Not by Might or Power

(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung  6/26/2021

Brethren, are you a Philadelphian, or are you a Laodicean?  The old-timers are dying off.  The second and third generation Christians face a difficult hurdle.  It is not easy for them to know how to be fully on track as Christians.

When the Sabbath and Biblical doctrines are mentioned the young Christians say, “I’ve always known those things.” – because they were raised in the church.  How can a person, young or old, go about fully proving Godly precepts and principles for themselves when the topics are already so intrinsic to them?

It is difficult for second and third generation Christians to take ownership of true Christian concepts because they never had to repent of:  Worshipping on Sunday – Sabbath breaking, God’s food laws, etc.  They did not have to leave the security of family and home to follow the truth.  They never loved Christmas, Easter so they did not have to repent of those pagan practices.

We have a strange phenomenon in God’s Church.  We all realize that we are very near to the return of Jesus Christ, and yet, no one wants to be a Laodicean – the last group mentioned by Jesus Christ in Revelation 3.  

After the Church of Philadelphia – following in sequence – we come to the Church of the Laodiceans – the last city on the old mail route that began with the city of Ephesus.  Laodicea is a Church that has degraded to a horrible spiritual condition – Jesus tells us so. 

The Laodiceans have let down spiritually and become something God is displeased with.  We find that the Church of the Laodiceans is reduced to a pitiful Church – corrupted and lacking in every way.  We find that they are ‘lukewarm, poor, blind, miserable and naked, even though they think that they are rich and increased with goods.’ 

Because of that Biblical description, no one wants to be a Laodicean.  Everyone wants to believe that they are a Philadelphian.  But brethren, God says that there are Laodiceans! 

Why is the Church of Laodicea so much worse than the Church of the Philadelphians?   After all, they each represent the true Church. 

You would think that with the good example set by the Philadelphians, the Laodiceans would rise to great heights – spiritually speaking.  But, in fact, Jesus tells us that He is not in that Laodicean Church!  Jesus Christ is outside of the Church knocking on their door – calling on Laodicea to be zealous and repent.

Revelation 3:19-20  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent

Jesus calls for their repentance because they are a sinful lot – who have lost their zeal for true Christianity.  Jesus appeals to every single Laodicean – individually!

Revelation 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man [anyone] hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Here is the big question we are looking into in today’s sermon.  How is it possible for Church brethren to have such a role model as Jesus Christ in the Church of the Philadelphians, and then succumb to the pitfalls of the Church of the Laodiceans?  But it is happening right before our eyes.  We are in Laodicean days.

In my last sermon we saw that though Solomon’s teacher was King David, he succumbed and capitulated to worldly wisdom and turned from God.  With Solomon all that mattered was the fact that he was at the center of it all having the exaltation of human nature, Solomon in having given himself over to all the excesses of sin.  Solomon ceased resisting sin, and surrendered to a life of evil.

How could Solomon do that after witnessing the life and writings of his father, King David?  Solomon’s heart was turned away after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.  Solomon was not looking to God as David did.  Solomon’s focus was on himself:

I built it, I did it…  Ecclesiastes 2:4  I made me great works; I built me houses; I planted me vineyards: 

Ecclesiastes 2:5  I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: 

Ecclesiastes 2:6  I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that brings forth trees: 

Ecclesiastes 2:7  I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 

Ecclesiastes 2:8  I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers,

Ecclesiastes 2:10  And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them,

Ecclesiastes 2:11  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought,

God is sternly warning the Church of today that we are prone to the same mistake made by many before us. 

King Hezekiah of Judah was an exceptionally good king. (2Kings 16:20-20:21; 2Chronicles 28:27-32:33; and Isaiah 36:1-39:8. Other references include Proverbs 25:1; Isaiah 1:1; Jeremiah 15:4, 26:18-19; Hosea 1:1; and Micah 1:1.)

And, like Solomon, Hezekiah’s son Manasseh did not follow in his footsteps.  [This is not the ‘Manasseh’ of Ephraim and Manasseh – Joseph’s sons.]  This Manasseh is a later King of Judah.

Manasseh did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger (2Chronicles 33:2-9, 2Kings 21:2).  Manasseh seduced Judah using astrology, spiritism, witchcraft, human sacrifice, pagan altars, and idol groves.  He destroyed all of Hezekiah’s good works.

Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, is another example of this all too common inclination to let down in those with whom God is working. 

2Kings 18:5  [Hezekiah, one of the best kings of Judah] trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. 

