Posts Tagged ‘understanding revelation’

Revelation Chapter 3 – Laodicea

Messianic Community in Laodicea

Laodicea, most likely named after the wife of Antiochus II Theos, sat on a hill between the valleys of two small rivers, the Asopus and Caprus which flow into the Lycus. The town was originally called Diospolis or ‘City of Zeus.’ In 60 CE an earthquake leveled the city, but the residents would not take government assistance and rebuilt the city themselves. Laodicea was known for a major medical school where they made an eye salve from a local stone. It was known as a financial center throughout the ancient world because of its gold and for its black wool, and the garments it exported known as trimata. Today, Laodicea is near the city of Denizli, Turkey.

Many Jews were transported from Babylon to Laodicea in the days of Antiochus the Great. Though they sent gold annually to the Temple in Jerusalem, it was confiscated by Roman citizens. Because of the large Jewish community in Laodicea, the message of Sha’ul (Paul) was readily accepted. A home fellowship met in the home of Nympha in Laodicea. From the book of Colossians, it appears that his letters were shared between Laodicea, Colossae which was 11 miles west, and Ephesus which was 99 miles east (Colossians 4:15-16).

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Laodicea, write: ‘Here is the message from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Ruler of God’s creation: “I know what you are doing: you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth! For you keep saying, ‘I am rich, I have gotten rich, I don’t need a thing!’ You don’t know that you are the one who is wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked! My advice to you is to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be dressed and not have to be ashamed of your nakedness; and eye salve to rub on your eyes, so that you may see. As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities'” (Revelation 3:14-22). 

Yeshua sends the seventh and final messenger to the community of Laodicea and reveals himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, Ruler of God’s creation.”

‘Amen’ is a Hebrew word meaning ‘so be it.’ In Hebrew, aman means ‘to support or confirm, to be reliable or established.’ Its root comes from emunah or ‘faithfulness.’ As the person of the ‘Amen,’ Yeshua has the final ‘so be it’ regarding the condition of this community. His words are faithful and true, the witness of two establishing his words.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Amen, aman – אמן

א Alef – An Ox means ‘first’ and ‘strong.’

מ Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

ן Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for aman: first strong mighty life.

The Council of Laodicea

The Council of Laodicea met in this city about 360 CE.  The main focus was to regulate the behavior of church members. At this time, many anti-semitic doctrines were established that remain part of  Christian theology today. One significant tenet is Canon 29 which outlawed the keeping of the Biblical Sabbath and encouraged resting on Sunday.

It is obvious that those at this council knew ‘The Lord’s Day’ was not the Sabbath. However, they instilled the idea that ‘The Lord’s Day’ was the ‘first day of the week’ and needed to be honored separating the church from the community of Isra’el and the God-give eternal Sabbath.

“Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day. Rather [they should] honour the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, rest then as Christians.”

The Set-Apart Sabbath

In the beginning, through His Word, Elohim created the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh day, He rested. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart for Himself. The seventh-day weekly Sabbath is a memorial to the week of creation and His rest (Exodus 20:11-12).

Yeshua was with God and was part of the seven days of creation, including the Sabbath: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing made had being” (John 1:1-3).

The Sabbath is a sign between Elohim and His people so that we know Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is our God: “I am Adonai your God; live by my laws, observe my rulings, and obey them, and keep my shabbats holy; and they will be a sign between me and you, so that you will know that I am Adonai your God” (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

The Sabbath is given to the nations: “And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai to serve him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:6-7).

Delighting in the Sabbath brings delight in Elohim and encompasses blessing: “If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, Adonai’s holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. If you do, you will find delight in Adonai — I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya‘akov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

The Sabbath will be celebrated in the new heavens and new earth and is prophetic vision for Eternity: “For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making will continue in my presence,” says Adonai, “so will your descendants and your name continue. Every month on Rosh-Hodesh and every week on Shabbat, everyone living will come to worship in my presence,” says Adonai. “As they leave, they will look on the corpses of the people who rebelled against me” (Isaiah 66:22-24).

Yeshua, is the “Ruler of Elohim’s Creation” –– the Lord of the Sabbath: “For the Son of Man is Lord of Shabbat!” (Mathew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5).

The edict by the Laodicean Council not only contradicts the Fourth Commandment given by Adonai in Exodus 20:8-10, it is rebellion to every Sabbath Scripture. Keeping the seventh-day Sabbath has nothing to do with Judaism, but has everything to do with obeying the fourth of the Ten Commandments.

