Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 59
REVELATION 2:11 – 3:22
Now, let’s just pick up where we left off in the last lesson and that would be in Revelation 2:26
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations;” Now, let’s go back to Deuteronomy chapter 28, and I think we get the explanation of that. How are the Jews going to have that kind of power? Well, since He is their King and they are finally going to come into all of the promised blessings of finally being the head rather than the tail. Let’s just drop in at verse 9 where the Lord is speaking to the nation back here through Moses.
“The LORD shall establish thee as an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God and walk in his ways.(Now, here’s where it’s going to spread out to) 10. And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD and they shall be afraid of thee.” In other words, they’re going to have that power that He spoke of back here in Revelation.
“And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. (They are finally going to enjoy all these promised blessings when the King and the Kingdom are brought in.) 12. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in its season, and to bless all the work of thy hand: and thou shalt lend to many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.” Israel is going to be what ‘Uncle Sam’ has been. Israel is the one that’s going to have the capital. “And you’ll lend to many nations. Thou shalt not borrow.” See, now tonight it’s just the opposite. Israel could not survive without the financial help of America, and to a certain degree, Western Europe.
“And the LORD shall make you the head, (that is of the nations) and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath, if thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God….” And so on and so forth. All right, now just to see how even in the four gospel accounts we have that same promise. Luke chapter 1; we may have looked at this a few tapings back. But here we have Zacharias the priest, who was also the father of John the Baptist. John the Baptist’s appearance was one of the prophecies that would bring in the coming of the Messiah and the Messiah would bring in the promised Kingdom.
All right, now look how Zacharias puts that, and this is so plain. I can’t understand how anybody can miss it.
“And his father (that is John the Baptist’s father) Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying. (Now look what the Spirit has him to say) 68. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, (Israel). 69. And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; (see how plain all this is?) 70. As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71. That we (the nation of Israel) should be saved from our enemies, and the hand of all that hate us;” You know, I always stop and ask people, who were Israel’s enemies then? The same ones that are there tonight. They are no different. The Arab world has always been their enemy.
“To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;” Remember what Romans 15:8 said?
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promise made unto the fathers:” Well, here Zacharias is repeating the same thing. Now, continuing on in Luke, verse 73.
“The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74. That he would grant unto us, (the nation of Israel) that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75. In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” See, that was all the prospect of this Kingdom economy that was right out in front of them if they could survive and come under the rule and reign of Christ at His Second Coming.
All right, now come back with me again to Revelation chapter 2, verse 26.
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, (that is to the end of the Tribulation, the horrors that were out in front of them) then to them he will give power over the nations (because Israel is going to be, like we saw in Deuteronomy, the top nation of the nations.) 27. And he (Israel’s Messiah, the Son of God) shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers. (that is, in the judgment of the Tribulation) even as I received of my Father. 28. And I will give him (that is the Son) the morning star. 29. He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.” (or the assemblies) Well this is all so appropriate for these Jews that so far as they knew the wrath and vexation are now right out in front of them. Here they are. Back in the late 50’s (AD) and they’re looking for the Tribulation to be followed by the Second Coming with no idea that God was now already, while they are writing these letters, calling out a Gentile body of Christ through the Apostle Paul. But, you see, they don’t have an understanding of that at all since they were not part of the body of Christ.
All they’re concerned about is their own promises and prophecies. Now, let’s go right on into chapter 3. We have that same line of thought to the next letter, to the next congregation, and it’s to Sardis. This is another one of the little cities in that circle of seven congregations – verse 1.
“And unto the angel (or the leader or the minister) of the church (or the assembly) in Sardis write; These things saith he who has the seven Spirits of God,…” Now, that question comes in on the phone constantly. What are the seven Spirits of God? Go back with me to Isaiah chapter 11, and I think this is the best definition that I can find anywhere in Scripture.
“And there shall come forth (Now this is prophecy. This is way back 700 BC) out of the stem of Jesse, (who was the father of King David) and a Branch (that’s a term assigned to the Messiah. It’s capitalized.) shall grow out of his roots: (That is Jesse’s. Now here come the seven Spirits of God) 2. And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of counsel, the spirit of might, the spirit of knowledge and the spirit of the fear of the LORD.” See how plain that is? Those are the seven Spirits that comprise the make-up of God the Son. So, we see this especially in the book of Revelation where He’s referred to as the seven Spirits. There’s more than one time it’s referred to as such.
“…that hath the seven Spirits of God, (God the Son, Jesus of Nazareth) and the seven stars; (He’s the One who’s in control of these Jewish congregations. And He says,) “I know thy works, (See how it’s all the same to these Jewish assemblies?) that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.”(spiritually) Now, stop and think a minute. What was the spiritual status of the temple worship during Christ’s earthly ministry? Dead! My, He chased out the merchandisers. He said you’ve made it a house of thieves. Well, it had no spiritual life left in it. But was it religious? Oh, were they ever! My, I think Josephus wrote, if I’m not mistaken, that they would kill as many as a million animals a year. Now, that almost seems preposterous, but they were constantly sacrificing. A religious system that was just almost non-stop. But it was spiritually dead.
Well, where are we today? Same place. Oh, there are all kinds of activity. Huge mega-churches, but I wonder how much spiritual life is in them. I’ve got to be careful how I say this or I’ll have them all on my case. But, I think if you could just take the temperature of these huge congregations, spiritually, they’re dead. They’ve got a lot of activity but they have no love for the Word. They have no love for the Lord of the Word. Most are just simply religious activity.
All right, so that’s what he’s stressing here. You are alive, you’ve got all these works, but you are spiritually dead.