2Kings 18:6  For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. 

2Kings 18:7  And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: [Hezekiah was successful in whatever he undertook.

Nevertheless, King Hezekiah’s son Manasseh did evil in the sight of God – similar to Solomon. 

We find that exact same pattern in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins:  The foolish virgins had a mindset like the Laodiceans.  The time setting is the soon coming return of Jesus Christ.  The foolish virgins did not follow in the steps of the wise virgins.

Matthew 25:8  And the foolish [virgins] said unto the wise [virgins], Give us some of your oil; for our lamps are going out.

Didn’t they all know the same things?  Didn’t they all have the same opportunities?  Weren’t they all taught the same?  Why were some prepared to meet Jesus Christ, while the others were foolish?  What were they thinking?  Did they know down deep within themselves that they were not giving 100%?  Those of a Laodicean attitude, like the foolish virgins, like Solomon, like Manasseh, didn’t they know that God is not mocked, and that He is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).  God knows our minds and hearts; He knows our intents.  Why would anybody be so foolish as to be a Laodicean?  And yet, today, we are surrounded by those who insist on being Laodiceans!

In our own day many have witnessed the same condition. Many Church parents who have set a good example of Christian living – have seen their wayward children depart the faith.  How does that happen?  What are those children telling themselves?

Even Herbert W Armstrong who was used mightily by God – starting about a century ago in what became an effort to bring the Gospel to the world.  Many lives were changed—not all, but many.

The Church of God in our time did excel for some in the wisdom that God gave, and it brought an unmatched preaching of the Gospel around the world – rich in spiritual works.  But, it was God’s work (John 6:29) not Herbert W Armstrong’s work.

Herbert W Armstrong’s son, did not follow in his steps – in much the same way that Solomon did not follow in King David’s steps.  Herbert W Armstrong’s son brought much disrepute on the Church of God.

Brethren, we find a pattern of those being used by God in special ways – being followed by a those who do not measure up to God’s high standards.  Why is that?  That is what we are delving into today.

We see something very similar in the Church of Laodicea.  It is that same pattern of not measuring up to their predecessor – the Church of Philadelphia. 

I suppose that 99% of the brethren hearing these words would count themselves as Philadelphians, because it has been ingrained in us throughout the years.  Inherently, we all “know” that Laodiceans are those people in the other groups

Strangely, those people in the other groups also believe that they are the true Philadelphians…  Sadly, that dichotomy arises from the lack of a unified body today.  

Jesus’ desire is that we may be one in the unity of the spirit (John 17).  Brethren, I believe that it is the Laodicean spirit that prevents the unity of the Church.  The leaders of those groups prevent the unity of the spirit.

Many groups hold that they are Philadelphians because, “they are the ones doing the work.”  Let’s never forget that God the Father does the work.  In John 6 we find God’s definition of what the “work” is.

John 6:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, “This is the work of God [that is God the Father], that ye believe on [Jesus Christ] whom [God the Father] has sent.” 

Believe what Jesus taught; believe His doctrines; believe what He said; Live as Jesus lived – following His principles.  The work of God is that we all do that.

So brethren we see that the work is not being accomplished by the power of any man or group of men, or any organization:

There is a trend among the last generation leaders to want to be known for:  Doing the greatest work.  “We are the organization that is doing the work.”  “We have the most members and the largest following.” “We are the spear point of the work.” 

God says don’t brag like that.  But misguided leaders want to have the reputation of being known as the leader in doing the work of God.  That is not a right approach.  They have the “big head,” the notoriety.  Today in the Church of God, we see a battle raging among the leaders of the groups concerning the laying claim to being the Church of the Philadelphians…

They boast about preaching the Gospel with great strength.  But, remember, Christ identifies the Philadelphians as having only “a little strength!”   It cannot be both ways.

They seek the headlines, they seek to see their name on the marquee, they pursue the stage, the pulpit, and the microphone…

They say, “We are the Church…” to the exclusion of the rest of the Body of Christ.  When pressed, they will admit that there are others (those who do not measure up to themselves).  They say, “We are the biggest – with the most people…

In God’s eyes they are not famous, but “infamous.”  God does not appreciate self exaltation – as we see all too often.  Don’t think so highly of yourself.  Why, because it is God the Father who is doing the work through Jesus Christ.

The Title of today’s sermon comes from here:

Zechariah 4:6  Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

It is not us, but God who is doing the work of God.  Yes, we work the work of the Lord in preaching the Gospel, but let’s always keep things in their proper perspective.  At best, we are only tools in His hands, because God is doing the work.  Let’s go over to Revelation 3 in order to see what God the Father has to say – especially to these last two Churches.

