Rev 3:7-13 — Part 2
v 12-13 “The one who is victorious/overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he go out from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 Whoever has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The overcomers in this church in Philadelphia will be forever secure in God’s Temple (Eph 2:19-22; 1Pt 2:4-6) and in His city, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from Yeshua’s/Jesus’ God. Yeshua will have a new name, just as He promised a new name to the overcomers in the church in Smyrna. (2:17) The question begging to be asked here, though, of course, is who is the God of Jesus/Yeshua?! This is all part of the mystery of the triune YHVH God, who appeared in the flesh in the person of Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ. (Joel 2:32; Rom 10:9-15; Acts 4:10-12; Phlp 2:9-11; Is 45:22-25) All who call upon the name of YHVH (the LORD) will be saved. There is no other name under Heaven given among men by which they can be saved, other than Jesus Christ the Nazarene/Yeshua HaMashiach haNatzri. (Acts 4:12) In other words, the uniquely only-begotten Son of God, Yeshua/Jesus, is YHVH! (Jn 3:12-21) He is YHVH who came down from Heaven to us as the Son of Man to save us! (Jn 3:12-13; Mt 26:63-66; Dan 7:13-14; Phlp 2:5-9)
How can YHVH God have a God, if He is eternal and uncreated?! As a pastor and a teacher – not to mention a believer in God my Father and in Jesus Christ whom He sent — I cannot ignore or avoid the implications of this question – not only in order to give a reasonable answer to unbelievers, but hopefully also to help other believers like me to know the wonder of the God who created and redeemed us. (Jn 17:1-5)
Four times in this one verse (12), Yeshua says “of My God”! (Mt 27:45-46) And this is after He is in glory at the right-hand of the Father!
God is spirit. (Jn 4:23-24) God was manifested in the flesh: Yeshua was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary – born to be our Redeemer and Savior through His life, death and resurrection, since a spirit (not even the Angel of the LORD/YHVH) can not redeem flesh and blood. (Heb 2:14-18; Phlp 2:5-11; Is 45:18-25) Yeshua, as the Son of Man and of God, prayed to His Father; Yeshua ‘voluntarily’ subjected His will to His Father’s, both as a Son, and as a Servant/Slave (Phlp 2:5-8; Is 52:13 – 53:12; 49:5-7; 42:1-9; Mt 26:39; Heb 10:5-7); Yeshua, the Word of God in the flesh (Jn 1:1-2, 14; Rev 19:13), and confined in space and time while with us, confessed that His Father was greater: the word spoken is subject to the one who spoke it; a son is subject to his father; a servant is subject to his master or lord.
It was God the Father who spoke and sent the WORD, and was watching over and ruling the affairs of the Universe (which YHVH created and made) while the Son, for whom it all is, was limited and located in a man’s body in a small country as part of a small people-group; Yeshua/Jesus is both the second and the last Adam, and is the perfect sinless Man in the image and likeness of God, for He is God with us — Immanuel; He will ultimately deliver the Kingdom to God the Father after completing the purpose of God for this creation, while He will physically live among His overcoming blood-bought Bride forever and ever in the New Creation. (Is 55:10-11; Mt 28:18-20; 1Cor 15:20-28; Eph 1:7-14; Col 1:15-20; Rev 21) This is the plan, the will, the wisdom of the thrice Holy God! Jesus is the Word of God, which is also one of His names. (Rev 19:13) The word spoken expresses the one who spoke it: it is identified with the speaker. In YHVH’s case, His Word is He! YHVH — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob/Israel, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ – is forever the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Ex 3:13-15; 2Cor 1:2-3; 1Cor 15:20-28)
The church in Philadelphia is the one that everyone wants to belong to – the Church of Brotherly Love! As good and blessed as this assembly is described by the Lord to be, even here the call is to be overcomers. It is not enough to be in the “right church”; or to hold the “right doctrines”; such as those in the church in Ephesus, or to do many “good works”, as did the churches in Thyatira and in Sardis. We must be overcomers in our personal faith and relationship with our Head, and with His Body, as we live out our lives in a world opposed to Him.
