Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
1 Ki 7:42 "And four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters that were upon the pillars;"
The number four hundred is closely associated with the subject of bondage in the scriptures.
When Solomon and the children of Israel built the temple, there were two pillars or columns in the front porch of the temple. Upon these two pillars were two chapiters which had two bowls. Upon the two bowls were two networks and upon the two networks were a total of four hundred pomegranates.
Solomon assigned names to the two pillars. The right pillar was named Jachin and the left pillar was named Boaz. The name Jachin literally means "He will establish." Jachin was a high priest of the tribe of Levi of the order of Aaron. Boaz was the great grandfather of King David. The two pillars, therefore, recognized both the priesthood of Israel and the kingdom of Israel. They point us to the dual High Priesthood of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of Christ who is the King of the Kingdom. Christ establishes the Kingdom: Matt. 16:17 "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
The four hundred pomegranates are at the very apex of these pillars. Pomegranates were a part of the hem of the robe of the High Priest. The robe had a hem that had attached alternating a golden bell and a pomegranate; a golden bell and a pomegranate; etc. The robe of the High Priest speaks to us about the work of Christ, our High Priest. The golden bell gave a ring. Following the golden bell was a pomegranate, which is a very fruitful fruit. It has lots of inner fruits inside the outer coat.
In comparison to the golden bell and the pomegranate, we see the fruitfulness of Christ. First, he speaks and the result is spiritual life: John 5:25 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live." The sound of the voice of the Son of God results in the fruitfulness of the spiritual birth in that individual which had before been dead in trespasses and sins. This is comparable to the ringing of the golden bell followed by the pomegranate.
The four hundred pomegranates at the apex of the two pillars is comparable to the work of Christ as both our King and High Priest. As our High Priest, he made atonement for our sins. As our King, he reigns over us in the Kingdom of God. As the covenant keeping God, he executes the covenant of redemption and causes us to be born of the Spirit, when we were before dead in trespasses and sins. He has wrought within us both to will and to do of his good pleasure. In the Kingdom of God, we worship and serve him (bondage) as our King and High Priest. This is akin, to the fruitfulness of the pomegranates. Thus, we are both the work of Christ and we are fruitful in giving honor, praise, and glory to our God.
The Four Hundred Prophets of the Groves
We read of these four hundred prophets in the following verses of scripture:
1. 1 Ki 18:19 "Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table."
2. 1 Ki 22:6 "Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king."
By studying the context of these two verses, we can make the following conclusions about the prophets of the groves:
1. They withstood Elijah the Lord's prophet and therefore were false prophets and had deceived many people.
2. They ate at Jezebel's table, the wife to King Ahab, a wicked king of Israel. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal the King of the Zidonians. Generally, the Zidonians were worshippers of Baal, but also were worshippers of Asherah.
3. They prophesied of their own heart and they prophesied lies. In other words, they were false prophets.
4. They had deceived many people in Israel to follow their false teachings and to leave off the true worship of the Lord.
The word, groves, comes from the Hebrew word, "asherah," meaning "Asherah (or Astarte) a Phoenician goddess; also an image of the same." Astarte is also known in modern times as the goddess of Easter. Easter was known as the pagan religious holiday honoring human reproduction. This further explains the passage in Revelation chapter 2 concerning the letter written to the church at Thyatira: Rev. 2:20 "Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." Based on the scriptures these false prophets promoted fornication and idolatry. The example in Rev. Chapter 2 suggests the fornication under consideration there was spiritual fornication.
No doubt, the prophets of the grove promoted both natural and spiritual fornication. They themselves were under bondage to a false worship system and brought those who followed them under the same bondage.
Today, there are false teachers who teach things they ought not for filthy lucre sake. These make themselves to appear to be the ministers of righteousness:
These who claim to be ministers of righteousness and appear outwardly as ministers of righteousness are not what they appear and claim to be. They are deceitful workers and teach a works system of salvation, similar to the one that Satan taught in the Garden of Eden: Gen. 3:4 "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." In other words, by an act of the creature, the creature can attain to status as gods. This is taught today when false teachers tell people that by an act of belief, they can become born of the Spirit and become children of God. The bible does not teach this lie. The new birth is an act of God bestowed upon the elect when they were dead in trespasses and sins. It is solely by the grace of God and at God's appointed time.