“Be watchful, strengthen the things which remain,…” Like I said a couple of programs back, in all these congregations there is usually a small group of real true believers and they get frustrated because the whole thinks they’ve lost a cog someplace. But the problem is, the majority have no hunger for the Word of God. It’s meaningless to them. And so they just simply practice a dead religion. All right, so here’s the admonition.
“Be watchful, strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: (for their faith. They’re going to suffer intense persecution when the Tribulation would come) for I have not found thy works perfect (or complete) before God. 3. Remember therefore, how thou hast received,…” Well, received what? The Word of God! They’d heard it. They’d received it. But what were they doing with it? Well, I guess we could safely say they were sitting on it. They weren’t doing anything about it.
Revelation 3:3b”…and heard, and hold fast, and repent,…” Now, that’s a typical Jewish term, of course, that they were used to beginning with John the Baptist; that they were to change directions. Change their mental attitude. All right, reading on in verse 3.
“…If therefore thou shalt not watch. (If you will not stay spiritually alert) I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Now, let’s go back and see how the Apostle Paul warns the Church Age believer in much the same way. Let’s go back to I Thessalonians chapter 5. Now, this is the Apostle Paul writing to a group of Gentiles and this is what’s appropriate for us today.
I Thessalonians 5:1-2
“But, of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord (that doesn’t mean Sunday, but rather the Tribulation) cometh as a (what?) thief in the night.” Same language and so for even the Gentile believers, we are to be aware that this thing is going to happen when it’s least expected.
I Thessalonians 5:3a
“For when they shall say, (that is the unbelieving world) Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them,…” Now listen, has the world ever been more prone to want peace than we are tonight? My, the whole world wants peace. One of my callers the other day was an airline pilot. He flies to most of the major cities in South America and he said the whole continent is in turmoil. There is not a city that he flies to that he and his fellow pilots can just be comfortable and leave the hotel and go out for dinner. He said, “It’s like that all over.”
Well, I don’t have to tell you what the Middle East is. We know what the Orient, the Philippines, and Indonesia are like; in fact the whole world tonight is in constant turmoil and nobody likes war. Nobody likes all the suffering that war brings, so what are people anxious for? Peace.
Oh, if only the world could settle down and have peace, and so that’s what the anti-Christ is going to capitalize on. He’s going to come in and he’s going to promise peace and prosperity. Daniel tells of that as plain as day. And the world will fall for it because they’re so hungry for it. But, they’re going to be fooled. For when he says, I’m giving you peace, he’s really going to bring in the most horrible seven years the world has ever known.
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” All right, back to Revelation again and pick up the words of the Lord Jesus Himself as He is now speaking to these seven Jewish congregations.
“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments;…” Now what does the “few” always imply? Just that small little remnant and that’s the way it’s always been through Israel’s history. It’s the way it’s been through church history. It’s the way it is today. It’s not the many, it’s the few. And be aware of that, that on all these Jewish congregations it’s the same way. There were some that were faithful. There were some that were hanging tough, but only a few.
“…a few names, even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments (in other words, they had not become victims of Jezebel and her ilk) and they shall walk with me in white for they are worthy.” They had maintained their faith. They had maintained their testimony. They did not fall into the trap of doing what the rest of the congregation was doing. Now remember, he’s talking to a whole church or the whole assembly, but it’s only the few that can respond.
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life…” Now, that’s a controversial statement isn’t it? Does God possibly blot people out of the book of life? Well, I haven’t got time here to discuss it, but it seems like it’s a possibility, but I’m not saying that it happens that true believers are in the book of life and taken out. Moses and Paul both made the suggestion that if God would spare Israel, He could blot their names out, but of course, we know it didn’t happen.
“…,… but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” In other words, the whole heavenly host will be aware of this little remnant of believers. Then again in verse 6, the admonition is the same as in all the of the other letters,
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (or, assemblies) Now, we’ve got a few minutes left, just go right on into verse 7 and it’s the next letter to the church at Philadelphia. Now, if I understand Scripture correctly, there is no condemnation to the Philadelphian church. It is all commendation and there is nothing that He picks apart as part of their shortcomings. So, be aware of that as we read it.
“And to the angel (or the leader) of the church (or the assembly) in Philadelphia (now remember it’s all part and parcel of these seven cities) write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;” In other words, He is absolute in His Sovereign power. He does what He wants to do, which is more than anyone else can ever do. All right, now verse 8, this same Son of God, the Son of Man, can tell this congregation exactly what He told all the others.
“I know your (what?) works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Now, we’ve got to remember that the traditional view of all these letters are various segments of church history. And I don’t throw it out completely. It may have some value, but I can’t really reconcile it with these things.
But, you see, the traditional view then of the Philadelphian church is that it was the opening of world missions and that’s where they get it from – the open door and the closed door. And I used to teach it that way myself. But this is not as I see it now, what Jesus is really referring to; He’s talking about the possibility of this congregation to maintain their faith and their works and they’re not going to succumb to persecution and deny the name of Christ and so they are an open door.
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan,…” Does that sound like church language to you? Well, it doesn’t to me. The church is never referred to as a “synagogue”
But here He’s telling these Jewish believers that those who cannot stay true to the faith, they cannot continue to recognize who Jesus of Nazareth was, they are of the “synagogue of Satan.” Why?
“…which say they are Jews, (Church language? Hardly!) and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”Now again, I’ve got some other references I’d like to hit but I’m afraid I’m going to run out of time, so we’ll just have to go on into verse 10 and in our next half-hour we’ll come back.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from…” Now, one of my commentaries that I respect, puts it this way, “I will keep thee out of the hour of temptation.” Doesn’t mean that they’re not going to experience it? No, they are. But He’s going to protect them through it and they’re going to be able to survive it because of His protecting power. So He says:
“…I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” So, the whole world will come under this horrible judgment of the final seven years.