GUARD, ENDURE, HOLD FAST AND OVERCOME! - Revelation 3:7-13

24th of the 8th month 2015/2016

Shabbat Shalom all,

Yoḥanan/John 14:21He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.

These were some of the very encouraging words that our Master and Elohim spoke to the taught ones when He told them that He was about to go and be delivered up. His encouragement to endure was clear and He made it clear that if anyone loves Him that they would guard His Word. In telling His taught ones to guard His Word, Messiah also made it clear that they were to love one another, and by this they would be known as being the taught ones of the Master, if they loved one another. In a message tonight called, “GUARD, ENDURE, HOLD FAST AND OVERCOME!” I want us to be encouraged and strengthened in the Word to be taught ones who guard the commands of the Master and be steadfast in the endurance that is called for!

Luqas/Luke 21:19 “Possess your lives by your endurance!”

The Greek word used here for ‘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’ – which is the word that is used in Yoḥanan/John 15 where we are told to ‘stay in, remain in’ Messiah!

Proper endurance in the Master calls for us to ‘stay in’ Him and ‘be in subjection to’ Him, by guarding His commands!

The Greek word translated as ‘possess’ is κτάομαι ktaomai – Strong’s G2932 which means, to possess, acquire, gain, obtain, purchase. As faithful talmidim (disciples) of Messiah, we recognise that while He ascended to the Most Set-Apart Place, where He continually intercedes for us as our High Priest, we who are here, and have ‘remained behind’, need to endure and be steadfast in staying in Him as we walk in subjection to His clear Torah. This call to possess our lives by endurance implies that endurance is certainly needed, especially as we live in a world that is corrupt and wicked and if one does not ‘possess by endurance’ they may just see their lives being stolen away through the influence of sin and compromise. Tonight I would like us to look at the message given to the assembly in Philadelphia – the enduring assembly! Please turn with me to Ḥazon/Revelation 3:7-13 (Read).

The Greek word Φιλαδέλφεια Philadelphia – Strong’s G5359 means, brotherly love, which comes from the adjective φιλάδελφος philadelphos – Strong’s G5361 which means, loving one’s brother, being brotherly, which comes from the construct of two Greek words: 1) φίλος  philos – Strong’s G5384 which means, beloved, dear, friend, and 2) ἀδελφός adelphos – Strong’s G80 which means, a brother, believing husband, fellow believer’.

Sha’ul made it clear to the taught one’s in Thessalonica that is was not necessary for him to write to them about brotherly love:

Tas’loniqim Aleph/1 Thessalonians 4:9 “And it is not necessary to write to you about brotherly love, for you yourselves are taught by Elohim to love one another

Our Good Teacher has given us all we need for life and reverence and as we stay in Him and walk even as He walked and guard His commands we are enabled to properly love one another as we should.

Philadelphia was situated about 45km SE of Sardis, in an area well known for its agricultural products, but was severely afflicted with earthquakes which destroyed the city several times. This city was situated in a strategic place on the main route of the Imperial Post from Rome to the east and was called “the gateway to the east”. It was also called “little Athens” because of the many temples in the city. It was founded by Attalus II Philadelphus of Pergamos, to be an "open door" for Greek culture. Philadelphia specialized in textile and leather production. The only major problem with the location was that the area was prone to earthquakes; it sat on a geological fault and it was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 17 that also destroyed Sardis and ten other cities. It was then rebuilt by Emperor Tiberius. Afterward some of the citizens refused to move back to the city and remained in the surrounding countryside which they called “the burnt land”. There did not seem to be much security in the city of brotherly love, and we take note that Philadelphia and Smyrna were the two most afflicted assemblies of the 7 and were the two that did not receive a rebuke, but rather an encouragement to endure! In Smyrna the promise was given that the congregation of Satan would not prevail over the faithful and here to Philadelphia it was told that the false worshippers would come and bow before the true, in acknowledgement of who Elohim is!

