Posts Tagged ‘Bride of Christ’

Revelation Chapter 3 – Philadephia

Messianic Community in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, a city of Lydia in Asia Minor, was located on a hill about 25 miles southeast of Sardis. It was founded by the king of Pergamum who had a special love for his brother and was nicknamed ‘brother lover,’ hence the ‘city of brotherly love.’ The city was known for its wine production and was situated along one of the roads known as the ‘doorway’ to central Asia Minor. This city was known for earthquakes which made the city walls unsafe so much of the population lived outside the walls.

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Philadelphia, write: ‘Here is the message of HaKadosh, the True One, the one who has the key of David, who, if he opens something, no one else can shut it, and if he closes something, no one else can open it. “I know what you are doing. Look, I have put in front of you an open door, and no one can shut it. I know that you have but little power, yet you have obeyed my message and have not disowned me. Here, I will give you some from the synagogue of the Adversary, those who call themselves Jews but aren’t — on the contrary, they are lying — see, I will cause them to come and prostrate themselves at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. Because you did obey my message about persevering, I will keep you from the time of trial coming upon the whole world to put the people living on earth to the test. I am coming soon; hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. I will make him who wins the victory a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he will never leave it. Also I will write on him the name of my God and the name of my God’s city, the new Yerushalayim coming down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities'” (Revelation 3:7-13). 

Yeshua sends the sixth messenger to the community of Philadelphia where he reveals himself as “the message of the HaKodesh [the Spirit], the True One, the one who has the key of David.” 

Yeshua’s message to Philadelphia is from the Ruach HaKodesh, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth which empowers his people to be overcomers. It is apparent the believers in Philadelphia have the Spirit of Elohim and walk in the life of the Ruach, but are struggling.

“If you love me, you will keep my commands; and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever” (John 14:15-16).

The Spirit of Elohim imparts gifts to His people so they can minister Comfort and speak Truth to the Body of Messiah. From the Ruach haKodesh flows spiritual gifts of love, joy, shalom, perseverance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is these gifts that set the people of Elohim apart from the world’s humanistic love that never brings shalom.

The True One

Yeshua is the “True One” because he speaks the Truth; not lie ever leaves his mouth. He is also called the True and Faithful witness of the El Elyon (Most High God) (Revelation 19:11). He speaks only what he hears his Father tells him to say, even to these communities of faith. His truthful words will convict them of sin and righteousness.

“The true Torah was in his [Yeshua’s) mouth, and no dishonesty was found on his lips; he walked with me in peace and uprightness and turned many away from sin” (Malachi 2:6).

“I have proclaimed what is right in the great assembly; I did not restrain my lips, Adonai, as you know. I did not hide your righteousness in my heart but declared your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal your grace and truth from the great assembly” (Psalm 40:9-10).

“For I have not spoken on my own initiative, but the Father who sent me has given me a command, namely, what to say and how to say it” (John 12:49).

Key of David

The prophet Isaiah gives some insight into the Key of David:

“I will place the key of David’s house on his [Yeshua’s] shoulder; no one will shut what he opens; no one will open what he shuts” (Isaiah 22:22).

The key is to David’s ‘house’ which represents the lineage of King David. Yeshua, as the Son of Man, descended from King David as the “root and offspring of David.” It is Yeshua who will build a ‘house’ or Temple for the Name of Elohim. And, he will sit on its throne and rule and reign forever. It is Yeshua who has been given the ‘key’ to this eternal Kingdom promised by Elohim to King David.

“When your days come to an end and you sleep with your ancestors, I will establish one of your descendants to succeed you, one of your own flesh and blood; and I will set up his rulership. He will build a house for my name, and I will establish his royal throne forever. I will be a father for him, and he will be a son for me” (2 Samuel 7:12-14).

