BEING THE FRAGRANCE OF MESSIAH – A CALL FOR ENDURANCE! - Revelation 2:8-11

18th of the 10th month 2104/2015

Shabbat Shalom all,

Eph’siyim/Ephesians 5:1-2 “Become, then, imitators of Elohim as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Messiah also has loved us, and gave Himself for us, a gift and an offering to Elohim for a sweet-smelling fragrance.

The word ‘imitators’ in the Greek is μιμητής  ‘mimētēs’ – G3402 and simply means ‘to imitate or to follow’, and we get our English word ‘mimic’ from this word. Now a mimic is one who impersonates and copies, or is a replica of someone else.

The word ‘imitate’ simply means to follow as a pattern, a model or an example; and to be or appear like – in other words resemble and to produce a copy of or reproduce.

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:6The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.

We who say we ‘stay in’ our Master and Elohim, ought to walk as He walked, and this therefore calls for us to present our bodies as a living offering – set-apart, well-pleasing to Elohim – for this is our reasonable worship.

Sha’ul tells us in:

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 2:14-16But thanks be to Elohim who always leads us on, to overcome in Messiah, and manifests through us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 Because we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death to death, and to the other the fragrance of life to life. And who is competent for these?

As we face daily battles and struggles we can give a continual thanksgiving offering unto our Mighty Elohim who always leads us on, to be overcomers in Messiah, and we can manifest the sweet fragrance of His knowledge as we stay in Him! This sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Messiah that is manifest in our lives, as we live completely set-apart lives unto our Master, will be a fragrance of life to those being saved, while at the same time will be a fragrance of death to those who are perishing! The same fragrance that is life to some and death to others! Sha’ul asks the question of who is competent for these, and he makes it clear in:

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 3:5-6Not that we are competent in ourselves to reckon any matter as from ourselves, but our competence is from Elohim, 6 who also made us competent as servants of a renewed covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.

Our Master יהושע Messiah makes it clear in Yoḥanan/John 15 that without Him we are able to do nought, and we who stay in Him will bear much fruit. Our ability to be the fragrance of the knowledge of Elohim requires our ability to be steadfast in staying in Him and enduring under many trials and battles we face each day, so that we can be the sweet fragrance of Messiah, as true ambassadors of His coming Reign!

In a message tonight called, “BEING THE FRAGRANCE OF MESSIAH – A CALL FOR ENDURANCE!” I would like us to be encouraged to be just that – the fragrance of Messiah, knowing that we will be the fragrance of death to many who are perishing – are you up for the task? Let us be encouraged by the words of our Master as we look at His words given to a faithful assembly that He calls to endure, be trustworthy and overcome the tough battles of this life, having the full assurance of the promise of eternal life in Him! Turn with me to Ḥazon/Revelation 2:8-11, as we look at the message given to the assembly in Smurna. (Read)

This is the 2nd of the 7 assemblies that are addressed in Ḥazon/Revelation, and is one of two that did not receive any rebuke, but rather received the clear call to endure, be steadfast and overcome as faithful ambassadors of the Master, despite any trials and physical challenges they were facing or would face in the future!

Smurna was a city of around 200,000 people and was renowned for its wealth and contribution to science and medicine. It was the centre of emperor worship, and was granted the right to build the first temple honouring Tiberius in 23 C.E.

Each citizen was obligated to burn incense to the “mighty one” of Caesar annually and each would then receive a certificate of compliance. Non-compliance to this would result in severe persecution and suffering, as access to goods would become limited. True believers in Messiah refused to burn incense and say “Caesar is lord”, and as a result, they suffered intensely.

Polycarp, a student to Yoḥanan, was a prominent leader in the assembly of Smyrna and was put to death here in the 2nd century C.E.

The message of Messiah would have reached this region in Asia Minor through the teachings of Sha’ul, when he taught daily in the school of Turannos, which was in Ephesos, for two years (Ma’asei/Acts 19:10). Located about 64km north of Ephesos

In Roman times, Smurna was considered the most brilliant city of Asia Minor, successfully rivalling Pergamos and Ephesos. Its streets were wide and paved. One of the major idols that were worshipped here was Dionysus, who was believed by the Greeks to have been killed and come to life. Dionysus was believed to be the son of Zeus and a human mother, who supposedly offered his followers life after death, as well as meaningful life on earth through the indulgence of raw meat and wine. According to the teaching of the Dionysus cult, followers who drank wine to excess literally became one with Dionysus. This of course is a total perversion of the Truth and here in this message given to the assembly in Smurna, we see יהושע Messiah  making it clear that He is the First and the Last, the one who became dead and came to life! The Roman version of Dionysus is Bacchus, the Roman mighty one of wine and intoxication.

