HOLD FAST TO WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE MASTER! - Revelation 2:18-29

25th of the 3rd month 2015/2016

Shabbat Shalom,

Romiyim/Romans 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Shrink from what is wicked, cling to what is good.

CLING TO WHAT IS GOOD! In a message tonight called, “HOLD FAST TO WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE MASTER!”, let us be encouraged to do just that!

In teaching us that we are to be presenting our lives as a daily living offering, that is set-apart and well pleasing to Elohim, Sha’ul was making it very clear to us what reasonable worship is and what it is not, and in the process of being transformed by the renewing of our minds, we must be sober in our thinking and get rid of all selfishness. When we do this we will realise how we are all uniquely different parts in the body of Messiah, and each has a unique function, yet we are all members of each other. For a body to function as it should, all parts should be functioning as they should. Therefore as the Bride of our Master and Elohim we can learn from these words of Sha’ul as he tells us to make sure that we let love be without hypocrisy! The Greek word for ‘without hypocrisy’ is ἀνυπόκριτος anupokritos – Strong’s G505 which means, unhypocritical, without hypocrisy, unfeigned, and therefore can render the understanding of being, sincere, genuine. Let love be without hypocrisy can also be understood as saying ‘let love be genuine’!

This Greek word is a construct of two words: 1) α alpha – Strong’s G1 used as a negative prefix, and 2) ὑποκρίνομαι hupokrinomai – Strong’s G5271 which literally means, to answer, reply, on a stage, pretend. This is also made up from two words: 1) ὑπό hupo – Strong’s G5259 which means ‘under’ and further means ‘to be controlled by or in subjection to’; and 2) κρίνω krinō – Strong’s G2919 which means, to judge, decide, conclude, determine. One who is not without hypocrisy is a hypocrite which in the Greek is the word ὑποκριτής hupokritēs – Strong’s G5273 which means, one who answers, pretender, actor, dissembler (one who hides under a false appearance)’. and a ‘hypocrite’ referred originally to one who judged from under the cover of a mask thus, assuming an identity and a character which he was not. This term was typically referred to the actors on the Greek stage – that is one who took the part of another, giving the appearance of a false identity in order to indulge the fantasies of the audience.

Understanding this we can therefore see that Sha’ul is clearly telling us to not put up false appearances and indulge the fantasies of others! There are many hypocrites in the faith today as they are indulging the fantasies of those to whom they think they need to impress or please or follow, and are no different to an actor who must learn lines have been scripted for them. Hypocrite believers do not necessarily think for themselves, but will rather immerse themselves in learning the lines of a false identity and in doing so assume that identity in every aspect, becoming unable to properly discern what is truth and what is fiction! In the appeal for the believers to not be conformed to this hypocritical world, but rather be transformed by the renewing of minds, he is making an urgent plea for true believers to stop being hypocrites that are merely putting on a show for others, but rather be sober in one’s thoughts and start meditating on the Truth and let go of the false traditions and teachings that have been held on to for so long, thinking that they gave one an identity! To do that he tells us to shrink from what is wicked and cling to what is good! This is very important to understand as many are unwilling to shrink from what is wicked, rendering their hands being too weak to cling to what is good!

 The Greek word used for ‘shrink’ is ἀποστυγέω apostugeō – Strong’s G655 which literally means, to abhor, hate, be totally against, and by implication this means to make sure you have no part with that which is wicked!

The Greek word used for ‘cling’ is κολλάω kollaō – Strong’s G2853 which means, to unite, associate, cling, join, and comes from the word κόλλα kola which is the Greek word for glue, giving us a very clear understanding of what is being instructed here! We are to be ‘glued’ to what is good, and be so stuck to what is good that we will not be able to let it go! When we understand this as giving reference to that with which you associate or join yourself to, we are reminded that we must not be joined to that which is wicked as we can be reminded of what happened to those who were ‘joined to Ba’al Peor’:

Bemiḏbar/Numbers 25:5 And Mosheh said to the judges of Yisra’ĕl, “Each one of you slay his men who were joined to Baʽal Peʽor.

Yisra’ĕl began to whore with the daughters of Mo’aḇ who enticed them to slaughter to and bow down to their false mighty ones, and the displeasure of יהוה burned. The leaders were hung before יהוה and the judges were told to go and kill anyone who were joined to Ba’al Peʽor!

