The 6 Water Pots of Stone
by Tony Warren
A question came up in a recent discussion concerning what I thought the number six represented in the scriptures, and specifically as it relates to the "Six WaterPots Of Stone" of John 2:6. My answer was that it doesn't matter what I think, what matters is what the scripture have to say about it. For the accurate interpretation of scripture is not found in the thoughts of men, but in the thoughts of God. And those thoughts are written as the word of God within the pages of the scriptures themselves. Indeed, interpretations belong to God (Gen. 40:8, 41:16), and therefore if one's understanding of scripture is not validated by the word of God itself, then we have no real evidence that what we believe is anything more than private interpretation and personal opinion.
Over the years there have been quite a few in theological circles concerning the number six, but in most cases there is simply no scripture that would clearly validate the ideas. One example is the common belief that the number six represents the number of man. Where is the sound biblical validation for Christians to propose this? many holding this position argue that, since man was made on the sixth day, this is one justification of this stance. But using logic like this, we'd have to also conclude that the number six is the number of cattle, because God also created cattle on the sixth day. Or could we go further and say the number five is the number of fish, because God created them on the fifth day? Clearly, this is laid upon an unsound hermeneutic and is the flimsiest of justifications upon which to build a Biblical perspective. Using a sound Biblical hermeneutics means that we must have some solid biblical foundation and reference before we conclude that a number indicates a certain thing. And there is no such Biblical reference with the theory of the number six being the number of man. Quite the contrary, when we look circumspectly at the number six seen throughout the scriptures, it most often deals in some way with the application of "work" in the world. The Bible clearly reveals that the number six ultimately identifies with either work itself, or our time of work as we sojourn in this world on our way to the Sabbath of Rest.
From the very beginning God has given us some very Biblical and practical examples of the number six used to illustrate a period of work. The Lord Himself records that He "worked" for 6 days, and then rested on the seventh.
- "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
God did all his work of creation, made Heaven and earth and all that is therein, in six days. And on the Seventh, He rested. The Number six is used here to signify the total period of time that God worked before He rested. The days are the units of that time, and the number six the designation for period of that work. Moreover, just as God worked for six days, He also uses that number for man, who is commanded to work the very same six days.
- "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
- And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made."
The "six" was the length of time that God assigned Himself "to work" in creation, and it is the length of time He also assigned to Man to work in this world. That is a fact of very great significance and importance. And this "signification" of the number bears itself out consistently as it's not only illustrated in six days, but is applied in years as well. For example, as we read that God had made a Covenant with the children of Israel, and that bondmen were to serve for six years. Yet on the seventh year, they were to be set free. Again, that same signification of six illustrating their time of work.
- "six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
- but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord Thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
- for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
The emphasis again is on the working for the length of time illustrated by the number "six," and in the seventh year, that man was to be set at liberty (free) from that work. Again, spiritually pointing to a Sabbath of rest. God doesn't inspire these things written as mere coincidence, these are spiritual guides that teach us what the number signifies. The number seven illustrates the totality or completeness of whatever is in view,  while the number six is the part of the seven designated "for work".
- "...I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondmen, saying, at the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee..."
The fact is, this number is clearly illustrated in far too many places of scripture as a designator of work in the world to simply be by happenstance. And very often specifically signifying work on this earth before we enter into our Sabbath of rest, which is in the Lord. We work in this world the six, and then we enter into our Sabbath of Rest on the seventh. And this is not mere idle speculation, but is backed up in the scriptures as God Himself declared that we are in fact, "laboring to enter into His rest." And He uses the seventh day Sabbath as an indicator of that rest. Now, of course, ultimately we enter into that rest the moment that we become saved, because our works were accomplished before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3) in the Promise of Christ. But those labors are "worked out" in our lives. Christians labor in the world as ambassadors of Christ, declaring His gospel, and it is all because Christ has "finished" the requirements of works for us by His death and resurrection. That is why we read of Paul's exhortation to us:
We earnestly labor, striving in this world, bringing the gospel of Christ, knowing that there is a rest awaiting us in glory that is worth far more than all our efforts. This is labor and rest is also seen in verses like found in Revelation 14:
- "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after that same example of unbelief."