A Door

Both Isaiah and Yeshua speak of a ‘door’ that will be opened or shut by the ‘key of David.’ In Hebrew the word ‘door’ is dalet. Dalet is also one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet with a letter picture that means ‘pathway.’ Yeshua uses the example of a pathway in Matthew. In this verse, there is a choice with regard to which ‘path’ one chooses and how that choice determines the destination.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it” (Matthew 7:13 Amplified Bible).

A ‘door’ – opened or closed – can symbolize multiple things in Scripture. An ‘open door can be an invitation from Yeshua to ‘enter’ the Kingdom of Elohim) and enjoy fellowship with him. A ‘closed door’ may suggest the invitation is no longer available or recinded.

In Matthew 25, the bridegroom shuts the ‘door’ after he arrives and takes the wise bridesmaids into the wedding chamber. The foolish bridesmaids are left outside with no access to the bridegroom. The wise bridesmaids enter the bridal chamber; the foolish ones missed the opportunity.

In Revelation 3:20, Yeshua stands at the ‘door,’ the possibility of a pathway, and knocks hoping someone will open it so he fellowship with those inside. Obviously, the door is ‘closed’ and those on the other side are missing something important. Feasting with Yeshua is an allusion to the Feasts of the Lord, the ‘appointed times’ that are the prophetic vision of Yeshua’s life, death, resurrection, sanctification, return, judgment, and restoration of all things in eternity.

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9 NASB)

Yeshua “stands at the door and knocks” because he desires to fellowship with his people through his Father’s holy convocations, just like he desired to celebrate the Passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15). ‘Holy convocation’ in Hebrew is mikra and means ‘rehearsal.’ In order to be ready for the actual event of a wedding, there is always a rehearsal ‘dinner’ for the bride and groom and their groomsmen and bridesmaids. Yeshua is the Bridegroom and he desires his Bride to prepare herself by rehearsing for Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the coming Kingdom. This is the fulfillment of Yeshua’s words that he would not “drink this ‘fruit of the vine’ until the day I drink new wine with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

“For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven. I tell you, I will not drink this ‘fruit of the vine’ again until the day I drink new wine with you in my Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 26:28-29).

New wine is an allusion to the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. The prophetic vision of this ‘appointed time’ is the presence of Yeshua on earth as King of Kings. It is the time of the Millennial Kingdom when Yeshua rules and reigns with his resurrected saints for 1000 years. It is during 1000-year festival that ‘new wine will be put into new wineskins.’

“No one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and be spilled, and the skins too will be ruined. On the contrary, new wine must be put into freshly prepared wineskins” (Luke 5:37-38).  

“On that day  Adonai their God will save them as the flock of his people; for they will be like gems in a crown, sparkling over his countryside. What wealth is theirs, what beauty! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women” (Zechariah 9:16-17).

“For I am full of words; the spirit within me compels me. Yes, my insides feel like new wine under pressure, like new wineskins ready to burst” (Job 32:18-19).

A ‘closed door’ may also symbolize the time for deliverance has ended. For those who refused to open the door of salvation, they will find judgement instead of reward, death instead of eternal life.

“Don’t grumble against one another, brothers, so that you won’t come under condemnation — look! the Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:9).

The community in Philadelphia has an ‘open door’ in front of them that no one can shut. As Yochanan’s vision progresses, he is shown an ‘open door’ in the heavenly realm that leads to the Throne of Elohim (Revelation 4:1). It appears that Philadelphia has been given a blessing like none of the other communities.

Little Strength in the World

“This is the word of Adonai to Z’rubavel: ‘Not by force, and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot” (Zechariah 4:6).

The community in Philadelphia continues its works despite having little strength.  The Greek word for ‘strength’ in Revelation 3:8 is dunamis and means ‘miraculous power.’ It can also be translated as ‘energy’ or ‘ability.’ From this word it appears this community of believers has little energy left for whatever they are facing in the world and so they need to persevere trusting in the ‘miraculous power’ of Elohim to get them through.