I find this very interesting as we consider the call to endure today, for this connection to wine and intoxication as a clear reference to Satan and his message of lies that he causes many to become drunk on. Our Master tells this faithful assembly at Smurna that he knew of the blasphemy of those who say they are Yehuḏim but are not and are of the congregation of Satan!

יהושע Messiah  is the True Vine, and by our understanding of this we recognise that there is a false vine, that of Satan, who masquerades himself as a messenger of light, which we can clearly see in a falsified Greek rendition of a ‘Jesus’ who has called many to follow a drunken perversion of the Truth and cast aside the Torah of Elohim.

The Only True First and Last is יהושע Messiah  - יהוה our Saviour, who has called us out of darkness and into His marvellous light, and called us to set-apartness and to be sober, alert and watchful; whereas the enemy has a counterfeit message of lawlessness that is taught through intoxicating doctrines and twisted theologies of man that makes drunk the masses who are consuming such lies of Satan as they indulge themselves in vain and empty traditions that have been handed down in error, and are unable to discern the Truth from the lies due to drunkenness.

 

This message given to the faithful assembly in Smurna would have been a great encouragement to them, as this clear introduction that is given to them is the full assurance of who it was who was giving this message – the True King of Kings and our Great and Mighty Elohim who died and suffered for us, taking up His life again so that we have the full assurance of an eternal life in Him; and here amidst some of the most intense persecutions and sufferings for righteousness, the true believers here were called to endure by their Master who is Alive and reigns on High!

Ancient writers, including Apollonius and Aristides, spoke of Smurna as having the “crown of life.” This was a way of describing the hilltop behind the city as if it crowned Smyrna on top, with its feet at the seashore. The promise of “the crown of life” to the believers in Smurna who would overcome probably played off this image. Garlands of perishable flowers were worn by those worshiping pagan gods and goddesses; and this wording would have again given much encouragement to a faithful remnant who was being called to endure.

While the world runs after physical crowns and positions of prominence, we know that those who persevere in their worship and service of set-apartness unto our Master יהושע Messiah are given a different crown – a crown of endless life. This promise was given to those believers in Smyrna who would remain faithful through persecution.

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 9:24-25 “Do you not know that those who run in a race indeed all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes controls himself in every way. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we for an incorruptible crown.

Ya’aqoḇ/James 1:12Blessed is the man who does endure trial, for when he has been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which the Master has promised to those who love Him.

Timotiyos Bět /2 Timothy 2:5And if anyone competes in a game, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Proper endurance in our Master entails our proper submission to walking in His Torah and compete, if you will, according to His set forth rules, and any failure to do this will result in one not receiving the promised crown of life to those who overcome! Endurance implies a sure suffering that needs to be faced, and we are clearly told in:

Timotiyos Bět /2 Timothy 3:12And indeed, all those wishing to live reverently in Messiah יהושע, shall be persecuted.

The Greek word translated as ‘reverently’ is εὐσεβῶς eusebōs – Strong’s G2153 meaning, reverently, piously, devout which expresses pure devotion and commitment to respect and honour that is to be given unto our Master and Elohim.

This gift of life instructs us how to live a sober, upright life that walks in the fear of Elohim with eyes fixed on Messiah as we look forward with great expectancy for His soon return – the return of our Beloved Saviour who gave himself for us in order to redeem us from ALL LAWLESSNESS!

In Ḥazon/Revelation 2:9 Messiah makes it clear to the assembly in Smurna, and makes it clear to us today, that He knows all! He knows all that we do, He knows all the pressures we face and He knows the poverty we are in, yet He reminds us that we are indeed rich!

The Greek word for ‘works’ is ἔργον ergon – Strong’s G2041 which means, works, labour, business, employment, behaviour, deeds. The believers in Sardis were warned severely and were told to repent of dead works and wake up! So many today are working lawlessness and think that they are alive, yet they are dead in their sin! Here in Smurna the message to the remnant who were facing much persecution, was the encouragement of the words of the Master knowing their works and this would have certainly strengthened their ability to keep on enduring – for they were not dead works but pure works of righteousness, amidst a wicked and crooked people! We cannot hide our works from our Master, He knows all – whether our works are alive or dead, and despite some who try to put on a show of works – He knows all!!! That is why He makes it clear here to the true believers that He knows the blasphemy of some who claim to be of the Truth but were nothing more than a congregation of Satan! Sha’ul makes it clear for us in Romiyim/Romans 2:28-29 that a true Yehuḏite is not one who is outwardly circumcised in the flesh, but that a true Yehuḏite is one who is circumcised inwardly, and that of the heart, in Spirit and not literally, whose praise is not from men but from Elohim! Those who were claiming to be Yehuḏim here at Smurna were putting on an outward show, yet their hearts were far from Elohim! Sha’ul goes on and tells us in Romiyim/Romans 9:6 that not all are Yisra’ĕl who are of Yisra’ĕl.