The deliberate twisting of the Biblical Sabbath has kept the church from is Biblical foundation and the blessings of a Biblical walk. It has also successfully kept the gentiles from provoking the Jewish people to jealousy for Yeshua which is their divine calling according to Sha’ul (Paul) in Romans 11. The Council of Laodicea acted out of arrogance and, at that moment, were cut off from the Olive Tree of Isra’el losing the nourishing sap of the root. Those who accepted and followed their edicts brought anti-semitism into every church denomination, an anti-semitism that remains today.

A Tepid Temperature

Many believers in Messiah claim to be ‘on fire for the Lord,’ but that doesn’t make them ‘hot.’  To be ‘hot’ means to be close to the ‘fire’ of Elohim. Moshe stood next to that ‘fire’ in the burning bush and removed his shoes in the holy presence. That ‘fire’ burned in a pillar over the Tabernacle in the wilderness and only a few could go near it. A ‘fire’ of Elohim burns in the heart so intensely, it cannot be humanly contained (Jeremiah 20:9). It is a ‘hot’ fire that refines a spiritual life, removing the dross of sin (Zechariah 13:9).

To be ‘cold’ means to be far away from ‘the fire’ of Adonai’s presence.  A gentile foreigner separated from Elohim, His people and His teachings is ‘cold.’ ‘Cold’ means to be pagan with lustful desires and embracing false gods. ‘Cold’ means to have sterile ways of thinking, an intelligence shrouded in darkness, and to be estranged from the life of Elohim. ‘Cold’ means to be atheist –– irreverent, secular, and profane (Ephesians 2:11-12).

According to the dictionary, ‘lukewarm’ is a state of being warm, but only barely like a forgotten cup of hot tea. When it comes to the people of Laodicea, they lack zeal and enthusiasm for the ways of Adonai. In a Biblical context, ‘lukewarm’ is the mixing of the hot holiness of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh and the profane coldness of pagan idolatry and foreign gods.

The priests of Isra’el were warned about mixing the ‘holy’ and the ‘profane.’ Ezekiel tells them they do ‘violence’ to Torah by not distinguishing between the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean” and hiding their eyes from the Sabbath. This behavior profanes the name of Adonai among themselves and among the nations around them (Ezekiel 22:26).

The Hebrew word ‘violence’ in this verse is chamas and means ‘do violently against.’ Profane in Hebrew is chol and means ‘to make common.’ This is the antithesis of being “Holy as Elohim is Holy.”

Come Out From Among Them

“Therefore Adonai says, “‘Go out from their midst; separate yourselves; don’t even touch what is unclean. Then I myself will receive you. In fact, I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters.’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot.” Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1).

These verses from 2 Corinthians had a profound impact on my faith walk. It clearly stated that I was to separate myself from certain people and touch no ‘unclean’ thing. By obeying Adonai’s commands, I become His daughter. From many years in the institution of the church, I just assumed I had a Father/daughter relationship –– the unconditional love on His part, but nothing from me. I also read that I had to purify myself from everything that contaminates body and spirit out of reverence for Adonai.

I began searching a concordance for ‘unclean’ and I found myself in Leviticus 11 that outlined what Adonai considers ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ foods – or what He just considers to be food or not food. At the very end of the chapter He states, “You are to be holy as He is holy.”

I was excited to receive a Word from Adonai. I wanted to share what I learned with friends; however, those friends told me emphatically that I was wrong. They said ‘we are no longer under the law’ and if I followed those commands, I would be ‘legalistic.’ I had never heard those two arguments for ‘disobeying’ Adonai’s commands so it became clear from whom I was to separate.

Sha’ul only quoted the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel and my ‘new testament’ friends rejected the words. As part of the royal priesthood serving Yeshua, I am to strive for the same standard of holiness as the Levitical priesthood; in fact, I am held to a higher standard of holiness. I am not to mix the ‘holy’ and the ‘profane’ or become indifferent to the Sabbath. I am not to become lukewarm and profane the name of Adonai. As for one-sided unconditional love, Yeshua said a daughter’s response to her Father’s love obedience which is reverence.

Most of Christiandom is lukewarm; they don’t understand the difference between what is ‘holy hot’ and ‘profane cold.’ Through centuries of traditions, they mix the holiness of Adonai with the pagan ways of the nations. They exchanged Adonai’s Sabbath for the catholic Sunday as proclaimed by the Council of Laodicea. They have combined the spring renewal of the goddess Astarte/Easter with the resurrection of Yeshua. They have confused the birth of the sun-god Saturn with the incarnation of the Son of God. They falsely believe that Yeshua’s death changed pigs, horses, and eagles so they can now be consumed, or they believe he abolished Torah removing sin and disobedience.

