RULING AND REIGNING WITH GOD
October 16, 2020
We talked last week about the incredible sin of Ham against his father, and how that sin became an inheritance engraved into his sons and grandsons. It set the stage for God’s commands to Israel to NOT intermarry or to co-mingle with the children of Ham – represented by the seven nations that occupied the land of Canaan. Israel failed to keep God’s command and it cost them dearly!
In spite of the very specific command of the Lord concerning these seven nations, and the fact that He clearly identified Israel as a chosen and holy people set apart unto Him, they did exactly as they were commanded not to do. They intermarried with the nations.
They began to worship their idols and other gods. They made covenants with them to keep them alive. They began to engage in the idolatrous and licentious practices which perverted their relationship with the Lord. And the Lord did exactly what He said He would do if they did not follow His very specific commands: He allowed Israel to ultimately be taken captive by these very peoples and spread abroad throughout the earth.
Israel was given the opportunity to overcome the Serpent. She was given a chance to regain the throne which was her promised inheritance. Just as Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden because they compromised with, and succumbed to, the wiles of the Serpent, Israel was driven from the land of its inheritance because it compromised with, and intermingled with the seven accursed nations.
What Israel failed to accomplish in the natural realm as a pattern for the Bride-to-be of the Lord God, the Holy Spirit identified once again as His intention for the Bride of Christ to accomplish. It became a mandate for the first-century Ekklesias. These seven presiding spirits did not just disappear when their nations were conquered, killed or dispersed. They simply took on a new camouflage.
In writing to the seven Ekklesias in Asia Minor, John the Beloved wrote a graphic description of how these same spirits had infected the Body of Christ. While the seven letters were written to seven different Ekklesias, they collectively represented a picture of the Bride, and therefore became a single letter. Each Ekklesia was struggling with a particular spirit. Each letter became an address to overcome one of those seven spirits. Each Ekklesia represented both a segment of the Bride, and an area of overcoming.
The seven letters -- in succession -- draw a progressive picture of the return path to the Throne of God, The Lamb and His Bride. (The Lord helping me, I will hope to finished a detailed book on each of the seven nations, the seven spirits of the Enemy, and the progression of the seven Ekklesias in overcoming those seven spirits.) For the sake of brevity in this letter (and it is already becoming lengthy as it presently stands), I will quickly identify the characteristics of each of the seven Ekklesias as John saw them, and the relationship between each Ekklesia and the spirit it was instructed to overcome. They are in order as follows:
(1) Ephesus: The Fear of Evil: The Hittites
(2)Smyrna: The Fear of Death: The Girgashites
(3) Pergamos: The Fear of Man: The Hivites
(4)Thyatira: Hierarchy/ Jezebel: The Amorites
(5) Sardis: Arrogance/Legalism /Threshing The Jebusites
(6) Philadelphia: Democracy: The Perizzites
(7) Laodicea: Merchandising: The Canaanites
Some of the areas of struggle among these seven Ekklesias are fairly obvious at first glance. Others are not so apparent. It is not possible for me to deal with these comparisons in any depth in this letter, so let me simply deal with the promises to the the overcomers. The promises, by themselves, are very clear indications of the struggles within the Ekklesias; and the progression to the Throne should be quite obvious to all.
The first letter to the Ekklesia in Ephesus picks up where things fell apart in the Garden. When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, they were immediately infected with the Fear of Evil. Their reaction to that fear impelled them to run and hide. They were immediately cut off from the Tree of Life -- and the relationship of love and unity with the Lord. Ephesus had departed from its first love. It had fallen -- as Adam and Eve did -- and begun to partake once again of the Tree of Knowledge. The Fear of Evil keeps people from forsaking the Tree of Knowledge, and it cheats people out of a true love-relationship with the Lord.
The promise, therefore, to those who overcome the Fear of Evil, and the Tree of Knowledge is,
"To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the Paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7 NASB)
The implication is clear. Those who overcome the temptation to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, those who overcome the Fear of Evil will have an open door back into the Garden where the Tree of Life stands ready to provide Truth instead of knowledge, Life instead of intellect, Love instead of fear.
Letter number two to Smyrna clearly identifies their struggle with the Fear of Death. The Fear of Death makesthlipsis(tribulation, pressure, fire, heat) something to avoid at all costs. This fear cheats the Bride out of having worked within her being those things necessary to withstand all that the Enemy can throw at her. The Fear of Death interferes with the processes of the Holy Spirit, who is the Paraklete, and seeks to keep the Bride from ever becoming that authoritative co-regent with Jesus Christ.
The promise of the Lord, therefore, to the overcomer -- to the one who overcomes the Fear of Death -- is,
"He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." (Revelation 2:11)
The second death is the final separation from the Bridegroom, for which there is no remedy. For the one delivered from the second death, the future events are seen as a blessing! Not something to fear or hide from.
The third letter to Pergamos deals with the Fear of Man. Those who suffer from the Fear of Man struggle with the acceptance of their peers. Within the Body of Christ, a large majority of "believers" blindly succumb to the doctrine of Balaam, not realizing what is happening. The doctrine of Balaam is epitomized in Numbers 22, 23, and 24. No picture could more graphically portray the workings of the Fear of Man, how that fear leads one to accept the teachings of men at face value and reject the revelation that comes to each individual by and through the Holy Spirit.
The picture of Balaam is a picture of stubbornness, obtuseness, and the overwhelming need for acceptance by those in seats of power. Also identified in Pergamos are those who were holding to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans (which we have identified in previous Open Letters) is the obvious counterpart to the doctrine of Balaam. That doctrine was "Power to Man," whether it was seen in the Spirit of the Pharisees/Perizzites/Democracy, or the Spirit of the Saduccees/Amorites/Hierarchy.
