Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Revelation of Christ's Expectations (Trust)

Part 10 of a series through the book of Revelation

Text: Revelation 3:7-13

TRUSTING THE “TRUE ONE”

“Philadelphia” means “city of brotherly love.” Both the modern and ancient cities of Philadelphia haven’t always lived up to their name. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is notorious for its rabid sports fans. Phillies fans once threw “D” batteries at outfielder J. D. Drew. Eagles fans cheered when Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending neck injury. In ancient Philadelphia, Jews were throwing Jewish Christians out of the synagogue. Jesus says these Jews are the “synagogue of Satan” (v. 9; cf. 2:9). “No one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly” (Romans 2:28; cf. Deuteronomy 30:6; Galatians 6:16). “Satan” means “adversary.” He is “the accuser of our brothers” (Revelation 12:10). The Jews in Philadelphia thought they were God’s people, but they were actually doing the work of Satan, persecuting the church (the people of God in this age).

Jesus expects us to trust Him, even in our darkest days.

The church had only a “little power” (v. 8). They needed to depend on Jesus.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens'" (v. 7).

Jesus is described in three ways: (1) He is “the holy one.” In Scripture, this is a title for God (cf. Isaiah 40:25; Habakkuk 3:3; Mark 1:24; John 6:69). (2) He is “the true one.” This means either “the genuine one” (the Jews in Philadelphia thought Jesus was a false Messiah) or “the faithful one” (He can be trusted). (3) He “has the key of David” (cf. Isaiah 22:22; Matthew 16:19). He is the one who provides access to the kingdom of God. The Jews in Philadelphia had shut the door of the synagogue, but Jesus had opened for them the door of the kingdom.

ENCOURAGMENT FOR OUR DARKEST DAYS

In your darkest days, remember:

1. Your acceptance

“I have set before you an open door” (v. 8).

“I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you” (v. 9).

What is the “open door”? Is it a door of opportunity for ministry? “A wide door for effective work has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:9; cf. 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3). Is it a door of access to the city of God? In “the new Jerusalem” the dark days of this life will be no more (cf. Revelation 21:1-4). (Illustration: “My door is always open.”) This interpretation fits the context better.

2. Your hope

“I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world” (v. 10).

“I am coming soon” (v. 11).

What is “the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world”? “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been sine there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short” (Matthew 24:21-22).

“Those who dwell on earth” always refers to unbelievers in Revelation (6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8).

What does “keep you from” mean? Does it mean deliverance from (pretribulation view)? Or does it mean deliverance through (posttribulation view)? There are examples of this in Scripture (the Israelites during the plagues in Egypt, Noah and his family during the flood). There will be believers on earth during the great tribulation prior to the second coming (cf. Revelation 6:9-11). (Will these believers be on earth because there is no rapture prior to the “hour of trial,” or because many will put their faith in Christ after the rapture?) If believers will be delivered through the “hour of trial,” how is there any comfort in believers being kept from God’s wrath but not being kept from Satan’s wrath? There is a great difference between the wrath of God and the wrath of Satan. In the NT, persecution is seen as a great privilege (cf. Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24; 1 Peter 3:13-14). In Revelation, martyrdom is seen as victory over Satan, not a defeat. “They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death” (7:11). As when Satan (with the help of wicked men) put Christ on the cross, he defeats himself whenever he takes the life of one of the saints (there is no greater witness than a martyr’s death). Someone has said, “Pray for ‘pre,’ but prepare for ‘post.’”

Was Jesus wrong when He said, “I am coming soon”? (Illustration: “But, Dad, you promised!” Jesus doesn’t forget or change His promises.) The hope of Christ’s return is certain, even if (from our perspective) it has been delayed.

3. Your security

“I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God” (v. 12).

The entire city of God is a temple. “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22).

Philadelphia experienced a devastating earthquake in A.D. 17. There is a sense of insecurity after an earthquake. (Illustration: The earthquake and tsunami in Japan.)

A pillar is a permanent part of a building (not like a piece of furniture that can be moved out). There is security in knowing that believers will be with God forever in His city. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God’” (Revelation