Yeshua is telling Laodicea a different message. They are told that they are so lukewarm that ‘the faithful and true witness’ wants to vomit them out of his mouth. The Greek word for ‘vomit’ is emeo and means ‘repulsed, showing utter rejection, and disgust.’ In other words, the people in the Laodicean community disgust Yeshua that he wants to utterly reject them. This doesn’t sound much like the unconditional-love gospel message preached today.

The people of Laodicea see themselves as so rich that they have need of nothing. Their materialistic lifestyle makes them prideful and deceived to their real spiritual condition. Yeshua uses the clothing, gold, and eye salve that Laodicea values to rebuke his community. He doesn’t look at their outward appearance, but at their heart. He sees them as poor, naked, and blind. In his compassion, he offers them correction.

Sardis had soiled clothes; Laodicea has no clothes. They deceptively believe they are clothed in the righteousness of Yeshua, however, their man-made clothes do not cover their nakedness. The are like the wedding guest at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb who didn’t have wedding clothes. Though the guest had been invited, he didn’t properly dress. He had not been to the rehearsal dinner, so he didn’t know what to wear (Matthew 22:11-14).

Even though the city has a rich reputation from their gold, Yeshua tells the Laodiceans that they need to purchase gold refined in the fire. They exchanged a life of riches for an eternal reward of being with him where there are streets of transparent gold. They have become so arrogant that they need the ‘holy hotness’ of the refining fire to remove the dross and purify them.

The Laodiceans need to stop their violence against Torah by mixing the holy worship of Elohim with pagan gods likes Zeus, Saturn, Tammuz –– their own golden calf. For their spiritual blindness, Yeshua tells them they need eye salve. They don’t need the medical eye salve made from the Phrygian stone powder, they need eye salve like Yeshua made with mud and water so the scales fall from their eyes and they see their spiritual idolatry (John 9:11).

The people of Laodicea are so complacent Yeshua has to command them to “exert yourselves and turn from your sins!” ‘Exert’ means ‘put forth some physical or mental action.’  The deceptive doctrine of “Yeshua fulfilled the law so I don’t have to do anything” has utterly deceived them. These people do not need a message of resting in Yeshua, they need a ‘put-forth-some-effort-because-you-need-to-repent’ message. Because Yeshua loves the people in this community, he rebukes them harshly. He disciplines them so they will not be lost for all eternity (Psalm 118:18).

The Ten Commandments given to Isra’el were listed in Hebrew, not Roman numerals. In the Hebrew, the Fourth Commandment is the letter dalet with a letter picture of a ‘door’ meaning ‘pathway.’ The pathway commandment is: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

On the seventh-day, Yeshua stands at the dalet knocking.  He pleads with the Laodicean people to repent and return to the ‘true witness’ of their relationship with his Father. He wants someone to open the dalet so he can come in and feast with them.  If they open the ‘door,’ they will celebrate the eternal Sabbath together. This is the same Sabbath that the Council of Laodicea changed and encouraged Messianic believers to discard.

The reward for the overcomer is to sit with Yeshua on his throne.  The action of sitting after a victory is symbolic of rest and cessation of work.  This is the original purpose of Sabbath –– to cease work and rest.  If the Laodiceans open the ‘door’ and guard the Sabbath as it was created, they will no longer be naked, poor or blind to the prophetic vision. They will rule and reign with Yeshua, the Lord of the Sabbath, in the his Messianic Kingdom.

Those [in Laodicea 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 he taught in parables was so that people could ‘look but not see, and listen but not understand’ the message of the Kingdom (Isaiah 6:9-10, Luke 8:10).  Because he wanted his disciples to have a deeper understanding of the coming Kingdom, he explained the hidden meaning away from the crowds.

Yeshua spoke all of his parables 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 arrival of the new covenant, men and women who obey the message of Yeshua are given new hearts and a renewed spirit.  The Ruach haKodesh gives them ‘ears to hear what the Spirit is saying’ so they can obey His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ his message, but ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be heard through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd (Psalm 95:7-8, John 10:27-28)  His sheep were to ‘listen’ and ‘obey’ the message so they would be overcomers –– Isra’el –– and receive their eternal reward.  

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

Revelation 4 – Heavenly Throne

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

Revelation Chapter 3 – Sardis

Messianic Community of Sardis

Sardis was the capital of the Lydian Kingdom and part of the Persian Empire, modern-day Iraq and Turkey. It had a strong military presence and was situated on the major highway leading from the Aegean coast to the plains of Mesopotamia. It was located about 60 miles from the cities of Ephesus and Smyrna on the Pactolus River that flowed through the center of the city floating gold dust from Mount Tmolus. Sardinians learned how to separate gold from silver to create pure silver and pure gold. This purity of metals allowed them to mint gold and silver coins that were used as standard currency throughout the ancient world making Sardis a very wealthy city.