In this message to the assembly in Philadelphia our Master is introduced as:

He who is set-apart, He who is true, He who has the key of Dawiḏ, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens

This declaration of who was speaking is made very clear, for He who is the Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl is יהוה Ěl Shaddai:

Ḥazon/Revelation 4:8And the four living creatures, each having six wings, were covered with eyes around and within. And they do not cease, day or night, saying, “Set-apart, set-apart, set-apart, יהוה Ěl Shaddai, who was, and who is, and who is coming!

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 48:17 “Thus said יהוה, your Redeemer, the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl, “I am יהוה your Elohim, teaching you what is best, leading you by the way you should go.

The concept of set-apartness is one of the central themes we find throughout the book of Yeshayahu/Isaiah and what is certainly emphasised is his book is that The Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl is יהוה, and the clear acknowledgement and declaration of this is seen over 30 times in Yeshayahu alone!

The Hebrew term קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵלqoḏesh Yisra’ĕl occurs in 18 verses of the Tanak (O.T.) with 15 of them being used in Yeshayahu/Isaiah, with the other 3 verses being found in: Melaḵim Bět/2 Kings 19:22; Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 50:29; and Tehillah/Psalm 71:22, with all of these giving a clear reference to יהוה the Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl!

Why I am mentioning this is to strengthen the clear and powerful witness we have in Scripture in terms of the revelation of Messiah, who is making it clear here in His message to this assembly that He is The Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl!

I certainly love finding these great nuggets of truth that are made abundantly clear throughout Scripture that strengthens our ability to boldly proclaim that יהושע Messiah is our Master and Elohim and the Only True Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl! What a great encouragement these words were to the believers in Philadelphia, as they were receiving a great word of encouragement for their continued endurance from the One who causes us to be and The One who became our Saviour and causer of everlasting deliverance to those obeying Him!

Messiah is the Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl and He is the True One!

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:20And we know that the Son of Elohim has come and has given us an understanding, so that we might know the true One. And we are in the true One, in His Son יהושע Messiah. This is the true Elohim and everlasting life.

There were hundreds of false deities that were being worshipped among the nations in those days, just like today!

The Set-Apart and True One has the keys of Dawiḏ and the promise of doors that were to be opened by the Master and would not be shut was a huge encouragement, especially in a city that had become an open door for Greek culture that promoted false worship! We too can be greatly encouraged by these words of our Master and recognise that we are well equipped to endure and hold fast to His Truth because He is the Door and while the enemy may try to set up false doors of hope, they will not give proper access to everlasting life. Messiah is the Way the Truth and the Life and He has given us entrance into His reign and those who do not obey Him will be shut out, giving us the sure promise of a reign of everlasting piece where the enemy and sin will be destroyed – just as in the days of Noaḥ where only the righteous 8 entered into the ark and Elohim shut the door and destroyed the wicked!

This wording of ‘the keys of Dawiḏ would have caused the hearers to remember the imagery of this as found in Yeshayahu/Isaiah 22:15-25, which would encourage them in the understanding of the events that took place as a shadow picture of Messiah! Let us read this passage from Yeshayahu:

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 22:15-25 “Thus said the Master יהוה of hosts, “Go, come to this steward, to Sheḇnah, who is over the house, and say, 16 ‘What have you here, and whom have you here, that you have hewn a tomb here, as he who hews himself a tomb on high, cutting out a resting place for himself in a rock? 17 ‘See, יהוה is hurling you away, O man, and is firmly grasping you, 18 rolling you up tightly like a ball, into a wide land. There you are to die, and there your esteemed chariots are to be the shame of your master’s house. 19 ‘And I shall drive you from your office, and you shall be ousted from your position. 20 ‘And it shall be in that day, that I shall call My servant Elyaqim son of Ḥilqiyahu. 21 ‘And I shall put your robe on him, and strengthen him with your girdle, and give your authority into his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim and to the house of Yehuḏah. 22 ‘And I shall place the key of the house of Dawiḏ on his shoulder. And he shall open, and no one shuts; and shall shut, and no one opens. 23 ‘And I shall fasten him like a peg in a steadfast place, and he shall become a throne of esteem to his father’s house. 24 ‘And they shall hang on him all the weight of his father’s house, the offspring and the offshoots, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the jars. 25 ‘In that day,’ declares יהוה of hosts, ‘the peg that is fastened in the steadfast place shall be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it shall be cut off. For יהוה has spoken.’

