Notes on Revelation 2:18

Revelation 2:18  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 5
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These three churches, Thyatira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, have a peculiar character, the corning of the Lord being that which is set before them as the sustaining point of faith. In the three first there is a difference in the place where the exhortation comes in. " He that hath an ear," &c., comes before the promise, while in the three succeeding it comes after, as though applying to the faithful few, instead of being addressed to the whole Church. It is not a better state of the Church that is set before them, but the Lord's coming, There was much that He could commend in Thyatira; but there was Jezebel, a deliberate, settled form of evil, and those who were born and bred in the system, under the name, too, of a prophetess. Great tribulation for those who were in the evil, but destruction for those who were of it. The progress of evil, which corrupts that which God introduced, goes on till there is no remedy. It was so with Israel. There might be good in Josiah and Hezekiah, but the people " corrupted themselves more and more." God might go on rising up early and sending His prophets, but evil went on till ripe for judgment. And so will it be with the mystery of iniquity till destroyed by the brightness of His coming. And, therefore, He fixes the eye of the faithful upon His coming. There was much to be gone through; but He says, " Hold fast that which ye have till I come." He holds out two promises-association with Himself in power, and the possession of the Morning Star. It is not enough for our hearts to be occupied with Him as our Savior; we must go on to contemplate our share with Him in the coming glory. We cannot apprehend the fullness of God's blessings till we know that the thought of His heart is to give us a place with Ills Son. "Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me," &c., and John 17:2626And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:26). We can only be thankful in proportion as we know our blessings. Our utter unworthiness is no hindrance. " The Morning Star" not only the glory of the day, but Himself, as the One we have been looking for through the night in that aspect. To be forever with the Lord is the best part of our portion. It is Himself we desire, and He will be ours, before the manifestation, as the One waited for. This hope is to keep us steadfast, " holding fast."
Sardis. The outward activity of life, yet dead. Works enough, but they were not perfect before God. It was not the soul identifying itself with Christ in the work, and if not done to God it is nothing. Only so far as Christ is the object in it is it worth anything. The works at Ephesus (chap. 2:23) the same as at Thessalonica, " work of faith, labor of love, patience of hope." The abiding power being that they were done in direct connection with Christ. Not the habit of doing much, merely from duty; but in the patience of hope. Not in the thought of how much there is to bear, but while waiting for Him who has the affections of the heart. All this was wanting in Sardis, and what was the result? The world's portion. I will come on thee as a thief. (See 1 Thess. 5:55Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5).) Not upon the Church " as a thief," for we are children of the day. And that expression is used when He puts the Church in contrast with the world. Miserable portion for those who had a name to live!
Philadelphia. " I have set before thee an open door"-we see an amazing rising up of the power of evil-but " no man can shut it." So in John 10, when the shepherd is seeking the sheep nothing can hinder. " To him the porter openeth."-" The word of his patience." He is waiting, and we are to have fellowship with Him in His expectancy. We know He is not slack concerning His promise, but His long-suffering is salvation; so, while longing to see Him, we can be satisfied to wait. " The patience of Christ" (chap. i. 9) is not the patient waiting for Him, but this fellowship in His patient waiting. To such the Lord says, " I come quickly." I ask you, Would you like Him to come quickly? Have you so understood the things around you; have your hearts enough the sense of what they would be if God had it His own way to make you love His appearing? The promise to such is especial association with Himself. It is not only to be " a pillar in the temple of God," but of " my God," and " the name of my God"-" the city of my God"" my new name;" as He said, " I go to my God and your God, my Father and your Father." This is our greatest happiness. He gives us His PLACE. In Him we are brought into the holiest of all-to walk in the light as God is in the light-the Father in Him and He in us! And His place here, too, of rejection and hatred from the world.
I know some would be searching their own hearts. Dare you present your hearts before God? I know you cannot. It is only in Christ. There is no place at all for us before God except in Christ. How can there be? It is this " in Christ," or destruction. We can have no other place. In Him and as He is. It is our only place even now as to communion. Why do you not take it? How do I get into this place of goodness? Because He came into my place of badness. Where sin brought me, grace brought Him, and puts me where He is. He was with the thief on the cross, and the thief must be with Him in Paradise.
However bad I am, the unfolding of all my affections will follow the reception of His love and goodness. The consequence will be, that here we shall be pressed with all the evil around us: but " hold fast till I come." " My patience."