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Sardis, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know what you are doing — you have a reputation for being alive, but in fact you are dead! Wake up, and strengthen what remains, before it dies too! For I have found what you are doing incomplete in the sight of my God. So remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and turn from your sin! For if you don’t wake up, I will come like a thief; and you don’t know at what moment I will come upon you. Nevertheless, you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; and they will walk with me, clothed in white, because they are worthy. He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before my Father and before his angels. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities'” (Revelation 3:1-6). 

Yeshua sends the fifth messenger to Sardis where he reveals himself as the one who “has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars.”  The prophet Isaiah describes the seven-fold Spirit of Elohim that embodies the fullness of Messiah: “The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai –– he will be inspired by fearing Adonai” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

He has explained that the seven stars are the seven messengers guarding the communities. He repeats this phrase as a witness that he is the one sending the message, not the ‘star’ who is only the messenger.

The community in Sardis has a reputation for being alive, but is really dead.  Yeshua tells them to strengthen what little they still have or it will die too.  The Spirit of Elohim gives power to the life of the believer; it appears Sardis is missing that power.

Yeshua commands Sardis, “Wake Up!”  The Sardis community is sleep-walking and unaware of their complacent lifestyle (Ephesians 5:14). If they don’t wake up,  Yeshua will come like a ‘thief’ in a swift and stealthy manner, and they will miss his marriage feast.

The phrase ‘thief in the night’ symbolizes the snatching away of a bride from her home when the time for her wedding arrives. The bridegroom comes at an unknown time –– with his friends and loud noise –– to carry away his betrothed to the wedding chamber. Because his arrival time is unknown, the bride must be ready at all times for his appearance.

‘Thief in the night’ is a Hebrew idiom for Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets because the ‘day and the hour’ for when this ‘appointed time’ begins is unknown. This agrees with Yeshua’s statement that no one knows the day or the hour” (Matthew 25:13). This second phrase also points to Yom Teruah, the next Biblical Feast to be fulfilled (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated on a New Moon. In ancient times, when the New Moon was sighted by the high priest along with the testimony of two witnesses, the new month began. At this moment, all the Feast times and dates were determined. Yom Teruah began at the sighting of the New Moon with the blowing of shofars throughout the land of Isra’el.

In Matthew 25, Yeshua tells the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids.  The Bridegroom takes a long time –– years, centuries, and millennia –– to arrive and the Bridesmaids fall asleep.  When they hear the loud voice of the Bridegroom, only five have oil in their lamps. The wise Bridesmaids trim their wicks, light their lamps, and go with the Bridegroom into the Bridal Chamber.  The other five are foolish because they did not prepare for the Bridegroom’s arrival. When they hear his voice, they have to run out and buy more oil. By the time they return, the door is shut, and they are excluded from the wedding feast.

The lamps in the parable are the Word of Elohim (Psalm 119:105). The Hebrew for ‘word’ in this verse is Torah. Specifically, each of the ten Bridesmaids have Torah to illuminate their path, but their desire to become a set-apart Bride determines whether or not they use it. Oil is symbolic of the Ruach Elohim and was used to anoint kings, priest, and now filled the lambs of the Bride of Messiah.

At a future Feast of Trumpets, the Bridegroom will come out of the heavens with a loud cry and a shofar blast to call forth his waiting and prepared Bride (1 Thessalonians 4:16). For those Bridesmaids who are unprepared, they will miss the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. This is the warning for Sardis. They must wake up, trim their wicks, and make sure their lamps are supplied with oil!

Hebrew Word Pictures

Torah – torah – תורה

Tav – Crossed Sticks means ‘sign’ or ‘covenant.’

Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

Resh – A Head means ‘highest authority.’

Hey – A Window means ‘reveal’ or ‘behold.

The Hebrew Word Picture for torah: the covenant sign binding to the highest authority revealed.

Oil – shemen – שמן

Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’

Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for shemen: consume and destroy the chaos of life.

Spotted Wedding Garments

The works of the congregation in Sardis are incomplete in Elohim’s sight.  This is another allusion to these believers who have lamp of Torah, but are deficient in their obedience. They have forgotten what they heard and no longer obey the gospel of repentance and bearing fruit of that repentance. Yeshua compares their incomplete works to soiled clothing or spotted wedding gowns.

