News Letter 5849-022
3rd day of the 5th month 5849 years after the creation of Adam
The 5th Month in the Fourth year of the third Sabbatical Cycle
The Third Sabbatical Cycle of the 119th Jubilee Cycle
The Sabbatical Cycle of Earthquakes Famines, and Pestilences
Shabbat Shalom to Royal House of Israel, The 9th of Av-Should SDA keep the Feast-The lack of Respect
This year the 9th of Av according to the Hebrew Calendar will fall on July 15th and using the sightedmoon method will occur on July 19th. The New moon was seen on the 10th of July to begin the 5th month.
The 9th of Av has had significant meaning throughout history since that fateful day our ancestors refused to go up and take the land of Canaan in the year of 1377 B.C. This was when the 12 spies came back from spying out the land as you are told about in Number chapter 13 and 14.
Tisha B’Av (help·info) (Hebrew: ????? ????? or ?? ???, “the Ninth of Av,”) is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day (Tisha) of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, which occurred about 655 years apart, but on the same Hebrew calendar date. Although primarily meant to commemorate the destruction of the Temples, it is also considered appropriate to commemorate other Jewish tragedies that occurred on this day, most notably the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, one of the concluding events of the Iberian Reconquista. Accordingly, the day has been called the “saddest day in Jewish history”.??
Tisha B’Av falls in July or August in the western calendar. When Tisha B’Av falls on the Sabbath (Saturday) observance of Tisha B’Av takes place on Sunday; no outward signs of mourning intrude upon the normal Sabbath. While the day recalls general tragedies which have befallen the Jewish people over the ages, the day focuses on commemoration of five events: the destruction of the two ancient Temples in Jerusalem, the sin of ten of the twelve scouts sent by Moses who spoke disparagingly about the Promised Land, the razing of Jerusalem following the siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire.
According to the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6), five specific events occurred on the ninth of Av that warrant fasting:
1. The twelve spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission. Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a positive report, while the others spoke disparagingly about the land. The majority report caused the Children of Israel to cry, panic and despair of ever entering the “Promised Land”. For this, they were punished by God that their generation would not enter the land. Because of the Israelites’ lack of faith, God decreed that for all generations this date would become one of crying and misfortune for their descendants. (See Numbers Ch. 13–14)
2. The First Temple built by King Solomon and the Kingdom of Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE (3175 AM) after the siege in 587 and the Judaeans were sent into the Babylonian exile.
3. The Second Temple built by Ezra and Nehemiah was destroyed by the Romans in August 70 CE (3830 AM), scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land. According to the Talmud in tractate Ta’anit, the destruction of the Second Temple began on the Ninth of Av and the Temple continued to burn throughout the Tenth of Av.
4. The Romans crushed Bar Kokhba’s revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 100,000 Jews, on July 8, 132 CE (Av 9, 3892 AM).
Following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and the surrounding area, in 133 CE.
Over time, Tisha B’Av has come to be a Jewish day of mourning, not only for these events, but also for later tragedies. Regardless of the exact dates of these events, for many Jews, Tisha B’Av is the designated day of mourning for them, and these themes are reflected in liturgy composed for this day (see below).
Other calamities associated with Tisha B’Av:
5. The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 9, 4856 AM), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. A grand total of 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade that started on the 9th of Av.
6. The Jews were expelled from England on July 25, 1290 (Av 9, 5050 AM).
7. The Jews were expelled from France on July 21, 1306 (Av 9, 5066 AM).
8. The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 8-9, 5252 AM).
9. On August 2, 1941, (Av 9, 5701 AM) SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution”. Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed at that time.
10. On the 9th of Av, 5702 (July 23, 1942), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.
11. Most religious communities use Tisha B’Av to mourn the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust, including special kinnot composed for this purpose (see the main kinnot article) (in contradistinction to the secular Holocaust Memorial Days.)
On the 10th of Av two events took place:
• AMIA bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires took place, killing 85 and injuring 300 on Monday, July 18, 1994, 10th of Av, 5754.
Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan evicted 8,000 Israelis from Gaza.
Many ask if we should keep these days of mourning or should we fast on these days. They are not found in Lev 23. So the immediate answer is no we should not keep them. But we have some interesting scriptures to keep in mind as we consider this question. Most people know what Isaiah says as this is the one Yehshua quotes in Luke 4:19 as He began His ministry. But what most do not know is what Yehshua did not read.
Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified.
Zec 8:18 And the Word of Jehovah of Hosts came to me, saying, 19 So says Jehovah of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah for joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace.
This Word of Yehovah was spoken by Zechariah, one of the prophets sent to the remnant of Jews who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity of Babylon. These were the facts: Owing to the sin of Judah and their disobedience, and after rejecting many warnings from Yehovah, Judah had been destroyed by Babylon and carried captive. The city of Jerusalem had been sacked, the temple destroyed. All the glory of Judah was gone. And now, after seventy years, Yehovah has brought back a remnant who were rebuilding the temple. During their captivity in Babylon, they had set up four yearly fast days, days of the withholding of food in order that they might mourn over their folly of sin. These fast days were not ordained by Yehovah. That is, they were not instituted by the law of Moses. But they had been set up by the Jews to commemorate events in connection with the capture of Jerusalem.
There were four of them. When we compare what we read in our text with II Kings 25, we learn what these four fasts were.
2Ki 25:1 And it happened in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came. He and all his army came against Jerusalem and pitched against it, and built a siege-mound all around it. 2 And the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah, 3 on the ninth of the fourth month, when famine was severe in the city, and there was no bread for the people of the land. 4 And the city was broken up, and by night all the men of war went by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden. And the Chaldeans were against the city all round. And the king went the way toward the plain. 5 And the army of the Chaldees pursued the king, and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. And all his army were scattered from him. 6 And they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon, to Riblah. And they gave judgment on him. 7 And they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with bronze chains and carried him to Babylon. 8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh of the month; it was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; Nebuzaradan the chief of the executioners, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 And he burned the house of Jehovah, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem. And every great one’s house he burned with fire. 10 And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the chief of the executioners broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around. 11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city, and the fugitives who fell away to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude, the chief of the executioners carried away. 12 But the chief of the executioners left a few of the poor of the land to be vinedressers and husbandmen. 13 And the bronze pillars in the house of Jehovah, and the bases, and the bronze sea in the house of Jehovah, the Chaldeans broke into pieces and carried the bronze from them to Babylon. 14 And the pots, and the shovels, and the snuffers, and the spoons, and all the vessels of bronze with which they ministered, they also took away. 15 And the chief of the executioners took away the fire-pans, and the bowls, that were all of gold, and all of silver; 16 also the two pillars, the one sea, and the bases which Solomon had made for the house of Jehovah. The bronze of all these vessels was without weight. 17 The height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the capital on it was bronze. And the height of the capital was three cubits. And the grating and the pomegranates on the capital all around were all of bronze. And the second pillar had grating like these. 18 And the chief of the executioners took Seraiah the chief priest, and Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers. 19 And he took out of the city a certain eunuch who was appointed over the men of war, and five men of those who were in the king’s presence, who were found in the city, and the chief scribe of the army (who called up the people of the land together), and sixty men of the people of the land found in the city. 20 And Nebuzaradan the chief of the executioners took these and brought them to the king of Babylon to Riblah. 21 And the king of Babylon struck them and killed them at Riblah in the land of Hamath. And he exiled Judah from its land. 22 And he made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, ruler over the people who remained in the land of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had left. 23 And all the commanders of the army, they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah governor. And they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan the son of Careah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men. 24 And Gedaliah swore to them and to their men, and said to them, Do not fear to be the servants of the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. 25 And it happened in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama of the seed of the kingdom, and ten men with him, came and struck Gedaliah, and he died, and also the Jews and the Chaldeans who were with him at Mizpah. 26 And all the people, both small and great, and the commanders of the armies, arose and came to Egypt. For they were afraid of the Chaldeans. 27 And it happened in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he began to reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison. 28 And he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 And he changed his prison clothes. And he always ate bread before him all the days of his life. 30 And his allowance was a regular allowance given him from the king, a daily ration for every day, all the days of his life.
There was first of all the fast of the fourth month. This was to commemorate when the walls of Jerusalem were broken down, after a long siege, by the armies of Babylon. There was the fast of the fifth month. This commemorated the time when Nebuchadnezzar burned the temple. There is the fast of the seventh month. This referred to the time when their governor, Gedaliah, was killed. And there was the fast of the tenth month. That was the time when the siege of Jerusalem began.
They had instituted four fast days while they were captive in Babylon to mourn over their folly. And they had continued to observe these fast days after they returned from captivity to the land of promise. They were surrounded by ruins. They were confronted by difficulties. And the question arose among them: What should they do about these fast days that they had been keeping in the captivity? Should they continue them, or should they stop?
So we read in Zechariah 7:3 that they sent a delegation to the house of Yehovah and put the question before the priests and the prophets: Should we weep in the fifth month, separating ourselves as we have done these so many years? And our text is Yehovah ‘s answer. In chapter 7 Yehovah speaks of those who had fasted only as hypocrites. Then in chapter 8, Yheovah, speaking to them of the glorious promises for those who had truly humbled themselves, comes to the answer in our text.
Zec 7:1 And it happened in the fourth year of King Darius, the Word of Jehovah came to Zechariah in the fourth of the ninth month, in Chislev. 2 And Sherezer and Regem-melech and his men had been sent to the house of God, to seek the favor of Jehovah, 3 to speak to the priests who belong to the house of Jehovah of Hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, consecrating myself, as I have done these many years? 4 And came the Word of Jehovah of Hosts to me, saying, 5 Speak to all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months, even those seventy years, did you truly fast to Me, even to Me? 6 And when you ate, and when you drank, was it not for you the eaters, and for you, the drinkers? 7 Are not these the Words which Jehovah proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited, and prosperous, and her cities all around her, and the Negev and the Shephelah were inhabited? 8 And the Word of Jehovah came to Zechariah, saying, 9 So speaks Jehovah of Hosts, saying, Judge true judgment, and practice kindness and pity, each man to his brother. 10 And do not crush the widow or the orphan, the alien or the poor. And do not devise evil in your heart, of a man against his brother. 11 But they refused to listen, and gave a stubborn shoulder, and made heavy their ears from hearing. 12 And they made their hearts adamant from hearing the Law and the Words which Jehovah of Hosts has sent through His Spirit, by the former prophets. And great wrath came from Jehovah of Hosts. 13 And it will be, as He called, and they did not listen, so they called, and I did not listen, says Jehovah of Hosts. 14 But I stormed them away on all the nations whom they did not know. And the land has been wasted behind them, from passing and from returning; for they made the land of desire a waste.
Zec 8:1 And the Word of Jehovah of Hosts came to me, saying, 2 So says Jehovah of Hosts: I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. 3 So says Jehovah: I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a City of Truth, and the mountain of Jehovah of Hosts, the Holy Mountain. 4 So says Jehovah of Hosts: There shall yet be old men and old women living in the streets of Jerusalem, and each man with his staff in his hand because of their many days. 5 And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6 So says Jehovah of Hosts: If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be marvelous in My eyes, says Jehovah of Hosts? 7 So says Jehovah of Hosts: Behold, I will save My people from the east country, and from the land of the setting sun. 8 And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness. 9 So says Jehovah of Hosts: Let your hands be strong, you who hear in these days these Words by the mouth of the prophets, that in the day the house of Jehovah of Hosts is founded, the temple is to be built. 10 For before these days there was no payment for man, nor was there payment for animal; and there was no peace to him from the adversary who went out or came in. For I sent every man, a man against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not be to the remnant of this people as in the former days, says Jehovah of Hosts. 12 For the seed shall be blessed; the vine shall give its fruit, and the ground shall give its increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. 13 And it will be, as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you, and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear, but let your hands be strong. 14 For so says Jehovah of Hosts: As I thought to punish you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath, says Jehovah of Hosts, and I did not repent; 15 so again I have thought in these days to do well to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Fear not. 16 These are the things that you shall do. Each man speak the truth to his neighbor. Judge with truth and justice for peace in your gates. 17 And let each devise no evil in your heart against his neighbor; and love no false oath. For all these are things that I hate, says Jehovah. 18 And the Word of Jehovah of Hosts came to me, saying, 19 So says Jehovah of Hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah for joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace. 20 So says Jehovah of Hosts: There yet shall be peoples and inhabitants of many cities; 21 and the residents of one shall go to another, saying, Let us go at once to seek favor of the face of Jehovah, and to seek Jehovah of Hosts; I will go also. 22 And many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of Hosts in Jerusalem and to seek the favor of the face of Jehovah. 23 So says Jehovah of Hosts: In those days ten men, out of all languages of the nations, shall take hold, and will seize the skirt of a man, a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.
The answer is not that the number of fasts should be reduced by one or two. The answer is not even that Judah should cease observing these fast days altogether. But the answer is something gloriously beyond that. The fast days shall be changed to feast days. The fast shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts. From fasting they were to come to feasting. Do you understand?
The answer of Yehovah, then, to their inquiry as to whether or not they should set aside these fast days was a very startling answer: “Your fasts shall be changed to cheerful feasts. Your times of set occasion for shame over your sin are now to become times of joy and gladness.” The spiritual people of Yehovah at this time, as we said, were dejected. They had returned from Babylon to Zion, the holy city. They were surrounded by rubble, and the temple work was opposed. Everything their eyes saw was as an arrow to remind them of their sin and folly. To them the Lord of hosts said that in the light of His glorious promises spoken in this eighth chapter (that I will save you and I will be a blessing to you), they were to stop observing those fast days of weeping and mourning and they were to commence feasting and rejoicing. That is a very dramatic change, from fast to feast.
For a fast, in the Scripture, is associated not only with setting aside the normal food that a person would eat, but it is associated with the spiritual life. It is associated with confession and with shame and with mourning over sin. We read in Psalm 35:13, “I humbled my soul with fasting.” We read in Joel 2:12, 13, “Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and rend you heart, and not your garments.” In the Old Testament the fast was associated with the confession of sin and the knowledge of sin.
Although we are not commanded to keep these days as fast days, we have been told that they will be days of rejoicing in the future. Those days are not yet here. I firmly believe that on some of these days in the future more harm is coming to Israel and to Judah. Be mindful of this fact and respect these days as they come. Make note of them and watch to see what transpires on these days.
IN the mail we have the following notes about last weeks News Letter.
Hi Joseph! Shabbat shalom, what a pleasure to read your emails challenging the greek paradigms we’ve been taught in church and forcing us to search the Truth. Is it possible to make your books in pdf format available? Living in the expensive south Africa makes e-books much cheaper? Shalom
We have books in South Africa that I have shipped there in bulk to help reduce the cost of them. Email me and I can put you on to her.
On the other hand the books are in ebook format and can be bought online this at these links for less than $4. I think the Prophecies of Abraham is about $8.
Grandpa Joseph; very good news letter. I remember vagely when Agenda 21 came out, reading some of it and laughing it off as a bunch of kooks trying to control the world. Little did I know. I repent of all my slothfulness over the years for not staying better informed. We, those of us over 50 have allowed all this to come on the scene, and even have partaken of it’s fruit in one way or another. Oh Yah, my Elohim, forgive me that I have not stood firm against the forces of evil that have so solicitously consumed me. Forgive me and heal me and make me strong, even as Daniel against the powers of evil. I pray this not just for myself, but for all those believers who have like me fallen asleep and particpated in the evil fruit. We ask how has our society become what it is? Who has allowed this to come upon us? Consider the adage that if you point one finger at others, three are directed back toward you. We all need to take responsibility and Teshuva, Return to our Creator, our law giver and our Elohim.
My brother, we don’t agree on all things, but I do greatly appreciate that you stand for truth as you understand it in the face of all that you identify as the power of evil. My calling seems to be testifying to individuals. The circumstances of who these people are and how Yah directs our paths that we meet, is amazing and cannot be coincidental. I am meeting more people in a given time span than ever before. Recently, the tempo is increasing and the testimonies are stronger and stronger, not just mine, but the testimonies of those I meet. There are seekers of truth out there that are being lead to study methods that are rudimentary, but they are true seekers and are able to dig out truth to an amazing extent. When I show them better tools, they all break into these “AH Ha” type grins. It is so much fun and so easy to be obedient and allow the Holy Spirit to direct my path . There is always a seeker at the end of the path. Often one who has a “willing heart” (Lev 1:2) but lacks the tools to identify what he is seeking efficiently. I have come to have a philosophy that it is not what we gain from teachers, though it can be a great impetus to those who are seeking, but the testimony we build for our selves as we search the Torah and apply it to our lives with that all essential “Willing Heart”. My conviction is that you can tell those whom our Creator has known from before the womb, it is those who have a willing heart. Willing to offer the offeriing (H 7133 and H7126) that he/we might be near to our Creator YHWH our Elohim. The offering, obviously (or maybe to some, not so obviously), is the Broken spirit and contrite heart. When this condition comes, there is only one response and that is to Obey. To prove we love Him our Creator. After that, our testimonies to others is primary and is the fruit He commands us to bear.
