roped off.
So what is the significance of St Mary’s….. I was led to read 2 Corinthians 11: Paul and the False Apostles
11 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough…….
The message in this passage is not to reject the pure gospel of Christ. The word is Christ. He is the gift of the consummation between his mother and the Holy Spirit. Mary was chosen to be His incubator, His birth house. It had to be pure, as was Mary, the Mother of Christ, chosen by God.
Remember, If the house is rebuilt or built without the hand of God, God is not in it, so those who work in it labour in vain and those who eat from it do not eat the good fruit. The reflection is that there are two forbidden fruits. The fruit of knowledge – ‘information’ in Eden, and the fruit of dis-knowledge (made up word by me) ‘misinformation’. This is the word that bears no power or energy. It is a false truth, fake news, a false positive. On its hearing, it sounds good and godly because it is wrapped up in things clerical, and sits on places of esteem, handled by hirelings and appeasers of men. They lead the people astray and the people perish through lack of knowledge.
In order for the word to bear fruit it must also be ‘housed’ in the incubator of holiness – ‘the virgin womb’. Consider this: if the incubator is dysfunctional, the child within in will be miscarried. There is even weight in this word ‘miscarried’. Has the church done this? Great responsibility was given to her. Part of that responsibility was not to interfere with it, or touch it. We have the story of two men who died because they touched the ark. It seems to be an allusion to blatant disregard and disrespect to God’s instruction.
Let us read these two passages of scripture.
1 Chronicles 13:6-12, & 2 Samuel 6:6-7
And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim, which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, the LORD who is enthroned above the cherubim, where His name is called. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and with trumpets. When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, because the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. Then David became angry because of the LORD’S outburst against Uzza; and he called that place Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?” (NASB) 1 Chronicles 13:6-12
But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God. (NASB) 2 Samuel 6:6-7
In the initial understanding of the dream, the two Vicars seemed to be resting while the congregants went about the town spreading the gospel. My feeling was that they should be out with them, leading and supporting them. There was no joy in their demeanour.
However, all is not as simple as it seems at first sight. The dream message is layered in its meaning.
The significance of the two Vicars
The Vicars in the dream were not old. It would seem that they had left the congregants to go out and do the work. Should they have been with them???
But it was they to whom psalm 127 was given.
In the story of Martha and Mary, there are two roles, one that busies itself and does not find time to listen to Jesus, and the other that prioritises time to be with Him. We do not know whether Jesus came every day to the house. Maybe Martha’s role was to keep house, be hospitable and feed her visitors — an honourable thing to do, you might think. If Jesus did visit frequently then Martha’s response would seem to be a familiar one. However, there may well be a further word play in this dream.
M is the first letter of the name Mary. The ‘M’ is the Mem in Hebrew. It is found in the middle of the word ‘EMet’ which means truth. The ‘Mem’ is symbolic of the ‘waters’ which represent the people or nations. How wonderful is that? In this letter that begins the name of ‘Miryam’ the Jewish name of Mary, it is representative of the water that is found in the womb, the incubator of our Christ. It also means ‘spring’, an underground spring, and refers to the spring of wisdom and knowledge.
Mary was the carrier of the truth, the word of God. When the truth of the word is replaced by familiarity, its meaning and strength is lost, and it will continue to be watered down and tied down to its place, covered in liturgy, in tradition and behind the pulpit, shrouded in misunderstanding and only handled by those who are deemed more knowledgable than ourselves.
We can look as though we are serving God when we are not. We can look as though we are near to Him when we are not. We simply cannot fool God.
The problem is this: When God appears to the one He wants to speak to, He comes into close proximity. He has created the feasts for us. The feasts are also ways when we draw near to Him, When God speaks, He demands our full attention. When He gives us His instruction, it is up to us to understand that His word is not to be tampered with. Pottering around and being busy with other things often results in mis-hearing and getting the wrong message. When Jesus sits among us, we are also being fed the spiritual food. He is the Bread of Life. Physical food can come at any time of the day. The consumption of the spiritual demands discernment and a different discipline.
In the dream, I see that the Vicars, had stopped to read the word of God. The two of them represent the two that are sent out. The congregants may also be representative of the old ways. Perhaps they weren’t paying attention to the word, busying themselves and not listening to the word. The congregants were old, their coats were grey, and the way they dressed represented their generation. Unless God builds the house the workers labour in vain. It is one thing to have a vision for what God is building, but if the workforce is occupied with the familiar things, then they will be resistant to changes and they will build incorrectly.