After all, this is:  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave unto Him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:  (Revelation 1:1 )  This is a message to all the Churches.

When reading about the Philadelphians we find references to the key of David and an open door.  We find that it is God who is the One Who does the opening.  We also see that it is Jesus Christ who holds the key of David – it is on His shoulder (Isaiah 22:22).

Isaiah 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:7  Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Those are good things – if we understand them correctly. 

Revelation 3:7  And to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia write; These things says He that is holy, He that is true [That is Jesus Christ], He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no man shuts [Christ is the only one that can open one’s mind to spiritual growth and understanding!]; and [He] shuts, and no man opens; 

This verse is speaking about much more than opening a door to preaching the Gospel.  No man shuts … When Herbert Armstrong died, Joe Tkach effectively shut that door of preaching the Gospel in a big way when the Worldwide Church of God was destroyed.  Yes, Paul spoke of a great door being opened to do the work of preaching the Gospel – but that is not what Jesus is referring to here in the Book of Revelation as we shall see.  Paul said:

1Corinthians 16:9  For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. 

1Corinthians 16:10  Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he works the work of the Lord, as I also do. 

Jesus is not speaking of an open door to preach the Gospel in Revelation 3:8.  Jesus is quoting His own words from Isaiah 22.

That is where we have to look for the meaning of Key of David and the Open Door of the Church of Philadelphia.  Isaiah 22 not only contains a Messianic prophecy, but it also holds the key to understanding one of the Church’s misunderstood verses in the Book of Revelation.

If Isaiah 22 were better and more widely understood, we might not still be witnessing the competition and one-upmanship in the Churches of God as to who is biggest and best!

The first half of Isaiah 22 (verses 1-14) contains a prophecy against Jerusalem.  The prophet Isaiah foretells the captivity of his countrymen due to their unfaithfulness to God and the covenant they made with Him.  That is the same mistake the Laodiceans are making today.

Even though God had “called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth” (verse 12), the unconcerned Jews carried on with “joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine: [saying] ‘Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!’” (verse 13).

Isaiah continues with the narrative concerning two high government officials:  Let me introduce Shebna. (Isaiah 22:15)  We find that the high steward, Shebna, is using his office as treasurer to feather his own nest. 

Shebna is the man in highest authority under righteous King Hezekiah, but he is interested only in his own glory.  Shebna is not concerned about the Will of God, his master’s house, or what is good for the nation.  Shebna was giving himself the greater honor – exalting and promoting himself – more than had been bestowed upon him.  Shebna was more interested in his own affairs than he was in simply doing his job.  These characteristics are Laodicean attitudes.  Shebna is only self-serving – So God gets rid of him – removing him from his high office.

This prophecy of Shebna is a clear warning to those Church leaders today who put themselves over the Will of God – being unwilling to bring unity among God’s people.  God demoted Shebna, took away his authority and removed him from the land altogether.

Isaiah 22:18  Indeed, the Lord will throw you [Shebna] away violently, O mighty man, and will surely seize you. He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball into a large country; there you shall die,

Shebna is the secure peg that – In that day, says the LORD of hosts, shall be removed (Isaiah 22:25).  Shebna is replaced by God with Eliakim.

Isaiah 22:20-21  Then it shall be in that day, that I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt [symbols of Shebna’s high office]; I will commit your [Shebna’s] responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. [Someone to rightly care for God’s people.]

Notice here brethren what Jesus is speaking about in Revelation 3.   Eliakim is a type of the Messiah—Jesus Christ!

Isaiah 22:22  And the Key of the house of David I will lay on His shoulder [David first, then Eliakim – and ultimately Jesus Himself]; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open.

Brethren, notice the exact wording of Revelation 3.  Eliakim name means “whom God will raise up” or “the resurrection of God,” both of which apply to Jesus Christ.  God gives Eliakim the considerable authority and responsibility that Shebna had.

The key of the house of David, then, represents God’s rule, specifically His rule over Israel.  The Bible even names the royal throne—the throne on which David and Solomon sat—as “the throne of the Lord” (1Chronicles 29:23; see 2Chronicles 9:8)!

God has sworn that David would always have an heir to sit on that throne (Jeremiah 33:17).