Sardis is told to remember what they have heard and obey it. If there was nothing to obey, this would be a foolish correction from Yeshua (Romans 10:16).  Even Kefa (Peter) confirms the gospel is about obedience (1 Peter 4:17). It is up to Sardis to repent, wash their robes, and be found spotless as they look forward to the coming Kingdom (2 Peter 3:14).

“Add guilt to their guilt, don’t let them enter your righteousness.Erase them from the book of life, let them not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:27-28).

Those in Sardis who don’t wash their soiled gowns will be ‘blotted out’ of the Book of Life.  The Hebrew word for ‘soiled’ is chaneph and means ‘profane.’ Profane means that one lives a secular, carnal life rather than a spiritual one. It also means to ‘make common’ the Word of Elohim. The Greek word for ‘soiled’ is moluno and means to ‘spiritually destroy the reputation of Messiah.’ These two words give a detailed view of the spiritual condition in Sardis. They live carnal, even profane lives that destroy the message of Yeshua. This behavior brings a severe judgment –– they will be blotted out of his Book of Life.

The The Hebrew word for ‘blotted out’ is machah and means to ‘wipe out, cancel or exterminate.’ To be ‘blotted out’ has a serious eternal consequence for choosing to not obey the message of Yeshua. At the final judgment, everyone is thrown into ‘the lake of fire and burning sulfur’ unless their name is written in the Book of Life. Those in Sardis who don’t give up their profane, carnal lifestyle will spend eternity in the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth –– the place of greatest regret.

Sardis was not a ‘living’ part of the Body of Messiah.  They people were dead and needed to wake up or lose Eternity.  On the final Day of Atonement when books are opened, only those names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22-27).

“One of the elders asked me, “These people dressed in white robes … They have washed their robes and made them white with the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:13-14).

There are some followers of Yeshua in Sardis who have not soiled their wedding gowns. These people will walk with Yeshua clothed in white robes. They will receive fine, white linen bridal gowns to represent their righteous deeds (Revelation 19:7-8). Yeshua will call each righteous one by name and they will hear: “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21-24).

Those [in Sardis] 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 he taught in parables was so that people could ‘look but not see, and listen but not understand’ the message of the Kingdom (Isaiah 6:9-10, Luke 8:10).  Because he wanted his disciples to have a deeper understanding of the coming Kingdom, he explained the hidden meaning away from the crowds.

Yeshua spoke all of his parables 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 arrival of the new covenant, men and women who obey the message of Yeshua are given new hearts and a renewed spirit.  The Ruach haKodesh gives them ‘ears to hear what the Spirit is saying’ so they can obey His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ his message, but ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be heard through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd (Psalm 95:7-8, John 10:27-28)  His sheep were to ‘listen’ and ‘obey’ the message so they would be overcomers –– Isra’el –– and receive their eternal reward.

But you [Sardis], 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 Community of Philadelphia

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


Revelation Chapter 2 – Pergamum

Messianic Community in Pergamum

Pergamum was a city in ancient Greece, located in a large valley in Asia Minor, 16 miles inland from the Aegean Sea.  This city was the political center for Asia Minor and known for its library, the arts, and its theater, as well as its psychiatric hospital. The city had a healing center built to honor the Greek serpent-god Asklepios that offered everything from mud baths to major operations.

Pergamum had three temples: one to worship the Roman emperor; one to worship Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war; and one to worship Zeus. The Great Altar of Zeus, believed by many to be the ‘Throne of Satan,’ has some of its remains on the Acropolis today; other remains are in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, Germany. The word ‘throne’ refers to a specific chair for the ‘lord of the house’ showing that Satan was the ruling power in that ‘home.’

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Pergamum, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: “I know where you are living, there where the Adversary’s throne is. Yet you are holding onto my name. You did not deny trusting me even at the time when my faithful witness Antipas was put to death in your town, there where the Adversary lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have some people who hold to the teaching of Bil‘am, who taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Isra’el, so that they would eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin. Likewise, you too have people who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, turn from these sins. Otherwise, I will come to you very soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, on which is written a new name that nobody knows except the one receiving it'” (Revelation 2:12-17). 

The third messenger is sent to Pergamum where Yeshua reveals himself as the “one who has the sharp double-edged sword.”  The double-edged sword is a description of the Word of God that judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).  Yeshua says the Adversarywho twists the Word of God has his ‘throne’, his seat of authority, in Pergamum.  This community’s battle is with the Adversary and how he twists the Truth deceiving the believers in Pergamum.

The Serpent out of Eden

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14).

The Hebrew letter tet has a word picture of a ‘snake’ and means ‘twisting.’ Using the Hebrew letters to list the Ten Commandments, the letter tet refers to the commandment, “You shall not bear false witness” (Exodus 20:16).