PS: I find “The Prophecies of Abraham” is a valuable tool in testifying and helping others see how critical time has become. Prophecies of Abraham is, in my opinion, one of the essential study tools that Yah has brought forth in the last ten years to enhance the study of those who are just now realizing they are of Israel, as well as those of us who already have knowledge, understanding and (perhaps) some wisdom concerning the Word and His magnificent work.
Here is a link to the events that shaped the month of June showing you the disasters the world over. It continues to increase with each disaster breaking the old records. Here in Toronto this week Yehovah had me work all across the Greater Toronto Area on the day the torrential rain came down in just one hour. Each time I moved for work I would move out of the way of the storm and then around it. I had not planned it at all. But then after, when I saw the way the storm came in, I could see how Yehovah had directed me out of harms path. We received the same amount of rain in one hour from one thunder storm as we did in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel flooded Toronto.
I also have this comment from Dr. Dave Perry. I hope all of you will share this with you SDA friends and help them to see that even Ellen White wanted them to be keeping the Holy Days and not just the Sabbath.
As I have said before – “You never know what you’re gonna learn or where”
My wife and I just got back from a friends Bible Study – These friends are SDA and do not keep the mow`edim (feasts).
This study is actually on the Ellen G. White book ‘The Great Controversy’. There is actually some good historical information on such subjects as – The Waldenses, Wycliffe, Huss, Jerome. Luther, Zwingli, the Reformation, the Renascence, the Pilgram Fathers, etc.
Tonight was the opening I was hoping for – To be able to witness to them at least about the mow`edim of Passover.
In the chapter – ‘Prophesies Fulfilled’ on page 399 of the hard back “The (New Illustrated) Great Controversy – Conflict of the ages series” (on page 212 in the paper back version – “The Great Controversy – Past . Present . Future”); were these words;
Quote – “The slaying of the Passover lamb was a shadow of the death of [Messiah]. Says Paul, ‘[Messiah] our Passover is sacrificed for us.’ 1Cor.5:7” – Un-Quote
Which is partially correct – for the other part not quoted is v:8;
1Cor 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast,…
The problem (for the Christian Church Sunday and Sabbath only) has always come down to the cross changed everything – freeing us from the old law and with it the feasts – Right?
Yet here is Paul saying the very opposite to that very argument! That Yahshua ‘is’ (was – in some Bibles – both past tense) sacrificed; Therefore (for that very reason) let us keep the feast!
And if this were not enough the text of the same chapter page goes on to say;
Quote – ” … [Messiah] having eaten the Passover with His disciples, **instituted** the feast which was to commemorate His own death as ‘The Lamb of [Yah]” … That same night He was taken …” – Un-Quote
Hold the phone; **instituted** – That same night? What night was that?
So by the hand of Ellen G. White this Passover point is established – I have known for sometime that she was favourable to the feasts – with such quotes as;
“Well would it be that the people of this day would have a *feast of tabernacles*”
Some try to say ‘this only means the elements of communion’ not Passover – but;
Mat 26:26 *And as they were eating*, Yahshua took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. :27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; :28 For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
*And as they were eating* – Passover (v:18-19)
Mark 14:22 “And as they were eating …” (Mat.26:26; Lk.22:19; 1Cor.11:23; 26)
Did you catch that? “… as they were eating …” Mt.26:26; “… as they did eat …” Mk.14:22; “… the cup after supper” Lk.22:20; “… when He had supped …” 1Cor.11:25? It was Passover – Folks (Mt.26:18, Mk.14:14, Lk.22:15).
And ‘the cup’ of ‘my blood of the new covenant’ was the 3rd cup (the cup of redemption – Ex.6:6) of 4 cups showing an in progress Passover Seder Meal.
What Yahshua was doing was ratifying the New Covenant in His own blood **and** making Passover the Covenant Confirming Meal of the New Covenant.
You may want to get my new book – ‘Back to the Melchizedek Future’ – Details on ‘Torah Without Rabbinics’ on FaceBook or contact me at – yst@YahsSpiritofTruth.com
In our News Letter last week we were explaining about the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, that convened June 5-16 in 1972 in Stockholm. That conference led to the Environmental movement and also the Human Rights accord which also includes the rights of the LGBT groups. We showed you how this was the same thing that Balaam told Balak to do in order to have Israel destroyed. That is having them commit sin so Yehovah would destroy them.
We are proclaiming this to be that covenant made with many for one Shabua or one 49 year Jubilee cycle that ends in June 2020. Actually at Shavuot 2020.
Last week we ended our News letter with these words;
Romans 1:26 – 32
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
The environmental movement has as its 1st declaration the Human rights issues, which have led to the LGBT rights. Is this not exactly the very thing Paul is writing about in Romans?
This is indeed something to consider as gay pride week is celebrated in cities the world over. This week it is Toronto. Next year in Toronto will be the World Pride week. Justin Trudeau who could very well be the Next Prime Minister of Canada also walked in this parade this weekend along with the Premier of Ontario, an openly lesbian woman.
The week of the Tornados in Oklahoma they too were having Gay Pride celebrations and even in Tel Aviv they now have Gay Pride week.
As we have noted this covenant comes to an end in 2020. Why does it end in 2020? We have been telling you for years now that the King of North, Germany also known in your bible as Assyria, will unite with the King of South, also known as the Islamic nations. See Psalm 83, and then ask yourself how many Islamic countries are hosting a Gay Pride Parade this week. There is one and it is Turkey. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_pride_parades for a list of the countries and cities hosting this lawless event.
Balaam could not curse Israel, and in order to get around not being able to curse them, he told Balak, King of Moab how to bring a curse upon Israel. Have Israel break the commandments of Yehovah.
We read of this in Revelation;
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.
This word used for fornication is G4203 porneu? porn-yoo’-o
From G4204; to act the harlot, that is, (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practise idolatry: – commit (fornication).
Israel has now committed this crime of Porno and indulged in unlawful lust idolarating the flesh. We shall show you how Israel and even those of you who read this News Letter take part in this shameful act by shameless people in the weeks to come.
That is how we ended last weeks News Letter; now we must go deeper into this subject and expose those of you that need to be exposed.
We are now going to look deeper into the act that Israel has done, which Balaam said to get us to do in order to have us destroyed.
We begin with Jude a book many of your read all the time.
Jud 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to the ones called in God the Father, having been set apart, and having been kept by Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. 3 Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men crept in secretly, those having been of old previously written into this condemnation, ungodly ones perverting the grace of our God for unbridled lust, and denying the only Master, God, even our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 But I intend to remind you, you once knowing these things, that the Lord having delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed the ones not believing. 6 And those angels not having kept their first place, but having deserted their dwelling-place, He has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of a great Day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, committing fornication, and going away after other flesh, laid down an example before-times, undergoing vengeance of everlasting fire. 8 Likewise, indeed, also these dreaming ones even defile flesh, and despise rulership, and speak evil of glories. 9 But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the Devil, he argued about the body of Moses, he dared not bring a judgment of blasphemy, but said, Let the Lord rebuke you! 10 But what things they do not know, they speak evil of. And what things they understand naturally, like the animals without reason, they are corrupted by these. 11 Woe to them! For they went the way of Cain, and gave themselves up to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah. 12 These are sunken rocks in your love feasts, feasting together with you; feeding themselves without fear; waterless clouds being carried about by winds; fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots; 13 wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames; wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept forever. 14 And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, also prophesied to these, saying, Behold, the Lord came with myriads of His saints, 15 to do judgment against all, and to rebuke all the ungodly of them concerning all their ungodly works which they ungodly did, and concerning all the hard things ungodly sinners spoke against Him. 16 These are murmurers, complainers, leading lives according to their lusts. And their mouth speaks proud things, admiring faces for the sake of gain. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 because they told you that at the last time there will be mockers according to their lusts, leading ungodly lives. 19 These are those setting themselves apart, animal-like ones, not having the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to everlasting life. 22 But pity some, making distinction. 23 But save others with fear, snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment having been stained from the flesh. 24 Now to Him being able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you before His glory without blemish, with unspeakable joy; 25 to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty and might and authority, even now and forever. Amen.
Jude is warning us from shortly after A.D. 70 to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. For certain men had crept in unawares! “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam” (Jude 11).
Who was Balaam? What was his terrible error? What does it have to do with us today?
Balaam’s error was so dangerous that it is mentioned three times in your New Testament! It is important for us to understand today so that we will not make the same mistake. But the reason I am writing this is because many of you have already made this mistake and continue to do so.
The book of Numbers devotes several chapters to the little-known account of Balaam. But, even after reading the account in Numbers, most people do not see the great and awful sin of Balaam.
The New Testament account condemns this man in most serious words. He was a man from Pethor, a city in Mesopotamia, located by the Euphrates River. This town was located about 350 miles north of Jericho. It was near the present border of Turkey. Since he lived in a Gentile land apart from Israel he was a Gentile. He had a gift of prophecy. On occasions Yehovah talked directly to Balaam.
By having such communication with Yehovah, he had knowledge of who Yehovah blessed and who He cursed. Therefore, he knew those nations on which Yehovah pronounced a curse were cursed, and those on which Yehovah pronounced blessings, were blessed.
He was a man of renown and of note all over the Middle East. Even the five kings of Midian knew about him.
The children of Israel had come out of Egypt about 40 years before Balaam is introduced into the Bible account. Yehovah had been with them, had performed stupendous miracles in protecting, guiding, and helping the children of Israel. These things were known by all the nations round about. Yehovah had given them victory over their enemies.
At the beginning of the story the children of Israel were encamped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan River near Jericho.
Balak, King of Moab, had seen what Israel had done to the great nation of the Amorites. As a result, he and his people were jealous and in great fear of Israel. They knew that if they started a war against Israel their nation would be completely destroyed — unless supernatural means were taken to rid them of Israel.
Balak knew of the fame of Balaam. He knew that “He whom you (Balaam) bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed” (Numbers 22:6 RSV). So Balak sent his emissaries to have Balaam come and curse Israel. After their journey of 350 miles to the north they explained their mission to Balaam.
Now notice what Balaam did! Instead of refusing to see them he invited the emissaries to stay for the night. In the meantime he would pray to Yehovah to see if he might get Yehovah to change His mind and curse Israel. Yehovah spoke to Balaam and Balaam explained the mission of the elders of Midian. “God said to Balaam, You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (Numbers 22:12 RSV).
In the morning Balaam told the princes to return to their own land since Yehovah ordered him not to go or to curse the children of Israel.
Balak was not satisfied with Balaam’s answer. He sent more princes to Balaam to entreat him once again to come and curse Israel. “Let nothing hinder you from coming to me; for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do; come, curse this people for me” (Numbers 22:17 RSV).
In response to this second appeal, Balaam again asked his guests to remain for the night while he sought Yehovah ‘s counsel. “And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, ‘If the men have come to call you, rise, go with the men but only what I bid you, that shall you do’ ” (Numbers 22:20).
Notice, Yehovah allowed Balaam to go. We will understand why in a moment!
The next morning Balaam arose and went with the princes of Moab on the long journey to the land of Moab. Along the way a remarkable thing occurred. An angel of the Lord appeared to the ass on which Balaam rode. At first Balaam could not see the angel, and struck the ass three times. Then, the ass was given the power of speech to speak to Balaam. Only after this was Balaam able to see the angel of the Lord and to see that he had almost been killed by the angel. The angel said, “Behold I come to withstand you, because your way is perverse before me” (Numbers 22:32).
Balaam acknowledged his sin (verse 34). But what was the sin?
Let us go back briefly. At the first visit of the Moabites Balaam asked Yehovah whether he should go and curse the children of Israel. Yehovah told him NO! Then the princes came again the second time. Balaam already had his answer from Yehovah. He knew what Yehovah ‘s will was. Yet, he was like an impudent child who wanted to have his own way. He did not take Yehovah ‘s Word the first time — he wanted Yehovah to change His mind. Therefore, as punishment, Yehovah let Balaam have his way by permitting him to go.
Sometimes Yehovah permits us to have our own way just as He did Balaam. However, our ways end up in death, just as Balaam’s was to end in death. When shown his error, Balaam did admit that he had sinned. He knew what he was doing! But this knowing disobedience is not the sin of Balaam that is recorded in the New Testament! We still have not seen what that great sin was!
Balaam went on to the city of Moab to meet Balak and said, “Lo I have come to you! Have I now any power at all to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth that must I speak” (Numbers 22:38).
Chapter 23 records the blessings concerning Israel that Yehovah revealed through Balaam. Balak was very distressed and angry. He asked Balaam to come a second time to a different place and curse Israel. Again, Balaam wanted Yehovah to change His mind, but Balaam again realized Yehovah had blessed Israel and would not change. Balaam was afraid to say anything else!
A third time Balak tried to get Balaam to speak against Israel (Chapter 24). Again Balaam blessed Israel. At the end of his prophecy about Israel he stated: “Blessed be everyone that blesses you (Israel) and cursed be everyone who curses you” (Numbers 24:9). This made Balak even more angry since he was trying to bring a curse upon Israel.
After this conversation Balaam again prophesied. This remarkable prophecy concerned the latter days, meaning our time today, and into the Millennium. He prophesied of Yehshua (verse 17), and showed that He would crush or destroy the very same people who were now trying to bring a curse upon Israel.
After this prophecy concerning Israel we read: “Balaam arose, and went back to his place; and Balak also went his way” (Numbers 24:25). But this is not the end of the story!
All scripture is given by inspiration of Yehovah and any particular scripture cannot be “privately” understood (II Peter 1:20). The Bible is written “here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10, 13).
In the message of Yehshua to the seven Churches, we find a special warning to the church at Pergamos. This church was not perfect before Yehovah.
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel” (Rev. 2:14). Yehovah told this church to repent (verse 16) or he would come and fight against the rebellious who held such doctrines. What was this doctrine of Balaam? Part of the answer is in this very verse. Notice, Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel. In other words Balaam taught Balak how to cause the children of Israel to curse themselves. Balaam knew that Israel was blessed if they continued to obey Yehovah. He also knew that if they would sin, they would come under a curse of sin. So Balaam cleverly told Balak how to cause Israel to bring curses upon themselves by sins!
What sin did Balaam teach Balak? “To eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (same verse).
This same account is also recorded in the book of Peter. Peter records that in apostolic days there were going to be false prophets just as in ancient times. These false prophets were sensual, lustful and beguiled unstable souls. They “have forsaken the right way, and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (II Peter 2:15).
This verse gives more information about the sin of Balaam. Balaam forsook the right way and loved the wages of unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is breaking Yehovah ‘s commandments (Psa. 119:172, Deut. 6:25).
Balaam showed Balak how to cause the people of Israel to disobey Yehovah ‘s commandments. The specific commandments that they disobeyed concerned idolatry and fornication. Now let’s see how this was done.
We read in Numbers 25 that Israel sinned with the women of Moab.
Num 25:1 And Israel lived in Shittim, and the people began to fornicate with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods. And the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself to Baal-peor. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel.
And the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab: The women of Moab, coming among the men of Israel, seduced them to both sexual sin and idolatry (and bowed down to their gods). The two were commonly connected in perverse forms of idol worship in the ancient world.
The religion of the Moabites was the worship of Chemosh (ke-mosh) who was the national deity of Moab. This god was honored with cruel and perverse practices including child sacrifices like those of Molech. The account on the Moabite Stone states that “the anger of Chemosh” is the reason for Israel’s subjugation of Moab.??Solomon made a fatal mistake of rearing an altar to Chemosh in Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7, and this abomination was not destroyed until almost 300 years later during the purge carried out by Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).
See our two articles “Are you Worshiping Molech or Just keeping Christmas” & “The Worship of Molech”
Israel was joined to Baal of Peor: Baal was the great Canaanite fertility god, and the worship of Baal was a constant enticement for the children of Israel. When you went to the temple you would be greeted by the women who were there for your sexual pleasures. This made coming to the temple for worship extremely enticing.
The anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel: Balak could never pay enough money to Balaam to make God curse Israel. In the previous chapter, Balaam tried to curse Israel and could not; but now, they are cursed because of their sin against the LORD. And it is no different today. We are lured towards sex everywhere we look. Everywhere. And when you go to this chart you can see that the USA is the number two nation in the world for abortions with 1.2 million abortions “PER YEAR” and Russia as the number one nation. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_abo-health-abortions
This was and still is the worship of Molech. On Dec 25th you would have a big drunken orgy and the giving of gifts. It was also the time when child sacrifices were made to him. The children were sacrificed alive by being placed on the hands of red-hot molten image of Molech and they would play the drums loud so as not to hear the children screaming.
