Chapter 20, Part 2 Preview: Many opinions exist concerning what the “seven churches” of Revelation 2-3 represent. Some claim that they represent seven “attitudes” present during the entire “Church Age”. Others claim that they are seven consecutive historic periods or “eras” of “God’s Church”. Does the internal evidence in the Book of Revelation concerning these “seven churches” support these interpretations? Could they actually be seven Assemblies of people comprising the entire Congregation of Yehovah’s people alive today? Was the Book of Revelation meant to be understood? Each Assembly was promised a blessing; which of the seven could you LIVE without? Understanding the nature of the “seven churches” may become a life and death matter during the coming years.
It is an engineering nightmare to design a menorah using only one very large piece of gold. Why would Yehovah have stipulated this feat? Wouldn’t it represent the actual oneness of the Assembly from Yehovah’s perspective, even if many of those people who comprise the light have tunnel vision and do not grasp the concept? The lamps literally shine “in front of it”, but perhaps they don’t shine from side to side enough to illuminate each other so that they are aware of their brethren!
Revelation 1:11-13 “Write what you are seeing in a document and send it to the seven assemblies: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” 12 I turned around to look at the voice that spoke to me, and as I turned I saw the seven gold menorahs, 13 and among the menorahs, someone, ‘perhaps’ the Human Son, wearing a robe down to His feet, and wearing a gold sash around His chest. —The Gabriel Version
Exodus 25:31-40 Make a menorah of pure gold. Its base, its stem, its cups, its buds, and its petals must be hammered from the same piece. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides; three branches of the menorah from one side, and three branches of the menorah from the other side. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and petals are to be on the first branch, and three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and petals on the next, and so on for all six branches extending from the menorah, 34 and in the menorah four cups shaped like almond blossoms, with buds and petals, 35 with a bud under the first pair of branches extending from it, and a bud under the next pair of branches coming from it, and so on for all six branches extending from the menorah. 36 The buds and branches must be hammered from the same piece of pure gold. 37 Then make seven lamps, and place the lamps so they illuminate the space in front of it. 38 Its snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. 39 ‘The menorah’, with all these accessories will be made from a talent of pure gold. 40 Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain.
The menorah pictured at the beginning of this chapter is a link to a Jewish organization devoted to rebuilding the Latter Temple. They hope to use that very menorah in the temple service. Perhaps they will, however they may be in for a surprise when Yehovah’s Two Witnesses of the “Way”, with powers not seen since the time of Elijah, show up with some “suggestions”. Is there a Jewish connection to the Philadelphian Assembly and the Smyrna Assembly?
Before moving on, I would like to clarify one point. I was taught, for example, that only those who were a part of the Philadelphia “era” would be pillars in the New Jerusalem. All others were to sit in the back seat, so to speak, with lesser gifts. This is the verse of promise that was cited from Revelation 3:
Philadelphia: 3:12-13 I’ll make anyone who is victorious a pillar in the Temple of Yehovah, and they’ll never be separated from the assembly, and I’ll write Yehovah’s name on them, and the name of New Jerusalem that descends from the heavens from my Yehovah, and My own new name. 13 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.”
I am simply going to list the other promises to those of us in the Assemblies (Churches), in Revelation 2 & 3 and then you decide which of them that you can do without!
Ephesus: 2:7 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies. To anyone who is victorious, I’ll give fruit to eat from the Tree of Life that’s in the paradise of Aloha.’”
Smyrna: 2:11 To anyone listening, listen to what the spirit says to the Assemblies. Anyone who is victorious, won’t be harmed by the second death”.
Pergamos: 2:17 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies. I’ll give anyone who is victorious ‘some’ hidden manna to eat, and I’ll give them a white stone with a new name written on it that no one knows except for the person who receives it.”
Thyatira: 2:26 To those who are victorious, persevering in My works TO THE END, I’ll give authority over the nations. 27 They’ll rule them with an iron scepter, and they [our enemies] will be shattered like clay jars, just as I ‘Myself’ have received authority from My Father. 28 I’ll give them the Morning Star.