The Israelites complained to Moshe for bringing them into the desert where they had no food or water; they had tired of eating manna. Elohim sent poisonous snakes to bite the people, and many died. When they confessed to Moshe that they had sinned, Elohim had him make a ‘bronze snake’ and put it on the pole (Numbers 21:8-9).

The Hebrew text in Numbers 21:6 does not use the words ‘poisonous snakes,’ but nachashim seraphim or ‘fiery serpents’ suggesting that the serpents had a lethal burning power.  The thought of looking up at the replica of the very creature that caused death probably seemed ludicrous, but it was Adonai’s way or die.  If a bitten person didn’t look at the snake, their body would be left to decay in the desert sand.  It took a personal act of faith to look up at the ‘fiery serpent’ to receive physical healing from a spiritual disease called ‘rebellion.’

The ‘twisting’ of the snake on the pole to bring healing was initiated by Elohim; however, Pergamum distorted it to worship the Adversary. Even today, the symbol of modern medicine is the rod of the ‘serpent god,’ Asclepius, twisted around a staff. This suggests that medicine and its pharmecopeia, the Greek word for ‘pharmaceutical drugs,’ is not rooted in the God of Isra’el, but in the Adversary.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Fiery Serpent – nachashim

נ Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

ח Chet – A Fence means ‘protect.’

ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

ם Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for nachashim: life protect and consumes finished work of chaos.

sheraphim

ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’

ר Resh – A Head means ‘highest authority.’

פ Peh – A Mouth means ‘speak’ or ‘source.’

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

ם Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

– the consuming head speaks the finished work of chaos

The Hebrew Word Picture for seraphim: consume highest authority source mighty finished work.

The Name Above All Names

The congregation in Pergamum is commended for holding onto Yeshua’s name and standing against multi-god worship (Proverbs 30:4).  Over the centuries, the Adversary has played a major role in changing the Savior’s Hebrew name, Yeshua, into the Greek rendering, Jesus, that has its root in the Greek god, Zeus. Using the name the Father gave for His Son set Pergamum people free from demons and the worship of Zeus. This congregation watched a faithful follower of Yeshua, who cast out many demons, be martyred.  According to Wikipedia,  Antipas was tortured and executed in a bronze bull-shaped altar – the Great Altar of Zeus.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Yeshua – salvation

Yod – Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’

Vav – A Nail means ‘bindning.’

Ayin – An Eye means ‘see’ or’ understand.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for yeshua: finished work destroys the binding (nails), see and understand.

Balaam and Balak

“When they lie down they crouch like a lion, or like a lioness — who dares to rouse it? Blessed be all who bless you! Cursed be all who curse you!” (Numbers 24:9).

Some believers in Pergamum held to the teachings of Baalam.  Balaam was a prophet who was hired by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse Isra’el.  On his way to meet Balak, Baalam’s donkey saw an ‘angel of Adonai‘ standing in the middle of the road. Three times, the donkey veered off the road until he pushed Balaam’s legs into a rock wall and lay down. The ‘angel of Adonai that frightened the donkey held a ‘double-edged sword’ cutting through Baalam’s hard heart. Though he tried to curse Isra’el several times, he could not curse those whom Adonai had blessed (Numbers 24:9).  Through the Spirit of Elohim, he prophesied blessing over Isra’el multiple times. However, once Balaam realized he could never curse Isra’el, he taught the Balak how to entice them to sin.

When missionaries go into the world and preach a ‘Jesus’ who doesn’t keep the Sabbath, doesn’t celebrate the Biblical holy days, and eats all ‘unclean’ food, they also ‘entice Isra’el to sin.’ Recently, our family received a letter asking us to support a young woman going on a mission trip to Isra’el. She needed to raise thousands of dollars to ‘take the love of Jesus’ to the Jewish people. We knew she had been raised with anti-semitic doctrines so we could not support her. Though her message may appear to be one of love, it will not include repentance and returning to the Torah of Adonai. She will only ‘entice’ the Jewish people into sin and make impotent the good news of Yeshua.

The ‘double-edged sword’ of Yeshua’s mouth will make war with those who curse Isra’el.  Baalam learned he could not curse people who are blessed by Adonai. Balak, too, saw that Adonai’s chosen people could not be cursed.  Those who twist the eternal covenants given to the Jews blame those same Jews for everything from killing ‘Jesus’ millennia ago to whatever happens in the stock market today.   Balak was warned by Baalam and Yeshua warns Pergamum. The nations and churches hostile to Isra’el today should heed those warnings.  Isra’el is still Adonai’s nation; the Jewish people are still His chosen people. The land remains His Land of Promise; His Name continues to reside in Jerusalem.  “Those who curse Isra’el will be cursed; those who bless Isra’el will be blessed” (Numbers 24:9).