This occurred 9 months after another pagan celebration to the god Ishtar. The god of fertility and they would also have female prostitutes with this worship. Today it is called Easter. The fertility part is now represented by the little bunny who reproduces so fast.
We learn later in the chapter that the anger of the LORD showed itself in a plague that began to strike down thousands among Israel, and seemed as if it would continue until the whole nation was consumed. What an enemy could never accomplish against Israel, Israel did to itself through disobedience. The same principle works against us today. The mightiest attack of Satan against us can never do as much damage as our own sin and rebellion against Yehovah.
“The sword of no stranger, the curse of no stranger had the power to damage Israel. Only it itself could bring misfortune, by seceding from God and his Law.” (Rabbi Hirsch, cited in Allen).
Essentially, after his failure to curse Israel, Balaam said to Balak: “I cannot curse these people. But you can get them to curse themselves through enticing them to rebel against their God. Send your prettiest girls among them, and tell them to entice the men of Israel to immorality and idolatry.” And it worked.
Balaam, through his wicked counsel to Balak, got what he wanted – but he also ended up dead among the enemies of God (Numbers 31:7-8). He only enjoyed his money for a short time.
Num 25:4 And Jehovah said to Moses, Take all the heads of the people and hang them up before Jehovah against the sun, so that the fierce anger of Jehovah may be turned away from Israel. 5 And Moses said to the judges of Israel, Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal-peor.
Take all the leaders and the people and hang the offenders before the LORD: Yehovah thought it important that the offenders be judged openly; this was not sin to keep hidden. Open sin had to be dealt with openly. And notice they were to be hung in public.
Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor: When sin such as this is tolerated or even approved in a culture, it is a sure sign of decay, and Moses wouldn’t accept that decay. He commanded the community to bring the offenders to be judged, to show they would not accept this kind of sin in their midst.
Num 25:6 And behold! One of the sons of Israel came and brought to his brothers a woman of Midian, before the eyes of Moses, and before all the congregation of the sons of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation and took a spear in his hand. 8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman, through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the sons of Israel. 9 And those that died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
Here you have one of the princes of Israel having sex with the Moabite women who was also a high ranking women of Moab, right in front of the Tabernacle as this was where Moses was meeting the men telling them this when this guy goes by showing off what he was about go to bed with. This event does not get too much more said of it here, but this episode in the life of Israel was extremely traumatic. Many of the people would leave after this incident. See our article about the 300 Spartans at https://sightedmoon.com/sightedmoon_2015/?page_id=571
Num 25:10 And Jehovah spoke to Moses saying, 11 Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned My wrath away from the sons of Israel while he was zealous for My sake among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. 12 Therefore say, Behold! I give him My covenant of peace. 13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the sons of Israel.
It wasn’t only Phinehas’ obedience Yehovah noticed. He was also noticed because he was zealous with My zeal among them. Phinehas was passionate about the things Yehovah was passionate about, and in this respect, he was a man after Yehovah’s own heart.
The Sin that Israel is involved in now as we are the last days is fornication. And as we showed you last week and again at the opening of this News letter fornication is another word for PORN.
Ladies and Gentlemen, My brethren, I am not about to give you some lily white Christian expose on the evils of pornography.
I have been involved in porn, I have been addicted to it. I have written to you about this a few times now. I know first hand about its attractions and about its lies and about how it can ruin you. I have had family members who were in the sex trade and who were involved in the making of smut films. Yes I said Smut films. There is little I have not done or been associated with.
So I am speaking as someone with experience and someone who has been there and someone who has to fight this urge all the time. Once you open padora’s box, you can never get it closed. But unless we all get this thing closed and put behind us, then we all are about suffer the wrath that is soon going to overtake our nations for the idolatry they all have towards sex. We are talking to both men and to women.
I have had sisters in the faith talk to me about their desires to have affairs. I have heard from wives about their husbands addiction to porn and how they are about to leave.
I am not a Pastor and I am not a psychologist, or psychiatrist or a doctor or any thing. All I am is a brother who has been there and understands and I am not here to judge you. But I am going to speak straight up and not beat around the bush. I will be frank and blunt and direct. And I am going to speak to both husband and wife.
A recent survey suggested that one in two evangelical men and one in five evangelical women are struggling with pornography. Other surveys bear out these proportions. This means that when you look out on your congregation on a Sunday morning, one in three people are struggling with pornography.
The chances are many of them think they’re the only ones who are struggling. They may think they’re disqualified from service by their sin, perhaps even from their own family. They hide their guilt, terrified of being exposed. Yet at the same time they may long to share their problem.
Or maybe they’ve told someone and were met by barely masked repulsion. Or maybe the person they told was sympathetic, but didn’t know how to bring hope to the situation or how to offer accountability.
We need to hear positive messages on sexuality because we all are called to follow Yehshua in a sex-saturated culture. It’s not just the proliferation of explicit images, but the slow drip feed of non-explicit material which nevertheless assumes sex outside of marriage is not only a norm, but a moral good.
We said above that Israel ate things sacrificed to Idols and then in the same sentence they committed fornication. Why is that? Have you ever really thought of it?
At its root porn is about worship. Your worship of the other sex. Your eyes continuously search for them and when you find them you stare. You ogle them and you may even undress them with your eyes and then carry them home in your mind and fanaticize about them later. Or you act those fanaticizes out by going to the strip club or whorehouse or by flirting with the pool boy or the secretary or the neighbor.
One of the most righteous men in the bible struggled with this same issue.
Job 31:1 I made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I look upon a virgin? 2 For what is the portion from God above? And what is the inheritance from the Almighty on high? 3 Is not disaster to the perverse, and calamity to the workers of iniquity?
The reason Job made this covenant with his eyes is because his eyes already had the habitual habit of looking at those attracting his eyes, otherwise he would not have to make such a decision. But because his own eyes would wander he had to do this to fix his own weakness.
Sex and porn is also about you being worshiped. About you having women draping all over you. You do not say it and you may never have thought of it but in your mind you are saying, “I want to be worshipped”. Yes you with that beer belly think you are a stud. Yes you, that old person who is all wrinkled up still consider yourself a ladies man. And you missy still want someone to turn their head and whistle at you and pursue you. Today they give this a sexy name and call you a cougar, someone who lets younger men be attracted to her. Those of you who think like this want others to worship YOU. You want them to stop worshiping Yehovah and to begin to worship you for your body. You are now acting like the women of Moab and or the men of Israel.
When we go online to look at women and porn sites we can click between women, all of whom are offering themselves to us. They are saying “I want you” or “you’re a mans man”. “You’re so handsome” and or “so muscular”. Go into any porn chat room or strip club and every lap dancer users these exact lines. They have never met such a handsome man or such an awesome hunk of man.
When you go to the hooker, what does she tell you? She will say to you that she can tell just by looking at you that you are a real stud sending women into an ecstasy of desire. And as soon as she is on you she begins to sound like she has reached that desired ecstasy in just a few moments, making you think “You’re the MAN”. It is a deception. Those selling sex are using your need to be worshiped in order to take your money. What they actually do think of you… is how much they hate you and how pathetic you are. Women in the industry loath those men coming to them for sex. I have this on first hand knowledge.
In the case of women you can think of yourself as the romantic heroine, relentlessly pursued by your admirer, whether that is one of the pin up firemen half dressed or the male stripper who is just ripped with muscles. And when he catches you, you swoon into his muscular arms to be carried off into the bed chamber where he performs your every fantasy.
In every case, in every situation you are entering a world in which people worship you. It is a world in which “I” am at the center. A world where you are the god or goddess and these people are worshiping you for your power over them.
And this is why Idolatry is almost the same as Adultery; it is the worship of the flesh of the opposite sex. In fact the Gay Life style is also the worship of the flesh. And while I am on it, if I am talking to any one here whom this subject matter is of concern, that is some one who is still stalking the bars and night clubs looking for sex or secretly looking at porn sites or reading romantic love stories, then you are the same as a LGBT person. That is you are no different than any Lesbian Gay By-sexual or Transgendered person. You all worship the flesh. You are no different. Your no different than the pedophile or the rapist; you all worship the flesh. Think about that the next time you get that urge to indulge in some sexual pleasures. You are no different.
Freedom begins when “I” stop trying to be at the center of attention and you begin to put Yehovah at the center. It begins when “I” stop serving myself and start loving other people by serving them.
Paul warns us: Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
That means we need to avoid talking about sex in a way that might titillate or provoke. But it doesn’t mean keeping silent. Our goal is to expose sin as sin; to show that sexual sin is idolatrous, that it is the worship of the human body.
James tells us in Jas 5:16 Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.
Why do this?
Because as long as you keep it a secret you do not have to be accountable to anyone and then you can keep on going back to the same peuk without any one knowing. But when you let some one know you are struggling in this then they can pray for you and you now have someone who is going to ask you have you been faithful with your eyes much like someone in “Alcoholics Anonymous”. Yes sex addiction is a disease so you need to treat it very similar to the 12 steps of AA.
As long as you keep it a secret, as long as you think you can over come this alone, as long was you keep it hidden and dread above all things for anyone to find out, as long as you do this then Satan has you in his control. Believe it or not it is not until you confess to someone you trust, who will hold you accountable and can talk with you when you need it, it is only when this is done that that control over you is broken.
Eph 5:5 For you know this, that no fornicator, or unclean person, or covetous one (who is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
The word fornicator is Whoremonger in the KJV and is a male prostitute. Or one who sells and enslaves. You could say a sex trafficker.
We have been talking about grace in recent News Letters. We are not here to point fingers and condemn you. You and you alone will do that before Yehovah if you do not change.
Grace is what Yehovah gives you “IF” you repent. “IF” you turn around and stop this course of action. It is not hopeless and it can be done and you will have relapses and set backs. But you can over come this disease. And yes it is a disease.
We all know the story of David and Bathsheba. To some, it is a story of judgment and condemnation. Others see it as a story of grace, restoration, and hope. For those willing to admit their sin and accept Yehovah’s judgment, grace, and restoration, it is both.
For those of us who have experienced moral failure, divorce, abortions or other such life experiences, it is a message of hope, healing, and restoration that reminds us that Yehovah’s agenda is not to crush sinners under his feet, but to heal them and restore their relationship with Him.
The story begins in 2 Samuel 11:1:
David didn’t set out to commit an insidious sin. People seldom do. At first inquiry, he didn’t know this woman’s identity or her marital status. By the time he learned that she was married, David had already let lust get its nasty little hooks into his heart, and his lustful desire outweighed his good sense and integrity. Unbridled lust can do that to a person — yes, even you, if you allow it to smolder long enough.
By this point, it’s apparent that David had no plans on a long-term affair — just a one-night sexual romp with a good-looking woman. She was just an object for him to get his pleasure from. Period.
As usual, sin had its consequences:
5 The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.”
David hadn’t planned on that possibility.
Just like you David was looking for sexual gratification. He did not have the Internet like you do to lust after. He did not have a strip club down the street or a red light district to go to and get his lust quotient filled. But he had the power to demand Bathsheba come to him.
Sex is powerful. It binds two people together in a deep and profound way. The two become one. It is a beautiful and precious thing. This is also why prostitutes see the same customer coming back time and time again.
But when this power for good is misused it becomes dangerously destructive. Sex gone bad causes intense hurt and shame. Many people in your fellowship will have sinned sexually—many before conversion, some after conversion. Still others, too, will have been sinned against. They will have had someone abuse their power over them and forced them to have sex or forced sex on them.
There is no condemnation for ex-porn users, ex-adulterers, ex-sexual fantasists ex-gay life stylers and ex-child sexual abusers, who are in Yehshua. This is not being soft on sin. It is grace for those EX sinners.
There is no condemnation. Churches are full of people desperately trying to self-atone for their lust, desperately trying to sort themselves out, desperately trying to prove they are good enough for Yehovah. They are not good enough. None of us are. You cannot be saved by works.
But for those who do not repent from these destructive desires and habits there is condemnation. You will pay and you will pay dearly.
None of us can break the bonds of sexual sin in our own strength. Many of us know that from personal experience. Rules, vows, software filters cannot do the job on their own. We need Yehovah. We need to come to him for help in our need. Confess to him and keep doing it as you struggle to break free of this. It is hard to do, but it can be done.
But you’ll not come to Yehovah if you think he’ll reject you or rebuke you or begrudge you. You’ll not come to Yehovah if you think of him as a stern judge, waiting to punish you. You’ll not come to Yehovah if you think that, while technically he forgives you because of the death of Yehshua, he does so reluctantly without rejoicing in you.
Let us go back to David.
2Sa 12:1 And Jehovah sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said to him, There were two men in one city, one rich and one poor. 2 The rich one had exceeding many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor one had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished up. And it grew up together with him and with his sons. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was to him like a daughter. 4 And there came a traveler to the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd to dress for the traveler that had come to him. But he took the poor man’s lamb and dressed it for the man who had come to him. 5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. And he said to Nathan, As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die. 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. 7 And Nathan said to David, You are the man! So says Jehovah, the God of Israel, I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if that was too little, I would have given to you such and such things besides. 9 Why have you despised the Word of Jehovah, to do evil in His sight? You have stricken Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. 10 And therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 So says Jehovah, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house, and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor. And he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun. 13 And David said to Nathan, I have sinned against Jehovah. And Nathan said to David, Jehovah also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
Stop here and consider what Nathan just said to David, the very man that Yehovah says was after His own heart. David a man after Yehovah’s own heart. Stop and consider this fact. Yehovah was about to have David Killed!!!!
When I realized that, it had a very sobering effect on me. I was in WWCG at the time. Fairly new and I was a drunkard. I had just tried to hustle this waitress a few nights before and I passed out in the restaurant in a bowl of spaghetti in which I had thrown up. I had spaghetti and peuk all over my face and hair. Oh yes I was a mans man for sure.
The next Sabbath this was the message about David almost being killed by Yehovah that I heard. I could not believe it. Yehovah was speaking to me through that minister that day. I was about to be killed. He had called me and was teaching me at that time. For what I had no idea. And yet if I did not change I was going to be killed and another would replace me. Now consider this for yourself. How many chances do you have left?
2Sa 12:14 Only, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme, this child born to you shall surely die. 15 And Nathan left to go to his house. And Jehovah struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it was very sick.
You who are looking at Porn or going to the strip clubs or fantasizing about that guy or that women, you who now look at your spouse as a sex object that is only there to pleasure you. Yehovah is about to kill you. Think about it.
Yehovah has called you for a purpose, and you keep going back to this well of death and diving in. Your purpose at this time is to share His invitation to the wedding, but because of your continued sins this message is not going out and your light is dead or almost dead and your testimony is a waste of time.
As we have been showing you with the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles we have very few years left to get this job done. Then comes the sword to our lands. It begins in 2017 and climaxes in 2020. Unless you begin the process of cleaning yourself up and I mean you begin now you will be killed in this coming war and someone else will have your seat at the wedding that you have been invited to attend. Think about it when you flip on the screen to watch the next porn session or to get your self-gratification from the exposure of another human being. As you worship the flesh once again and cause hurt towards Yehovah.
Notice what Yehovah said back in Lev.
Lev 26:40 If they shall confess their wilfulness and the wilfulness of their fathers, with their sin which they sinned against Me, and that also they have walked contrary to Me, 41 I also will walk contrary to them and will bring them into the land of their enemies. If then their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they then pay for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham I will remember. And I will remember the land. 43 The land also shall be forsaken by them, and shall enjoy its sabbaths, while it lies waste without them. And they shall accept the punishment of their iniquities; because, even because they despised My judgments, and because their soul hated My statutes. 44 And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I hate them, to destroy them utterly and to break My covenant with them. For I am Jehovah their God. 45 But for their sakes, I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, so that I might be their God. I am Jehovah.
“IF” you repent of your ways, Yehovah will save you. You will have to pay the penalty as it says right there in Lev 26:41 If then their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they then pay for their iniquity, “IF” you pay for your sins and it says in verse 43 And they shall accept the punishment of their iniquities. “IF” you repent.
There is a price to be paid for your sins. If you accept it and the punishment then “THEN” I will not cast them away, neither will I hate them, to destroy them utterly and to break My covenant with them.
When David repented, Yehovah did not kill him. But the penalty for his sins was that the child would die. And ….
2Sa 12:10 And therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 So says Jehovah, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house, and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor. And he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.
Think about this when you go to the strip club for just one beer. Think about this when you begin to flirt with others or allow them to flirt with you.
Yehshua told us it begins in the mind.
You have screwed up just like David. He repented and is going to be King over Israel during he 7th millennium. Moses screwed up and killed a man. You are not toast yet but unless you change now you soon could be.
Now let me address the women who are offended that their husbands are looking at the porn site. Some of you will not forgive them and then you hold out on giving them sex as punishment. You’re mad and upset and you’re right for being so.