The setting of this passage is as follows:

It was during the reign of Ḥizqiyahu when Ashshur came up against all the walled cities of Yerushalayim and captured them. Ḥizqiyahu gave the sovereign of Ashshur all the silver and gold that was found in the House of יהוה, and at that time he cut off the doors of the Hĕḵal of יהוה, and the doorposts which he had overlaid, and gave it to the sovereign of Ashshur.

שֶׁבְנָא Sheḇnah – Strong’s H7644 which means, vigour was the scribe and secretary to Ḥizqiyahu who, being so close to royalty, assumed that he had the right to be treated like a king himself. This is a clear shadow picture of Satan or the counterfeit Messiah who has tried to usurp the position of king and as Ḥazon/Revelation 19:20 tells us that the beast and the false prophet shall be thrown into the lake of fire, so too was Sheḇnah to be thrown out and Elyaqim would have the ‘robe’ of authority put on him, to be over the house, which shadow pictures Messiah taking up His rightful place as Redeemer and King over the House of Yisra’ĕl. אֶלְיָקִים Elyaqim – Strong’s H471 means, El sets up, El raises up and he was the son of חִלְקִיָּהוּ Ḥilqiyahu – Strong’s H2518 which means, my portion is Yah.

Sheḇnah was a corrupt official who would be removed from his office of authority and it would be given to a faithful man, Elyaqim, who would now have the keys, which represented authority to open and shut.

These prophetic words that were given here in Yeshayahu spoke clearly of Messiah who would be set up as High Priest and be robed in the purest garments of righteousness in order to exercise complete authority over a redeemed Bride – Yisra’ĕl.

We also have in Scripture another Elyaqim who was the son of Yoshiyahu who Pharaoh Neḵo set up to reign in the place of Yoshiyahu and changed his name to יְהוֹיָקִים Yehoyaqim – Strong’s H3079 which means, יהוה raises up, after Pharaoh had taken Yeho’aḥaz, the brother of Elyaqim who had only reigned 3 months, to Mitsrayim.

Yehoyaqim (Elyaqim) did evil in the eyes of יהוה, and Neḇuḵaḏnetstsar sovereign of Baḇel came up against him, and bound him in bronze shackles and took him away to Baḇel. Why I am mentioning this is to highlight a powerful lesson in Scripture that teaches us that it is only the one that יהוה appoints and raises up that will be established. Pharaoh had appointed a wicked Elyaqim as sovereign and he was bound in shackles and removed, whereas the other Elyaqim that we find in Scripture who was a faithful servant would be appointed by יהוה and become a father to the inhabitants of Yerushalayim! This is a powerful shadow picture of Messiah who was raised up and is established as High Priest and Sovereign forever in the order of Malkitseḏeq, and having the keys of Dawiḏ signifies the everlasting authority of the True beloved King who is enthroned on High and whose reign is established forever!

While the Greeks saw Philadelphia as ‘an open door’ for their culture to be spread, Messiah makes it clear that He is the One who will open the door for His Besorah to be made known by His faithful enduring ambassadors.

In the Renewed Writings (N.T.) the idea of a door being opened speaks of the opportunity that is given for the Good News to be proclaimed, despite any opposition that may come!

Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 16:9 “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and many are opposing.

Qorintiyim Bět/2 Corinthians 2:12And when I came to Troas for the Good News of Messiah, and a door was opened to me by the Master.

Qolasim/Colossians 4:2-4 “Continue in prayer, watching therein, with thanksgiving, 3 praying at the same time also for us, that Elohim would open to us a door for the word, to speak the secret of Messiah, for which I am also in chains, 4 so that I make it clear, as I should speak.