The Vicars were having a hard time. Their age represented a younger and new generation, a new energy that will bring life into a tired and ageing church.
What they need to understand from the psalm is how God wants them to build. God does not change the pattern or the model of His Church. His ways are carved in stone. It’s His way or no way.
Images within dreams are generally symbolic and the images in my dream were clearly symbolic to identify the church. It has nothing to do with any denominational aspect or identity. When we see a man of the cloth in the street, we know immediately what he represents. The age of the congregation represents the old and established ways. The Vicars were having a hard job in trying to get the message through to a familiar and comfortable group. Dreams, like scripture, are symbolic, literal and figurative. God uses symbols that we understand. Every word in the Hebrew language is made up from symbols.
In summary, we must look at what is bearing fruit, and what is not. Jesus instructs us to cut down the tree that bears no fruit. Don’t waste any more time on things that will not be of any benefit to you or to the kingdom. We read that those who entered the wilderness from their exile in Egypt never made it to the end. They fundamentality were not willing to change, in order for God to establish them. They had become too familiar with the presence of God in His columns of smoke and fire and with their supply of manna, which they did not plant or work for. The Word of God, the Truth (Emet) must incubate to bring forth new life. If we are to be the incubator of God’s word, and we can continue to attend to ourselves, spending time in the presence of God, and be those holy containers — the Word will bear fruit and everlasting fruit at that. For our consideration, we must see that the Word in us is revealed and not hidden by our own religion.
At this point, I find that this message has not yet finished. It has now been a month since I started to write it, and still the revelation continues. I have been doing a little bit of work for a friend of mine in a village several miles away. Across the road from where I was working, I noticed the side of the church that had, up until then, been hidden from view. When my work had finished I decided to take a little trundle, finally standing outside the building. At the side of the church was another old building. The plaque at the side of the main door read ‘The Old Convent House’. In its grounds stands the church. The notice board at the side of the church doors read ‘The Immaculate Conception’. Opposite the door, standing in the garden is the statue of Mary. I realise the revelation of my dream has not yet ended.
True religion, unlike false religion, which allows the boundaries of faith, repentance and belief to move and evolve, can therefore be seen as an enduring covering, a greenhouse for the seed. It has no influence upon the nature of the plants under its dome, except to provide a healthy atmosphere and a secure place for them to grow. In other words, the seed or plant does not take on the nature of the greenhouse. God has already put within the seed everything it needs to fulfil its shape, scent, sweetness and the sustenance it can supply for its time. True religion has the greenhouse affect upon the Word — nurturing the seed and stimulating the growth of the word in the community of faith. Look at what James says and compare that to Miriam’s nature.
Miriam and Mary Parallel.
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Further more the profound calling of Mary/Miriam, the mother of Christ, was to be that incubator, the container of water in which the Christ child would grow. Her name was given to her in honour of Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron.
Miriam, the Jewish name of Mary, provides us with a link that can perhaps reveal to us why God chose a woman of that name to bear His child.
Miriam, the daughter of Aram, was part of a triad. She is sister to Moses and Aaron. Miriam was considered a prophetess, Exodus 15:20; Moses the King figure and Aaron the High priest.
In Jewish thought, Miriam is linked to water – ‘Miriam’s well’ The spiritual significance of her role is one that provides for Israel. She is a mother, nurse figure who sees that the child is nourished, educated to maturity. Exodus 1:15-19, 2:1-11
Miriam is therefore a well spring, the container for the water.
Miriam is also the one who makes sure that her brother Moses survives; watching from a distance the infant Moses drawn from the waters of the Nile. She intervenes the capture of her brother by Pharaoh’s daughter, and provides ultimately the child’s wellbeing returning to his real mother.
We can conclude also, that Miriam would have had a distant influence, at least, upon her brother Moses’ early years.
The time of Miriam’s death arrives at a crucial time;
In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. Miriam died there……
. . . and there was no water for the congregation (20:1–2)
The opening lines of Numbers 20, spend no time at all upon the death of Miriam, despite her obvious standing among the people. However, Verse 2 is the clue to the mystery of Miriam. We have already seen that Miriam is somehow the provider, mother figure, amongst the triad. She dies, and then a thirst comes upon the people. The water runs dry. A new source must be found and it is found in the ‘Rock’, which Moses’ strikes. Exodus 17:5-6. The issuing waters are referred to as Miriam’s well.