Mat 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times? 22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of Heaven has been compared to a certain king who desired to make an accounting with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to count, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he had nothing to pay, his lord commanded that he, and his wife and children, and all that he had, be sold, and payment be made. 26 Then the servant fell down and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me and I will pay you all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. And he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. 29 And his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, Have patience with me and I will pay you all. 30 And he would not, but went and cast him into prison until he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were very sorry. And they came and told their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after he had called him, said to him, O wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have pitied your fellow servant, even as I had pity on you? 34 And his lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 So likewise shall My heavenly Father do also to you, unless each one of you from your hearts forgive his brother their trespasses.
If you as a spouse can’t forgive the one you are suppose to love then you will not be forgiven the sins you have committed. If your hate is so great that you are not going to sit down and work these things out with your spouse then we will not see you in the kingdom either. Read this passage again only now put your name in place of the servant who was forgiven their debts but would not forgive other theirs. GO and READ Mathew 18 and understand; you too must learn to forgive. You who have been hurt by your cheating husband or cheating wife; YOU who was abused and hurt, YOU who was raped or sexually abused as a child by a stranger or by your own father. YOU MUST Forgive!
There are no “ya butts” in this section of Mathew.
If you can’t forgive, you will not be forgiven.
You might want to read “Confessions of a sex Addict” which I wrote before I started this web site.
If you are not wearing the white robes of righteousness then you will be thrown out of the wedding we are to be at.
I was counseling a woman one time about her desire to leave her husband and pursue those who were giving her the desired attention she craved. Many of you will not agree with me on this and you have the freedom and the right not to, and you can continue to do things as you have. AS Dr. Phil says “How’s that working for you?”.
Another couple dealing with porn admitted to me that the wife was a bombshell of a woman. “Curves and looks to die for” and yet the husband was still addicted to porn. Why? Part of the answer they found in the article I just mentioned above; and addiction to porn no matter how good the wife looks.
The other part is what follows. In both the cases I have just mentioned there was one common problem. The women did not respect the husband and made sure he knew it.
It is the same problem that almost all women have and they are sure they do not have it.
Men need and crave to be respected. We demand it of each other and when that does not happen it usually results in a fight. When women do not respect their men, those same men will go and seek those women who do express respect towards them. And by treating them with disrespect in their home the strong desire they need to be respected sometimes lead them to the red light district. I am not justifying the actions of the men, but for some of you who have problem relationships, you women keep pointing at the husband when in fact you are the problem. You will not respect your man.
Many of you are right now saying there is no way in hell I am going to respect that man. He has to earn that and right now he is so far in the gutter he will never get my respect. IN fact all men are creeps and you hate them. Am I describing you?
Go ahead and continue to live like this. “How’s that working for you?”
One reason men go to hookers and strip clubs and online porn sites is because they get there what they are not getting at home or not getting enough of and that is RESPECT plain and simple.
The women at these places know how to treat the men with respect even though it is all a charade. They know the men love to be made to feel like they are men and how they lap it up and this is exactly what these places offer. Yes it is offering sex, but it is just one part of the package. The “respect” even if faked is what most men need and desire and when they do not get it at home they seek it out somewhere else. And it is lavished on them at the whorehouse and strip bars. It is in truth what keeps them coming back for more.
I know some of you are going to write and tare a strip off of me. Don’t bother. Instead sit down and talk to your husband and ask him about the respect you give him. Listen to what he says. And when he is talking shut your mouths and listen. If you keep interrupting then he will shut up out of respect for you.
This is what men do. Instead of fighting with you and saying something we will regret we shut up and go to our man cave where ever that is. Sometimes it is the local bar where “miss easy love” is waiting with a caring ear and the respect your spouse needs. So listen and stop talking and stop driving your husbands away.
If you begin to respect your husband then he may just begin to pursue you, which is what you want. It is also what he wants. When you were dating he pursued you, remember, yes that is when you respected him and thought he could do nothing wrong, remember. When you respected him and adored him and he pursued you, that was when you were last happy.
I gave this advice to one woman who was not being loved at home. She then was seeking affairs to fill her need to be loved. When I told her this she did not want to do it or believe it. But she was conflicted with what to do. So she tried to respect her husband. It was not easy after having both parties destroy the relationship over 30 + years. She did keep trying and later after a number of months wrote to let me know they were dating each other again and how she liked this man again. Why, because she began to give him the respect he needed, and he after a while responded and began to give her the love she needed.
Is it easy, No not at all. It is work. What took 30 years to destroy will not be fixed after trying for one week. SO do not give up on this after two weeks or after a few months. Make it something you do from now on no matter what.
Now read this verse in Ephesians 5
Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
The men are commanded to love their wives. Why is this; because men do not know how to love. But also note that the women are commanded to reverence their men. That word reverence is also to be in “awe of”. That is to respect your husband. Again why is this commanded, because women do not know how to do this.
And if your about to fire off a hate letter to me, then know as I already do that you do not know how to respect men, and because of this many of your husbands seek that respect in the form of porn and from the women who work the sex trade.
Make sure you do not leave this article with this false impression. I am not saying that when men go looking for sex it is the fault of the wife. No No No. That is what Adam did when he sinned, he tried to blame Eve for his trouble.
Men you have to man up here or your not going to be in the Kingdom. You have to sit down and explain to your wife and help her to understand what respect is as they do not get it. And even after that conversation they will forget it. Our society today teaches them not to respect men. They think of you as homer simpson a complete jerk and idiot. So you will need to do it again and again if you want to have any peace in your home and in your mind.
Two time I gave this subject to two different groups of people and each time a lady began to sob out loud uncontrollably. When I asked what was wrong they both said how they had disrespected their spouse for so many years and only now could see it. And right their they asked the spouse to forgive them.
Finding sex outside the home in our age today is easy to access and is sometimes done to spite the other spouse. It is much easier to love a wife who adores you and it is much easier to come straight home after work to someone who respects you. Men you have to explain why your are drawn to sexy women. Why you shut up in an argument. And women you have to listen. Other wise your man will die for the sins they keep doing.
Summing this whole thing up.
Satan is out to get you destroyed by having you sin against the commandments of Yehovah. By getting you to worship the flesh of your own body and that of the opposite sex. He has made it legitimate for anything goes through the UN Charter or covenant on the Environment and Human rights which is then expanded to no holds barred for the gay life style. It is only in muslim countries this “freedom” does not exist.
The women’s rights movement has made men out to be idiots and not to be respected. And when that idea is brought into the home sparks fly and you don’t know why. Just look at the last argument you had. Did it result because of your lack of respect towards him? Did he stop loving you for some unknown mysterious reason?
You can forgive your dog or cat for peeing on the rug, but you can’t forgive your spouse. You are no better than that servant who would not forgive the debts of the other people who owed him much less than he had owed. You have been forgiven a huge debt in your own sins. It is now time for you to forgive others theirs. And then begin to fix this relationship now today and not put it off until tomorrow. Are you going to? Do you have the stamina to make it work no matter how long it takes?
There is nothing said here about respecting them “IF’ or “WHEN” they change. You are commanded to respect them unconditionally. And by doing so you could very well safe their souls
1Pe 3:1 Likewise, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, so that if any do not obey the Word, they may also be won without the Word by the conduct of the wives, 2 having witnessed your chaste behavior in the fear of God.
The word here for subjection makes women mad. Change it for Respect.
I have said this before and do so now once again. To see if what I am saying works or not. Women go up to your husband and say this with all meaning; tell them how much you respect them for something they did lately. Then shut your mouths and leave the room. After a few minutes they will come and find you for some reason but in truth they want more of that respect thing you just did to them. If you keep doing this you can ask him for anything and he will give it to you. Try it and see if his attentions do not turn to you continuously as long as you treat him with respect.
Most people consider the teaching in Mathew 5 about some person down the road that you crossed paths with and had a tiff. I am telling you that your prayers are being hindered because of your hurts with your spouse that you do not and will not fix. And some of you just want to run away and leave.
Mat 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be liable to the judgment. And whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the sanhedrin; but whoever shall say, Fool! shall be liable to be thrown into the fire of hell. 23 Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in the way with him; that the opponent not deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out from there until you have paid the last kodrantes.
1). Sin hinders Prayer:
Many men cry to God in vain, because of their sins.
“Search me `O’ God, and know my heart try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me. (Ps 139:23,24).
The Psalmist knew that prayer could be hindered by sin and so he made the above statement. Sin is an awful thing and one of the most appalling things about it is the way it hinders prayer. It breaks the communication link between us and the Father, the source of all grace. Sin creates a barrier. It just blocks our connection to God.
Anyone who would have power in prayer must be ruthless in dealing with his own sins. The Psalmist says in Ps 66:18 that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”. As long as we have sin in our hearts, the Lord will not hear us. The word of God clearly indicates this in Pro 28:9: “He that turneth his ears from hearing the law even his prayer shall be an abomination”. Not obeying the word of the Lord is sin, for the word of the Lord is the law of the Almighty.
God has made a provision of His grace to all His children. The Bible says that if we confess our sins to God, He is both faithful and just to forgive us. We have a High priest who is interceding for us at the Father’s right hand. Beloved, the grace of God is provided for you and I to enable us have a right standing in the presence of our God.
Let us, therefore stop any little sin and any forms of disobedience and obey the word of God completely. For if there is any sin or any form of disobedience it will prevent us from having communion with our Lord and Saviour. “I beseech you therefore by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” and by His grace…”sin shall not have dominion over you for ye are not under the law but under grace”. (Rom 12:1, Rom 6:14).
Finally, it is good to know that the arms of the Lord are not shortened that He cannot save neither are His ears deaf that He cannot hear but it is our sins that separate us from Him. (Isa 59:1,2). Therefore let us cast away all sins and disobedience and live in truth and purity before our Lord.
2). Idols in the heart hinder prayer:
In times past, God has refused to listen to the prayers of many saints because of idols in their hearts. What is an idol really? An idol is anything that takes the place of God, anything that is the supreme object of our affections. God alone should be entitled to have the supreme place in our hearts. Everything and everyone else must be subordinate to him. The Apostle John when writing his first general epistle said “Little children keep yourselves from idols”(1 John 5:21).
Idols are easily created by human beings, we make idols of our life partners, of our jobs, of our homes, our reputation, of our achievements, of our faith; we make idols of a whole range of things. Not that all the above mentioned things are evil in themselves, rather it is our deposing God of His rightful place with these things that is evil. It is the will of the Lord that we achieve great things in this life. He wills for us to be happy, to have a family, to have a good job, to have great faith; but He wants to be the central theme of our lives.
The great question we must ask ourselves is: Who has first place in my life? We must also ask ourselves, is the Lord fully glorified in my life? We are alive because He gave us life we should appreciate the gift of life and most of all we must appreciate the giver of life, our Father God. When the Lord is not first in our lives prayer becomes more of a burden than a fellowship. Prayer ought to be sweet and bring great pleasure to our souls as we approach His throne of Grace. Let the Lord be first in your life and your life would take on new meaning and your prayers shall be unhindered.
3). Stinginess hinders prayer:
The lack of liberality towards the poor and the work of God is a mark of stinginess. It is he who gives generously to others, that the Lord will give generously to. The Lord loves to lavish His blessings on His children but there are conditions. Let us look at Luke 6:38 says ” Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure pressed, down shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
If a person gives generously then we know that he shall receive bountifully from the hands of his Maker as a result of His prayer. The stingy man definitely would not receive answers to his prayers. For as a man sows so shall he reap. Prayer has a link to giving which is this, what you give, how you give it, would, according to, scripture (Rom 12:8, 2 Cor 9:5-15) determine what you receive from the Lord.
There are a lot of ways by which we can prove to be stingy. For some of us it is with our time, others money, others personal belongings or other things. If we always remember that the Lord gave all we have to us then we can be more liberal in the use of these things. Freely have we received therefore freely must we give? Let us give God our time, our money and above all ourselves. Giving ourselves to Him also means giving ourselves to one another. Beloved let us love one another love gives. If you love then give.
4). An unforgiving Spirit will hinder prayer:
This is one of the most usual hindrances to prayer. The bible is very clear on this issue. It says countlessly that we must forgive one another. To bear a grudge against another is a fast way of closing the ears of the Almighty. How many are they that cry out to the Lord for the conversion of a loved one and yet they cry in vain? It is impossible to pray for a person you have something against. Prayer ought to flow out of the river of love in your heart. For the love of God is shed aboard in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. (Rom 5:5). If you love then you can forgive, God loved you and I and He forgave us all our trespasses. Our prayers will not be answered as long as we bear grudges in our heart, we must forgive. When we look at the Lord’s prayer we would see, the prayer that the Lord taught us is a prayer of commitment, if we don’t forgive we shall not be forgiven. Matt 6:12.
“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”
Looking at this carefully one can draw the conclusion that if we don’t forgive; we shall not be forgiven. To some this is bad news to other this is sweet to the ears. It should be good news to your ears, beloved forgive and your sins shall be forgiven you. Cast away all grudges then the Lord shall be unto you as “He that answereth prayer”. To have an unforgiving spirit is to hate, let us ask the Lord to help us forgive and ask Him to give you a heart to ceaselessly forgive others. Only by the grace of God can we forgive let therefore draw near to Him for grace in the time of need.
Triennial Torah Cycle
We continue this weekend with our regular Triennial Torah Reading Cycle
Deut 26 2 Chron 9-11 Revelation 1-3
“Look Down…and Bless Your People” (Deuteronomy 26)
God here gives some final instructions, closing with the saving of the third tithe for the poor. Those who have obeyed God and been careful with all He has commanded are entitled by Him to ask of Him a special blessing. Had Israel been careful in obeying God, He would have poured out blessings upon blessings on the ancient nation. They would have become a special people—a treasured nation to God. Yet Israel failed to live up to God’s condition of obedience.
In modern times, national Israel has been greatly blessed because of God’s unconditional promises to Abraham, but not nearly to the degree it would be if it humbled itself in sincere obedience to God. And sadly, Israel’s wrong choices will soon plunge it into the depths of curses, as the next chapters of Deuteronomy lay out.
Yet God is fulfilling His greatest promises in and through the new spiritual Israel, His New Testament Church, the members of which He has chosen to ultimately be His special people. As God’s spiritual people learn to obey Him with ever-growing care, they increasingly receive more and greater blessings from Him.
As Deuteronomy winds to a close, it is clear that God is looking toward the future—to the time when there will be people who do obey Him and deeply treasure the gifts He gives.
Egypt Attacks Judah (2 Chronicles 12; 1 Kings 14:21-31)
As we saw earlier, Solomon likely married the daughter of Pharaoh as the seal of an alliance between Israel and Egypt. But we also saw that Egypt’s sheltering of Jeroboam probably indicated the end of that alliance. With the division of Israel and Judah, the little realm of Rehoboam became a tempting target for Egyptian expansion.
Despite his weakened position, Rehoboam foolishly departed from the Lord, and this within five years of assuming the throne. As a consequence, the protecting hand of God was withdrawn from Judah and the cruel hand of Egypt was stretched out against Rehoboam. The Egyptians undertook a massive assault against Judah and the prophet Shemaiah clearly explained the cause. Fortunately Rehoboam and Judah repented, saying, “The LORD is righteous” (2 Chronicles 12:6), thereby confessing they deserved punishment for their idolatry.
God saw this repentance and decided to lighten—not remove—the punishment. As a consequence, Judah became a vassal state of Egypt, and Pharaoh Shishak took all the treasures in the king’s house and the temple. “He took everything,” states the Scripture (verse 9). It is interesting to note that the Ark of the Covenant was apparently not taken, however, because it was in the possession of the Levites in Josiah’s reign (2 Chronicles 35:3).
Rehoboam ended his days after a 17-year reign. Tragically, most of his reign was wasted as a petty vassal king, dominated by Egypt, without much power, and constantly engaged in border skirmishes with Israel to the north. The Scripture closes its history of Rehoboam by noting that “he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the LORD” (12:14). What a pity—so much tragedy could have been avoided had he only devoted himself to seeking God.
Revelation Chapter 1
This chapter is a general preface to the whole book, and contains,
An inscription, declaring the original and the design of it (v. 1, 2).
The apostolic benediction pronounced on all those who shall pay a due regard to the contents of this book (v. 3-8).
A glorious vision or appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ to the apostle John, when he delivered to him this revelation (v. 9 to the end).
Verses 1-2 Here we have,
I. What we may call the pedigree of this book.
1. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The whole Bible is so; for all revelation comes through Christ and all centres in him; and especially in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son, and concerning his Son. Christ, as the king of his church, has been pleased thus far to let his church know by what rules and methods he will proceed in his government; and, as the prophet of the church, he has made known to us the things that shall be hereafter.
2. It is a revelation which God gave unto Christ. Though Christ is himself God, and as such has light and life in himself, yet, as he sustains the office of Mediator between God and man, he receives his instructions from the Father. The human nature of Christ, though endowed with the greatest sagacity, judgment, and penetration, could not, in a way of reason, discover these great events, which not being produced by natural causes, but wholly depending upon the will of God, could be the object only of divine prescience, and must come to a created mind only by revelation. Our Lord Jesus is the great trustee of divine revelation; it is to him that we owe the knowledge we have of what we are to expect from God and what he expects from us.