Whether one sought after democratic government or hierarchical government, the end result was still the same: "Power to Man." Those who suffer from The Fear of Man want to be in power over man. This third step in the overcoming process is extremely critical.
The promise to those who overcome the Fear of Man is this:
"To him who overcomes, to him will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it." (Revelation 2:17) NASB
The essence of this promise, without getting into the Hebrew metaphors, is threefold: (1) the receiving of revelation through the Spirit of God; (2) an invitation to the Marriage of the Lamb; and (3) the promise of a new onomafor the overcomer.
Are you seeing the picture thus far? We are talking about those things that stand in the way of our every achieving the level of authority or rulership that awaits us in Christ Jesus. Jesus had to first overcome these three dominant spirits as manifested in the temptations Satan tried to spring on Jesus after his forty-day fast.
But just because these first three are the most dominant of evil spirits, or the first to overcome, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t others equally necessary. These next four also stand in the way of our ruling and reigning with Christ.
To the Ekklesia in Thyatira, John made it clear that they had a battle on their hands with the Spirit of the Amorites, which had crept into their midst through "converted Saduccees." The Spirit of Jezebel functioned freely in their midst, seeking preeminence for itself, usurping the true authority which comes in the place of union with Jesus Christ, and substituting the Spirit of Divination for the Spirit of Prophecy. It led men and women to false allegiances and alliances with spirits whose entire being existed for the theft of true authority and true love-relationships.
The promise to those who overcome the Spirit of the Amorites, therefore, is true authority. Listen to the promise:
"He who overcomes, and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star." (Revelation 2:26-29) NASB
The promise of "the morning star" is a clever metaphor for "preeminence." The difference, however, is that this is the preeminence which comes from the Lord, not that which is freely and cheaply handed out by men and women under the influence and control of the Spirit of the Amorites.
Sardis was clearly struggling with legalism. This Ekklesia was infected with the Spirit of the Jebusites. That spirit seeks to "thresh" the Word of the Lord until it is unrecognizable. It doles it out in spoonfuls, seeking to keep control of those under its power. It is an arrogant spirit which lays claim to the onoma of the Lord, all the while denying the power thereof. It has a "name" that it is alive, when in truth it is dead! No picture could more clearly identify "threshing."
Threshing is the practice of picking scriptures apart to promote certain doctrines, and demanding that everyone submit to the "requirements" of those doctrines upon penalty of excommunication or being disfellowshipped. By the time the threshing is done, all of the usable life has been removed, and it is good for nothing but that which is intended by those who so arrogantly pass it out.
Legalism among God's people sullies their robes of righteousness. One cannot be legalistic and righteous at the same time. The two simply don't mix. Either one receives and lives the grace and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, or they return to the Law (be that the Mosaic Law or so-called New Testament Law). One cannot return to the Law in any form and expect to eat of the Tree of Life, or to have their names in the Book of Life.
The promise to those who overcome the Spirit of the Jebusites is,
"He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)
The progression in this promise is clear. Where the promise to those who overcome the Fear of Man was the invitation to the wedding, the promise here is (1) the receipt of the wedding garment, (2) a guarantee of your name in the Book of Life, and (3) an introduction by the Bridegroom to The Father.
Are you beginning to see the progression in this process of overcoming?
The sixth letter to Philadelphia, at first glance, does not seem to identify any problem areas or spirits which need to be overcome. But wait! That's only at first glance. Look a little deeper. There is a very clear area of need for overcoming. It is identified in the statement,
"Hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown."(Revelation 3:11)
Why such a command? Philadelphia had overcome everything described in the previous letters. The letter to this Ekklesia began with an unusual appellation,
"He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, who opens and no one shuts, and who shuts and no one opens, says this...." (3:7) The signification of the "Key of David" indicates that they understood clearly the promise of the return of "the Tabernacle of David."
The "Key of David" was the understanding that David ruled in the midst of worship. He was an unorthodox king compared to the kings of history, and especially the kings of that era. Because worship was David's first priority, because he demonstrated the heart of the Bridegroom for His Bride openly before the nation with the companies of worshipers (who ministered continuously before the simple tabernacle containing the Ark of the Covenant), the Lord made an unprecedented promise to David,
"Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever." (II Samuel 7:16)
The Ekklesia in Philadelphia had learned how to rule in the midst of worship. The authority of the Lord was clearly evident in their midst. This made them a target of jealous Christians who accused them of "setting up their own kingdom." That accusation was blatantly false.
In an effort to defuse the criticism, they fell into the trap which has ensnared believers in every generation since: they attempted to "democratize," to "spread their counsel" among many brethren so as to avoid any appearance of "being in power." It essentially became an apology for the power and authority of the Lord working in and through them. Thus, they were permitting the Spirit of the Perizzites to contaminate their Ekklesia, and in the process, take their crown.
The promise of the Lord, therefore, was to the point,
"He who overcomes (the Spirit of the Perizzites), I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the onoma of My God, and the onoma of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of Heaven from My God, and My new onoma." (Revelation 3:12) NASB
Now do you see the progression. We have come to the place of dwelling perpetually in His presence. The promise of the onoma of "the city of My God, the new Jerusalem" is the guarantee that we are now a certified part of the Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not only that, the overcomer receives His new onoma.
Next week, we will pick up with the seventh letter and the understanding of how the Laodicean Ekklesia was compromised by settling for what they had, and not continuing to press on into their relationship.
In case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available on video usingZOOM. If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-onlycall, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76502
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