Obey the Good News

This community of believers ‘obeys the gospel.’ For many, the gospel is something to believe, not obey. Yet, these people are commended for ‘obeying the gospel.’

After Yeshua came out of the wilderness, he left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum. At this time he began to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He began to preach the good news of the Kingdom. According to his own words, there is obedience attached to the gospel.

“From that time on, Yeshua began proclaiming, “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” (John 4:17).

“Turning from sins” is known as ‘repentance.’ In Hebrew repentance is teshuvah and means ‘return.’ Teshuva could be described as making a 180- degree turn in your life that returns you back to the ways of Elohim. Repenting from sins and turning back to Elohim is an action, not a belief.

Sin is defined by John as breaking the commandments of Elohim, being lawless. Thus, when those in Philadelphia ‘obeyed the good news,’ they repented from breaking the commandments and stopped breaking Torah. They obeyed Elohim’s teachings and instructions as taught and exemplified by Yeshua. It is their obedience of repentance and turning back to Elohim that becomes the evidence of this community’s faithfulness to Yeshua’s message.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Repent – teshuvah – תשובה

Tav is ‘crossed sticks’ and means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant’

Shin is ‘tooth’ and means ‘return’ or Shekinah

Vav is a ‘nail’ and means ‘to bind together’

Bet is a ‘house’ and means ‘family’

Hey is a ‘window’ and means ‘reveal’

Teshuvah – Reveal the sin of returning, binding together as a family

“Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and that there is no sin in him. So no one who remains united with him continues sinning; everyone who does continue sinning has neither seen him nor known him” (1 John 3:4-6).

“Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased; so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence …” (Acts 3:19-20)

The this community of believers has not disowned Yeshua.  They acknowledge him to the pagan world around them and remain connected to him and his message of repentance.

False Jews

Like Smyrna, Philadelphia has some in their midst who call themselves Jews, but are not.  These ‘fake’ Jews are telling the believers in Philadelphia that Yeshua does not love them through a distortion of love.  The ‘city of brotherly love’ appears to have a love problem between so-called brothers.   These ‘liars’ will eventually prostrate themselves at the feet of the ‘true Jews’ admitting that Yeshua does love them.

“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (romans 2:28-29).

In the modern-day theology known as the Two-House Movement, the central doctrine focuses solely on the two houses of Isra’el – Judah and Ephraim. The followers of this theology take on an exterior facade of being ‘Jewish’ separating themselves from anything and everything ‘Jewish.’ They claim that because Elohim divorced Judah, the Jewish people have lost any share in the Kingdom of Heaven and Ephraim now receives the promises. Apart from being deeply anti-semitic, this movement has evolved a group of ‘false Jews’ who claim that Yeshua doesn’t love the Jewish people. Instead, as Ephraim, they have taken on the identity of the House of Isra’el.

The New Covenant, which is the renewal of a broken covenant, is predicated on the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is promised to the House of Judah and the House of Isra’el. Yeshua instituted the new covenant at his Passover seder with his Jewish disciples. Salvation comes from the Jews and no one who claims to be in Body of Messiah should ever conceive a doctrine that would separate Yeshua’s brothers and sisters from their Jewish redeemer.

“Here, the days are coming,” says Adonai, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra’el and with the house of Y’hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says Adonai. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:30-32).

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you from all the countries, and return you to your own soil. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 24:24-26).

“You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22).

“He did the same with the cup after the [seder] meal, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant, ratified by my blood, which is being poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).

Power of Perseverance

Perseverance through the trials that Philadelphia faces will keep them from the time of trial coming on the whole earth.  This time of trial is known as the Great Tribulation or the ‘time of Jacob’s trouble.’ The Greek word for ‘keep’ in Revelation 3:10 is tereso and means ‘to watch, to guard over.’ How Elohim will guard them or watch over them during this time of trial remains a mystery, but these faithful believers will be kept safe during the Day of the Lord’s vengeance because they have patiently endured. With their little strength, they have remained faithful to Yeshua and obey Torah.