Sardis: 3:5 Anyone who is victorious will wear white clothes, and I won’t blot their names from the Book of Life. I’ll acknowledge their names before My Father and before His messengers. 6 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.”
Laodicea: 3:14,21-22 To the messenger of the assembly in Laodicea, write: “The Aw-main, the Witness, the Faithful, the True, the Originator of Yehovah’s creation, says: ... 21 Anyone who is victorious I’ll allow to sit with Me on My throne, even as I was victorious and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.”
Seven times the words are used: “hear what the Spirit says to the churcheS” All seven of these gifts are given to all Seven Assemblies! This is the common thread that binds these Seven Assemblies into one body (altho very few individuals seem to know about it):
Romans 12:4-5 Just as there are many parts in a body, and none of the parts do the same thing. 5 So collectively we’re one body in the Messiah, and all the parts are connected to each other.
Now if you are in agreement with this premise, then we will need to be looking for clues about the players in this end time drama that is being played out at this very moment. Because the accounts about the Seven Assemblies are so brief, we need to decipher as many of the “code words” as we can. Who are the “Nicolaitans”? What is “the cabal  of Satan”? What is “Satan’s throne”? What is “the key of David”? What is “gold refined in the fire”?
 The Greek word “synagogue” is generic, it doesn’t specify the function of a group. In this instance a sinister assembly is certainly implied.
Now for a much more detailed look at some of the “seven churches” in the order that my curiosity led me.
A good place to start a commentary on the Philadelphian Congregation or Ecclesia would be to begin with some history. Here is some interesting history that I pulled up on a web search:
“If the Philadelphian Church had little power, so also had the city. It had suffered from earthquakes more than any other city of all Asia. In AD 17 a great earthquake had caused very serious damage; and the effects lasted for years after. The trembling of the earth continued for a long time, so that the inhabitants were afraid to repair the injured houses, or did so with careful provision against collapse. Two or three years later, when Strabo wrote, shocks of earthquake were an everyday occurrence. The walls of the houses were constantly gaping in cracks; and now one part of the city, now another part, was suffering. Few people ventured to live in the city; most spent their lives outside, and devoted themselves to cultivating the fertile Philadelphian territory. There is an obvious reference to this in a later sentence of the letter, where the promise is given to the faithful Philadelphians that they shall go out thence no more. Those who stayed in the city had to direct their attention to the motions of the earth, and guard against the danger of falling walls by devices of building and propping.”
“Gradually, as time passed, people recovered confidence. Subsequent history has shown that the situation about AD 17-20, as described by Strabo, was unusual. Philadelphia has not been more subject to earthquakes in subsequent time than other cities of Asia. So far as our scanty knowledge goes, Smyrna has suffered more. But when the Seven Letters were written the memory of that disastrous period was still fresh. People remembered, and perhaps still practiced, camping out in the open country; and they appreciated the comfort implied in the promise, verse 12, “he shall go out thence no more.” —(link)
Here is an interesting fact about the founder of ancient Philadelphia. He was originally from Pergamos (also called Pergamum!). Unless this is a coincidence, and Yehovah didn’t intend for this to be a noteworthy point, I would expect that the end time Assembly that is ultimately typified by this ancient city will share this same situation. I suspect that the “founder” or “messenger” of Philadelphia could not (or will not) tolerate the Nicolaitan form of church (ahem!) government, so leaving the wayward groups another “Assembly” was (or will be) organized. It’s also noteworthy that several cities went by the name Philadelphia:
“Philadelphia, name of several ancient cities. One was in Lydia, W Asia Minor (now W Turkey). At the foot of Mt. Tmolus and near the location of modern Alasehir, it was founded in the 2d cent. B.C. by Attalus II Philadelphus of Pergamum. One of the Seven Ecclesias in Asia was there (Rev. 3:7). The city was damaged several times by earthquakes. Amman was also renamed Philadelphia by Ptolemy II.”—The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press
Philadelphia is the Assembly that everyone says that they would like to be from; so it would be ridiculous not to try to understand precisely what the “code words” represent. Let’s start with “the Key of David”. Must we simply guess at what this represents? It is only mentioned in one other place. And what about the “door”? This is an open and shut case! There is only one other place in the Bible that shares both of these terminologies. It is there that the answers are to be found about the latter day fulfillment of Philadelphia’s role in the end time scheme of things.