Despite the intense afflictions and opposition to the Truth that the believers in Philadelphia were facing they were greatly assured by the words of the Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl.

Amidst the intense persecutions the believers at Philadelphia were given a great opportunity to proclaim the good news and express it through their loving obedience in guarding the commands of Elohim! The question is whether they would take this opportunity or not, whether they would continue to endure or fall under the pressures of the world around them?

It is no different today, as we too face similar afflictions and persecutions for our faith, especially as the world keeps opening more and more doors of depravity into people’s lives through various means, and it is only through the Master that we are able to properly shut those doors, as we remain in Him and guard righteousness with our all! While the believers in Philadelphia faced many obstacles we take note here of two main obstacles that needed to be overcome. The first was their seeming lack of strength, or as Messiah puts it – ‘you have little power’. Sha’ul made it clear that he had strength to do all through Messiah who strengthened Him, and our competence is from Elohim:

Pilipiyim/Philippians 4:13 “I have strength to do all, through Messiah who empowers me.”

Qorintiyim Bět /2 Corinthians 3:4-5 “And such trust we have toward Elohim, through the Messiah. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to reckon any matter as from ourselves, but our competence is from Elohim

This assembly may not have been a very big one yet it was a faithful one, and here they were being greatly encouraged to not be discouraged by what may be seen as a lack of power; the very encouragement we certainly need to hear today, especially as we see that there are not many people who are holding fast to the truth and enduring, for there are many who are sadly falling away when the pressures of life become too much!

This faithful assembly guarded the Word of Elohim and did not deny His Name!

The second big obstacle that they faced was the extreme opposition that they were facing from some unbelieving Yehuḏim. Those who claimed to be true believers were of the congregation of Satan, and the clear difference is noted here as the false worshippers did not guard the Word of Elohim and denied His Name! This is a clear picture of many today who have cast aside the Word of Elohim and claim that the Torah is of no more use, as well as those who may be adhering to the Torah is some way or form yet they deny who the one True Master and Elohim is, as they deny that יהושע Messiah is our Master and Elohim and the Only True Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl - יהוה Ěl Shaddai!

It is made clear that the false worshippers who claim to be true worshippers but have denied Messiah and disregarded His Word would come and bow down before the True worshippers. This too is a prophetic picture of what will happen when our Master and Elohim comes again, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that יהושע Messiah is Master!!!

The encouragement for guarding His Word is the firm assurance that we will be guarded from destruction and the second death! While the believers here faced obstacles they had great opportunities to proclaim the Good News!

Unbelief sees obstacles, but true belief/faith that works obedience sees opportunities, and since The Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl holds the keys; we acknowledge and recognise that He is in control of the outcome! So what do we have to fear? Nobody can close the doors as long as He keeps them open! Fear, unbelief and delay through compromise has caused many believers to miss various opportunities and open doors that Elohim has given.

Have you missed opportunities that were Elohim given, through fear, unbelief and delay? How often have you allowed the obstacles in your way to cloud the view of your opportunities? Obstacles must be seen as mere instances or objects that remind and enable us to fix our eyes on the One who holds the keys and know that He provides the way and that there are no obstacles too great or Him to lead us through!

The way we ensure that we do not miss any open door to speak the Good News without hindrance is by guarding the Word with endurance! The Greek word used here for ‘guarding’ is τηρέω tēreō – Strong’s G5083 which means,to attend to carefully, to take care of, to guard, metaphorically – to keep one in the state in which he is, to observe, to hold fast, and this is a verb which clearly implies an action that is required rather than a passive nullification of the need to observe. It comes from the word τηρός tēros which is a ‘guard’, and we know that a guard cannot guard correctly if they are not alert and watchful!

Figuratively this word τηρέω tēreō means, obey, fulfil a duty, precept, law or custom, and to perform watchfully. To guard the instructions of the One we know implies an active obedience to what we hear Him speak and instruct and therefore be diligent to be watchful over His clear Words!

