Monday, October 3, 2011

The Letter to the Congregation at Philadelphia

Ahhh, the church at Philadelphia.  Finally!

They, along with Smyrna, did not get a bad report.  And Philadelphia and Smyrna are the only two cities of the seven that still stand today, even though they now have different names.

The modern Turkish city of Alasehir began as Philadelphia. It was established in 189 B.C. by King Eumenes II of Pergamos (197-160 B.C.). Eumenes II named the city for the love of his brother, who would be his successor, Attalus II (159-138 B.C.), whose loyalty earned him the nickname "Philadelphos", literally "one who loves his brother".  Today’s church in Alasehir is underground due to persecution from Islam.

Here is the letter, Rev 3:7-12:

 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.  Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.   

Holy and true - This church upheld that the Messiah is completely holy.  Once can respect someone who is completely holy, and they respected God. They recognized the magnitude of being in a relationship with Someone so completely holy.   He is True. The Greek word means real, genuine, which is the opposite of“religion.” - not a set of rules, or a code, or a god taught by the Romans. 

Key of David – This section is quoted from Isaiah 22, where you can read the account of Shebna.  His authority was taken away and given to Eliakim - the key of David is given to him. Shebna had controlled access to the king.  The key of David represents the Lord opening the way and inviting us into His presence. Shebna means He came near. Eliakim means God will raise up. 

Is 22:22  The key of the house of David
I will lay on his shoulder;
So he shall open, and no one shall shut;
And he shall shut, and no one shall open. 

The open door is an important feature of this letter.  The city of Philadelphia was a gateway city to Asia– it became a missionary center heading into Asia in the first century.  Thus the mention of the open door – the gateway city. 

The main era of history that this church represents is mainly 1800-1900s and probably continuing to the rapture.  Philadelphia replaced a church that was dead with one that is alive.  This is the great missionary movement!  The end of the 1700s saw an explosion of people becoming missionaries… going and sharing the love of Yeshua with the world. Not crusades or inquisitions or state churches. It was motivated by love... love of God and love of people, just like the two greatest commandments tell us.
Here are a few examples:  William Carey in 1792 established the Baptist Missionary Society.  This was followed by the London Missionary Society, focusing on the South Pacific and Africa.  Hudson Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1865.  Other well-known missionaries of this era were David Livingstone, Amy Carmichael, and Gladys Aylward.

The world was turned upside down by the work of these early missionaries.  Most of the believers before then had been in the west, but today, the church is spreading like wildfire in the 10/40 window of Asia.   The door is closing to outside missionaries in many of these countries, but now indigenous missionaries are being raised up to reach their own people.
Moving on.. regarding the synagogue of satan, the church did suffer some persecution from the unbelieving Jewish community there (who eventually became believers, according to writings by Ignatius, pastor of Antioch). 
Isaiah 60:14 gives us a picture: 
Also the sons of those who afflicted you
Shall come bowing to you,
And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet;
And they shall call you The City of the LORD,
Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

They have a small amount of strength (the Greek word means power), and they have not denied His name. We all may be asked to deny His name in the near future.  Be ready!

The church at Philadelphia kept His Word – it was a time of restoration of Bible truth.  Truths are still coming forth -spiritual revelations from God.  Nobody talked about end time prophecy before 1948.  Today there are so many learning tools available - lexicons, interlinears, commentaries, Dead Sea Scrolls.  In the era of Sardis (the Reformation), many things were not yet restored.

The church at Philadelphia was promised that they would be kept from the hour of trial facing the whole earth. They will obviously receive protection from something that is bad… could this be special protection during the great tribulation or is it protection from the wrath of God, which follows the great tribulation?  I believe it could be either one.  However,  I do not believe it is a catching away prior to the great tribulation.  Too many scriptures show the presence of believers on earth during this time frame.

Let no man take your crown – Apparently they already had it - had earned it.  Why would the Lord caution them to hold fast to it?  Laodicea is on its way – the lies and deception.  Watch for my last post on the seven churches, coming soon!

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