The context of the first 15 verses of Isaiah 22 is all about the ancient fall of Jerusalem, but it is quite relevant to Philadelphia, because those events will closely parallel the future of Philadelphia who are associated with the Two Witnesses. Isaiah 22:1-15 is about “the city of David” and “Judah”. I believe that the political events concerning “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” will be overtaken by the Two Witnesses. There will be a modern day evil Shebna who is replaced with a modern day Eliakim son of Hilkiah (not to be confused with the son of Abiud or the son of Melea) just prior to the next fall of Jerusalem, described in Luke 21:21-24. (Or if you like my explanation of time travel found here, then use your imagination.)
Isaiah 22:15-25 This is what the Sovereign, Yehovih the ‘Warrior’ King says, “Go to Shebna, the treasurer who is in charge of the palace, and ask him, 16 ‘What are you doing here. What right do you have to carve out a tomb for yourself, hewing your grave on an elevated site, chiseling your resting place out of rock? 17 Look, Yehovah is about to firmly grab you and hurl you away violently, 18 He’ll roll you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a large country. You’ll die where the chariots of your splendor will be. You’re a shame to your master’s house. 19 I’ll remove you from your office. You’ll be thrown out of your position. 20 When that time comes, I’ll call for My servant, Hilkiah’s son Eliakim. 21 I’ll give him your robe to wear and tie your sash securely around him. I’ll hand him your authority, and he’ll be like a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the tribe of Judah. 22 I’ll place the key of David’s dynasty on his shoulder. What he opens no one will shut, and what he shuts no one will open. 23 I’ll drive him like a nail into a secure place. He’ll be a throne of honor to his father’s family. 24 They’ll hang on him all the honor of his father’s family, the descendants and offspring, and every small utensil, from the cups to all the jars. 25 On that day”, declares Yehovah the Warrior King, the nail that was firmly driven will give way. It will be cut off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down. Yehovah has spoken.
This is what will at least initiate the astonishing change of attitude within “Judah” and “the city of David”:
Zechariah 12:10-12 Then I’ll pour on the dynasty of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of favor and a plea for mercy. They’ll look at Me, the One they’ve pierced, and they’ll mourn for Him, like someone mourns for their only son, and they’ll grieve bitterly for Him, like someone cries over a firstborn. 11 When that day comes there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadad rimmon in the valley of Megiddo [Armageddon]. 12 The land will mourn, each tribe by itself, the family of David’s house by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves;
It is difficult not to contrast the doors of Philadelphia and Laodicea. One is open and one is shut!
Revelation 3:8 I know your works. Look, I have put an open door in front of you that no one can shut, because you have a little strength and you’ve obeyed My Word and haven’t denied My name!
Those Believers who use the “open door” will be involved with the rebuilding of Yehovah’s temple.
Jeremiah was given a similar commission. He was to address ancient Israel from a doorway. We often call it a “window of opportunity” today, however, a doorway would be a more convenient entry way for honest people:
Jeremiah 7:2-3 “Stand at the gate of Yehovah’s Temple, and announce this message from there, ‘Hear the Word of Yehovah, all you people of Judah who enter thru these gates to worship Yehovah.’” 3 This is what Yehovah the Commander, the Elohim of Israel says: Change your ways and your deeds, and I’ll let you to live in this place.
This time there will be a remnant of Israel, led by some of the members of the Seven Assemblies, into the Everlasting Kingdom. The term “door” has several times been used to refer to Yeshua (Jesus) Himself and the works of the entire early Congregation:
John 10:7-9 Later, Yeshua told them, “I tell you with absolute certainty that I’m the gate for the flock. 8 Everyone who came before Me were thieves and robbers, but the flock didn’t listen to them. 9 I’m the gate. Anyone who enters thru Me will be Rescued, they’ll come in and out and find pasture.
Paul said that Yeshua had opened a door for him, while noting that in his case too there were adversaries:
1 Corinthians 16:8-9 I’ll remain in Ephesus until Pentecost 9 because a great door has opened for me that is full of opportunities, but there are many adversaries.