As we have discussed on many occasions we know that Yisra’ĕl means, ‘one who rules with El’.

Yisra’ĕlיִשְׂרָאֵל Yisra’ĕl – Strong’s H3478 which means, he who prevails, overcomes with El, comes from the primitive root words, אֵל ĕl – Strong’s H410 which means, Mighty, power, shortened form of Elohim – Mighty One and the root word verb שָׂרָה sarah – Strong’s H8280 which means, to persist, exert oneself, persevere, wrestle, contend’, is spelt the same as the name of Aḇraham’s wife, שָׂרָהSarah’ – Strong’s H8283 which means ‘princess or noble woman’; which is the feminine of the word שַׂר sar – Strong’s H8269 which means, prince, captain, chieftain, ruler!

Only those who endure and overcome in Messiah, by the guarding and keeping of His Torah, will receive a crown of life, to rule with Him as princes in His Kingdom!

As we consider the believers at Smurna who had to endure intense persecution we are able to see the promise given to those who will be steadfast in being the fragrance of Messiah.

The name Σμύρνα Smurna – Strong’s G4667 which is the same as the word σμύρνα Smurna – Strong’s G4666 means, myrrh. Myrrh was one of the ingredients used in the Anointing oil, and was one of the gifts brought by the Magi, and was also used as part of the mixture brought by Naḵdimon to put on the body of Messiah when they buried Him. From this we are able to understand how we are to guard against the leaven of the world and be a continual fragrant offering as present ourselves as a daily living offering, that is pleasing to יהוה, as we daily count the cost of walking in the pure Truth of His Word!

The Hebrew word for ‘myrrh’ is מֹר mor – Strong’s H4753 and is a white gum, issuing from the trunk and larger branches of a thorny tree resembling the acacia; Its taste is extremely bitter; but its smell, though strong, is agreeable to the senses and carries a very pleasant fragrance. It comes from the root word that means bitter. It was often used as a perfume as well as a medicine for stomach ailments. Another Greek word that is derived/translated from the Hebrew word מֹר mor – Strong’s H4753 is the Greek word for ‘perfume’ which is μύρον muron – Strong’s G3464 meaning, ointment, perfumed oil, which is what Miryam took and poured out on the Master’s feet and anointed Him with costly perfume and nard – an act that He said was to be told in remembrance of her, wherever the Good News would be proclaimed!

This message given to Smurna was a message of encouragement; in being poured out as a daily living offering that would be well pleasing to Elohim, and manifest the powerful fragrance of Messiah! When we do this we recognise that there will come some intense persecutions and tough trials that we will need to endure and overcome in our Master!

He knows our pressures that we face! The Greek word for ‘pressures’ here in verse 9 is θλῖψις  thlipsis – Strong’s G2347 means, tribulation, pressure, affliction, distress, persecution, trouble and comes from the primitive verb θλίβω  thlibō – Strong’s G2346 which means, to press or afflict, to distress, suffer affliction, and in the literal sense can mean, to squash, press, hem in, rub, harassed, and also can be understood as beingnarrow or hard pressed.

Master יהושע Messiah tells us in:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter in through the narrow gate! Because the gate is wide – and the way is broad – that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in through it. 14 “Because the gate is narrow and the way is hard pressed which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The words translated here as ‘hard pressed’ is from the Greek word θλίβω  thlibō, and the Greek word translated as ‘narrow’ is στενός  stenos – Strong’s G4728 which means, narrow (space or passage) as a result of obstacles standing close about). In other words the true path of life is very narrow, and often it will feel like the pressure of so many obstacles of destruction that are pressing hard against us, are doing their best to cause us to not enter in, as we are continually hard pressed on every side – yet as faithful followers of Messiah, we are not crushed!