An excellent example given us about being an overcome is Jacob: he prevailed/overcame in his struggle with God and with men to become Israel. (Gen 32:22-32) And he needed to be reminded that he was to be called Israel, and no longer just Jacob. (Gen 35:9-13) Jacob needed to learn to live in the grace done for him as one who was “chosen of God”, and no longer rely on his own wit and strength to survive. It is not “all Jacob” that will be saved, but “all Israel” – those who turn from their transgressions and ungodliness, and are forgiven by the grace of God in His righteousness, and according to His election. There is no “self-determination” with our God. (Rom 11:25-36; Is 59:20; 2Tim 2:19-22) Not all Israel is Israel; neither is all the Church the Church: not every Jew nor everyone called Christian will be saved, nor every other human being. (Jn 1:10-13; Mt 7:21-23; 25:1-46; Rom 9:6-7; 1Pt 4:17-19)
We are not saved, nor are we holy, simply because we believe in “God”, or that there is “one God”. The question is, which God do we believe in: what is His name? Who is He? What is His Son’s name? Do you have a new heart, and and has your life been converted? (Prov 30:4; Acts 17:22-31; Ja 2:18-26; Ezek 36:26-27)
The Apostle Paul exhorts us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. (2Cor 13:5-6; Rom 8:5-17; 1Cor 11:31-32) Yeshua tells us that those who endure in the faith until the end will be saved. (Mt 13:18-23; 24:9-14; Rom 11:19-24) Without love for Jesus above all, and without humility and the fear of the Lord – the holy and righteous Judge of all the living and the dead – we will not be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to remain faithful, and we could waver and falter. Jesus, to whom the judgment is given, says that He will not need to judge anyone, but the word that He spoke will judge us – again, God’s spoken word is He. (Jn 5:21-30; 12:44-50; Rom 14:9-11; Rev 20:11-15)
The love of Jesus for us – He sacrificed His life for us! – is strong when we stumble, as Peter did the night that the Messiah was betrayed. Messiah told Peter that He prayed that his faith not fail, for Satan wanted to sift him. (Lk 22:31-34; 60-62; Jude 1:20-25) Jesus knew that Peter loved Him. God is looking for those whose hearts are wholly for Him: do you want to please your Father in Heaven in all that you think, say, plan, do? He wants us to believe with our whole heart in His Son, Yeshua/Jesus, and obey Him out of thanksgiving and love for giving His life for us in His death on the cross because of our sin and sins. Is this the attitude and motive of our life as believers?
The whole of the book of the Revelation is to be read in all of the churches. (22:14-21) There is individual responsibility to hear and to heed with faith and love what the Spirit says to us, so to become an overcomer. (Mt 7:24-27)
Paul wrote that he was confident in whom he had committed his soul; yet we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Peter wrote for us to make our calling and election sure. (2Tim 1:12; Phlp 2:12; 2Pt 1:8-15) Both of these statements are true for the believer, and must be held in tension, just as God’s sovereignty and choices, and our free will to make choices; and just as we are commanded to pray, even though God already knows what we want and need and feel. There is eternal security for the believer, and there is also the possibility to fall away.
If we are over-confident in the doctrine of “once saved, always saved”, trusting in that, then we will not pay sufficient attention to all of the warnings, exhortations, admonishments to abide in the faith until the end, and not to fall away from the unique truth of who Jesus is, of the only gospel, of the Kingdom of God. Neither do we want to swing to the other extreme which teaches that every time a believer sins he has lost his salvation, and must be saved again through confession and repentance.
If we play with or ignore the truth without the fear of the Lord, we will become like those whom Jesus/Yeshua rebukes in these letters to the churches, and will not listen or repent or seek understanding: we will break His commandments — to love YHVH our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength….; not to have any other gods before Him; we will carry His name in vain; we will not love our neighbors as ourselves; we will not love the brethren in the faith as Yeshua/Jesus has loved us.
We want each and all of you to be overcomers – to prevail in the struggle with God and with men – and so inherit the Kingdom of God and everlasting life, the free gift of the Father to all of His children. We are our brothers’ keepers! We can not be indifferent when we see a brother or sister stray from the way or weaken in their faith in the God who is good, and is our Father. If we know that He is our Father; if we are His children . . . then we will not despise His chastening, nor detest His correction; for whom He loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights. (Prov 3:11-12; Heb 12:5-6)
It is not only a matter of being a believer or not in a religious sense; but for those of us who are Arab, or Black, short people, even Jewish (and many other groupings) – there is a particular struggle over God’s choices and ways that put us into a struggle with Him and with men…. and He wants us to overcome in the fear of YHVH, departing from evil, and trusting in the Father’s goodness and wisdom, overcoming the world by our faith in Yeshua/Jesus, the Victorious One! (Jn 16:31-33)
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, May 13, 2022, and reposted with permission.