Many false teachers teach the lie today, they are in bondage to the works system of religion, and those who have believed them are in the same bondage with them. Only through hearing and believing the truth can those people be delivered from their bondage. This was what Paul was teaching in Rom. 10:1-4, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." Paul's desire was that God's elect may be delivered from their ignorance and from their efforts to establish their own righteousness and believe that Christ has already made them righteous by His grace.
Wall of Jerusalem Broken Down and the bondage of idolatry
In Gen. 27 we get a hint of Esau's anger at Jacob because of Jacob's taking away his birthright 2 Chr. 25:20 "But Amaziah would not hear; for it came of God, that he might deliver them into the hand of their enemies, because they sought after the gods of Edom. 21 So Joash the king of Israel went up; and they saw one another in the face, both he and Amaziah king of Judah, at Bethshemesh, which belongeth to Judah. 22 And Judah was put to the worse before Israel, and they fled every man to his tent. 23 And Joash the king of Israel took Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, the son of Jehoahaz, at Bethshemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundred cubits. 24 And he took all the gold and the silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God with Obededom, and the treasures of the king's house, the hostages also, and returned to Samaria."
Amaziah was king over Judah during the time of the divided kingdom. Amaziah at first had done that which was right in the sight of God and God had prospered him to defeat the Edomites who had come out against Judah. However, Amaziah set up and sought after the gods of Edom after that he had defeated Edom. Consequently, Amaziah brought himself and Judah under the bondage of idolatry. Amaziah was lifted up in pride after having defeated Edom and considered not that it was by the Lord's deliverance that he was able to defeat Edom. He turned his back on the God of Judah and sought after the gods of the land he had defeated.
Because of his pride, Amaziah sought to do battle against the king of Israel. Subsequently, Israel under Joash the King of Israel put Judah to worse during the battle and Joash tore down four hundred cubits of the wall of Jerusalem and took from the took all the gold and the silver and all the vessels that were found in the house of God. Because of Amaziah's idolatry, he and Judah lost the Lord's help in battle, lost the defending wall of Jerusalem and lost the silver and gold and precious things out of the house of God.
Any time that we practice idolatry, we are brought into the bondage of that idolatry. We lose the daily help of the Lord, we lose fellowship with God, we lose our defense against our enemies, and we lose the precious blessings of the house of God. Surely, idolatrous worship is not worth losing any of these things. When we worship and serve God in Spirit and in truth, we are delivered from the bondage of idolatry and have great freedom including precious fellowship with God, daily help from the Lord in the midst of our trials, the Lord's hedge about us, and the precious blessings of the house of God.
The Four Hundred Who Followed Theudas
Acts 5:36 "For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought."
After the resurrection of Christ, a persecution arose against the Lord's church and his disciples. The apostles had been brought into custody of the Sanhedrin Council and threatened with great harm for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. During this threatening, there arose a notable Pharisee named Gamaliel who warned the counsel to be cautious about their actions against the apostles. He used Theudas and the four hundred that followed him as an example. Theudas had used cunning craftiness to persuade four hundred men to join him and become his followers in some cause. These followers were in bondage to their leader and subsequently followed him to their deaths.
During my lifetime, I have seen several Theudas's arise and draw away disciples after themselves. An example is Jim Jones who lead away a large following to commit suicide. Those who followed Jim Jones were in bondage to him. They bought into his false teachings and yielded themselves to be his bond-servants.
The Lord has taught us in the scriptures: "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey." We will be somebody's servants. We will either be the Lord's servants or some man's servants or the servants of sin and wickedness. Rom 6:13 "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God."
The Lord gave us the gifts of the gospel ministry and his word that we might be able to deliver ourselves from the cunning craftiness of false deceivers: Eph. 4:11 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."
It is important that we seek the truth and study God's word that we not become the servants of some cunningly crafty deceiver. Remember Theudas and the four hundred who followed him.