Thus, the key on Eliakim’s shoulder represents the power and rule that would ultimately rest on the Messiah’s shoulder.  It involves the royal line of David and all the authority that resulted from God’s covenant and promises to him.  The Messiah will come from that same line, and He will sit on that throne when He returns and establishes His Kingdom (Isaiah 9:7).  Eliakim served as the ultimate gatekeeper, doorkeeper, granting or denying access to the house of David at his discretion.  

Brethren, draw the parallel here that it is Jesus Christ who opens the way to God the Father to those who have been reconciled.  Eliakim could open the door, and no one could shut it.

Having the door opened meant access to the king’s presence, and thus to the God-given authority and blessings of the royal line, as well as to all the resources of the treasury and storehouse.  But if the steward shut the door, all of that access was blocked, and no one could overrule his decision.  It was a significant position.

It is no wonder that God would not tolerate the likes of Shebna in it, who was more interested in his own legacy and display of grandeur, than fulfilling his office with dignity and faithfulness.

As mentioned previously, Christ quotes Isaiah 22:22 in His letter to the Church at Philadelphia: “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’” (Revelation 3:7).  To whom is Jesus opening the door?  Who comes in the door—and to whom do they gain access—none other than God the Father.  In identifying Himself to the Church, Jesus quotes what He said through Isaiah concerning Eliakim.

If we want to understand the letter to Philadelphia, we must begin with this reference.  Jesus clarifies that Eliakim’s role was a type of the stewardship role that Jesus Himself now fills.  In other words, in quoting Isaiah, Jesus declares that He is the ultimate fulfillment of Eliakim’s position as steward of the house.

Now consider Revelation 3:8: “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.”  Just as Elikim opened the door to the king, Jesus is the one who opens the door to the Father—Jesus is the Open Door—He has reconciled us to the Father.

Christ announces that He has set an open door before this Church and tells them why.  It is most important to understand the way Jesus says this.  Because of our little strength, we could never gain access to the Father on our own.  We need the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to us to have the Open Door set before us. 

Romans 4:24  But for us also, to whom [righteousness] shall be imputed, if we believe on [God the Father] that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 

Isaiah 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…

The reason Philadelphians have an open door is because they only have a little strength, [limited strength] have kept His Word, and have not denied His name.  Thus, the open door is mentioned in response to their spiritual condition coupled with their faithfulness.  We need to grasp this to recognize what the open door is.

Solomon, Manasseh, the foolish virgins, and others, have all denied the Name of Christ.  Christ promises to keep the Philadelphians from the hour of trial, boosting the importance of being a Philadelphian because it involves protection during the Tribulation.

Consequently, for Laodiceans who do not understand what Jesus is saying, it then becomes imperative to them to determine which church group has the open door to preach the gospel, because—as their reasoning goes—God will protect only that organization.  The Laodiceans are mistaken.  They have a crucial interest in accumulating “proof” of an open door, since it will apparently establish that their group is Philadelphian and (and not Laodicean) guaranteeing them protection.  Their mistake is that Jesus is not speaking of an open door to preach the gospel.

The “proof” is then held up as the reason all church members should join that group instead of another.  But when this is the primary approach, what people usually focus on are not the things that truly matter, but numbers—like how many radio or television stations the group is on, how many new people are attending services, how many subscribers or website hits it receives, or what percentage of its income a group spends on preaching the Gospel.  Christ specifically warns against this approach when He says that he who seeks to save his life will lose it (Luke 9:24; 17:33).

There are way too many in God’s Church whose primary focus is to save their skin.  That is decidedly not what our calling is about.  When the open door is interpreted to mean an opportunity to preach the gospel, the result  has been exclusivity, comparing themselves among themselves (2Corinthians 10:12).  It also causes division, competition, and a pitiful supply of Godly love.  One of the persistent problems of Loadiceans is in looking to headquarters and human leaders – instead of God Himself. 

The reference to Eliakim is about granting or withholding access, specifically access to greater authority and abundance. [First to the king – but ultimately to God the Father.]  When we understand Christ’s reference to Eliakim – that He [Jesus] is now the fulfillment of that role, we can understand the meaning of the open door.  Jesus grants access to God the Father?  Consider the access Jesus grants us, saying in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Through Christ’s blood and reconciliation, we have access to the Almighty, the Most High God.  Through Christ, we have entrance into the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of the Great God, which we may enter with boldness (Hebrews 10:19).

Luke 11:9-10:  So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

If we knock and keep knocking (as the Greek indicates), God opens the door.  The Philadelphians have had to knock because they have only a little strength, and they know it.  But they also know that the only way to courageously endure (Revelation 3:10) is to seek the strength of God.  Thus, the One they seek responds, giving more of His goodness, His Love, and His Spirit.