- "..Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them."
Clearly the seventh say Sabbath is equated with our rest from our six days of work. When Jesus gave the parable of the sower in the field, it was a picture of our laboring in the world. Would we really think that it is just a coincidence that Israel was commanded literally to sow in the field six years, and to rest on the seventh year? Of course not, because it was part of God's magnificent salvation program, and a marvelous spiritual picture of God's plan.
The seventh year was to be a "cessation of work," that the poor and needy may eat. And these are all spiritual truths signifying that in Christ (our Sabbath) shall the poor and needy find rest and be fed. These are the continual illustrations by God that the number six is a signification of the time of work we do in the world. But sometimes the meaning of the number is less conspicuous, as it is for example in a verse like Ezekiel 46:1. When Ezekiel is talking about the Sanctuary, we read:
- "And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor and the needy shall eat."
Again, the six signifying "working," and the opening of the gate to the Sanctuary on the Sabbath. this designating that no one can get in the Sanctuary except on the Sabbath (Christ) of Rest, with the cessation of works. Or an even less conspicuous as found in 1st Kings:
- "Thus saith the Lord God; the gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened."
1st Kings 10:19
If we weren't consciencious Christians we might think that God had arbitrarily picked the number six here just because six steps to the throne might be a nice round number. But being knowledgeable of Christ, we understand that God's ways are not our ways, and that there is more to be gleaned from scripture than any man could learn in a lifetime. There is a reason God says there are six steps to the throne. The six steps are a signification of something, and blessed are those whom God gives the knowledge to discern it. For it is our Christian walk to God in Christ! And these aren't exceptions, there are many, many verses like this to show that the number "six" is often illustrative of the time of our walk, or work in the world. And at the end of that "six" of (work), is our seventh of rest.
- "The Throne had six steps, and the top of the throne round behind:...."
This indeed is the prevailing illustration of the number six in scripture. It is not a designator of man, but of the time that God has assigned in the world for work. Whether it be us, or God Himself. The six is illustrative of work.
- "Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord Thy God: thou shalt do no work therein."
This Illustration in the Six water Pots
Taking what we've learned about the number six and going back to John 2:6 and the miracle of the six waterpots of stone, we can slowly begin to see how this number relates to this verse.
The stone pots or vessels were very literally large stone water basins which were used as receptacles for the supply of water for the Jewish manner, custom or tradition, of ceremonial purification (Mark 7:4). This is also illustrated in the amount of water they contained, which is about two or three Firkins apiece. A Firkin is an old English unit of measurement derived from the Middle Dutch "vierdekijn," which means fourth. Thus it is a designator of a fourth of a barrel. You may note that the God inspired actual Greek word translated Firkin is "metretes." The metretes is approximately 8.7 gallons. Why was it translated Firkin? We can speculate that since the Firkin is almost the same measure as the Metretes, the translators decided to use a contemporary (at that time) term of similar value so the reader would understand. Much as I describe the amount above in "gallons" to help us in the U.S. to understand how much water there was. It should be noted, that the assigning of modern equivalents to ancient measurements is not an exact science. But the real "point" here is just to illustrate that these were large stone basins holding close to 30 gallons of water a piece. And there were six of them.
- "And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece."
These six stone waterpots were used for religious ablutions or washings for ceremonial purification of the Jews. For the manner of the Jews was to regarded themselves as ceremonially unclean if they did not wash before eating (Matthew 15:2). Eg:
This was the manner of the Jews in ceremonial purification in these large stone waterpots that Christ spoke of. And Christ commanded that these stone basins be filled with water to the brim.
- "For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
- And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
- Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?"
