Revelation 3:7-13: Reversal.

‘To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars – I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” NIV

‘As in the letter to Smyrna, we have here an inclination that the synagogue community was using its civic status to block the advance of the message about Israel’s Messiah, Jesus, a message so very Jewish and yet so challenging to Jewish people…We should imagine a Jewish community of several thousand, with its own buildings and community life, and a church of probably two or three dozen at most, holding on to the highly improbable, and extremely risky, claim that the God of Israel had raised Jesus from the dead.’ Tom Wright.

The church was ridiculously outnumbered then, but in the Bible, David defeats Goliath with a sling and a stone, time after time. The Sovereign Lord specialises in great reversals:

‘’…I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you’’ (9b).

The Jews thought the Gentiles would bow before them ultimately, but here it’s the other way round. The false Jews (see Romans 2:28,29) will ‘’fall down’’ before the church ( which is composed of true Jews, and Gentiles). It’s a great reversal envisaged.

Consider this: these believers had ‘’little strength’’ (8), but Jesus says that if anyone is an overcomer, he or she will be made ‘’a pillar in the temple of my God’’(12). It feels like a contradiction in terms, but it’s true. The weak will be able to say that they are strong.

Philadelphia had experienced a devastating earthquake around AD 17. The city had needed a re-build. Massive structures had come tumbling down. You can imagine great pillars shaking and cracking and falling. But these Christian ‘’pillars’’ will not be like that. Strengthened by Jesus, they will be strong and sturdy, and triply secure, you might say (12). God’s Name will be written on them because they are God’s people; the name of God’s city will be upon them because they are citizens of His Kingdom; and the Name of Christ will be on them because they belong to Him.

Even when we seem to be in the (dangerous) hands of men, let us remember we are always in the Hands of God.

PRAYER: ‘In weakness be my strength, O mighty Saviour.’’