Ephesus the church with good doctrine but forgot the love of God – Jesus calls them to return to their first love
Smyrna – The persecuted church that stood up to Satan – Jesus is simply proud of them
Pergamum – The church that held His name well but began to look like the world in their actions – Jesus calls them to get back to the word and stand on it
Thyatira – the church that was maturing but allowed the other gods to be promoted and things against God in the church – Jesus calls them to judge their own actions or they may end up going through the great tribulation
Sardis – the church that was once great and is living in the past but has no life now- Jesus calls them to be filled with the Spirit again
Brings us to Philadelphia
City of brotherly love…this city withstood the raid of the Muslims in the 14th century when everyone else fell.
This was an area rich in volcanic soil but also was devastated but by an earthquake in AD 17 it suffered from after shocks for a couple of years.
This church had fought the good fight and felt beat up as if they had lost but in reality they were powerful and a blessing. The Jewish leaders in this city had a lot of power, prestige and wealth and were mixing with the pagan culture around them, which they used to persecute the small church in Philadelphia. A later rabbinic authority condemned them for mixing with the culture.
Revelation 3: 7-13
Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia.
This is the message from the one who is holy and true,
the one who has the key of David.
What he opens, no one can close;
and what he closes, no one can open:
The one who is holy and true…there is no mixing in him he is the perfect one pure in every way always speaking the truth and living the truth….they were tired from their battles but kept right on fighting to stand true and Jesus was reminding them, what he is about to say is really the way He sees them.
How many times when we feel weary, when we feel we have failed because we haven’t seen the success we thought we should be seeing in our lives, we feel we should have accomplished so much more ,we are often harder on ourselves than anyone else could be and Philadelphia was in that position. God sees it all, he sees our faithfulness to Him despite what we feel is success, God sees the success!
The key of David is related to Revelation 1:18 where Jesus mentioned He possesses the keys of death and hell but it goes beyond that to the key of David specifically mentioned in Isaiah 22
Shebna had been the treasurer (governor) under the King but his pride got in the way, he felt he knew better than the King and tried to usurp his authority so God replaced him with Eliakim who is shown as a type of Christ who holds the key
And then I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah to replace you. 21 I will dress him in your royal robes and will give him your title and your authority. And he will be a father to the people of Jerusalem and Judah. 22 I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them. 23 He will bring honor to his family name, for I will drive him firmly in place like a nail in the wall.
– The “key” represents government authority Isaiah 9:6 “the government rest upon His shoulders”
– He will be a Father – They will call Him eternal Father Isaiah 9:6
– dress him in royal robes and give him a title and your authority – There will be no end to his government…on the throne of David Isaiah 9:7
– he was appointed to his royal position by God – as was Jesus Isaiah 9:6,7
This key, this authority that Jesus is coming with to the church of Philadelphia is saying I am granting you the authority, because of your faithfulness to open and close doors of opportunity to change the world. As we see in the next verse
8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.
They felt they had little strength but they have been faithful in little and in their littleness and because of that God was going to give them much….all the Lord is looking for is a people who will trust Him, will remain faithful to His call even if they don’t see things change as Joseph didn’t, Abraham didn’t, Naomi didn’t but they remained faithful and God blessed…He is just looking for us to have a little faith to not look at circumstances people or things but to choose instead to trust Him
9 Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.
Notice because of their faithfulness the Lord is turning the tables on their persecutors….we had talked about the synagogue of Satan before it was the Jewish leadership, Jesus is telling them because of their faithfulness not giving up they will see those in Philadelphia who had persecuted them the most will repent and come to Christ.
The Lord doesn’t want us to grow weary in well doing but to remain faithful, as we are faithful he will move the mountains for us…I think too often we give up too early but as we will see next it is perseverance of faith that wins out every time…let me share one of my favorite scriptures here.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (NASB)
What did Jesus say that ties in with this?
10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world.
Their perseverance has a greater reward than they can imagine. They garner great strength, peace, power in the Holy Spirit, wisdom, grace, understanding and insight, all the things necessary to win, to overcome, to become powerful to change the world for their immediate need, and our future need….they were about to go through a time of great turmoil and testing (spiritual testing…God always promises strength to overcome spiritual testing but as we have seen sometimes God allows physical persecution for his good purposes) As they stood on the promises they knew those who were persecuting them would come to Christ….but there is a further prophetic meaning…
Our English translations often leave out the definite article here which is also in the emphatic sense in the Greek…it should read “I will protect you (deliver you,) from (remove you out of) the great time of testing (trial)….this trial will test all of the earth dwellers and the Jews who God will keep His promises with…..Jesus is saying through perseverance you will win many to Christ and will not go through the great tribulation
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.
Just as Smyrna battled with the synagogue of Satan and persecution and keeps the victors crown so Philadelphia overcomes as well through their faithful perseverance keep their victors crown…Jesus once again says when he comes it will be suddenly
Jesus already calls you a victor, an overcomer, more than a conqueror don’t look at your circumstances but keep your eyes on Jesus. The enemy wants to discourage, discredit, and frustrate you. Today he sees all that we are battling and says the same, stay faithful until the end keep looking up….he has all authority, the world does not and He has given it to us to apply so others around us might get set free
12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.
The area had been so shaken by earthquakes and tremors over the years he is saying don’t even be afraid of the natural elements I will make you solid and strong like the pillars in the temple of God, unshakable, you are safe forever in the Lord’s keeping so don’t worry.
He has opened, unlocked the doors of victory in every way for them, they no longer needed to fear their enemies as God was going to bring them to repentance, no longer fear natural disaster as God is making them secure that way…He has unlocked the doors to victory in every way and no man can shut it…why because of their faithfulness
We see here that before we get into the sealing of the Jewish Saints later in revelation that God is sealing those who are faithful with his name…our faithfulness, perseverance and love of God seals us in his hands giving us victory now and to come after the tribulation. He will give us a name that we do not know but he knows because He sees in us all what we do not see in ourselves….I believe it is a name we will hear when the rapture takes place, as “His sheep hear his voice” John 10 so we will hear His beloved name for us and be caught up with Him
13 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.
Don’t give up, don’t feel hopeless, don’t lose heart, strengthen your resolve, know that God sees and supports, strengthens, loves and causes us to persevere and overcome. He knows how you feel when you are weary, feel like you are going nowhere, feel defeated but that is not the way He sees you…choose today to pick it all up again today, to ask Him to allow you to see your life through His eyes and show you how to overcome and win…let us pray for you