It was straight after this that one of the Yisra’ĕlite men brought a Miḏyanite woman into the camp and took her to his tent. Pineḥas then stood up and took a spear in his hand and thrust both of them through and the plague that had come into the camp was stopped! Why I am mentioning this is to highlight the need for us to cling to what is good and shrink from what is wicked and not the other way round!

Who or what do you associate with? Who we interact with can have a huge impact and influence on our lives. While many may associate with various people in the work place and have dealings with various clients, I am not talking about that kind of association. What I am talking about is who or what do you get personally or intimately associated with? Who are you closest friends?

What we must remember is that bad company corrupts good character, and if you find that you are closely associating with people who do not hold fast to the commands of Elohim, you are in severe danger of having the good character of Elohim in you being corrupted! When this happens we tend to find that compromise has a way of creeping in to a person’s life in order to accommodate those to whom they are associating closely with, which can cause one who was accustomed to clinging to what is good to lose their grip as the glue of set-apartness begins to be ripped off bit by bit.

Some people who have found themselves in a place where they are doing their best at doing what is right while trying to accommodate compromise at the same time are in a very dangerous place of being led astray by deceptive ways, becoming blinded by sin and risk being thrown onto the same bed as the adulterous whore and risk the fate that came to the Yisra’ĕlite man and Mo’aḇite woman who had joined themselves in error, and were killed by the spear of Pineḥas, which is a clear shadow picture of the Sharp Sword that comes out of the mouth of Messiah with which he will smite the nations. We need to be on guard each and every day, making sure that we are being glued to the Truth, clinging to our Master in all we say and do. In order for us to get a clearer picture of this I want us to look tonight at the message given to the assembly in Thyatira. Please turn with me to Ḥazon/Revelation 2:18-29 (Read).

Thyatira was situated about 65km south east of Pergamum on the road to Sardis. It was in an area known for its abundant crops. Thyatira was noted for its trade guilds, which were more organised than any other city. Dye manufacturing was an important industry, where the purple was made from a root instead of shellfish. Garment weaving, pottery making and brass works were also trades that were known to have existed in Thyatira. It is thought that the Good News may have been brought to this city by Ludia, a seller of purple, who was from Thyatira and worshipped Elohim and whose heart the Master did open to pay attention to what Sha’ul said when she met Sha’ul by a river just outside Philippi on a Sabbath day, where there used to be prayer (Ma’asei/Acts 16:14).

Of the 7 assemblies in Ḥazon/Revelation we take note that the message give to Thyatira was the longest of the 7, yet they were possibly the smallest of the 7. There was around 17,000 people in this very productive city with an estimated 3,000 who claimed to be believers.

The major religion of Thyatira was the worship of Apollo Tyrimnaios which was joined with the emperor worship cult. Apollo was the Greek mythical sun deity that was worshipped and was believed to be the son of Zeus. There was a temple built to Apollo in Thyatira, and this makes sense why the introduction of this letter is given as, “This says the Son of Elohim…”. Messiah was making it clear in his introduction that there is no Apollo or Zeus or any other mythical deities, and He addresses Himself as Son of Elohim as a direct attack on their false belief system.

Θυάτειρα Thuateira – Strong’s G2363 means, odour of affliction. Apollo was the mythical Greek sun-deity of music and arts, and herein lies a great lesson for us to hold fast to the truth amidst a wicked world that is mesmerised by the influence of worldly music and the arts or media! As we hold fast and live set-apart lives in Messiah, we will be persecuted and our lives are to be a pleasing aroma to Elohim, through our obedience, as the odour of our affliction goes up before Him with gladness of heart, as we guard His commands without compromise!

This assembly in Thyatira that was being addressed by the Master could be best understood as being the compromising assembly, or ‘the doctrinally compromising assembly’.

There was some great attributes credited to this assembly, yet with the mixing of compromised doctrines it was at risk of being put to death!

In verse 19 the Master makes it clear to this assembly that He knew their works, love, service, belief and endurance! They had a lot of good going for them, and they were increasing in these, which is a great commendation from the Master.

The Greek word for ‘works’ is ἔργον ergon – Strong’s G2041 which means, works, labour, business, employment, behaviour, deeds, and the Greek word for ‘service’ is διακονία diakonia – Strong’s G1248 which means, service, ministry, mission, support, relief, which comes from the word διάκονος diakonos – Strong’s G1249 which means, a servant, minister, deacon, waiter.