It is also said that the rock travelled with the people until Miriam’s death.
But look what it says in the re-newed covenant :
1 Corinthians 10:1-11
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
The Talmud says, “Three great leaders led Israel: Moses, Aaron and Miriam. In their merit they received three great gifts: the Well [Miriam], the Clouds of Glory [Aaron] and the Manna [Moses].”
When Miriam died, the well was removed as is evidenced by the fact that immediately after the verse “And Miriam died”, there was no water for the community.
Rashi, ‘Shlomo Yitzchaki (22 February 1040 – 13 July 1105), was a medieval French rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and commentary on the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh), says that this well was the same rock from which Moses brought forth water after Miriam’s death.
Rashi goes on to say: ‘The leader of each tribe took his staff to the well and drew a line in the sand toward his tribe’s encampment. The waters of the well were drawn after the mark and thus supplied water for each of the tribes.’
Miriam’s cup is also used in the family seder during passover:
Filling Miriam’s Cup follows the second cup of wine, before washing the hands. Raise the empty goblet and say:
Miriam’s cup is filled with water, rather than wine. I invite women of all generations at our Seder table to fill Miriam’s cup with water from their own glasses.
Pass Miriam’s cup around the table.
Explain the significance of filling Miriam’s cup with water:
A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, given by God because of the merit of Miriam, the prophetess. Miriam’s optimism and faith also was a spiritual oasis, giving the Hebrews the confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus.
Finally the sages tell us:
‘Miriam’s well is the vital fluid of Israel’s spiritual life, the water that inculcates them with the knowledge and identity her brothers provide. The waters of Miriam transport and apply the nutrients of Torah and the abstractions of faith to each individual, on his or her particular level.’
Through this journey, I ask myself if I am being a true and safe covering, for God’s word. Am I open to the elements that come to destroy and pick at the seed that He has planted in me? Am I a living spring from which others can drink and find refreshing? Am I a channel from the rock that can direct others onto their onward journeys of faith and will I indeed, if I remain in faith, continue as an onward flowing stream?
This dream has been a journey of discovery and has placed my walk with Christ into a context I have never really considered. You see, for most believers, we rest upon the work of God through His Son. We pay not too much attention to being co-workers with Him. Everything is done by Him, we believe and are assured, but we are called to do our part.
Our Christ, could have appeared on this earth without any human intervention, but God chose a young virgin girl to be the incubator and well spring for His life. His second appearing and His return, though in the timing of the Father, will also be dependent on us. When we have done all that we can, having fed on and fought over the Word in this incubator of a world, when we have endured through the wilderness of our journey, finding the edge of the river’s flow, the end will come. We must also understand that we must open the door of the incubator and let the river of the Word flow freely, not hindering it. We must be close to and yet distant from it, as Mary/Miriam did, watching over her Christ as He touched the world around Him.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Before I close, perhaps we may consider this; the sages teach that the well of Miriam dried up when she died. God’s word against idolatry in the scriptures warn us against the folly of idolatry and His extreme and righteous judgments that come against the foolish and unwise. They are to be as warnings to the future generations.
1 Cor 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
In John 7:4, we read the words of Jesus, instructing His disciples to go out and to show themselves to the world.
Furthermore v37, says this,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’ ”
When we consider the period over the last eighteen months or so, the lockdowns over the covid pandemic, we have been instructed to refrain from corporate worship, refrain from touching and gathering in groups. These instructions go completely against the teaching and observances of our faith. How many have not received the mikveh of baptism, how many have not received the healing touch, how many have not gathered to sing the songs of God’s worship?
It is as if the well has dried up, and just as in the desert, the people have become dry and thirsty.
Are we not yet thirsty enough to call out to the life stream that Christ has given us? Have we become incapable, with tongues sticking to the pallet, in crying out and recognising our thirst?
This lockdown has all but exiled the people. In other words, put them under the rules of a foreign antichrist god. Ultimately, if we adhere to this rule, then we have become bonded as a slave is owned by his master. Christ has set us free no longer yoked to slavery. Very believer must be a bondservant to Christ. This very fact makes every believer a rebel in the eyes of an unbelieving idolatrous world.
My hope however, is that this period of lockdown, will have been the damming of the water, and as the pressure releases so shall we see the mighty flow of the river flood our nation and revive His people for an unprecedented outpouring of His power against the forces of evil and corruption.