Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 2:15-17
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Revelation 2:15, 16
Verse 15 (continued): For further explanation of the Nicolaitans and the comparison of the false prophets in Pergamum with Balaam see the comments on Revelation 2:6. Verse 16: Those believers who felt God had given them permission to participate in pagan sacrifices and the accompanying communal feasts or engage in ceremonial prostitution had better listen to this warning and repent because if they don’t the Lord will soon pronounce judgment. He will “make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” They must never allow a “prophetic word” or an isolated proof-text from scripture to convince them that such vile practices could ever be acceptable. What they have been doing is backsliding into their old ways, and by this point they have gone so far they are jeopardizing their salvation and destroying any witness they might have had with unbelievers. This is not a situation the Lord can ignore. They are forcing Him to act. If they don’t heed this warning He will quickly bring hardship on them in order to pressure them to repent (Rev 2:22, 23).

Monday: Revelation 2:17
Verse 17: To those willing to repent, or those who never entered into such practices in the first place (overcomers), the Lord makes three promises. First, He will give them “some of the hidden manna.” This may refer to the portion of manna God had Moses place in a jar in the Ark of the covenant so Israel would remember His miraculous provision during their 40 years in the wilderness (Ex 16:33). If so, then God is reminding believers who are about to be persecuted that He will provide for them even if they are impoverished or abandoned by their families. In other words, He’ll feed them like He feeds the birds of the air and clothe them like He clothes the lilies of the field (Mt 6:25-33).

Tuesday: Revelation 2:17
Verse 17 (continued): It’s also possible that the words “hidden manna” refer to Jesus Himself. In the Gospel of John we hear Him compare Himself to manna (Jn 6:26-51). He says, “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:41) and “I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:48). Just as God sent bread to feed the physical hunger of Israel, He sent His Son to feed the spiritual hunger of the world. Those who believe in Him will have eternal life (Jn 6:40). At the moment He is hidden from our sight because He is at the Father’s right hand in heaven, but those who faithfully wait for His return will surely possess eternal life. Though we can’t be certain which of these interpretations of “hidden manna” is the intended meaning here, both are completely true. He has promised to provide for the needs of His disciples, and He has promised eternal life to all who overcome.

Wednesday: Revelation 2:17
Verse 17 (continued): The second promise He makes to the overcomers in Pergamum is, “I will give him a white stone….” This is a very difficult promise to interpret and a variety of suggestions have been offered. In the ancient world white stones might be used as entry tickets or given as a trophy to the victor of a contest (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Cleon Rogers, ed. Zondervan, 1976, p.817). Those “healed” by the god Asclepius at his temple in Pergamum often inscribed their names on large white marble pillars placed in front of the building (Ray Vander Laan, That the World May Know, Early Church Discovery Guide, Zondervan, 2000, p.84). My personal guess concerning the white stone is based on the assumption that He is referring to something that is part of Judaism rather than Greek culture. The Urim and Thummim were two stones held in a fabric pouch called the “breastpiece of judgment” which was carried on the front of the ephod worn by the high priest (Ex 28:15-30). No one knows how the Urim and Thummim were used to seek the will of the Lord, but we do know that the two stones were placed in the folded material of the breastpiece of judgment (Ex 28:30; Lv 8:8).

Thursday: Revelation 2:17
Verse 17 (continued): It seems to me that to consult the Lord using these stones the high priest must have prayerfully drawn a stone from the pouch. When we read passages where they were consulted, it appears that a yes or no answer was given and that, at times, this was amplified by a prophetic word (1Sa 23:6-12; 28:6; 30:7, 8). If the two stones were different colors, say, black and white, they could be drawn just as lots were drawn by the early apostles (Ac 1:26). The white stone might well have been interpreted as a “yes” or positive affirmation by God to the question asked. If this were so, and I am speculating, the Lord may be picturing Himself as the high priest drawing the white stone which welcomes that person into God’s eternal kingdom. In support of this we find the Urim and Thummim being used in the time of Ezra to identify those who were or were not acceptable to God as priests, after records of their family genealogies had been lost (Ezr 2:61-63; Ne 7:65).

Friday: Revelation 2:17
Verse 17 (continued): Not only will a white stone be given to an overcomer, but they will receive a new name which will be written on that stone. Having a name inscribed on a stone is not a strange concept to Judaism. Each of the 12 stones on the front of the “breastpiece of judgment” was marked with the name of one of the 12 tribes in gold filigree (Ex 28:20, 21). In this way the high priest symbolically carried the tribes by name near his heart (Ex 28:30). So the white stone which will admit believers into God’s kingdom will also be marked with that person’s name and given to them as a permanent possession.

Saturday: Revelation 2:17
Verse 17 (continued): The third promise contained in this verse is found in the statement that the name written on the white stone will be “a new name… which no one knows but he who receives it.” The idea of God giving believers a new name is found in several places in the Bible including Isaiah’s prophecies concerning the coming Messianic kingdom. In Isaiah 56:5 the Lord promises foreigners (Gentiles) and others who had formerly been unwelcomed into His courts that those who join themselves to Him will be given “in My house and within My walls a memorial, a name better than that of sons or daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off” (Eph 2:11-19). In Isaiah 62:2 God promises to regather the dispersed of Israel and exalt them before the nations of the world and give them a “new name which the mouth of the Lord will designate.” As the passage goes on the nature of that new name becomes clear. They will no longer be called “forsaken” or “desolate” (Isa 62:4) but rather “My delight is in her,” “married” (Beulah), “the holy people” and “sought out” (Isa 62:14). Clearly, the point of a new name is to express that person’s new relationship to God.

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