The Greek word for ‘endure’ is hupomone and means ‘remaining behind.’ Though believers may be martyred as Yeshua told Smyrna, these faithful Philadelphians will ‘remain behind.’ For those who adhere to a pre-tribulation rapture, it seems that those ‘left behind,’ are not the lost, but followers of Messiah. In the Day of the Lord, their faithful endurance may be the only testimony the lawless world has to see redemption in Yeshua.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Persevere – hatmadah – התמדה

Hey is a ‘window’ and means ‘reveal’

Tav is ‘crossed sticks’ and means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant’

Mem is ‘water’ and means ‘chaos’

Dalet is ‘door’ and means ‘pathway’

Hey is a ‘window’ and means ‘reveal’

HatmadahReveal the covenant in the chaos of the path, reveal

“This is when perseverance is needed on the part of God’s people, those who observe his commands and exercise Yeshua’s faithfulness” (Revelation 14:12).

Eternal Rewards

Yeshua tells them this community to hold on to what they do have and no one will take away their Crown of Righteousness. Their eternal reward includes more than this crown. They will become a pillar in the Millennial Temple of Elohim.

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

 Pillars are found throughout Scripture. One of the first references is in Genesis 35:14 when Ya’akov (Jacob) sets up a standing stone where Elohim spoke with him at Beth-el referring to him again as Isra’el and reiterating the land promises he gave to Avraham along with a nation of people.

In Exodus while the Israelites wandered through the wilderness, the glory of Elohim them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When Moshe read the words of Elohim to the people and they responded they would obey everything they heard, he set up 12 pillars for the 12 Tribes of Isra’el.

As imagery, pillars are used to describe the earth’s foundation. When it quakes, Elohim holds the pillars firm for all the people on the earth.

“When the earth quakes, with all living on it, it is I who hold its support-pillars firm”  (Selah) … (Psalm 75:4).

Jeremiah was called a pillar with whom the kings, princes and priests of Judah would fight against. Because he was made “an iron pillar” by Elohim, he would not be overcome, but rescued. These words are very similar to the words of Yeshua to Philadelphia who will ‘remain behind’ and not be overcome.

“For today, you see, I have made you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze against the whole land — against the kings of Y’hudah, against its princes, against its cohanim and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you,” says Adonai, “to rescue you” (Jeremiah 1:18-19).

In Hebrew the word for ‘endure’ is amad and means ‘to take one’s stand in the covenant.’ It suggests an ‘attitude’ of standing and is sometimes translated as ‘pillar.’ To become a pillar in the Millennial Temple suggests the believers of Philadelphia are strong in their covenant relationship with Messiah. They will continue to stand strong with Yeshua during his 1000-year reign.

The believers in Philadelphia have prepared themselves as wise virgins with oil in their lamps. They have matured in faith and not faltered in their first love. They don’t have soiled clothes and obey the good news of repentance followed by acts of righteousness. They have stood like a pillar when trials are given to them. They have not fallen into sexual immorality or eaten foods sacrificed to idols; they have blessed Isra’el and the Jewish people. They have not learned the deep secrets of the Adversary and have nothing to do with Jezebel. They have remained behind, endured patiently, and are welcomed into the Kingdom by Yeshua who has the Key to the House of David.

This is highest reward given to any of the seven communities. The believers in Philadelphia are not just invited guests to a wedding feast; they become the pure and spotless Bride of Messiah.  They receive the Kingdom family name, the name of their Father – yod hey vav hey.  They receive a new home, the New Jerusalem in the restored heavens and earth.   They also receive the name of their Bridegroom, the King of kings and LORD of Lords.

Those [in Philadelphia] who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit, Ruach haKodesh [the holy wind] is saying to the Messianic community ….”