Hidden Manna

Believers in Pergamum who overcome the teachings of Baalam and Balak and bless Isra’el, will receive hidden manna.  A jar of manna was kept ‘hidden’ in the Ark of the Covenant as a testimony of Adonai’s daily provision for the Israelites.  Manna was not only physical food, but also spiritual nourishment (Psalm 78:24-25).

Yeshua reveals himself as the hidden manna, the bread of life that came down from heaven (John 6:51). Perhaps the manna that was once ‘hidden’ in the Ark will be eaten again and the overcomer in Pergamum will be nourished by the heavenly food.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Manna – man – מן

Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for manna: mighty life.

The White Stone

“One will say, ‘I belong to Adonai.’ Another will be called by the name of Ya‘akov (Jacob). Yet another will write that he belongs to Adonai and adopt the surname Isra’el” (Isaiah 44:5).

The overcomer in Pergamum will receive a white stone with a new name written on it. This new name will complete their adoption into the family of Adonai (Ephesians 1:5-6). The new name will not be denominational, it will not be doctrinal, it will not be institutional; it will be Isra’el.

In ancient times, a white stone was given to the winner of a race.  Believers in the Pergamum congregation are running a race and heading toward the finish line (1 Corinthians 9:24).   They are only hindered by the ideology of Baalam and Balak which needs to be removed so they receive the white stone. The overcomer will have victory over sin and win the race.

A white stone was also used as a banquet invitation for a special guest.  This white stone with a new name may be the invitation the overcomer receives to attend the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Luke 14:15-17, Revelation 19:9).

The White Stone in Pergamum

As evidence to the promises given to Pergamum, there is a white stone in the city on which are inscribed the words of Yeshua. Many of those who were given the initial white-stone invitation made excuses for not attending the Father’s Feast in the Kingdom. How many will throw their white-stone invitation on the ground and continue going about their usual activities? (Luke 14:24).

Those [in Pergamum] 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 he taught in parables was so that people could ‘look but not see, and listen but not understand’ the message of the Kingdom (Isaiah 6:9-10, Luke 8:10).  Because he wanted his disciples to have a deeper understanding of the coming Kingdom, he explained the hidden meaning away from the crowds.

Yeshua spoke all of his parables 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 arrival of the new covenant, men and women who obey the message of Yeshua are given new hearts and a renewed spirit.  The Ruach haKodesh gives them ‘ears to hear what the Spirit is saying’ so they can obey His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ his message, but ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be heard through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd (Psalm 95:7-8, John 10:27-28)  His sheep were to ‘listen’ and ‘obey’ the message so they would be overcomers –– Isra’el –– and receive their eternal reward.  

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

Revelation 2 – Messianic Community of Thyatira

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

Revelation Chapter 2 – Smyrna

Messianic Community in Smyrna

Smyrna was located on the Aegean coast of Anatolia where it could easily defend itself from an enemy attack.  It is known today as Izmir in modern-day Turkey.  Because it is highly populated, much of ancient Smyrna has been lost except for the agora (public speaking area), theater, and parts of Roman aqueduct. Smyrna is the ancient Greek word for myrrh which was the main export from this city in ancient times.  As an essential oil, myrrh has healing qualities for the skin and is used to anoint a body for burial. The believing community at Smyrna was established by Sha’ul (Paul) during his third missionary journey.

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Smyrna, write: ‘Here is the message from the First and the Last, who died and came alive again: “I know how you are suffering and how poor you are (though in fact you are rich!), and I know the insults of those who call themselves Jews but aren’t — on the contrary, they are a synagogue of the Adversary. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Adversary is going to have some of you thrown in prison, in order to put you to the test; and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful, even to the point of death; and I will give you life as your crown. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. He who wins the victory will not be hurt at all by the second death”’ (Revelation 2:8-11).

Yeshua sends the second messenger to the community in Smyrna.  He reveals himself as “the first and the last, who died and came alive again.”  With the ‘first and last’ reference, this congregation would have immediately understood that Yeshua is the ‘alef tav’ –– את –– found between the words in the Hebrew Scriptures.

This is translation change from Aramaic/Hebrew into Greek that not only removes the understanding of the beginning and the end, it removes a unique part of the Hebrew Scriptures that unveil Yeshua in practically every sentence. To change the alef and the tav to letters in the Latin alphabet or the Alpha and Omega in the Greek takes away a significant meaning and purpose for the את the ‘sign’ of Yeshua.