This Greek word for love is ἀγάπη agape – Strong’s G26 and is used 9 times in the 13 verses of Chapter 13 in Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians!!! This both expresses the love that Elohim has for us, as well as  what we ought to have for Him, as we faithfully obey His commands. This is the kind of love that we are to express in our daily lives toward each other, as a body that is being knit together in Messiah!

The Greek word for ‘belief’ is πίστις pistis – Strong’s G4102 which means, faith, faithfulness, pledge, conviction of the Truth which 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.

The Greek word translated as ‘endurance’ is ὑπομονή hupomonē – Strong’s G5281 which means, a patient enduring, steadfastness, perseverance, a remaining behind, and this word comes from the Greek word ὑπομένω hupomenō – Strong’s G5278 which means, to stay behind, to await, endure, which comes from the two words: 1) ὑπό hupo – Strong’s G5259 which means ‘under, in subjection to’, and 2) μένω menō – Strong’s G3306 and means, to stay, abide, remain, stand’ – this word is the word used in Yoḥanan/John 15 where we are told to ‘stay in, remain in’ Messiah!

As we consider these words it seems at first glance that this assembly was in fact doing great – they were growing from where they had started in their works, love, service, belief and endurance.

The Master, however, did have something against them, and despite all the great attributes of walking in the Truth, when it is coupled with a tolerance of wickedness and compromised teachings, all the good may come to nought!

No amount of sacrificial works can compensate for the tolerance of evil.

Izeḇel - אִיזֶבֶל  - Strong’s H348 means, Ba‘al exalts or Ba‘al is husband and can also carry the meaning unchaste which means lacking in purity and integrity – she was a wicked woman, which the spirit of Izeḇel must not be tolerated at all by the children of Yisra’ĕl. Aḥaḇ, who was the 7th king of the House of Yisra’ĕl, was a wicked king and son of the wicked Omri. Aḥaḇ married Izeḇel which certainly highlights for us the clear state of the depravity of the House of Yisra’ĕl who had whored after Ba‘al under the leading of this ‘bride of Satan’.

This assembly in Thyatira, despite all their good works, love, belief, service and endurance, were allowing the influence of corrupted teachings to be that which was leading the believers astray, and in the process of having compromised worship, those who had been led astray were clearly found guilty of whoring, and unless they repented they would be thrown into great affliction and be put to death!

The seductive teaching of Izeḇel was similar to the ‘teaching of Bilʽam’ that the Master condemned the assembly in Pergamos for. She taught believers how to compromise with the Roman religion and their practices, so that believers would not lose their jobs or their lives!

In an interesting contrast to the message given to the assembly in Ephesos we take note that the assembly in Ephesos was becoming weakened in their love while they still were being faithful to judge false teachers, and here in the message given to Thyatira we see the opposite, as this assembly were growing their love, yet were being tolerant of false teachings that were corrupting many.

Both of these extremes must be avoided at all costs as we see Sha’ul telling us clearly in Eph’siyim the clear purpose of being equipped properly in the Truth by those whom the Master has appointed:

Eph’siyim/Ephesians 4:14-16 “so that we should no longer be children, tossed and borne about by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men, in cleverness, unto the craftiness of leading astray, 15 but, maintaining the truth in love, we grow up in all respects into Him who is the head, Messiah, 16 from whom the entire body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the working by which each part does its share, causes growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

What is interesting to take note of when looking at this message of repentance given to the assembly in Thyatira is that there were some who not only were tolerant of compromise and false teachings but they were also headstrong in refusing to repent of allowing the twisted compromise to be acceptable! What is clear in the words of our Master is that He has given time for the whore to repent and she refused, so anyone who continues to allow her twisted teachings to be allowed would be thrown into great affliction!

This reminds me of the clear warning of what happens to those who do not receive a love for the Truth in:

Tas’loniqim Bet/2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness in those perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth, in order for them to be saved. 11 And for this reason Elohim sends them a working of delusion, for them to believe the falsehood, 12 in order that all should be judged who did not believe the truth, but have delighted in the unrighteousness.

Those who continue to tolerate the corrupted teachings that are being presented by many who deny the Master will be handed over to the delusion of those teachings and their end is not good!