Yeshua uses these same words in the gospels when he speaks in parables, however, he doesn’t include the words, “what the Spirit says to the communities.’  One reason that he taught in parables was so the people could “look but not see, and listen but not understand” the message of the Kingdom (Luke 8:10).  Because his disciples were given deeper understanding to the coming Kingdom, he would explain their ‘secret’ meaning to them away from the crowds.

Another reason may be that the parables all occurred before the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot when the ‘holy wind’ was poured out and the new covenant was instituted (Acts 2:2).  With the new covenant, men and women who believed the message of Yeshua are given new hearts of flesh and a renewed spirit – neshama.  The Ruach haKodesh within would compel them obey his Torah (Ezekiel 36:24-27). His Ruach would give them “ears to hear what the Spirit was saying” so they could His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ the message, but to ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be ‘heard’ through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd.  His sheep were to ‘listen’ to the message and ‘obey’ what he instructed in order to be an overcomer – Isra’el – and receive an eternal reward.  

For he is our God, and we are the people in his pasture, the sheep in his care. If only today you would listen to his voice … “(Psalm 95:7-8).

“My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me, and I give them eternal life. They will absolutely never be destroyed, and no one will snatch them from my hands” (John 10:27-28). 

“In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says, ‘You will keep on hearing but never understand, and keep on seeing but never perceive, because the heart of this people has become dull — with their ears they barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, so as not to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and do t’shuvah [repent and turn from sin], so that I could heal them.’

But you [Philadelphia], how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear!” (Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 13:14-16). 

Revelation 3 – Messianic Congregation of Laodicea

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Priestly and Bridal Garments

“Therefore, since we have a great cohen gadol (high priest) who has passed through the highest heaven, Yeshua, the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we acknowledge as true” (Hebrew 4:14).

The priestly garments, according Exodus 28, were comprised of blue, purple, scarlet, and linen threads.   Yeshua, our High Priest came from heaven represented by the blue and was the royal King of Kings represented by the purple. The scarlet represented his blood sacrifice for the sins of the world while the linen represented his sinless purity.  Woven through the blue, purple and scarlet yarn was gold, hammered so thin, it became a thread.  The gold represented both Yeshua’s divinity as the Son of God as well as his humanity as he was beaten and hammered.

The high priest wore black onyx stones on their shoulder engraved with the names of the 12 Tribes of Isra’el in their birth order.  In Hebrew, the word for ‘engrave’ is charasso and means ‘set free’.   The engraving was done like a ‘seal’ for a signet ring foreshadowing Yeshua who would set his brothers and sisters free from sin and the darkness of the world represented by the black onyx.

“I am so joyful in Adonai!  My soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in salvation, dressed me with a robe of triumph, like a bridegroom wearing a festive turban, like a bride adorned with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10-11).

Isaiah, in Hebrew is Yeshayahu and literally means ‘salvation of Yah.’  The book of Isaiah has 66 chapters.  The first 39 chapters of Isaiah speak of Israel’s need for redemption while the last 27 speak of Elohim sending salvation or yeshua to Isra’el.

Isaiah describes the wedding clothing of the bride of Messiah.  Along with the priestly garments mentioned above, the Bride wears a festive turban.  The Hebrew word for ‘wear’ in this verse means ‘to mediate’.  The priestly turban had a gold seal with “Holy to Yahweh.”   Wearing a festive turban, the Bride will be Holy to Yahweh because she has ‘meditated’ on her Bridegroom and was ready when he arrived.

The bride wears several garments.  The first is her garment of salvation representing her faith in the atonement of her Bridegroom.  This is like her undergarment.  It is the first piece of clothing she receives.   Her second garment is a ‘robe of triumph’ symbolizing her victory over sin and death and her righteous sanctified life.  Though there is a positional righteousness given to each of us by faith, there is also the practical righteousness of daily obedience to the Father’s commands.  Yeshua is not looking for a lawless bride who does what she thinks is ‘right in her own eyes.’  Yeshua is looking for a set-apart, holy, sanctified Bride.  This garment of triumph is worn over the top of her garment of salvation.

