The Message of the Kidron
Mr. Mike Hamel of Thornton, Colorado shares with us some instructive thoughts on the Bible history of the Kidron Valley. This is the first article to appear in FOCUS.
Quietly leaving Jerusalem on the night of His betrayal, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley to begin His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.1 By this simple act He gave to His disciples a final picture of the significance of His impending death, although they undoubtedly did not perceive it. Lest we too miss the importance of this geographical detail included by the sacred writer, we should reflect for a moment on the message of the Kidron.
In The Past
The Kidron Valley is mentioned several times in Scripture. It runs along the eastern side of Jerusalem for a distance of about three miles, separating the city from the Mount of Olives. This narrow ravine is dry most of the year. Perhaps as Jesus moved through the valley He was pondering the history that had been written there, of which He was the antitype.
Hundreds of years earlier David had crossed the Kidron as a rejected king.2 His son Absalom had secretly turned the hearts of the people against him and he was forced to flee in haste before the coup d’etat. What sorrow the sweet psalmist of Israel must have known that day! His own son sought his throne and his life. And what about the people? Hadn’t he served them well? Hadn’t they prospered under his rule? How easily they became his enemies. They forgot the mercies of the past because of the deceitful voice of the revoluntionary. Only a few men remained loyal to David compared to the numbers that had attended him in happier days. As he left his city in the midst of a faithful company of followers, he walked alone in his sorrow and grief.
Now his greater Son retraced his steps, Himself a rejected King. The centuries had not changed the heart of man. Jesus came to His own and His own received Him not. Those who had seen His power and tested His mercies would, in a few hours, be screaming for His blood. Soon they would come and disturb the garden quietness, dragging Him off to a mock trial and a Roman gibbet. “We will not have this man to reign over us.” “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Was ever a King so wrongfully treated? Was ever a Man so meek in the face of injustice? David crossed the Kidron and fled to save his life. Jesus crossed the valley and prayed, offering His life to do the Father’s will. His disciples were with Him, but He was alone in His sufferings, bathing the stones with the sweat of His agony.
The Kidron Valley also served as the place for putting away the filth and wickedness of Jerusalem in times past. Under Asa the vile Asherah was cast out and burned by the brook.3 There the idolatrous artifacts that polluted the city in the time of Hezekiah were destroyed.4 In the days of Judah’s mightiest reformer, Josiah, the valley was filled with the fires of purification and the unclean ashes were cast upon the waters of the brook to be carried away from the Holy City, down to the Dead Sea.5
Across this valley Jesus walked like the scapegoat of old. In a few hours He would bear the iniquity of mankind. Through the place where the fathers had sought to put away their sins moved the Lamb of God Who would take away the sin of the world.6 “He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people was He stricken.”7 Down to death went the Lord of Life to secure salvation for His Own.
In The Future
But history tells us only half of the story. Prophecy tells us the rest. The Lord Jesus will once more cross the Kidron Valley, not in weakness and sorrow, but in power and glory. From the Mount of Olives (east of the Kidron), where His feet will again touch the earth, He will cross over and enter Jerusalem through the Beautiful Gate, symbolically returning from the place of rejection.8 He will then receive “glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve Him.”9 A royal diadem, not a crown of thorns, will grace His brow. A rod of iron, not an iron nail, will be in His hand to rule the nations. The whole earth will be filled with His splendor, and of the increase of His kingdom there will be no end.
He has dealt with sin once for all by being made sin. He has freed us from guilt and shame at Calvary. And even if men reject Him now, as they do, that rejection cannot circumvent God’s appointment of Christ as Lord of all. A rejected King, an offering for sin, yes, but now a risen King! Now a coming Christ!
Brightness of eternal glory,
Shall Thy praise unuttered lie?
Who would hush the heav’n-sent story
Of the Lamb who came to die?
Came from God-head’s fullest glory
Down to Calv’ry’s depth of woe,
Now on high, we bow before Thee;
Streams of praises ceaseless flow!
Sing His blest triumphant rising;
Sing Him on the Father’s throne;
Sing — till heav’n and earth surprising,
Reigns the Nazarene alone.
(Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.)
1 John 18:1
2 2 Samuel 15
3 1 Kings 15:13
4 2 Chronicles 30:14
5 2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12
6 John 1:29
7 Isaiah 53:8
8 Zechariah 14:4
9 Daniel 7:14