What I want us to be very clear about tonight, as we look at this Greek word θλῖψις  thlipsis, is that as believers we shall not be exempt from having pressure, affliction, distress and persecution or tribulation – in fact we are subject to it!!!! The

thlipsis (pressure) we face and go through, as sojourners, consists largely of the persecution and the opposition that our faithful witness and testimony meets in an unfriendly world. In other words, the thlipsis (pressure) that we are speaking of here in Scripture is the direct attack and pressure that comes against our walking in obedience to the Word of Truth. It is the distress and affliction that is launched at us for our standing firm in the guarding of the commands of Elohim and doing them as we should! When you go against the flow of man’s traditions and dogmas, and follow the clear narrow path of the Truth, then you will have much pressure! People will say all kinds of ugly things to you, and you will face many sacrifices that will have to be made in your bold confession of the Truth being physically lived out in complete set-apartness. ‘Thlipsis’ (pressure) to early believers was not so much about the onset of sickness or poverty, or even the loss of friends; but was rather the sacrifices that had to be made, and the great perils/dangers they had to meet as a result of their proclamation or confession  of Messiah! The more we are being refined through the teaching of the Word, the more we realise what sacrifices have to be made in order that our lives are a living witness and proclamation of the Kingdom Reign of Messiah, and we need to be continually reminded to keep standing firm as we hold fast to the Truth and do it with all our might, forsaking all that would dare to hinder our walk of faith, so that we can truly manifest the fragrance of Messiah!

I gave a message in 2013 called ‘ENDURING UNDER THLIPSIS’ which can be viewed from our site (http://atfotc.com) under the ‘sermons 2013’ menu or by clicking on the following link:

http://atfotc.com/index.php/our-sermons/sermons-2013/482-enduring-under-thlipsis-john-16-33

The Greek word used for ‘poverty’ is πτωχεία ptōcheia – Strong’s G4432 which means, beggary, destitution, poverty, and comes from the word πτωχός ptōchos – Strong’s G4434 which means, to crouch or cower, one who crouches, poor, beggarly. This word is related to the Hebrew word עָנִי aniy – Strong’s H6041 which means, poor, afflicted, humble, opressed, which comes from the root עָנָה anah – Strong’s H6031 which means, to be bowed down or afflicted, distressed, violated, as well as the Hebrew word דָּלַל dalal – Strong’s H1809 which means, to hang, brought low, distress.

The encouragement given here to this remnant faithful, who through endurance would manifest the fragrance of Messiah, was that despite the effects of suffering persecution and even being brought low in a state of poverty, they were rich in Messiah, as wealth and riches of the world does not give us our identity, security and life! In fact we are able to see in Ḥazon/Revelation 3:17 how the supposed wealth of those in Laodikeia was unmasked as poverty in the eyes of our Master! The richest we can be – is to ‘know’ our Master and Elohim – and by this we know that we know Him – when we guard His commands! (Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:3)

Qorintiyim Bět /2 Corinthians 8:9For you know the favour of our Master יהושע Messiah, that being rich, He became poor for your sake, so that you might become rich through His poverty.

Pressures and poverty can surely cause one to be gripped with worries and fear, and be in deep despair within and without. The blasphemous slander of those who claim to be believers can also distress one’s spirit, and יהושע our Master tells us in verse 10 to not fear the things that we shall suffer for His Name’s sake! The fact is clear – we will suffer hardships and persecutions – and here this image of 10 days gives us great insight in our call to endure! These 10 days can be symbolic of the days of Ya’aqoḇ’s distress, as we consider the very intense period of 10 days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur when the wrath of Elohim is poured out upon the earth. We can also see from this 10 day period a clear call to endure, as Messiah told His taught ones after He had been with them for 40 days after His resurrection, teaching them about the reign of the heavens. He told them to wait for the set-apart Spirit – which was poured out 10 days later on Shaḇu’ot. During these 10 days they experienced intense persecution for the Name of יהושע Messiah. Our encouragement here is that we too are to endure in walking in the θλίβω  thlibō (hard pressed) way until our Master comes with His Heavenly Host, to give us rest:

Tas’loniqim Bět/2 Thessalonians 1:6-8since Elohim shall rightly repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give you who are afflicted rest with us when the Master יהושע is revealed from heaven with His mighty messengers, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know Elohim, and on those who do not obey the Good News of our Master יהושע Messiah

The believers in Smurna are told to be trustworthy, and so too do we recognise this clear call for us who are the fragrance of Messiah, to be faithful/trustworthy – even unto death!

The Greek word for ‘trustworthy’ is πιστός pistos – Strong’s G4103 which means, faithful, reliable, believer, trustworthy, and comes from the primary root verb πείθω peithō – Strong’s G3982 which means, to persuade, to put confidence in, to follow, have confidence and rely upon. When looking at these root terms it is very clear, even in the Greek mind-set, that ‘to be trustworthy’ involves action and a confident response to the one you put your trust in and follow.