3. This revelation Christ sent and signified by his angel. Observe here the admirable order of divine revelation. God gave it to Christ, and Christ employed an angel to communicate it to the churches. The angels are God’s messengers; they are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. They are Christ’s servants: principalities and powers are subject to him; all the angels of God are obliged to worship him.
4. The angels signified it to the apostle John. As the angels are the messengers of Christ, the ministers are the messengers of the churches; what they receive from heaven, they are to communicate to the churches. John was the apostle chosen for this service. Some think he was the only one surviving, the rest having sealed their testimony with their blood. This was to be the last book of divine revelation; and therefore notified to the church by the last of the apostles. John was the beloved disciple. He was, under the New Testament, as the prophet Daniel under the Old, a man greatly beloved. He was the servant of Christ; he was an apostle, an evangelist, and a prophet; he served Christ in all the three extraordinary offices of the church. James was an apostle, but not a prophet, nor an evangelist; Matthew was an apostle and evangelist, but not a prophet; Luke was an evangelist, but neither a prophet nor an apostle; but John was all three; and so Christ calls him in an eminent sense his servant John.
5. John was to deliver this revelation to the church, to all his servants. For the revelation was not designed for the use of Christ’s extraordinary servants the ministers only, but for all his servants, the members of the church; they have all a right to the oracles of God, and all have their concern in them.
II. Here we have the subject-matter of this revelation, namely, the things that must shortly come to pass. The evangelists give us an account of the things that are past; prophecy gives us an account of things to come. These future events are shown, not in the clearest light in which God could have set them, but in such a light as he saw most proper, and which would best answer his wise and holy purposes. Had they been as clearly foretold in all their circumstances as God could have revealed them, the prediction might have prevented the accomplishment; but they are foretold more darkly, to beget in us a veneration for the scripture, and to engage our attention and excite our enquiry. We have in this revelation a general idea of the methods of divine providence and government in and about the church, and many good lessons may be learned hereby. These events (it is said) were such as should come to pass not only surely, but shortly; that is, they would begin to come to pass very shortly, and the whole would be accomplished in a short time. For now the last ages of the world had come.
III. Here is an attestation of the prophecy, v. 2. It was signified to John, who bore record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. It is observable that the historical books of the Old Testament have not always the name of the historian prefixed to them, as in the books of Judges, Kings, Chronicles; but in the prophetical books the name is always prefixed, as Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. So in the New Testament, though John did not prefix his name to his first epistle, yet he does to this prophecy, as ready to vouch and answer for the truth of it; and he gives us not only his name, but his office. He was one who bore record of the word of God in general, and of the testimony of Jesus in particular, and of all things that he saw; he was an eye-witness, and he concealed nothing that he saw. Nothing recorded in this revelation was his own invention or imagination; but all was the record of God and the testimony of Jesus; and, as he added nothing to it, so he kept back no part of the counsels of God.
Verses 3-8 We have here an apostolic benediction on those who should give a due regard to this divine revelation; and this benediction is given more generally and more especially.
I. More generally, to all who either read or hear the words of the prophecy. This blessing seems to be pronounced with a design to encourage us to study this book, and not be weary of looking into it upon account of the obscurity of many things in it; it will repay the labour of the careful and attentive reader. Observe,
1. It is a blessed privilege to enjoy the oracles of God. This was one of the principal advantages the Jews had above the Gentiles.?2. It is a blessed thing to study the scriptures; those are well employed who search the scriptures.?3. It is a privilege not only to read the scriptures ourselves, but to hear them read by others, who are qualified to give us the sense of what they read and to lead us into an understanding of them.?4. It is not sufficient to our blessedness that we read and hear the scriptures, but we must keep the things that are written; we must keep them in our memories, in our minds, in our affections, and in practice, and we shall be blessed in the deed.?5. The nearer we come to the accomplishment of the scriptures, the greater regard we shall give to them. The time is at hand, and we should be so much the more attentive as we see the day approaching.
II. The apostolic benediction is pronounced more especially and particularly to the seven Asian churches, v. 4. These seven churches are named in v. 11, and distinct messages sent to each of them respectively in the chapters following. The apostolic blessing is more expressly directed to these because they were nearest to him, who was now in the isle of Patmos, and perhaps he had the peculiar care of them, and superintendency over them, not excluding any of the rest of the apostles, if any of them were now living. Here observe,
1. What the blessing is which he pronounces on all the faithful in these churches: Grace and peace, holiness and comfort. Grace, that is, the good-will of God towards us and his good work in us; and peace, that is, the sweet evidence and assurance of this grace. There can be no true peace where there is not true grace; and, where grace goes before, peace will follow.?2. Whence this blessing is to come. In whose name does the apostle bless the churches? In the name of God, of the whole Trinity; for this is an act of adoration, and God only is the proper object of it; his ministers must bless the people in no name but his alone. And here,
(1.) The Father is first named: God the Father, which may be taken either essentially, for God as God, or personally, for the first person in the ever-blessed Trinity, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and he is described as the Jehovah who is, and who was, and who is to come, eternal, unchangeable, the same to the Old-Testament church which was, and to the New-Testament church which is, and who will be the same to the church triumphant which is to come.?(2.) The Holy Spirit, called the seven spirits, not seven in number, nor in nature, but the infinite perfect Spirit of God, in whom there is a diversity of gifts and operations. He is before the throne; for, as God made, so he governs, all things by his Spirit.?(3.) The Lord Jesus Christ. He mentions him after the Spirit, because he intended to enlarge more upon the person of Christ, as God manifested in the flesh, whom he had seen dwelling on earth before, and now saw again in a glorious form. Observe the particular account we have here of Christ, v. 5.
[1.] He is the faithful witness; he was from eternity a witness to all the counsels of God (Jn. 1:18), and he was in time a faithful witness to the revealed will of God, who has now spoken to us by his Son; upon his testimony we may safely depend, for he is a faithful witness, cannot be deceived and cannot deceive us.?[2.] He is the first-begotten or first-born from the dead, or the first parent and head of the resurrection, the only one who raised himself by his own power, and who will by the same power raise up his people from their graves to everlasting honour; for he has begotten them again to a lively hope by his resurrection from the dead.?[3.] He is the prince of the kings of the earth; from him they have their authority; by him their power is limited and their wrath restrained; by him their counsels are over-ruled, and to him they are accountable. This is good news to the church, and it is good evidence of the Godhead of Christ, who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
[4.] He is the great friend of his church and people, one who has done great things for them, and this out of pure disinterested affection. He has loved them, and, in pursuance of that everlasting love, he has, First, Washed them from their sins in his own blood. Sins leave a stain upon the soul, a stain of guilt and of pollution. Nothing can fetch out this stain but the blood of Christ; and, rather than it should not be washed out, Christ was willing to shed his own blood, to purchase pardon and purity for them. Secondly, He has made them kings and priests to God and his Father. Having justified and sanctified them, he makes them kings to his Father; that is, in his Father’s account, with his approbation, and for his glory. As kings, they govern their own spirits, conquer Satan, have power and prevalency with God in prayer, and shall judge the world. He hath made them priests, given them access to God, enabled them to enter into the holiest and to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices, and has given them an unction suitable to this character; and for these high honours and favours they are bound to ascribe to him dominion and glory for ever.?[5.] He will be the Judge of the world: Behold, he cometh, and every eye shall see him, v. 7. This book, the Revelation, begins and ends with a prediction of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should set ourselves to meditate frequently upon the second coming of Christ, and keep it in the eye of our faith and expectation. John speaks as if he saw that day: “Behold, he cometh, as sure as if you beheld him with your eyes. He cometh with clouds, which are his chariot and pavilion. He will come publicly: Every eye shall see him, the eye of his people, the eye of his enemies, every eye, yours and mine.’’ He shall come, to the terror of those who have pierced him and have not repented and of all who have wounded and crucified him afresh by their apostasy from him, and to the astonishment of the pagan world. For he comes to take vengeance on those who know not God, as well as on those that obey not the gospel of Christ.
[6.] This account of Christ is ratified and confirmed by himself, v. 8. Here our Lord Jesus justly challenges the same honour and power that is ascribed to the Father, v. 4. He is the beginning and the end; all things are from him and for him; he is the Almighty; he is the same eternal and unchangeable one. And surely whoever presumes to blot out one character of this name of Christ deserves to have his name blotted out of the book of life. Those that honour him he will honour; but those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed.
Verses 9-20 We have now come to that glorious vision which the apostle had of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he came to deliver this revelation to him, where observe,
I. The account given of the person who was favoured with this vision. He describes himself,
1. By his present state and condition. He was the brother and companion of these churches in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Christ. He was, at their time, as the rest of true Christians were, a persecuted man, banished, and perhaps imprisoned, for his adherence to Christ. He was their brother, though an apostle; he seems to value himself upon his relation to the church, rather than his authority in it: Judas Iscariot may be an apostle, but not a brother in the family of God. He was their companion: the children of God should choose communion and society with each other. He was their companion in tribulation: the persecuted servants of God did not suffer alone, the same trials are accomplished in others. He was their companion in patience, not only a sharer with them in suffering circumstances, but in suffering graces: if we have the patience of the saints, we should not grudge to meet with their trials. He was their brother and companion in the patience of the kingdom of Christ, a sufferer for Christ’s cause, for asserting his kingly power over the church and the world, and for adhering to it against all who would usurp upon it. By this account he gives of his present state, he acknowledges his engagements to sympathize with them, and to endeavour to give them counsel and comfort, and bespeaks their more careful attention to what he had to say to them from Christ their common Lord.
2. By the place where he was when he was favoured with this vision: he was in the isle Patmos. He does not say who banished him thither. It becomes Christians to speak sparingly and modestly of their own sufferings. Patmos is said to be an island in the Aegean Sea, One of those called Cyclades, and was about thirty-five miles in compass; but under this confinement it was the apostle’s comfort that he did not suffer as an evil-doer, but that it was for the testimony of Jesus, for bearing witness to Christ as the Immanuel, the Saviour. This was a cause worth suffering for; and the Spirit of glory and of God rested upon this persecuted apostle.?3. The day and time in which he had this vision: it was the Lord’s day, the day which Christ had separated and set apart for himself, as the eucharist is called the Lord’s supper. Surely this can be no other than the Christian sabbath, the first day of the week, to be observed in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ. Let us who call him our Lord honour him on his own day, the day which the Lord hath made and in which we ought to rejoice.
4. The frame that his soul was in at this time: He was in the Spirit. He was not only in a rapture when he received the vision, but before he received it; he was in a serious, heavenly, spiritual frame, under the blessed gracious influences of the Spirit of God. God usually prepares the souls of his people for uncommon manifestations of himself, by the quickening sanctifying influences of his good Spirit. Those who would enjoy communion with God on the Lord’s day must endeavour to abstract their thoughts and affections from flesh and fleshly things, and be wholly taken up with things of a spiritual nature.
II. The apostle gives an account of what he heard when thus in the Spirit. An alarm was given as with the sound of a trumpet, and then he heard a voice, the voice of Christ applying to himself the character before given, the first and the last, and commanding the apostle to commit to writing the things that were now to be revealed to him, and to send it immediately to the seven Asian churches, whose names are mentioned. Thus our Lord Jesus, the captain of our salvation, gave the apostle notice of his glorious appearance, as with the sound of a trumpet.
III. We have also an account of what he saw. He turned to see the voice, whose it was and whence it came; and then a wonderful scene of vision opened itself to him.
1. He saw a representation of the church under the emblem of seven golden candlesticks, as it is explained in the last verse of the chapter. The churches are compared to candlesticks, because they hold forth the light of the gospel to advantage. The churches are not candles: Christ only is our light, and his gospel our lamp; but they receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks, for they should be precious and pure, comparable to fine gold; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches ought to be such; their light should so shine before men as to engage others to give glory to God.
2. He saw a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of the golden candlesticks; for he has promised to be with his churches always to the end of the world, filling them with light, and life, and love, for he is the very animating informing soul of the church. And here we observe,
(1.) The glorious form in which Christ appeared in several particulars.
[1.] He was clothed with a garment down to the foot, a princely and priestly robe, denoting righteousness and honour.?[2.] He was girt about with a golden girdle, the breast-plate of the high priest, on which the names of his people are engraven; he was ready girt to do all the work of a Redeemer.?[3.] His head and hairs were white like wool or snow. He was the Ancient of days; his hoary head was no sign of decay, but was indeed a crown of glory.?[4.] His eyes were as a flame of fire, piercing and penetrating into the very hearts and reins of men, scattering terrors among his adversaries.?[5.] His feet were like unto fine burning brass, strong and stedfast, supporting his own interest, subduing his enemies, treading them to powder.?[6.] His voice was as the sound of many waters, of many rivers falling in together. He can and will make himself heard to those who are afar off as well as to those who are near. His gospel is a profluent and mighty stream, fed by the upper springs of infinite wisdom and knowledge.?[7.] He had in his right hand seven stars, that is, the ministers of the seven churches, who are under his direction, have all their light and influence from him, and are secured and preserved by him.?[8.] Out of his mouth went a two-edged sword, his word, which both wounds and heals, strikes at sin on the right hand and on the left,?[9.] His countenance was as the sun shining, its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold.
(2.) The impression this appearance of Christ made upon the apostle John (v. 17): He fell at the feet of Christ as dead; he was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared, though he had been so familiar with him before. How well is it for us that God speaks to us by men like ourselves, whose terrors shall not make us afraid, for none can see the face of God and live!?(3.) The condescending goodness of the Lord Jesus to his disciple: He laid his hand upon him, v. 17. He raised him up; he did not plead against him with his great power, but he put strength into him, he spoke kind words to him.
[1.] Words of comfort and encouragement: Fear not. He commanded away the slavish fears of his disciple.?[2.] Words of instruction, telling him particularly who he was that thus appeared to him. And here he acquaints him, First, with his divine nature: The first and the last. Secondly, With his former sufferings: I was dead; the very same that his disciples saw upon the cross dying for the sins of men. Thirdly, With his resurrection and life: “I live, and am alive for evermore, have conquered death and opened the grave, and am partaker of an endless life.’’ Fourthly, With his office and authority: I have the keys of hell and of death, a sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world, opening and none can shut, shutting so that none can open, opening the gates of death when he pleases and the gates of the eternal world, of happiness or misery, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there lies no appeal. Fifthly, With his will and pleasure: Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and which shall be hereafter. Sixthly, With the meaning of the seven stars, that they are the ministers of the churches; and of the seven candlesticks, that they are the seven churches, to whom Christ would now send by him particular and proper messages.
The apostle John, having in the foregoing chapter written the things which he had seen, now proceeds to write the things that are, according to the command of God (ch. 1:19), that is, the present state of the seven churches of Asia, with which he had a particular acquaintance, and for which he had a tender concern. He was directed to write to every one of them according to their present state and circumstances, and to inscribe every letter to the angel of that church, to the minister or rather ministry of that church, called angels because they are the messengers of God to mankind. In this chapter we have,
The message sent to Ephesus (v. 1-7).
To Smyrna (v. 8?11).
To Pergamos (v. 12?17).
To Thyatira (v. 18, etc.).
Verses 1-7 We have here,
I. The inscription, where observe,
1. To whom the first of these epistles is directed: To the church of Ephesus, a famous church planted by the apostle Paul (Acts 19), and afterwards watered and governed by John, who had his residence very much there. We can hardly think that Timothy was the angel, or sole pastor and bishop, of this church at this time,—that he who was of a very excellent spirit, and naturally cared for the good state of the souls of the people, should become so remiss as to deserve the rebukes given to the ministry of this church. Observe,?2. From whom this epistle to Ephesus was sent; and here we have one of those titles that were given to Christ in his appearance to John in the chapter foregoing: He that holds the seven stars in his right hand, and walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, ch. 1:13, 16. This title consists of two parts:—
(1.) He that holds the stars in his right hand. The ministers of Christ are under his special care and protection. It is the honour of God that he knows the number of the stars, calls them by their names, binds the sweet influences of Pleiades and looses the bands of Orion; and it is the honour of the Lord Jesus Christ that the ministers of the gospel, who are greater blessings to the church than the stars are to the world, are in his hand. He directs all their motions; he disposes of them into their several orbs; he fills them with light and influence; he supports them, or else they would soon be falling stars; they are instruments in his hand, and all the good they do is done by his hand with them.?(2.) He walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks. This intimates his relation to his churches, as the other his relation to his ministers. Christ is in an intimate manner present and conversant with his churches; he knows and observes their state; he takes pleasure in them, as a man does to walk in his garden. Though Christ is in heaven, he walks in the midst of his churches on earth, observing what is amiss in them and what it is that they want. This is a great encouragement to those who have the care of the churches, that the Lord Jesus has graven them upon the palms of his hands.
