In this installment of Friend Requests, we’ll be tackling what may be more of a historical topic, but you’ll definitely find something here that’ll make it worth the read. One of my childhood friends, Micheal Canerdy, asked me to write something on the history of the Kidron Valley. I’ll be honest, at first, I didn’t want to do it. I knew some things about it, but I didn’t think I knew enough about it to really make it interesting. However, the more I reflected on it, and dug up some reading about it, the more interested I became.
In the Bible, you’ll see it called either the Kidron Brook, or the Kidron Valley, depending on which English translation you are reading. In the Bible, there are only eleven direct references to Kidron, and one indirect.
- 2 Samuel 15:23
- 1 Kings 2:37
- 1 Kings 15:13
- 2 Kings 23:4
- 2 Kings 23:6
- 2 Kings 23:12
- 2 Chronicles 15:16
- 2 Chronicles 29:16
- 2 Chronicles 30:14
- Jeremiah 31:40
- John 18:1
Geographically, the Kidron was a valley (with a seasonal brook) that separated the Temple Mount (Mt. Moriah) from the Mount of Olives to the East of Jerusalem. In the winter, heavier rains often cause a considerable flow of water to form, hence it being called a brook. Historically we know that David fled from his son, Absalom, across this landscape (2 Samuel 15:23). We know that King Asa, of Judah, burned idols in the Kidron (1 Kings 15:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16), as did King Josiah (2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12). King Hezekiah oversaw a cleansing of the Temple where the priests used the Kidron as a dumping ground for anything they found unclean or idolatrous (2 Chronicles 29:16, 30:14). Along with being a dumping ground for ashes and unclean things, it was also a common cemetery (2 Kings 23:6; Jeremiah 31:40).
Apart from being a cemetery, it really seems to be akin to a modern dump. In fact the actual refuse pile for first century Jerusalem, the valley of Gehenna, merged with the Kidron valley. Can you imagine the filth that flowed through it’s winter torrents from Gehenna? Now, surprisingly, this is where it gets interesting.
John 18:1 tells us that Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley as he and the disciples walked to the garden of Gethsemane.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. (John 18:1)
John McArthur gives us some really good insight to the significance of this event in his book, Experiencing the Passion. When Jesus crossed the brook, it was the Thursday night of Passover week. At the Temple, there were hundreds of priests working tirelessly to sacrifice the estimated 250,000 lambs brought by worshipers for Passover. The volume of blood resulting from these sacrifices was staggering, and it drained from the altar area, directly into the Kidron Brook. It is told that the banks of the Kidron were stained crimson and it was called the gloomy brook.
So as Jesus crossed the brook, seeing the crimson banks, hearing the rush of blood saturated water, was he reminded of what faced him? Thousands of lambs were meeting their fate that week, their blood spilling into the Kidron Brook, mingling with what remained of the winter rains.
Blood and water; the very things that would flow from his pierced heart the next day.
I wonder if the sacred words of his ancestor came to mind: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” The Temple overshadowed him, visible at the highest place in the city; a place of death. But the Father was with him. Jesus’ Kidron led him to death, yet he faced it head because the Father was with him.
We all have a Kidron that we must cross. It smells of death. It will lead us to a choice: go where God leads us and trust him, or trust our own plans and understanding and take a more pleasant path. What is your Kidron? What is it in your life that God is saying, let it die. The call of every Christian is to cross the Kidron every day and die to ourselves.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, emphasis added)
What then? Paul wrote, “I have been crucified,” which means it happened in the past, and it continues to happen in the present. When you were born again, your old self died – it was crucified – and it no longer lives. However, at the same time, like a zombie, even though dead, it still has an appetite. So every day, you must choose to starve it. In doing so, you crucify, or kill, your old self every day.
As bloody as the Kidron was, as repulsive as it looked, as putrid as it smelled, to God it was a sweet aroma. That aroma of death foreshadowed the death that Jesus would endure, which would purchase for his Son, a Bride, the Church. And in us, when we cross our own Kidron’s, the aroma of death, the crucifying of our flesh, gives us an aroma that reminds the Father of Christ, his Son. When we die to ourselves, we become more like Jesus, and as we increasingly smell like him.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
The triumphal procession that God led Jesus in, led him over the Kidron. So it will for us. If you and I want to experience that triumph, we must only follow his leading.