Now we get to the true spiritual significance of these large waterpots for purification, as Christ is "making a statement" about the works of men, versus His creative work in men. The signification here is the miraculous work of Christ alone is what would purify the Jews. Notice the number six with relationship to this work of the ceremonial purifying water. The picture God is painting for us here is that the people believed this water would "purify of the Jews," but God uses this to demonstrate that the Jews will only be cleansed or purified by the miraculous creative work of the shed blood of Christ. Wine in scripture often signifies blood. Thus, spiritually speaking, without the creative work of the water from the stone becoming blood, there would be no purification of the Jews. Selah! Note also, the pots that hold the water are carefully identified as "stone" pots, signifying that Christ is the Stone "from which" the purification must come. There is no other stone that Israel can be purified from, other than the Stone, which is Christ. This is all the picture of Christ and His work of purification for the Jews.
- "And there were set there six water pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
- Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim."
In similar fashion, God illustrated this same principle in having the saving water for the children of Israel come from a Stone. The Jews were forty years in the wilderness and they had no water, and so God in His mercy had the Rock was smitten that they might have water. Do you see the spiritual correlation here?
- "Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the Rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the Rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink..."
"..the Old Testament Concealed, is the New Testament Revealed!"
That is a faithful axiom. Some may have read this verse of Exodus and thought that this indeed is curious language, a Rock being smitten and water coming out? But it's not curious at all, because God has set it up as a spiritual picture or example for us to learn from. it is truly a prophesy that Christ is that Rock that will be smitten "for the Children of God," that they might have the sustaining water of life. Likewise, He is the Stone from which the saving water which purifies the Jews must come from. And just as Israel was saved by the smiting of this rock, we were saved by the smiting of the Rock, which is Christ. But don't take my word for it. Get it directly from the scriptures. In 1st Corinthians God speaks of this episode of the smiting of the Rock in the wilderness, and we read:
1st Corinthians 10:4
And so again, it's not some idle speculation, God's word very plainly confirms it. Christ is the true Rock that the water of Salvation comes from, and the Rock in Horeb merely was a shadow, casting a spiritual picture of it. And that is why these waterpots in John chapter 2 whereof wine would come, are meticulously pointed out as being of stone. Because true purification is from Christ. Six Stone waterpots signifying that it is by the "work" of Christ's blood that the people will have this purification. This is the illustration in the number six. While in Exodus, the picture of "work" was put forth in the fact that the stone had to be "smitten" in order that water would come forth, here it is illustrated in the number 6. That's what Christ did for the Children of God. He was smitten of God for their sins that they might be purified and made perfect in drinking the wine of His blood.
- "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
1st Corinthians 11:25
We drink the wine of communion to illustrate our communion with Christ in His saving work on the cross. Likewise, the purifying water turned to wine illustrates it is by drinking Christ's blood only that men are purified. In the smiting of Christ, and His work shedding His blood, our impurities are taken away, that we might enter into the Sabbath of Rest.
- "After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
As the Rock in the wilderness was smitten for life saving water, so Christ, the Rock, was spiritually smitten that we might have living waters of purification. By His shed blood. We discern from Exodus that the waters came forth because Christ was smitten. And the six waterpots of stone illustrate the work that was required for the purifying water to have the power of the blood. The power thereof, was in the blood of Christ, and the new creation in "creating" wine from that water.
- "Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."
Water into Wine
We can understand the six signifying work, we can understand the stone waterpots of purifying water for the Jews, but some puzzle over why Jesus turns the water in these six stone pots into wine. As we said, wine in the scriptures is often used to symbolize blood. And it is the new creation in Jesus' shed blood that will be the miraculous effect of the work required to give power to purify. Without the shedding of blood, there is no purifying.
Without the blood, there is no purification of the Jews! That purifying or cleansing water had to be by the blood of Christ! For without the shedding of blood, there is no real purification of the Jews. It is written, the Covenant with the Jews had to be confirmed (made strong) by the empowerment of Christ's shed Blood. Consider wisely Hebrews chapter 9:
- "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission".