What we also take note of here in this message to Thyatira is that not all were corrupted by the false teachings of the whore. There were some who were sober minded and remaining steadfast in the Truth. The teachings of the whore are ‘the depths of Satan’ by which many are being led astray, but to those who have not known them He said He would put no further burden. The only burden we are to have is to walk in love, which is to walk in complete obedience to His commands and be set-apart with no compromise being tolerated at all!

The commission given to the faithful remnant is clear – HOLD FAST TO WHAT YOU HAVE!!!

The Greek word used here for ‘hold fast’ is κρατέω  krateō – Strong’s G2902 which means, to be strong, rule, clinging, hold fast, and this word carries with it the intensity of be very strong in holding on. We see this word being used in the negative sense in:

Marqos/Mark 7:6-9 “And He answering, said to them, “Well did Yeshayahu prophesy concerning you hypocrites, as it has been written, ‘This people respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.’ 8 “Forsaking the command of Elohim, you hold fast the tradition of men.” 9 And He said to them, “Well do you set aside the command of Elohim, in order to guard your tradition.

In the negative sense it reveals that this kind of holding fast to false traditions and teachings is as result of becoming so hard headed that you will not let go of them! So many today are holding fast with major pride and stubbornness to traditions and commands of men that they simply refuse to let go of and are therefore unable to see clearly and unable to lovingly and obediently cling to יהוה and guard His commands, all because they have tolerated the false teachings of the whore who masquerades as light!

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 10:20Fear יהוה your Elohim. Serve Him, and cling to Him, and swear by His Name.

The Hebrew word used here for ‘cling’ is דָּבַק  daḇaq – Strong’s H1692 and means, to cling, cleave, keep close, closely pursued, fasten its grip, joined, remained steadfast. Clinging to יהוה expresses our total reliance upon Him – which is very opposite to independence that the world teaches and promotes ! We are to be dependent upon יהוה, and we can be, as we know that He fights for us and His Word does not fail!

The Greek word used in the LXX (Septuagint) for ‘cling’ is κολλάω kollaō – Strong’s G2853 as already discussed and therefore are able to see what true clinging or holding on to the Master entails! We are to be glued to Him, and hold fast until He comes, because if we do not we risk being ripped off and thrown out as worthless servants who tolerated compromise and falsehood!

The 3 key instructions given in this message is still a very loud one being given to the Bride today, and that is:

1) Stop tolerating evil, no matter how deceptively appealing it is presented. The only way to do this faithfully is by meditating on the word day and night and having our minds renewed in order to correctly discern between the set-apart and the profane.

2) Stop keeping company with evil. Be careful who you closely associate with and join yourself to!

3) HOLD FAST TO WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE MASTER!

The Master searches the hearts and kidneys and He knows all, this we must recognise and He will give according to each one’s works. Are you being a good and faithful servant who is using the talents that He has put in your hand, or have you buried His gift and tolerated compromise!

Hold on until יהושע comes again! This command to hold on until He comes gives us the picture of being steadfast between Shaḇu’ot and Yom Kippur – 4 months between Shaḇu’ot in the 3rd month and the Feasts in the 7th month! Hold on to the Covenant that has now been written on your heart!

The one who holds on and overcomes and guards the works of Elohim until the end – that is the one who is a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, until the end, shall be given authority to rule the nations!!! What authority is this? The authority of the rule of the Kingdom of Messiah!! His Kingdom has Kingdom rules, which we will officiate over the nations. His Kingdom rule is clearly outlined through His Torah. It is this Kingdom rule that we guard and do, right here and now, holding fast to the pure obedience of His word until He comes, that we will get to exercise over the nations in His Reign!

We have His Word in our heart, as pictured through Shaḇu’ot, and are to guard to do what is written in His Word, until Messiah, The Bright Morning Star comes:

Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 1:19 “And we have the prophetic word made more certain, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts

As we consider this clear message given to the assembly in Thyatira, ask yourself the following as you look intently into the mirror of the Word of Truth, “Have I been truly holding fast to what I have in the Master, or have I tolerated compromised ways and teachings that has caused by grip to become weakened?”

This is a call for strong endurance and a unshakeable clinging to the Master, and the call to be the fragrance of Messiah wherever we are. To some we will be the fragrance of death to death, but to others we will be the fragrance of life to life.

HOLD FAST TO WHAT YOU HAVE IN THE MASTER!

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies!

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!