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 2:3-7 “And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands. 4 The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked. 7 Beloved, I write no fresh command to you, but an old command which you have had from the beginning. The old command is the Word which you heard from the beginning.”

! There are many liars around today just as Messiah called those who claimed to be Yehuḏim but were not, as they were liars who were of the congregation of Satan. We once again take note in Scripture how Messiah had no problem with calling false worshippers what they are as He basically called them Satanists! Those who did not guard His Word and those who denied His Name were not of the True assembly but were of the congregation of Satan and therefore were Satanists, to put it bluntly! If anyone does not guard the commands of our Master and Elohim and denies His Name then they show that they do not love Him and are of the congregation of Satan, despite their claims to be true believers! We are to be true servants of the Most High who properly make the good confession before many, as we Hear-Guard and Do our Master’s commands.

The Greek word used here for ‘endurance’ is ὑπομονή hupomonē – Strong’s G5281 as already mentioned tonight and teaches us that we endure by staying in the Master and being subject to Him, guarding His commands at all times!

We have, like the believers in Philadelphia, been called to ‘hold’ what we have, and the Greek word that is translated as ‘hold’ is κρατέω  krateō – Strong’s G2902 which means, to be strong, rule, clinging, hold fast, and this word carries with it the intensity of being very strong in holding on. This word is also used in Scripture to describe, in a negative way, those who hold fast to vain traditions while easily forsaking the commands of Elohim. What we hold fast to is of vital importance for we cannot be holding fast to two different things, despite the vain efforts of many to do so. Holding fast to the Truth must cause us to let go of inherited lies and vain traditions that lead to compromise and corruption.

The one who overcomes will be a supporting post in the Dwelling Place of Elohim!

The Greek word for ‘overcomes’ is νικάω nikaō – Strong’s G3528 which means, to conquer, prevail, overcome, victorious.

Romiyim/Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:3-5For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy, 4 because everyone having been born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the overcoming that has overcome the world: our belief. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world but he who believes that יהושע is the Son of Elohim?

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! Those who endure and overcome will by no means go out but will rather enter in to the reign of our Master and be given the crown of everlasting life!

 

As we consider the powerful message to this assembly we are able to receive this living message in to our hearts today and be encouraged to hold fast and overcome, despite the obstacles we may have been facing or will face in the future, and be able to endure even the toughest of earthquakes as we stay in the Master and guard His word.

Maybe you have had earthquake experiences in your life that has destroyed almost everything you had and made you very weak, or perhaps you have faced much opposition and persecution that has almost destroyed your ability to witness or the desire to do so.

I believe today our Master יהושע Messiah wants to say to you that He knows your works, and that you have little strength and that you have kept His Word and not denied His name, even though it has been tough. He knows all and we take note that He makes it clear to every assembly that He knows their works!!! The Greek word used here for ‘works’ is ἔργον ergon – Strong’s G2041 which means, works, labour, business, employment, behaviour, deeds’.

This message is as alive today as it was for those believers back then, and we must be on guard against hardening our hearts in rebellion to His Word and be encouraged to guard, endure, hold fast and overcome!

Do not let the compromise of others, who say they are believers, become a stumbling block to your belief!

Our Master sets before each and every one of us today ‘an open door’ that no one can shut! An open door is given to each of us so that we can guard His commands and bear His Name as an effective witness. And know this - His favour is sufficient for us as we stand armed in His Torah and are strengthened to firmly grasp the love of Messiah that surpasses all knowledge.  Perhaps you have felt like you have been weakened by many trials and obstacles of late. Maybe you have been shattered by the compromise of others who say they are of the belief; maybe you have found your ability to witness being weakened due to the zeal to do so dwindling under the afflictions of the world. This is a call to the faithful remnant to stand and keep standing in the Truth!

Hear then this encouraging call to:

GUARD, ENDURE, HOLD FAST AND OVERCOME!

These are the words of the Set-Apart One of Yisra’ĕl!!!

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!