Clearly, it is the work of the shedding of the blood of Christ, which gave that New Covenant with Israel it's strength. Just as clearly, there would be no purification without it. His Blood is the only thing that could truly purify the people of God, and this turning the purifying water to wine was symbolizing the new creation in Christ's blood necessary to make men clean. One example of wine being used as a signification of blood is found in Revelation chapter 14.
- "For where a Covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the Covenantor,
- for a Covenant is of force after men are dead, otherwise it is of no Strength at all while the Covenantor liveth.
- Whereupon neither the First Covenant was dedicated without Blood."
From the winepress came out blood instead of wine. We can also see this in the signification of the great Harlot that was made drunken by the blood of the Saints in Revelation 17. By the language of made drunken by the blood, God is again equating blood with wine. Or again, in Isaiah 63:2-3 where we read of the garments of Him that were stained in the winepress with blood. Or this signification in Isaiah chapter 49:
- "And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even to the horses bridles..."
And on and on, wine is used in the Bible to signify blood, and that is what is being seen in the book of John. In point of fact, that is exactly the same signification we use when we celebrate the Communion service. We use wine as a sign or signification of the shed blood of Christ. What did Christ tell us about the wine of Communion?
- "And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine..."
The wine is used as a symbol of the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin (purification). And that is why the water from the stone was turned to wine. It was to symbolize that there was a work of new creation. That the work of Christ had to include blood for the purifying. Six waterpots of stone, not by coincidence, but God ordained and indicating the fullness of the work of Christ by which the Jews are truly purified. And without the turning of the water to wine in this new creation, we have no picture of the blood (remember, the stone waterpots represent Christ, and that within His blood). Without this, there is no true washing, no purifying, no remission of sins. He is the Stone vessel wherein the purifying water is evidenced in blood. Likewise, when Christ was crucified, the same spiritual picture:
- "And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, drink ye all of it; For this is my Blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's Kingdom."
1st John 5:6
- "But one of the solders with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water."
Water cannot truly cleanse "without" the efficacy of the blood of Christ. So you see, this is the significance of the six stone pots of purifying water and Christ creating wine. Christ is the stone from which the purification comes, but in order for it to cleanse or wash us clean, He had to die, He had to shed blood. For purification is not by water, except it be water of washing in the blood of Christ. Only then do we have the wine for the wedding, which purifies us.
- "This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood."
Christ's First Miracle, A Miracle of Creation!
We have seen that these things are illustrating the work of Christ in shedding His blood, that we might be made purified. When we celebrate that purification by breaking bread and drinking His blood in the communion, we do that in remembrance of the work of His broken body on the cross. Indeed, it is no coincidence that we are told by God that this work of new creation is Christ's "First Miracle!"
This was the First, the beginning of miracles that Christ did on earth. And it is no coincidence that it is mirroring the six days of Creation. Note that they were also the beginning of miracles.
- "This BEGINNING of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him."
Think about this. Here in the water to wine episode, we see the work of Jesus Christ in the creation in His first miracle, mirroring the work of Christ in creation in the beginning. Six stone waterpots signifying His work that we "can" enter into His Sabbath of rest. Likewise, six days God worked and rested on the Sabbath in the beginning. We can understand it perfectly, for in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God, and all things were created by Him. This first miracle is a sign of creation, and it mirrors God's first creation.
- "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
- The same was in the beginning with God.
- All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
- In him was life; and the life was the light of men."
Consider that normally it takes years to make a fine wine such as Christ did. But Jesus simply spoke and it was instantly created. Six Stone water pots filled with water instantly recreated as blood in the pots enough to quench the thirst of all at the wedding who would drink of it. The carnal man says this is impossible, because fine wine takes years to create. As they likewise say the world took billions of years to create, and it's impossible that anyone created it in "six" literal days. Yet both were done as sure as there is a world, and done instantly and merely with His word. God creates age instantly with simply a word of creation, precisely because He is God and not a man! He doesn't need years to create and age the finest wine, as some would suppose. He doesn't need billions of years to create the world as some Theologians brainwashed by humanism and modernism, suppose. He is the creator, not a man bound by the laws of physics as man is. And the instantaneous miraculous creation of wine, was a sign of the purification by the new creation of Christ's shed blood in us.