The call here is to not give up!!! Because then we shall receive the crown of life!!! What is interesting for us to consider here is that the Greek word for ‘crown’ is στέφανος Stephanos – Strong’s G4735 which means, to encircle, that which surrounds, crown, wreath, and is the same as the name of Στέφανος Stephanos – Strong’s G4736, the first recorded taught one who was killed for the Name of יהושע Messiah, as seen in Ma’asei/Acts 7! Stephanos endured unto death!

In verse 11 the message is clear to those who endure and overcome in the Master – the second death will have no power over you!

Ḥazon/Revelation 20:6Blessed and set-apart is the one having part in the first resurrection. The second death possesses no authority over these, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

As we endure as faithful ambassadors of Messiah, we recognise that while the way is hard pressed, we are not crushed!

Qorintiyim Bět /2 Corinthians 4:7-11And we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the excellence of the power might be of Elohim, and not of us –  8 being hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; being perplexed, but not in despair; 9 being persecuted, but not forsaken; being thrown down, but not destroyed; 10 always bearing about in the body the dying of the Master יהושע , that the life of יהושע might also be manifested in our body. 11 For we, the living, are always delivered to death for the sake of יהושע , that the life of יהושע might also be manifested in our mortal flesh

Messiah is our Help and our support, as we recognise that in what He suffered He is able to help us in our sufferings:

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 2:18For in what He had suffered, Himself being tried, He is able to help those who are tried.

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 2:20-21For what credit is there in enduring a beating when you sin? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure, this finds favour with Elohim. 21 For to this you were called, because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps

Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 3:14But even if you suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not fear their threats, neither be troubled.

 

How are you handing the pressures – the ‘thlipsis’ – that come BECAUSE OF THE WORD? I am not talking about the pressures that come because of your own poor choices – I am talking about the pressures that come as a result of walking faithfully in obedience to the Torah of our Master.  Walking in His Torah is not hard – I will say that again – walking the narrow Torah way of our Master is not hard – compromising one’s walk is what makes it seem hard, as compromise only pulls you away from enduring through obedience while seeking to justify the lack of true commitment! So many easily compromise and sadly miss the true joy of the Freedom of the Torah.

As we consider the words being spoken to the assembly in Smurna, let us hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies and be on guard against falling away from our steadfast position in our Rock and Refuge, our Master and Elohim, יהושע Messiah! As we see the crazy blasphemous living by many who claim to be believers yet are of the House of Satan, for they partake in the table of demons and call the table of יהוה despicable, as they reject the need to keep His Sabbaths and Feasts, let us hold fast to being a faithful remnant that manifests the fragrance of Messiah – which to some will be the fragrance of life to life, while to most we will be the fragrance of death to death – and it is Messiah who makes us competent for such a task!

“BEING THE FRAGRANCE OF MESSIAH – A CALL FOR ENDURANCE!”

As we consider the pressures that we shall face for living reverently in Messiah, let us be trustworthy until death and never let go of our steadfast duty of manifesting the fragrance of our King! Hear this call for endurance as you hear what the Spirit is saying to us as an assembly that seeks to manifest the powerful fragrance of our Master and Elohim!

Maybe you have been facing some intense pressures and even some crippling times of poverty, and have been disgusted by the blasphemous living of whitewashed wanna-be believers. Know this – our Master knows what you have been going through and He knows all you have been doing, and He is calling us all to endure and be trustworthy until the end, for our reward is in the heavens! As we hear this call to endure I want to close with the very clear words of our great Master, Elohim and King – words that encourage us to not lose our ability to manifest His fragrance and proclaim His Kingdom Reign that is coming as we shine the Light of His Truth in all we say and do!

Mattithyahu/Matthew  5:10-16 “Blessed are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, because theirs is the reign of the heavens. 11 “Blessed are you when they reproach and persecute you, and falsely say every wicked word against you, for My sake. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, because your reward in the heavens is great. For in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt becomes tasteless, how shall it be seasoned? For it is no longer of any use but to be thrown out and to be trodden down by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. It is impossible for a city to be hidden on a mountain. 15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines to all those in the house. 16 “Let your light so shine before men, so that they see your good works and praise your Father who is in the heavens.

“BEING THE FRAGRANCE OF MESSIAH – A CALL FOR ENDURANCE!”

Hear the call and be trustworthy to the end!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!