The two letters that begin and end the Hebrew alphabet are the alef and the tav – את.  These two letters create a small word, ‘et’ that is found throughout the Old Testament.  Some translators give it a grammatical meaning as a noun modifier, but it has no specific meaning.  

Reading a transliteration from the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1: Beresheet bara elohim et hashamayim v’et haeretz, notice the two-letter word ‘et’ or the alef and the tav? This is what Yeshua refers to in Revelation 1:8.  He is  the alef and the tav that is found in Genesis 1 and between thousands of words throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.  By claiming he is the alef and the tav, he directs readers to himself on every page of the Old Testament. 

Some that the Hebrew letter picture of Crossed Sticks for tav refers to theh cross; however, there is more to Yeshua than the cross.  He is at the beginning and the end –– it is his ‘sign’ found throughout the Scriptures. The alef and the tav are also connected with the ‘God of heaven’s armies’ of which Yeshua is the Commander in Chief and the Warrior that is coming soon to redeem the whole earth (Revelation 1:8).

Hebrew Word Pictures

Et – את  

Alef – An Ox means ‘first’ and ‘strong.’

Tav – Crossed Sticks mean ‘sign’ and ‘covenant.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for et: first strong sign of the covenant.

The myrrh of Smyrna is significant to this community because they will be martyred for their faith. Because they will have to face death, Yeshua encourages them in the hope of the resurrection (John 11:25-27). Because he suffered, died, and came back to life, they, too, will be resurrected.  The word martyr in Greek means ‘witness’ alluding to their deaths becoming the witness of Yeshua’s faithfulness in their lives.

The condition of the congregation in Smyrna is one of suffering and poverty.  They are insulted by those who call themselves Jews, but are not.  Yeshua calls these ‘false Jews’ members of the synagogue of the Adversary.

Blood lineage or DNA determines Jewish heritage; however, a Jew is technically a descendant from the Tribe of Judah. The term ‘Jew’ in a religious context has become common anyone who practices any sect of Judaism regardless of tribal affiliation or ethnicity. 

Sha’ul refers to Jews as the ‘circumcision group’ and the gentiles as the ‘uncircumcision group’ when discussing Jewish and gentile believers in the Body of Messiah. In his letter to the Romans, Sha’ul defines a ‘true Jew’ which is opposite of a ‘false Jew.’ His definition works for the individual in the ‘circumcision group’ as well as the individual in the ‘uncircumcision group.’  Both receive ‘circumcision of the heart’ and both praise –– the meaning of the name Judah –– the Elohim of Isra’el together as ‘one new man.’

“For the real Jew is not merely Jewish outwardly: true circumcision is not only external and physical.  On the contrary, the real Jew is one inwardly; and true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God” (Romans 2:27-29).

Using Sha’ul’s definition for ‘true Jew,’ there must be Jews in Smyrna whose hearts have not been circumcised; they are not true praisers of Elohim. They hold onto their DNA heritage as descendants of Abraham and believe that gentiles must convert to Judaism in order to join the community of Isra’el. There could also be gentile converts to Judaism insulting other gentiles who refuse to convert because they feel ‘cheated’ for converting when realizing that faith alone is not enough to enter the community in Smyrna. Yeshua calls these people liars and compares them to the ‘Synagogue of Satan’ –– a harsh judgment.

Yeshua has no corrections for Smyrna because he knows their faith and their fate.  They are going to suffer at the hands of the Adversary and be tested for ‘ten days.’ ‘Ten days’ may be an allusion to the ‘Ten Days of Awe’ following the Feast of Trumpets.  These ‘ten days’ will test the faith of the believers in Smyrna. They will be persecuted and face death at the hands of those who are used by satan. Smyrna’s faithfulness to Yeshua will be their witness and will result in an eternal reward –– the Crown of Life promised to those who love Elohim (James 1:10).

“And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands.  They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years….” (Revelation 20:4).

Those [in Smyrna] 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 he taught in parables was so that people could ‘look but not see, and listen but not understand’ the message of the Kingdom (Isaiah 6:9-10, Luke 8:10).  Because he wanted his disciples to have a deeper understanding of the coming Kingdom, he explained the hidden meaning away from the crowds.

Yeshua spoke all of his parables 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 arrival of the new covenant, men and women who obey the message of Yeshua are given new hearts and a renewed spirit.  The Ruach haKodesh gives them ‘ears to hear what the Spirit is saying’ so they can obey His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ his message, but ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be heard through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd (Psalm 95:7-8, John 10:27-28)  His sheep were to ‘listen’ and ‘obey’ the message so they would be overcomers –– Isra’el –– and receive their eternal reward.  

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

Revelation 2 – Messianic Community of Pergamum

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