“Then you will be called by a new name which Adonai himself will pronounce.  You will be a glorious crown in the hand of Adonai, a royal diadem held by your God” (Isaiah 62:2-3).

“Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive glory as your unfading crown” (1 Peter 5:4).

When our Bridegroom returns, he will adorn his Bride with jewels and give her a new name.  It will be like a glorious crown and a royal diadem.

“For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)” (Revelation 19:7-8). 

The Bride will be given one more garment, a wedding dress.  It is made of fine linen and stands for the ‘righteous acts of the saints.’  It represents her testimony of the Bridegroom in her life as she lived out the commandments of his Father.   She has persevered with patience and is rewarded accordingly.

When the wedding feast of the Lamb and his Bride arrives, it will be a celebration like no other, an ‘appointed time’ of Yahweh.  In Hebrew, the word ‘bride’ is challah. Every Sabbath evening Jewish families eat a special braided bread known as challah.  It is not called lechem or ‘bread’, but the bride.  This bread makes the Bride of Messiah central to the prophetic vision of the eternal Sabbath where Yeshua is not only present, but rules and reigns for all eternity as King of Kings with his redeemed, sanctified and glorified Bride at his side.

©2017 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Hebrews 6 – Maturing in Messiah

“Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about washings, s’mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do” (Hebrews 6:1-3, Complete Jewish Bible).  

The Maturing Seed

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature” (Luke 8:14).

In the Parable about the sower, Yeshua mentions four ways the seed of God’s Word is planted in the hearts of people. The first seed lands by the path, but is stolen by the Adversary who keeps the individual  from hearing the message of salvation and receiving it by faith.   Another seed lands on rocks, but never takes root.  When this individual’s faith is tested, they fall away from the truth.  The third seed is choked by thorns. The fourth seed falls on rich soil and the individual hears the message with a receptive heart and through perseverance brings forth a harvest.

The third seed is choked by thorns.  Because of the worries of life, desire for riches and personal pleasures, the seed in this individual’s heart does not mature.  The phrase ‘they go on their way’ implies they do not follow the ways of God, but their own ways or the ways of the godless.   In Matthew 6:31-33, Yeshua describes what the godless worry about:  food, drink and clothing.  God knows we need these things, but we must have the proper perspective of seeking God first so we follow the Way that He has designed for our lives.  When we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, the thorns will not longer choke His Word from our lives and we will mature.

Infants and Milk

“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14).

A physical infant needs the nourishment of milk.  It can either drink from its mother’s breast or have formula.  Even without parenting, an infant will grow up into adulthood.    A spiritual infant, however, can remain a spiritual infant.  Formula, manmade milk, will never mature a spiritual infant.  They need the spiritual milk of the Word that teaches them about righteousness and righteous living to transform from being a baby into a mature adult (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

In the Hebrew ‘righteousness’  is tzadek and means ‘honest, right, and true.’ In Greek the word is dikaiosyne and means ‘doing what is right’.   The word ‘training’ in 2 Timothy is the present progressive tense showing that righteousness is not given to us automatically, but is an ongoing process throughout our lives while we learn to live rightly, to be honest and true.  After years of knowing the faith, these Hebrew believers should be teachers, but are still stuck in the elementary teachings.

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Messiah…. You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly and are you not walking like mere men” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

In Corinth, Sha’ul addresses the believers as infants.  They are still babes who cannot digest the solid food in the Word. They are unspiritual worldly immature men and women. They have not learned to discern good from evil.  They remain untaught, unable to be corrected and definitely not trained in righteousness.  Like toddlers, they throw tantrums that are rooted in a lack of discipline (discipleship) jealousy and quarrel.  The only way for them to grow up into maturity is to digest the spiritual milk and begin to chew on solid food.

The Maturing Believer

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14).