II. The contents of the epistle, in which, as in most of those that follow, we have,
1. The commendation Christ gave this church, ministers and members, which he always brings in by declaring that he knows their works, and therefore both his commendation and reprehension are to be strictly regarded; for he does not in either speak at a venture: he knows what he says. Now the church of Ephesus is commended,
(1.) For their diligence in duty: I know thy works, and thy labour, v. 2. This may more immediately relate to the ministry of this church, which had been laborious and diligent. Dignity calls for duty. Those that are stars in Christ’s hand had need to be always in motion, dispensing light to all about them. For my name’s sake thou hast laboured, and hast not fainted, v. 3. Christ keeps an account of every day’s work, and every hour’s work, his servants do for him, and their labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.?(2.) For their patience in suffering: Thy labour and thy patience, v. 2. It is not enough that we be diligent, but we must be patient, and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. Ministers must have and exercise great patience, and no Christian can be without it. There must be bearing patience, to endure the injuries of men and the rebukes of Providence; and there must be waiting patience, that, when they have done the will of God, they may receive the promise:
Thou hast borne, and hast patience, v. 3. We shall meet with such difficulties in our way and work as require patience to go on and finish well.?(3.) For their zeal against what was evil: Thou canst not bear those that are evil, v. 2. It consists very well with Christian patience not to dispense with sin, much less allow it; though we must show all meekness to men, yet we must show a just zeal against their sins. This their zeal was the more to be commended because it was according to knowledge, a discreet zeal upon a previous trial made of the pretences, practices, and tenets of evil men: Thou hast tried those that say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars. True zeal proceeds with discretion; none should be cast off till they be tried. Some had risen up in this church that pretended to be not ordinary ministers, but apostles; and their pretensions had been examined but found to be vain and false. Those that impartially search after truth may come to the knowledge of it.
2. The rebuke given to this church: Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, v. 4. Those that have much good in them may have something much amiss in them, and our Lord Jesus, as an impartial Master and Judge, takes notice of both; though he first observes what is good, and is most ready to mention this, yet he also observes what is amiss, and will faithfully reprove them for it. The sin that Christ charged this church with was their decay and declension in holy love and zeal: Thou hast left thy first love; not left and forsaken the object of it, but lost the fervent degree of it that at first appeared. Observe,
(1.) The first affections of men towards Christ, and holiness, and heaven, are usually lively and warm. God remembered the love of Israel’s espousals, when she would follow him withersoever he went.?(2.) These lively affections will abate and cool if great care be not taken, and diligence used, to preserve them in constant exercise.?(3.) Christ is grieved and displeased with his people when he sees them grow remiss and cold towards him, and he will one way or other make them sensible that he does not take it well from them.
3. The advice and counsel given them from Christ: Remember therefore whence thou hast fallen, and repent, etc.
(1.) Those that have lost their first love must remember whence they have fallen; they must compare their present with their former state, and consider how much better it was with them then than now, how much peace, strength, purity, and pleasure they have lost, by leaving their first love,—how much more comfortably they could lie down and sleep at night,—how much more cheerfully they could awake in the morning,—how much better they could bear afflictions, and how much more becomingly they could enjoy the favours of Providence,—how much easier the thoughts of death were to them, and how much stronger their desires and hopes of heaven.?(2.) They must repent. They must be inwardly grieved and ashamed for their sinful declension; they must blame themselves, and shame themselves, for it, and humbly confess it in the sight of God, and judge and condemn themselves for it.?(3.) They must return and do their first works. They must as it were begin again, go back step by step, till they come to the place where they took the first false step; they must endeavour to revive and recover their first zeal, tenderness, and seriousness, and must pray as earnestly, and watch as diligently, as they did when they first set out in the ways of God.
4. This good advice is enforced and urged,
(1.) By a severe threatening, if it should be neglected: I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of its place. If the presence of Christ’s grace and Spirit be slighted, we may expect the presence of his displeasure. He will come in a way of judgment, and that suddenly and surprisingly, upon impenitent churches and sinners; he will unchurch them, take away his gospel, his ministers, and his ordinances from them, and what will the churches or the angels of the churches do when the gospel is removed??(2.) By an encouraging mention that is made of what was yet good among them: This thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate, v. 6. “Though thou hast declined in thy love to what is good, yet thou retainest thy hatred to what is evil, especially to what is grossly so.’’ The Nicolaitans were a loose sect who sheltered themselves under the name of Christianity. They held hateful doctrines, and they were guilty of hateful deeds, hateful to Christ and to all true Christians; and it is mentioned to the praise of the church of Ephesus that they had a just zeal and abhorrence of those wicked doctrines and practices. An indifference of spirit between truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not pleasing to Christ. Our Saviour subjoins this kind commendation to his severe threatening, to make the advice more effectual.
III. We have the conclusion of this epistle, in which, as in those that follow, we have,
1. A call to attention: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Observe,
(1.) What is written in the scriptures is spoken by the Spirit of God.?(2.) What is said to one church concerns all the churches, in every place and age.?(3.) We can never employ our faculty of hearing better than in hearkening to the word of God: and we deserve to lose it if we do not employ it to this purpose. Those who will not hear the call of God now will wish at length they had never had a capacity of hearing any thing at all.
2. A promise of great mercy to those who overcome. The Christian life is a warfare against sin, Satan, the world, and the flesh. It is not enough that we engage in this warfare, but we must pursue it to the end, we must never yield to our spiritual enemies, but fight the good fight, till we gain the victory, as all persevering Christians shall do; and the warfare and victory shall have a glorious triumph and reward. That which is here promised to the victors is that they shall eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God. They shall have that perfection of holiness, and that confirmation therein, which Adam would have had if he had gone well through the course of his trial: he would then have eaten of the tree of life which was in the midst of paradise, and this would have been the sacrament of confirmation to him in his holy and happy state; so all who persevere in their Christian trial and warfare shall derive from Christ, as the tree of life, perfection and confirmation in holiness and happiness in the paradise of God; not in the earthly paradise, but the heavenly, ch. 22:1, 2.
Verses 8-11 We now proceed to the second epistle sent to another of the Asian churches, where, as before, observe,
I. The preface or inscription in both parts.
1. The superscription, telling us to whom it was more expressly and immediately directed: To the angel of the church in Smyrna, a place well known at this day by our merchants, a city of great trade and wealth, perhaps the only city of all the seven that is still known by the same name, now however no longer distinguished for its Christian church being overrun by Mahomedism.?2. The subscription, containing another of the glorious titles of our Lord Jesus, the first and the last, he that was dead and is alive, taken out of ch. 1:17, 18.
(1.) Jesus Christ is the first and the last. It is but a little scantling of time that is allowed to us in this world, but our Redeemer is the first and the last. He is the first, for by him all things were made, and he was before all things with God and was God himself. he is the last, for all things are made for him, and he will be the Judge of all. This surely is the title of God, from everlasting and to everlasting, and it is the title of one that is an unchangeable Mediator between God and man, Jesus, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He was the first, for by him the foundation of the church was laid in the patriarchal state; and he is the last, for by him the top-stone will be brought forth and laid in the end of time.?(2.) He was dead and is alive. He was dead, and died for our sins; he is alive, for he rose again for our justification, and he ever lives to make intercession for us. He was dead, and by dying purchased salvation for us; he is alive, and by his life applies this salvation to us. And if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled by his death, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. His death we commemorate every sacrament day; his resurrection and life every sabbath day.
II. The subject-matter of this epistle to Smyrna, where, after the common declaration of Christ’s omniscience, and the perfect cognizance he has of all the works of men and especially of his churches, he takes notice,
1. Of the improvement they had made in their spiritual state. This comes in in a short parentheses; yet it is very emphatic: But thou art rich (v. 10), poor in temporals, but rich in spirituals—poor in spirit, and yet rich in grace. Their spiritual riches are set off by their outward poverty. Many who are rich in temporals are poor in spirituals. Thus it was with the church of Laodicea. Some who are poor outwardly are inwardly rich, rich in faith and in good works, rich in privileges, rich in bonds and deeds of gift, rich in hope, rich in reversion. Spiritual riches are usually the reward of great diligence; the diligent hand makes rich. Where there is spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be better borne; and when God’s people are impoverished in temporals, for the sake of Christ and a good conscience, he makes all up to them in spiritual riches, which are much more satisfying and enduring.?2. Of their sufferings: I know thy tribulation and thy poverty —the persecution they underwent, even to the spoiling of their goods. Those who will be faithful to Christ must expect to go through many tribulations; but Jesus Christ takes particular notice of all their troubles. In all their afflictions, he is afflicted, and he will recompense tribulation to those who trouble them, but to those that are troubled rest with himself.?3. He knows the wickedness and the falsehood of their enemies: I know the blasphemy of those that say they are Jews, but are not; that is, of those who pretend to be the only peculiar covenant-people of God, as the Jews boasted themselves to be, even after God had rejected them; or of those who would be setting up the Jewish rites and ceremonies, which were now not only antiquated, but abrogated; these may say that they only are the church of God in the world, when indeed they are the synagogue of Satan. Observe,
(1.) As Christ has a church in the world, the spiritual Israel of God, so the devil has his synagogue. Those assemblies which are set up in opposition to the truths of the gospel, and which promote and propagate damnable errors,—those which are set up in opposition to the purity and spirituality of gospel worship, and which promote and propagate the vain inventions of men and rites and ceremonies which never entered into the thoughts of God,—these are all synagogues of Satan: he presides over them, he works in them, his interests are served by them, and he receives a horrid homage and honour from them.?(2.) For the synagogues of Satan to give themselves out to be the church or Israel of God is no less than blasphemy. God is greatly dishonoured when his name is made use of to promote and patronize the interests of Satan; and he has a high resentment of this blasphemy, and will take a just revenge on those who persist in it. 4. He foreknows the future trials of his people, and forewarns them of them, and fore-arms them against them.?(1.) He forewarns them of future trials: The devil shall cast some of you into prison, and you shall have tribulation, v. 10. The people of God must look for a series and succession of troubles in this world, and their troubles usually rise higher. They had been impoverished by their tribulations before; now they must be imprisoned. Observe, It is the devil that stirs up his instruments, wicked men, to persecute the people of God; tyrants and persecutors are the devil’s tools, though they gratify their own sinful malignity, and know not that they are actuated by a diabolical malice.?(2.) Christ fore-arms them against these approaching troubles,
[1.] By his counsel: Fear none of these things. This is not only a word of command, but of efficacy, no, only forbidding slavish fear, but subduing it and furnishing the soul with strength and courage.?[2.] By showing them how their sufferings would be alleviated and limited. First, They should not be universal. It would be some of them, not all, who should be cast into prison, those who were best able to bear it and might expect to be visited and comforted by the rest. Secondly, They were not to be perpetual, but for a set time, and a short time: Ten days. It should not be everlasting tribulation, the time should be shortened for the elect’s sake. Thirdly, It should be to try them, not to destroy them, that their faith, and patience, and courage, might be proved and improved, and be found to honour and glory.?[3.] By proposing and promising a glorious reward to their fidelity: Be thou faithful to death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Observe, First, The sureness of the reward: I will give thee. He has said it that is able to do it; and he has undertaken that he will do it. They shall have the reward from his own hand, and none of their enemies shall be able to wrest it out of his hand, or to pull it from their heads. Secondly, The suitableness of it. 1. A crown, to reward their poverty, their fidelity, and their conflict. 2. A crown of life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, who are faithful till they die, and who part with life itself in fidelity to Christ. The life so worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with another and a much better life that shall be eternal.
III. The conclusion of this message, and that, as before,
1. With a call to universal attention, that all men, all the world, should hear what passes between Christ and his churches-how he commends them, how he comforts them, how he reproves their failures, how he rewards their fidelity. It concerns all the inhabitants of the world to observe God’s dealings with his own people; all the world may learn instruction and wisdom thereby.?2. With a gracious promise to the conquering Christian: He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death, v. 11. Observe,
(1.) There is not only a first, but a second death, a death after the body is dead.?(2.) This second death is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in the dying pangs and agonies of it (which are the agonies of the soul, without any mixture of support) and in the duration; it is eternal death, dying the death, to die and to be always dying. This is hurtful indeed, fatally hurtful, to all who fall under it.?(3.) From this hurtful, this destructive death, Christ will save all his faithful servants; the second death shall have no power over those who are partakers of the first resurrection: the first death shall not hurt them, and the second death shall have no power over them.
Verses 12-17 Here also we are to consider,
I. The inscription of this message.
1. To whom it was sent: To the angel of the church of Pergamos. Whether this was a city raised up out of the ruins of old Troy, a Troy nouveau (as our London was once called), or some other city of the same name, is neither certain nor material; it was a place where Christ had called and constituted a gospel church, by the preaching of the gospel and the grace of his Spirit making the word effectual.?2. Who it was that sent this message to Pergamos: the same Jesus who here describes himself as one that hath the sharp sword with two edges (ch. 1:16), out of whose mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. Some have observed that, in the several titles of Christ which are prefixed to the several epistles, there is something suited to the state of those churches; as in that to Ephesus, what could be more proper to awaken and recover a drowsy and declining church than to hear Christ speaking as one that held the stars in his hand, and walked in the midst of the golden candlesticks? etc. The church of Pergamos was infested with men of corrupt minds, who did what they could to corrupt both the faith and manners of the church; and Christ, being resolved to fight against them by the sword of his word, takes the title of him that hath the sharp sword with two edges.
(1.) The word of God is a sword; it is a weapon both offensive and defensive, it is, in the hand of God, able to slay both sin and sinners.?(2.) It is a sharp sword. No heart is so hard but it is able to cut it; it can divide asunder between the soul and the spirit, that is, between the soul and those sinful habits that by custom have become another soul, or seem to be essential to it.?(3.) It is a sword with two edges; it turns and cuts every way. There is the edge of the law against the transgressors of that dispensation, and the edge of the gospel against the despisers of that dispensation; there is an edge to make a wound, and an edge to open a festered wound in order to its healing. There is no escaping the edge of this sword: if you turn aside to the right hand, it has an edge on that side; if on the left hand, you fall upon the edge of the sword on that side; it turns every way.
II. From the inscription we proceed to the contents of the epistle, in which the method is much the same as is observed in the rest. Here,
1. Christ takes notice of the trials and difficulties this church encountered with: I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, etc., v. 13. The works of God’s servants are best known when the circumstances under which they did those works are duly considered. Now that which added very much lustre to the good works of this church was the circumstance of the place where this church was planted, a place where Satan’s seat was. As our great Lord takes notice of all the advantages and opportunities we have for duty in the places where we dwell, so he takes notice of all the temptations and discouragements we meet with from the places where we dwell, and makes gracious allowances for them. This people dwelt where Satan’s seat was, where he kept his court. His circuit is throughout the world, his seat is in some places that are infamous for wickedness, error, and cruelty. Some think that the Roman governor in this city was a most violent enemy to the Christians; and the seat of persecution is Satan’s seat.?2. He commends their stedfastness: Thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith. These two expressions are much the same in sense; the former may, however, signify the effect and the latter the cause or means.
(1.) “Thou holdest fast my name; thou art not ashamed of thy relation to me, but accountest it thine honour that my name is named on thee, that, as the wife bears the name of the husband, so thou art called by my name; this thou holdest fast, as thine honour and privilege.’’?(2.) “That which has made thee thus faithful is the grace of faith: thou hast not denied the great doctrines of the gospel, nor departed from the Christian faith, and by that means thou hast been kept faithful.’’ Our faith will have a great influence upon our faithfulness. Men who deny the faith of Christ may boast very much of their sincerity, and faithfulness to God and conscience; but it has been seldom known that those who let go the true faith retained their fidelity; usually on that rock on which men make shipwreck of their faith they make shipwreck of a good conscience too. And here our blessed Lord aggrandizes the fidelity of this church from the circumstance of the times, as well as of the place where they lived: they had been stedfast even in those days wherein Antipas his faithful martyr was slain among them. Who this person was, and whether there be anything mysterious in his name, we have no certain account. He was a faithful disciple of Christ, he suffered martyrdom for it, and sealed his faith and fidelity with his blood in the place where Satan dwelt; and though the rest of the believers there knew this, and saw it, yet they were not discouraged nor drawn away from their stedfastness: this is mentioned as an addition to their honour.
3. He reproves them for their sinful failures (v. 14): But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there those that hold the doctrine of Balaam, etc., and those that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. There were some who taught that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and that simple fornication was no sin; they, by an impure worship, drew men into impure practices, as Balaam did the Israelites. Observe,
(1.) The filthiness of the spirit and the filthiness of the flesh often go together. Corrupt doctrines and a corrupt worship often lead to a corrupt conversation.?(2.) It is very lawful to fix the name of the leaders of any heresy upon those who follow them. It is the shortest way of telling whom we mean.?(3.) To continue in communion with persons of corrupt principles and practices is displeasing to God, draws a guilt and blemish upon the whole society: they become partakers of other men’s sins. Though the church, as such, has no power to punish the persons of men, either for heresy or immorality, with corporal penalties, yet it has power to exclude them from its communion; and, if it do not so, Christ, the head and lawgiver of the church, will be displeased with it.