..he that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
Christ's Response to Mary about the Wine!
When Christ's mother asked for the wine, have you ever been puzzled by how Christ addressed her:
Woman, what have I to do with thee isn't an unkind rebuke to Mary or a show of disrespect for her. rather, it was because the woman in this instance is a "figure" of the Church. Christ's time had not yet come to go to the cross and give the wine, which is His blood. Many people think this was a curious or harsh statement to address her this way, but it's only curious until we realize that He is finishing off this spiritual picture declaring that it was not yet His Hour to shed His blood. Remember, the wine represented His shed blood.
- "...Woman, what hath I to do with thee? Mine Hour is not yet come."
This is the true wine of which Christ spoke, which was not yet ready for the woman. It was not yet Christ's hour to go to the cross. It was not yet time for the true wine to come forth. Mary was asking for literal wine for the people of the marriage supper, but Jesus was talking about the wine which was His shed blood, for the marriage of the Lamb. Consider similar language which also illustrates this,
- "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
- Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day".
- "Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His Hour was not yet come."
This was Christ's hour, that had not yet come. In all three of these verses (John 2:4, 7:10, 8:20) we have the same language illustrating the hour when He would shed His blood had not arrived. That's why Jesus said "her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come," to Mary. She was a picture of the Church, and spiritually He was talking about the wine of the marriage supper for it.
- "These Words spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple: and no man laid hands on Him; for His Hour was not yet come."
I've heard theologians give all kinds of wild speculative reasons why Jesus said this, but they do not seem to fully grasp that Jesus very often spoke in parables. It's not unlike those who asked about the Temple being raised up in 3 days. They too were talking about the literal temple, but Christ was talking about the Temple of His body. Even the disciples didn't understand this until after He was risen (John 2:22). God is magnificent in the putting forth of His word in a spiritual manner. It's by the Holy Spirit of God that we discern that these things are true. Jesus said this to Mary only because He was illustrating a spiritual picture about when His blood would be shed as the wine for the people bidden to the true wedding supper. Not because He was irritated or cross (as some have surmised). So many times we lose sight of what God is truly saying because we simply read scripture in a worldly way, not understanding the Bible is a spiritual book. We must consider it, comparing scripture with scripture in spirit and truth, to find out what God is declaring. Scripture tells us, Jesus spoke in parables, and without a parable, He did not speak (Mark 4:34). We simply do not fully understand that God conceals things to His Glory, and we, (Like the more honorable Bereans) must search them out. Today's Christians seem to avoid Bible study like the Plague! They most often say something like, "..I'll understand it when I get to heaven," or they parrot some other Christian cliché. What ever happened to, "Thy word is a Lamp unto my feet?" How can His word Guide us, if we relegate it to a hour at Church or a few verses before bedtime? My, My, how would those Bereans have fared had they taken the attitude of the Church today? When Paul spoke to them of things they did not understand, they would have simply walked away saying, "..I guess we'll understand it better by and by." But these were more noble (honest with themselves) Bereans, and understood a great many things that the Churches today seem to have forgotten. For one, their First Love! Thus they consulted His Holy word, and in return received God's glorious commendation and praise. We will not discern secrets by osmosis, but surrender to His Spirit, in the open minded study of the word.
With spiritual eyes we can see that the six waterpots of stone for the purifying of the Jews, being turned to wine, is a magnificent example of the treasures that God has hidden in His Holy word. Treasures that the more noble Berean-like, who receive God's word with all readiness of mind, should search out.
....He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. May the Gracious Lord give us all Wisdom and Understanding in the Study of His most Holy word. Amen!
- "It is the Glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of Kings is to search out a matter."
[Return.] 1. The Significance of the Numbers In Scripture - By Tony Warren
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Copyright ©1994 Tony Warren
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