An infant is tossed around by every ‘wind of teaching’ and ‘cunning craftiness’ of those who lead them.  This deceitful and scheming work of the Adversary consistently tries to kill the seed of the Word.   Foolish arguments do not advance the work of God nor bring unity of faith; they are unprofitable and useless for maturing a believer (Titus 3:9).

“So Messiah himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,  to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Messiah may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Only sound doctrine gives an infant what it needs to grow into maturity. A growing believer will not listen to those who teach what their ‘itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  They will study the Word of God and learn to discern false teachers, prophets and messiahs and not be led astray by their feel-good teachings.  They will come to understand that a walk of faith encompasses more than Yeshua’s death on the cross. They will study his Words in the context of his Father’s instructions and learn to walk in His ways just as Yeshua did.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

A maturing believer depends completely on the Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit of God) not only to  transform their heart, but also their mind and soul  (Philippians 3:20-21).   They will stop living according to the evil ways of the world and leave behind their godless traditions and lifestyles.  Old thought patterns will be discarded until they can see God’s will for their lives – the good, pleasing and perfect will of their heavenly Father.

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing” (1 Corinthians 2:4-6).

The power of God’s Spirit in Yeshua enabled him to walk fully in the Spirit with the wisdom of his Father.   Because of the Spirit of God in him, he was able to oppose the Adversary, heal those who were sick, and raise the dead (Acts 10:38). The power of God’s Ruach HaKodesh gives us the same wisdom to overcome sin and discern good from evil.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Messiah Yeshua took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 3:12-14).

Maturing believers press on toward a heavenly goal that has a reward.  Sha’ul is not talking about being justified before God because he was already born again into the Kingdom. He is writing about growing into maturity and receiving the reward of glory, the Bride of Yeshua, that will be given with our Bridgroom’s return.  Sha’ul strains (and trains) for what is ahead.  Straining implies struggling, laboring, toiling, and making every exhaustive effort to reach a goal.  Sha’ul desires the prize of Messiah more than anything else in his life.

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).

When Yeshua returns, he will reward each person according to the work they have done on the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets.  He will test each person’s building materials with fire.  If an individual builds using gold, silver and costly stones, their work will stand; but if an individual builds with wood, hay or straw, their work will be destroyed.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah. Some will use gold, silver or precious stones in building on this foundation; while others will use wood, grass or straw. But each one’s work will be shown for what it is; the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire — the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work someone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward; if it is burned up, he will have to bear the loss: he will still escape with his life, but it will be like escaping through a fire(1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Persevering Through Trials

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Maturity comes through persevering through trials, the seed that has not fallen on the rock, but taken root in good soil.  As we focus on the prize, family, friends, well-meaning pastors, teachers of elementary truths and the Adversary will try to inhibit our race to the goal line. To stay on track, we must always look to Yeshua, the Rabbi of Rabbis, who taught us that ‘man doesn’t live on bread alone,’ but on the solid food of the Word of God – the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings.   As we leave our spiritual childhood, we must leave behind the milk toast of infanthood so we can receive a glorious eternal reward.

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.  Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised” (Hebrews 10:32-36).

Maturing believers in Messiah live in the assurance of what they have attained in their walk of faith through effort, persistence, perseverance, and progression. They eat the meat of the Word by using the whole counsel and wisdom of God’s Word to learn His good, pleasing and perfect will for their daily life.  They walk in the power of the Ruach HaKodesh putting behind the ways of the world and their fleshly desires.  Even when trials are placed in their path, they don’t stumble and fall or lose their way.  They look to Yeshua who is their hope for resurrection.  They run the race toward the goal focused on the prize the Bridegroom will bring with him when he returns to marry not an infant tossed around by every wind of doctrine, but a mature Bride who has trained herself in righteousness.

“All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.  And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  Only let us live up to what we have already attained”  (Philippians 3:12-16).

©2005 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.