4. He calls them to repentance: Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, etc., v. 16. Observe here,
(1.) Repentance is the duty of saints as well as sinners; it is a gospel duty.?(2.) It is the duty of churches and communities as well as particular persons; those who sin together should repent together.?(3.) It is the duty of Christian societies to repent of other men’s sins, as far as they have been accessory to them, though but so much as by connivance.?(4.) When God comes to punish the corrupt members of a church, he rebukes that church itself for allowing such to continue in its communion, and some drops of the storm fall upon the whole society.?(5.) No sword cuts so deep, nor inflicts so mortal a wound, as the sword of Christ’s mouth. Let but the threatenings of the word be set home upon the conscience of a sinner, and he will soon be a terror to himself; let these threatenings be executed, and the sinner is utterly cut off. The word of God will take hold of sinners, sooner or later, either for their conviction or their confusion.
III. We have the conclusion of this epistle, where, after the usual demand of universal attention, there is the promise of great favour to those that overcome. They shall eat of the hidden manna, and have the new name, and the white stone, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it, v. 17.
1. The hidden manna, the influences and comforts of the Spirit of Christ in communion with him, coming down from heaven into the soul, from time to time, for its support, to let it taste something how saints and angels live in heaven. This is hidden from the rest of the world— a stranger intermeddles not with this joy; and it is laid up in Christ, the ark of the covenant, in the holy of holies.?2. The white stone, with a new name engraven upon it. This white stone is absolution from the guilt of sin, alluding to the ancient custom of giving a white stone to those acquitted on trial and a black stone to those condemned. The new name is the name of adoption: adopted persons took the name of the family into which they were adopted. None can read the evidence of a man’s adoption but himself; he cannot always read it, but if he persevere he shall have both the evidence of sonship and the inheritance.
Verses 18-29 The form of each epistle is very much the same; and in this, as the rest, we have to consider the inscription, contents, and conclusion.
I. The inscription, telling us,
1. To whom it is directed: To the angel of the church of Thyatira, a city of the proconsular Asia, bordering upon Mysia on the north and Lydia on the south, a town of trade, whence came the woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, who, being at Philippi in Macedonia, probably about the business of her calling, heard Paul preach there, and God opened her heart, that she attended to the things that were spoken, and believed, and was baptized, and entertained Paul and Silas there. Whether it was by her means that the gospel was brought into her own city, Thyatira, is not certain; but that it was there, and successful to the forming of a gospel church, this epistle assures us.?2. By whom it was sent: by the Son of God, who is here described as having eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like as fine brass. His general title is here, the Son of God, that is, the eternal and only-begotten Son of God, which denotes that he has the same nature with the Father, but with a distinct and subordinate manner of subsistence. The description we have here of him is in two characters:—
(1.) That his eyes are like a flame of fire, signifying his piercing, penetrating, perfect knowledge, a thorough insight into all persons and all things, one who searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men (v. 23), and will make all the churches to know he does so.?(2.) That his feet are like fine brass, that the outgoings of his providence are steady, awful, and all pure and holy. As he judges with perfect wisdom, so he acts with perfect strength and steadiness.
II. The contents or subject-matter of this epistle, which, as the rest, includes,
1. The honourable character and commendation Christ gives of this church, ministry, and people; and this given by one who was no stranger to them, but well acquainted with them and with the principles from which they acted. Now in this church Christ makes honourable mention,
(1.) Of their charity, either more general, a disposition to do good to all men, or more special, to the household of faith: there is no religion where there is no charity.?(2.) Their service, their ministration; this respects chiefly the officers of the church, who had laboured in the word and doctrine.?(3.) Their faith, which was the grace that actuated all the rest, both their charity and their service.?(4.) Their patience; for those that are most charitable to others, most diligent in their places, and most faithful, must yet expect to meet with that which will exercise their patience.?(5.) Their growing fruitfulness: their last works were better than the first. This is an excellent character; when others had left their first love, and lost their first zeal, these were growing wiser and better. It should be the ambition and earnest desire of all Christians that their last works may be their best works, that they may be better and better every day, and best at last.
2. A faithful reproof for what was amiss. This is not so directly charged upon the church itself as upon some wicked seducers who were among them; the church’s fault was that she connived too much at them.
(1.) These wicked seducers were compared to Jezebel, and called by her name. Jezebel was a persecutor of the prophets of the Lord, and a great patroness of idolaters and false prophets. The sin of these seducers was that they attempted to draw the servants of God into fornication, and to offer sacrifices to idols; they called themselves prophets, and so would claim a superior authority and regard to the ministers of the church. Two things aggravated the sin of these seducers, who, being one in their spirit and design, are spoken of as one person:—
[1.] They made use of the name of God to oppose the truth of his doctrine and worship; this very much aggravated their sin.?[2.] They abused the patience of God to harden themselves in their wickedness. God gave them space for repentance, but they repented not. Observe, First, Repentance is necessary to prevent a sinner’s ruin. Secondly, Repentance requires time, a course of time, and time convenient; it is a great work, and a work of time. Thirdly, Where God gives space for repentance, he expects fruits meet for repentance. Fourthly, Where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction.
(2.) Now why should the wickedness of this Jezebel be charged upon the church of Thyatira? Because that church suffered her to seduce the people of that city. But how could the church help it? They had not, as a church, civil power to banish or imprison her; but they had ministerial power to censure and to excommunicate her: and it is probable that neglecting to use the power they had made them sharers in her sin.
3. The punishment of this seducer, this Jezebel, v. 22, 23, in which is couched a prediction of the fall of Babylon.
(1.) I will cast her into a bed, into a bed of pain, not of pleasure, into a bed of flames; and those who have sinned with her shall suffer with her; but this may yet be prevented by their repentance.?(2.) I will kill her children with death; that is, the second death, which does the work effectually, and leaves no hope of future life, no resurrection for those that are killed by the second death, but only to shame and everlasting contempt.
4. The design of Christ in the destruction of these wicked seducers, and this was the instruction of others, especially of his churches: All the churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and the hearts; and I will give to every one of you according to your works. God is known by the judgments that he executes; and, by this revenge taken upon seducers, he would make known,
(1.) His infallible knowledge of the hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper, their formality, their indifference, their secret inclinations to symbolize with idolaters.?(2.) His impartial justice, in giving every one according to his work, that the name of Christians should be no protection, their churches should be no sanctuaries for sin and sinners.
5. The encouragement given to those who keep themselves pure and undefiled: But to you I say, and unto the rest, etc., v. 24. Observe,
(1.) What these seducers called their doctrines— depths, profound mysteries, amusing the people, and endeavouring to persuade them that they had a deeper insight into religion than their own ministers had attained to.?(2.) What Christ called them— depths of Satan, Satanical delusions and devices, diabolical mysteries; for there is a mystery of iniquity, as well and the great mystery of godliness. It is a dangerous thing to despise the mystery of God, and it is as dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan.?(3.) How tender Christ is of his faithful servants: “I will lay upon you no other burden; but that which you have already hold fast till I come, v. 24, 25. I will not overburden your faith with any new mysteries, nor your consciences with any new laws. I only require your attention to what you have received. Hold that fast till I come, and I desire no more.’’ Christ is coming to put an end to all the temptations of his people; and, if they hold fast faith and a good conscience till he come, all the difficulty and danger will be over.
III. We now come to the conclusion of this message, v. 26,29. Here we have,
1. The promise of an ample reward to the persevering victorious believer, in two parts:—
(1.) Very great power and dominion over the rest of the world: Power over the nations, which may refer either to the time when the empire should turn Christian, and the world be under the government of the Christian emperor, as in Constantine’s time; or to the other world, when believers shall sit down with Christ on his throne of judgment, and join with him in trying, and condemning, and consigning over to punishment the enemies of Christ and the church. The upright shall have dominion in the morning.?(2.) Knowledge and wisdom, suitable to such power and dominion: I will give him the morning-star. Christ is the morning-star. He brings day with him into the soul, the light of grace and of glory; and he will give his people that perfection of light and wisdom which is requisite to the state of dignity and dominion that they shall have in the morning of the resurrection.
2. This epistle ends with the usual demand of attention: He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. In the foregoing epistles, this demand of attention comes before the concluding promise; but in this, and all that follow, it comes after, and tells us that we should all attend to the promises as well as to the precepts that Christ delivers to the churches.
Here we have three more of the epistles of Christ to the churches:
I. To Sardis (v. 1-6).
To Philadelphia (v. 7?13).
To Laodicea (v. 14 to the end).
Verses 1-6 Here is,
I. The preface, showing,
1. To whom this letter is directed: To the angel of the church of Sardis, an ancient city of Lydia, on the banks of the mountain Tmolus, said to have been the chief city of Asia the Less, and the first city in that part of the world that was converted by the preaching of John; and, some say, the first that revolted from Christianity, and one of the first that was laid in its ruins, in which it still lies, without any church or ministry.?2. By whom this message was sent—the Lord Jesus, who here assumes the character of him that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars, taken out of ch. 1:4, where the seven spirits are said to be before the throne.?(1.) He hath the seven spirits, that is, the Holy Spirit with his various powers, graces, and operations; for he is personally one, though efficaciously various, and may be said here to be seven, which is the number of the churches, and of the angels of the churches, to show that to every minister, and to every church, there is a dispensation and measure of the Spirit given for them to profit withal—a stock of spiritual influence for that minister and church to improve, both for enlargement and continuance, which measure of the Spirit is not ordinarily withdrawn from them, till they forfeit it by misimprovement. Churches have their spiritual stock and fund, as well as particular believers; and, this epistle being sent to a languishing ministry and church, they are very fitly put in mind that Christ has the seven spirits, the Spirit without measure and in perfection, to whom they may apply themselves for the reviving of his work among them.?(2.) He hath the seven stars, the angels of the churches; they are disposed of by him, and accountable to him, which should make them faithful and zealous. He has ministers to employ, and spiritual influences to communicate to his ministers for the good of his church. The Holy Spirit usually works by the ministry, and the ministry will be of no efficacy without the Spirit; the same divine hand holds them both.
II. The body of this epistle. There is this observable in it, that whereas in the other epistles Christ begins with commending what is good in the churches, and then proceeds to tell them what is amiss, in this (and in the epistle to Laodicea) he begins,
1. With a reproof, and a very severe one: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Hypocrisy, and a lamentable decay in religion, are the sins charged upon this church, by one who knew her well, and all her works.
(1.) This church had gained a great reputation; it had a name, and a very honourable one, for a flourishing church, a name for vital lively religion, for purity of doctrine, unity among themselves, uniformity in worship, decency, and order. We read not of any unhappy divisions among themselves. Every thing appeared well, as to what falls under the observation of men.?(2.) This church was not really what it was reputed to be. They had a name to live, but they were dead; there was a form of godliness, but not the power, a name to live, but not a principle of life. If there was not a total privation of life, yet there was a great deadness in their souls and in their services, a great deadness in the spirits of their ministers, and a great deadness in their ministrations, in their praying, in their preaching, in their converse, and a great deadness in the people in hearing, in prayer, and in conversation; what little life was yet left among them was, in a manner, expiring, ready to die.
2. Our Lord proceeds to give this degenerate church the best advice: Be watchful, and strengthen the things, etc., v. 2.
(1.) He advises them to be upon their watch. The cause of their sinful deadness and declension was that they had let down their watch. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground, and therefore must return to our watchfulness against sin, and Satan, and whatever is destructive to the life and power of godliness.?(2.) To strengthen the things that remain, and that are ready to die. Some understand this of persons; there were some few who had retained their integrity, but they were in danger of declining with the rest. It is a difficult thing to keep up to the life and power of godliness ourselves, when we see a universal deadness and declension prevailing round about us. Or it may be understood of practices, as it follows: I have not found thy works perfect before God, not filled up; there is something wanting in them; there is the shell, but not the kernel; there is the carcase, but not the soul—the shadow, but not the substance. The inward thing is wanting, thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God; there are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions. Now when the spirit is wanting the form cannot long subsist.?(3.) To recollect themselves, and remember how they have received and heard (v. 3); not only to remember what they had received and heard, what messages they had received from God, what tokens of his mercy and favour towards them, what sermons they had heard, but how they had received and heard, what impressions the mercies of God had made upon their souls at first, what affections they felt working under their word and ordinances, the love of their espousals, the kindness of their youth, how welcome the gospel and the grace of God were to them when they first received them. Where is the blessedness they then spoke of??(4.) To hold fast what they had received, that they might not lose all, and repent sincerely that they had lost so much of the life of religion, and had run the risk of losing all.
3. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening in case it should be despised: I will come unto thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know the hour, v. 3. Observe,
(1.) When Christ leaves a people as to his gracious presence, he comes to them in judgment; and his judicial presence will be very dreadful to those who have sinned away his gracious presence.?(2.) His judicial approach to a dead declining people will be surprising; their deadness will keep them in security, and, as it procures an angry visit from Christ to them, it will prevent their discerning it and preparing for it.?(3.) Such a visit from Christ will be to their loss; he will come as a thief, to strip them of their remaining enjoyments and mercies, not by fraud, but in justice and righteousness, taking the forfeiture they have made of all to him.
4. Our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people without some comfort and encouragement: In the midst of judgment he remembers mercy (v. 4), and here
(1.) He makes honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, though but small: Thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; they had not given into the prevailing corruptions and pollution of the day and place in which they lived. God takes notice of the smallest number of those who abide with him; and the fewer they are the more precious in his sight.?(2.) He makes a very gracious promise to them: They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy —in the stola, the white robes of justification, and adoption, and comfort, or in the white robes of honour and glory in the other world. They shall walk with Christ in the pleasant walks of the heavenly paradise; and what delightful converse will there be between Christ and them when they thus walk together! This is an honour proper and suitable to their integrity, which their fidelity has prepared them for, and which it is no way unbecoming Christ to confer upon them, though it is not a legal but a gospel worthiness that is ascribed to them, not merit but meetness. Those who walk with Christ in the clean garments of real practical holiness here, and keep themselves unspotted from the world, shall walk with Christ in the white robes of honour and glory in the other world: this is a suitable reward.
III. We now come to the conclusion of this epistle, in which, as before, we have,
1. A great reward promised to the conquering Christian (v. 5), and it is very much the same with what has been already mentioned: He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment. The purity of grace shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory. Holiness, when perfected, shall be its own reward; glory is the perfection of grace, differing not in kind, but in degree. Now to this is added another promise very suitable to the case: I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. Observe,
(1.) Christ has his book of life, a register and roll of all who shall inherit eternal life.
[1.] The book of eternal election.?[2.] The book of remembrance of all those who have lived to God, and have kept up the life and power of godliness in evil times.
(2.) Christ will not blot the names of his chosen and faithful ones out of this book of life; men may be enrolled in the registers of the church, as baptized, as making a profession, as having a name to live, and that name may come to be blotted out of the roll, when it appears that it was but a name, a name to live, without spiritual life; such often lose the very name before they die, they are left of God to blot out their own names by their gross and open wickedness. But the names of those that overcome shall never be blotted out.?(3.) Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names of the faithful who stand there, before God, and all the angels; he will do this as their Judge, when the books shall be opened; he will do this as their captain and head, leading them with him triumphantly to heaven, presenting them to the Father: Behold me, and the children that thou hast given me. How great will this honour and reward be!
2. The demand of universal attention finishes the message. Every word from God deserves attention from men; that which may seem more particularly directed to one body of men has something in it instructive to all.
Verses 7-13 We have now come to the sixth letter, sent to one of the Asian churches, where observe,
I. The inscription, showing,
1. For whom it was more immediately designed: The angel of the church of Philadelphia; this also was a city in Asia Minor, seated upon the borders of Mysia and Lydia, and had its name from that brotherly love for which it was eminent. We can hardly suppose that this name was given to it after it received the Christian religion, and that it was so called from that Christian affection that all believers have, and should have, one for another, as the children of one Father and the brethren of Christ; but rather that it was its ancient name, on account of the love and kindness which the citizens had and showed to each other as a civil fraternity. This was an excellent spirit, and, when sanctified by the grace of the gospel, would render them an excellent church, as indeed they were, for here is no one fault found with this church, and yet, doubtless, there were faults in it of common infirmity; but love covers such faults.?2. By whom this letter was signed; even by the same Jesus who is alone the universal head of all the churches; and here observe by what title he chooses to represent himself to this church: He that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, etc. You have his personal character: He that is holy and he that is true, holy in his nature, and therefore he cannot but be true to his word, for he hath spoken in his holiness; and you have also his political character: He hath the key of David, he openeth, and no man shutteth; he hath the key of the house of David, the key of government and authority in and over the church. Observe,
(1.) The acts of his government.