No one can shut that open door, though we can certainly ignore it and “neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).  The letter to Philadelphia is not about the mighty works of powerful men or their organizations.  It begins with the tremendous help that is available to those who are weak, but who keep God’s Word, who do not deny His name, and who persevere in faith.

Because they consistently knock, Christ reminds them of His pivotal position as second-in-command to God the Father, and that through Him as Steward, like Eliakim, they have access to the throne of God in heaven.

The Philadelphians’ strength is small, but God’s is without limit.  The Philadelphians are not those who seek after earthly glory, like Shebna did, but they are faithful in their responsibilities to the Most High God, like Eliakim—and like Jesus Christ.  Jesus inspired the exact wording of Isaiah 22 and all the Old Testament.

{ 2Ti 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 

2Ti 3:17  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 

Revelation 3:8  [Quoting  Isaiah 22:22] I know thy works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name

… not denied My name.”  This is not said of any of the other Churches.  The true Philadelphians keep the truth and do not fall away – enduring until the end.  Jesus said:

John 15:7  If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, [if we have not denied Christ’s name] ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Jesus is that open door that gives us direct entrance to God the Father.

John 10:9  I am the door [the open door]: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…

He is our calling, our understanding, our minds being opened, our sins being covered…  No one else who has ever lived could save us and give us direct entrance to God the Father

That is why Jesus said of all the false prophets who spoke a vision of their own heart, and that walked after the imagination of their own heart (Jeremiah 23 & Ezekiel 34):

John 10:8  All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

John 10:10  The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 

John 10:11  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. 

Jesus said in:

Revelation 3:10  Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation [the great tribulation], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 

So what happens, some of our brethren think that they have to find the right organization to take them to the Place of Safety.  Brethren, God knows those who are His!  He is not fooled.  There are no short-cuts.

Revelation 3:11  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 

Revelation 3:12  Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 

Revelation 3:13  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. [plural]

Let’s speak to the practices of Philadelphians and Laodiceans for a moment.

Philadelphians worship God in true sincerity.  Philadelphians love God with all their heart, all their mind, all their soul and all their being.  Philadelphians obey the True God, and live the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, in spirit and truth.  Philadelphians honor their parents, and their parent’s name.  Philadelphians go the extra mile making sacrifices not prescribed in the Law.  Philadelphians seek the will of God – in everything – and for everyone.  Philadelphians lay their lives down in their love and service to the brethren.  Philadelphians are hospitable, calling, inviting, visiting, speaking often to one another, sending love and greetings.  Philadelphians literally practice true religion in looking in on the sick, elderly and imprisoned.  Philadelphians forgive, reconcile and wash one another’s feet. 

And now, a few of the traits of Laodiceans

Shebna was of a Laodicean attitude.  He was all about self.  They want the best for themselves.  Laodiceans foolishly believe that they are Philadelphians.  Laodiceans believe that they are doing God’s work.  Laodiceans “know” in their heart that they are in the right organization.  Laodiceans serve their organization more than they serve God.  They are of a competitive spirit – not giving 100%.  Laodiceans solve problems politically – which is no solution at all.  Laodiceans revert back to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing God hates (Revelation 2:15).  The Nicolaitans are those who set up hierarchical structures of organizations against the will of God.  Laodiceans have no need of Christians in other groups.  Laodiceans do not help the brethren who are in spiritual need.  They do not turn or restore the sinner:

James 5:20  Let him know, that he which converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. 

Galatians 6:1  Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 

Galatians 6:2  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 

We are our brother’s keeper- even at the cost of our lives.  Laodiceans do not lay their lives down for one another (1John 3:16).  Laodiceans keep the letter of the law perfectly and do not know how to keep the spirit of the law.  Laodiceans mean to get around to doing a lot of things Christ says we should be doing – they just do not find the will or the time to do those things.  Laodiceans put self first – and only serve God when it is expedient to do so.  Laodiceans do nothing that will not promote themselves in some way—and they think that is how everyone operates. 

God knew that His words would fall on many deaf ears and blind eyes:

Revelation 3:18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be [truly] rich; and white raiment, that you may be [spiritually] clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that you may see. 

There are many other examples God has given us of those who profess to follow righteous examples – thinking they were smart enough not to have to follow God with all their heart.

Manasseh repented – Solomon may have too, how else could he have said in, Ecclesiastes 12:13  “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man.” 