[1.] He opens. He opens a door of opportunity to his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers; he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart; he opens a door of admission into the visible church, laying down the terms of communion; and he opens the door of admission into the church triumphant, according to the terms of salvation fixed by him.?[2.] He shuts the door. When he pleases, he shuts the door of opportunity and the door of utterance, and leaves obstinate sinners shut up in the hardness of their hearts; he shuts the door of church-fellowship against unbelievers and profane persons; and he shuts the door of heaven against the foolish virgins who have slept away their day of grace, and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be.
(2.) The way and manner in which he performs these acts, and that is absolute sovereignty, independent upon the will of men, and irresistible by the power of men: He openeth, and no man shutteth; he shutteth, and no man openeth; he works to will and to do, and, when he works, none can hinder. These were proper characters for him, when speaking to a church that had endeavoured to be conformed to Christ in holiness and truth, and that had enjoyed a wide door of liberty and opportunity under his care and government.
II. The subject-matter of this epistle, where,
1. Christ puts them in mind of what he had done for them: I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it, v. 8. I have set it open, and kept it open, though there be many adversaries. Learn here,
(1.) Christ is to be acknowledged as the author of all the liberty and opportunity his churches enjoy.?(2.) He takes notice and keeps account, how long he has preserved their spiritual liberties and privileges for them.?(3.) Wicked men envy the people of God their door of liberty, and would be glad to shut it against them.?(4.) If we do not provoke Christ to shut this door against us, men cannot do it.
2. This church is commended: Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name, v. 8. In this there seems to be couched a gentle reproof: “Thou hast a little strength, a little grace, which, though it be not proportionate to the wide door of opportunity which I have opened to thee, yet is true grace, and has kept thee faithful.’’ True grace, though weak, has the divine approbation; but, though Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers should not rest satisfied in a little, but should strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. True grace, though weak, will do more than the greatest gifts or highest degrees of common grace, for it will enable the Christian to keep the word of Christ, and not to deny his name. Obedience, fidelity, and a free confession of the name of Christ, are the fruits of true grace, and are pleasing to Christ as such.?3. Here is a promise of the great favour God would bestow on this church, v. 9, 10. This favour consists in two things:—
(1.) Christ would make this church’s enemies subject to her.
[1.] Those enemies are described to be such as said they were Jews, but lied in saying so-pretended to be the only and peculiar people of God, but were really the synagogue of Satan. Assemblies that worship God in spirit and in truth are the Israel of God; assemblies that either worship false gods, or the true God in a false manner, are the synagogues of Satan: though they may profess to be the only people of God, their profession is a lie.?[2.] Their subjection to the church is described: They shall worship at thy feet; not pay a religious and divine honour to the church itself, nor to the ministry of it, but shall be convinced that they have been in the wrong, that this church is in the right and is beloved of Christ, and they shall desire to be taken into communion with her and that they may worship the same God after the same manner. How shall this great change be wrought? By the power of God upon the hearts of his enemies, and by signal discoveries of his peculiar favour to his church: They shall know that I have loved thee. Observe, First, The greatest honour and happiness any church can enjoy consist in the peculiar love and favour of Christ. Secondly, Christ can discover this his favour to his people in such a manner that their very enemies shall see it, and be forced to acknowledge it. Thirdly, This will, by the grace of Christ, soften the hearts of their enemies, and make them desirous to be admitted into communion with them.
(2.) Another instance of favour that Christ promises to this church is persevering grace in the most trying times (v. 10), and this as the reward of their past fidelity. To him that hath shall be given. Here observe,
[1.] The gospel of Christ is the word of his patience. It is the fruit of the patience of God to a sinful world; it sets before men the exemplary patience of Christ in all his sufferings for men; it calls those that receive it to the exercise of patience in conformity to Christ.?[2.] This gospel should be carefully kept by all that enjoy it; they must keep up to the faith, and practice, and worship prescribed in the gospel.?[3.] After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptation; a day of gospel peace and liberty is a day of God’s patience, and it is seldom so well improved as it should be and therefore it is often followed by an hour of trial and temptation.?[4.] Sometimes the trial is more general and universal; it comes upon all the world, and, when it is so general, it is usually the shorter.?[5.] Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation. By keeping the gospel they are prepared for the trial; and the same divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace will make them faithful in times of persecution.
4. Christ calls the church to that duty which he before promised he would enable her to do, and that is, to persevere, to hold fast that which she had.
(1.) The duty itself: “Hold fast that which thou hast, that faith, that truth, that strength of grace, that zeal, that love to the brethren; thou hast been possessed of this excellent treasure, hold it fast.’’?(2.) The motives, taken from the speedy appearance of Christ: “Behold, I come quickly. See, I am just a coming to relieve them under the trial, to reward their fidelity, and to punish those who fall away; they shall lose that crown which they once seemed to have a right to, which they hoped for, and pleased themselves with the thoughts of. The persevering Christian shall win the prize from backsliding professors, who once stood fair for it.’’
III. The conclusion of this epistle, v. 12, 13. Here,
1. After his usual manner, our Saviour promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer, in two things:—
(1.) He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; not a pillar to support the temple (heaven needs no such props), but a monument of the free and powerful grace of God, a monument that shall never be defaced nor removed, as many stately pillars erected in honour to the Roman emperors and generals have been.?(2.) On this monumental pillar there shall be an honourable inscription, as in those cases is usual.
[1.] The name of God, in whose cause he engaged, whom he served, and for whom he suffered in this warfare; and the name of the city of God, the church of God, the new Jerusalem, which came down from heaven. On this pillar shall be recorded all the services the believer did to the church of God, how he asserted her rights, enlarged her borders, maintained her purity and honour; this will be a greater name than Asiaticus, or Africanus; a soldier under God in the wars of the church. And then another part of the inscription is,?[2.] The new name of Christ, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the captain of our salvation; by this it will appear under whose banner this conquering believer had enlisted, under whose conduct he acted, by whose example he was encouraged, and under whose influence he fought the good fight, and came off victorious.
2. The epistle is closed up with the demand of attention: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, how Christ loves and values his faithful people, how he commends, and how he will crown their fidelity.
Verses 14-22 We now come to the last and worst of all the seven Asian churches, the reverse of the church of Philadelphia; for, as there was nothing reproved in that, here is nothing commended in this, and yet this was one of the seven golden candlesticks, for a corrupt church may still be a church. Here we have, as before,
I. The inscription, to whom, and from whom.
1. To whom: To the angel of the church of Laodicea. This was a once famous city near the river Lycus, had a wall of vast compass, and three marble theatres, and, like Rome, was built on seven hills. It seems, the apostle Paul was very instrumental in planting the gospel in this city, from which he wrote a letter, as he mentions in the epistle to the Colossians, the last chapter, in which he sends salutations to them, Laodicea not being above twenty miles distant from Colosse. In this city was held a council in the fourth century, but it has been long since demolished, and lies in its ruins to this day, an awful monument of the wrath of the Lamb.?2. From whom this message was sent. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.
(1.) The Amen, one that is steady and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises, which are all yea, and all amen.?(2.) The faithful and true witness, whose testimony of God to men ought to be received and fully believed, and whose testimony of men to God will be fully believed and regarded, and will be a swift but true witness against all indifferent lukewarm professors.?(3.) The beginning of the creation of God, either of the first creation, and so he is the beginning, that is, the first cause, the Creator, and the Governor of it; or of the second creation, the church; and so he is the head of that body, the first-born from the dead, as it is in ch. 1:5, whence these titles are taken. Christ, having raised up himself by his own divine power, as the head of a new world, raises up dead souls to be a living temple and church to himself.
II. The subject-matter, in which observe,
1. The heavy charge drawn up against this church, ministers and people, by one who knew them better than they knew themselves: Thou art neither cold nor hot, but worse than either; I would thou wert cold or hot, v. 15. Lukewarmness or indifference in religion is the worst temper in the world. If religion is a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it is not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If religion is worth any thing, it is worth every thing; an indifference here is inexcusable: Why halt you between two opinions? If God be God, follow him; if Baal (be God), follow him. Here is no room for neutrality. An open enemy shall have a fairer quarter than a perfidious neuter; and there is more hope of a heathen than of such. Christ expects that men should declare themselves in earnest either for him or against him.?2. A severe punishment threatened: I will spue thee out of my mouth. As lukewarm water turns the stomach, and provokes to a vomit, lukewarm professors turn the heart of Christ against them. He is sick of them, and cannot long bear them. They may call their lukewarmness charity, meekness, moderation, and a largeness of soul; it is nauseous to Christ, and makes those so that allow themselves in it. They shall be rejected, and finally rejected; for far be it from the holy Jesus to return to that which has been thus rejected.?3. We have one cause of this indifference and inconsistency in religion assigned, and that is self-conceitedness or self-delusion. They thought they were very well already, and therefore they were very indifferent whether they grew better or no: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, etc., v. 17. Here observe, What a difference there was between the thoughts they had of themselves and the thoughts that Christ had of them.
(1.) The high thoughts they had of themselves: Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, rich, and growing richer, and increased to such a degree as to be above all want or possibility of wanting. Perhaps they were well provided for as to their bodies, and this made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or they thought themselves well furnished in their souls: they had learning, and they took it for religion; they had gifts, and they took them for grace; they had wit, and they took it for true wisdom; they had ordinances, and they took up with them instead of the God of ordinances. How careful should we be not to put the cheat upon our own souls! Doubtless there are many in hell that once thought themselves to be in the way to heaven. Let us daily beg of God that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves in the concerns of our souls.?(2.) The mean thoughts that Christ had of them; and he was not mistaken. He knew, though they knew not, that they were wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Their state was wretched in itself, and such as called for pity and compassion from others: though they were proud of themselves, they were pitied by all who knew their case. For,
[1.] They were poor, really poor, when they said and thought they were rich; they had no provision for their souls to live upon; their souls were starving in the midst of their abundance; they were vastly in debt to the justice of God, and had nothing to pay off the least part of the debt.?[2.] They were blind; they could not see their state, nor their way, nor their danger; they could not see into themselves; they could not look before them; they were blind, and yet they thought they saw; the very light that was in them was darkness, and then how great must that darkness be! They could not see Christ, though evidently set forth, and crucified, before their eyes. They could not see God by faith, though always present in them. They could not see death, though it was just before them. They could not look into eternity, though they stood upon the very brink of it continually.?[3.] They were naked, without clothing and without house and harbour for their souls. They were without clothing, had neither the garment of justification nor that of sanctification. Their nakedness both of guilt and pollution had no covering. They lay always exposed to sin and shame. Their righteousnesses were but filthy rags; they were rags, and would not cover them, filthy rags, and would defile them. And they were naked, without house or harbour, for they were without God, and he has been the dwelling-place of his people in all ages; in him alone the soul of man can find rest, and safety, and all suitable accommodations. The riches of the body will not enrich the soul; the sight of the body will not enlighten the soul; the most convenient house for the body will not afford rest nor safety to the soul. The soul is a different thing from the body, and must have accommodation suitable to its nature, or else in the midst of bodily prosperity it will be wretched and miserable.
4. We have good counsel given by Christ to this sinful people, and that is that they drop their vain and false opinion they had of themselves, and endeavour to be that really which they would seem to be: I counsel thee to buy of me, etc., v. 18. Observe,
(1.) Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to give good counsel to those who have cast his counsels behind their backs.?(2.) The condition of sinners in never desperate, while they enjoy the gracious calls and counsels of Christ.?(3.) Our blessed Lord, the counsellor, always gives the best advice, and that which is most suitable to the sinner’s case; as here,
[1.] These people were poor; Christ counsels them to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich. He lets them know where they might have true riches and how they might have them. First, Where they might have them—from himself; he sends them not to the streams of Pactolus, nor to the mines of Potosi, but invites them to himself, the pearl of price. Secondly, And how must they have this true gold from him? They must buy it. This seems to be unsaying all again. How can those that are poor buy gold? Just as they may buy of Christ wine and milk, that is, without money and without price, Isa. 55:1. Something indeed must be parted with, but it is nothing of a valuable consideration, it is only to make room for receiving true riches. “Part with sin and self-sufficiency, and come to Christ with a sense of your poverty and emptiness, that you may be filled with his hidden treasure.’’?[2.] These people were naked; Christ tells them where they might have clothing, and such as would cover the shame of their nakedness. This they must receive from Christ; and they must only put off their filthy rags that they might put on the white raiment which he had purchased and provided for them—his own imputed righteousness for justification and the garments of holiness and sanctification.?[3.] They were blind; and he counsels them to buy of him eye-salve, that they might see, to give up their own wisdom and reason, which are but blindness in the things of God, and resign themselves to his word and Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and their end, their duty and their true interest; a new and glorious scene would then open itself to their souls; a new world furnished with the most beautiful and excellent objects, and this light would be marvellous to those who were but just now delivered from the powers of darkness. This is the wise and good counsel Christ gives to careless souls; and, if they follow it, he will judge himself bound in honour to make it effectual.
5. Here is added great and gracious encouragement to this sinful people to take the admonition and advice well that Christ had given them, v. 19, 20. He tells them,
(1.) It was given them in true and tender affection: “Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten. You may think I have given you hard words and severe reproofs; it is all out of love to your souls. I would not have thus openly rebuked and corrected your sinful lukewarmness and vain confidence, if I had not been a lover of your souls; had I hated you, I would have let you alone, to go on in sin till it had been your ruin.’’ Sinners ought to take the rebukes of God’s word and rod as tokens of his good-will to their souls, and should accordingly repent in good earnest, and turn to him that smites them; better are the frowns and wounds of a friend than the flattering smiles of an enemy.?(2.) If they would comply with his admonitions, he was ready to make them good to their souls: Behold, I stand at the door and knock, etc., v. 20. Here observe,
[1.] Christ is graciously pleased by his word and Spirit to come to the door of the heart of sinners; he draws near to them in a way of mercy, ready to make them a kind visit.?[2.] He finds this door shut against him; the heart of man is by nature shut up against Christ by ignorance, unbelief, sinful prejudices.?[3.] When he finds the heart shut, he does not immediately withdraw, but he waits to be gracious, even till his head be filled with the dew.?[4.] He uses all proper means to awaken sinners, and to cause them to open to him: he calls by his word, he knocks by the impulses of his Spirit upon their conscience.?[5.] Those who open to him shall enjoy his presence, to their great comfort and advantage. He will sup with them; he will accept of what is good in them; he will eat his pleasant fruit; and he will bring the best part of the entertainment with him. If what he finds would make but a poor feast, what he brings will make up the deficiency: he will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts, and thereby stir up fresh actings of faith, and love, and delight; and in all this Christ and his repenting people will enjoy pleasant communion with each other. Alas! what do careless obstinate sinners lose by refusing to open the door of the heart to Christ!
III. We now come to the conclusion of this epistle; and here we have as before,
1. The promise made to the overcoming believer. It is here implied,
(1.) That though this church seemed to be wholly overrun and overcome with lukewarmness and self-confidence, yet it was possible that by the reproofs and counsels of Christ they might be inspired with fresh zeal and vigour, and might come off conquerors in their spiritual warfare.?(2.) That, if they did so, all former faults should be forgiven, and they should have a great reward. And what is that reward? They shall sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and have sat down with my Father on his throne, v. 21. Here it is intimated,
[1.] That Christ himself had met with his temptations and conflicts.?[2.] That he overcame them all, and was more than a conqueror.?[3.] That, as the reward of his conflict and victory, he has sat down with God the Father on his throne, possessed of that glory which he had with the Father from eternity, but which he was pleased very much to conceal on earth, leaving it as it were in the hands of the Father, as a pledge that he would fulfil the work of a Saviour before he reassumed that manifestative glory; and, having done so, then pignus reposcere—he demands the pledge, to appear in his divine glory equal to the Father.?[4.] That those who are conformed to Christ in his trials and victories shall be conformed to him in his glory; they shall sit down with him on his throne, on his throne of judgment at the end of the world, on his throne of glory to all eternity, shining in his beams by virtue of their union with him and relation to him, as the mystical body of which he is the head.
2. All is closed up with the general demand of attention (v. 22), putting all to whom these epistles shall come in mind that what is contained in them is not of private interpretation, not intended for the instruction, reproof, and correction of those particular churches only, but of all the churches of Christ in all ages and parts of the world: and as there will be a resemblance in all succeeding churches to these, both in their graces and sins, so they may expect that God will deal with them as he dealt with these, which are patterns to all ages what faithful, and fruitful churches may expect to receive from God, and what those who are unfaithful may expect to suffer from his hand; yea, that God’s dealings with his churches may afford useful instruction to the rest of the world, to put them upon considering, If judgment begin at the house of God, what shall the end of those be that do not obey the gospel of Christ? 1 Pt. 4:17. Thus end the messages of Christ to the Asian churches, the epistolary part of this book. We now come to the prophetical part.