Let’s look at one of the last things Jesus said to the Philadelphians.

Revelation 3:12  Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the City of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 

This name of a city comes down out of heaven, from the throne of God.  Let’s look at the City that Abraham sought:

Hebrews 11:10, 16 Abraham looked for a City which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God… Now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly country [ spiritually speaking]: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He has prepared for them a City

Who can imagine a City of Saints in which everyone is led by God’s Holy Spirit?  Who can imagine a City wherein there is perfect Godly love, law, peace, unity, justice and righteousness?  Notice how Paul ties some of these descriptive terms together when speaking of the resurrected Saints – the Bride of Christ:

Hebrews 12:22-24 You have come unto Mount Zion, and unto the City of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, who are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant. 

“The spirits of righteous men made perfect,” is an ideal picture of the prepared Bride of Christ.

This is how the Prophet Isaiah describes the glory and riches of New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ:

Isaiah 59:20-21 The Redeemer shall come to Zion… My covenant [is] with them, says the Lord; My Spirit is upon you… and they shall call you, the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel [Jesus]. (Isaiah 49:7)

Isaiah 60:14, 19-20 …they shall call you, [the saints], The City of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel… The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto you an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

When we read of the future fulfillment of God’s Plan, never assume for a moment that it is possible for us to grasp with our carnal minds, the awesome, majestic, and incomprehensible meaning of what God has promised (1 Corinthians 2:9).

The New Earth is indescribable – “more dear than the spoken word can tell” – inexpressible things, which man may not utter (2 Corinthians 12:4).

Jesus Christ is not selling us a bill of goods.  Let us always recognize that the fulfillment of the promises that God speaks of will far surpass our greatest expectations.  The critics’ proof that the marriage supper of the Lamb is only allegorical is said to be in Revelation 21.  They snidely ask the question, “Is Jesus going to marry a city? Chuckle, chuckle!”   

What does the Scripture mean when it speaks of a New Heaven and a New Earth?

Revelation 21:2  “I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a Bride adorned for her Husband.”

No one gets tripped up when they hear figurative language being used today – something like, “The entire city turned out to hear the Mayor speak.”  Everyone understands that to mean the total populace came to the event.  John is saying the same thing.

Every one of the Saints—the entire Holy City will literally be there.  John is using the exact same literary methodology when he says – as we just saw in Revelation 21:2  “I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a Bride adorned for her husband.”

The Bride takes the Family name, the Sir name, the Husband’s name.  That is why – as we just saw, Jesus says:

Revelation 3:12  “I will write upon you the name of my God, and the name of the City of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon you my new name.

Something magnificent is being revealed here – the Holy City, prepared as a Bride – what does this mean?  Those who relied on worldly wisdom deduce that it is a foregone conclusion that Christ could not possibly marry New Jerusalem – because no one can marry a city.  They cannot understand “New Jerusalem” to be a perfect reference to the spiritual Saints of God.

They fail to include the next few verses in their study, and they neglect to ask themselves the question, “Who is New Jerusalem?”  Brethren, again, please understand – Bible language points to the spiritual reality to come.  Let us gather a little here and a little there, and see if we can figure out who Jesus Christ is speaking of when He uses the term, “New Jerusalem.” 

New Jerusalem is called the Bride because it encompasses all who will wed Jesus Christ.  Jesus shares His intimate feelings for His Bride with us – because it is His intent that the Saints be His Bride.  Jesus says to Zion – the Church – His Bride:

Isaiah 62:1, 4 For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burns… You shalt be called ‘Hephzibah’- [My Delight is in Her] …for the Lord delights in you.

Brethren, as we untangle the mixed metaphors of thousands of years of prophecy, we find that Jesus has indeed prepared His fiancée, the Church, the Saints, ancient Israel and New Israel, for the Kingdom of the New Heavens and the New Earth.  They will collectively be called the Holy City, New Jerusalem.

Israel will have become eternally the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).  The Holy City, New Jerusalem is God’s Family coming home (Revelation 21:2, 10)!

When we put these few verses together, we see that Zion is comprised of the saints of the Church of God.

What we find shows that the Old and New Testament Scriptures are consistent in confirming that Jesus Christ will marry the Bride – the Church – Spiritual Israel – Mount Zion – The Firstborn – New Jerusalem – the City of the Lord.

Zion, is the eternal City Abraham sought for.

Thanks to David C. Grabbe, Forerunner, “Prophecy Watch,” January-April 2018  The ‘Open Door’ of Philadelphia.


End: Not by Might or Power