Paul again mentioned a door in the context of opposition:
2 Corinthians 2:11-12 otherwise Satan could take advantage of us, because we know his tactics. 12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas proclaiming the Good News of the Messiah, and a door was opened to me by the Master,
Paul once more mentioned that chains were an impediment to an open door:
Colossians 4:2-3Keep praying, and stay alert as you do it, and when giving thanks. 3 Pray for us, so that Yehovah will open a gate for the Word, to tell the mystery of the Messiah, for whose sake I have been imprisoned,
The Two Witnesses will have a door that is wide open! There will be at least three and a half years of opportunity to speak the truth about Yehovah’s desire for Israel during the Great Tribulation. Once the Tribulation has begun, great miracles will accompany the message. The absence of effective opposition, due to Yehovah’s power, all by itself will make it onto the evening news daily. I expect at least some members of all Seven Assemblies to be involved.
Revelation 11:5-7 If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies—if anyone wants to harm them they must be killed in the same way. 6 These Witnesses have the power to shut up the sky, to keep rain from falling during those days [Gr. “of prophecy”], and they have power over bodies of water to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with any disaster as often as they want. 7 When they have finished witnessing, the predatory beast [Aramaic “a beast of the tooth”] that came up from the abyss will wage war against them and kill them.
Much of this grand story can be deciphered when we understand that the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 are revealed to be the modern day Joshua and Zerubbabel. Simply compare the symbolism of Revelation 11 to Zechariah, particularly chapters 3 and 4. Philadelphia is to play the KEY role in building Yehovah’s next temple in the “Kadosh Place”:
Matthew 24:15-16 When you see the sign of the detestable desolation mentioned by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Kadish Place—the reader must understand— 16 then those of you who are in Judea should escape to the mountain/s
Ezekiel chapters 40-48 thoroughly describes this “Kadosh Place” and defines the term that Matthew referred to:
Ezekiel 41:4 ... This is the most Kadosh Place.
Ezekiel 44:13 ... into the most Kadosh Place.
Ezekiel 45:3 ... and in it will be the temple, that is most kadosh.
Ezekiel 45:4 ... and a Kadosh Place for the temple.
We saw in Revelation 11 that the prophesied Beast cannot defile the Kadosh Place until another one is built!
Zechariah Chapters 3 & 4 is the only place in the Bible that you can turn to, to gather additional information about the futuristic “two olive trees”, of Revelation 11 fame; and we see them directly associated with the seven branches of the “lampstand” (Hebrew: menorah). The implication is that all Seven Assemblies should have an opportunity to help Zerubbabel finish the latter temple.
Zechariah 4:1-2,9,14 The Messenger who was speaking with me returned and awakened me, as you’d awaken someone who is sleeping. 2 He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a solid gold menorah with a basin on top of it. There are seven lights on it, there are seven spouts for each light that is on top of it. ... 9 “Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this Temple, and his hands will finish it. Then you’ll know that Yehovah the Commander has sent me to you. ... 14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Sovereign of the whole earth.”
This is not an article about the Two Witnesses, but to be Philadelphian requires knowledge of them. They will be the next “big thing”! Did you ever wonder why the witnesses are to die in Jerusalem? Also, in the “Olivet Prophecy”—who will be fleeing Judea at the last moment? And what are these people doing in Jerusalem anyway?
Matthew 24:16-20 16 then those of you who are in Judea should escape to the mountain/s! 17 No one on the roof should come down to get anything out of their houses, 18 and no one in the fields should return to get their clothing. 19 But I pity pregnant and nursing mothers in those days. 20 Pray that your flight won’t be during foul weather or on the Sabbath.
How many members of the Assemblies will “persevere” or “endure” the project, or even acknowledge it? Time will tell. However, just as in the building of the last temple there will be fierce opposition. To deny the mission to rebuild the temple could result in the forfeiture your “crown”, but not necessarily your eternity.
Smyrna and Philadelphia are the congregations that are directly involved with the “cabal of Satan”. The term is not used anywhere else in the Bible. However, all we need to do, to understand who these people are is to look to the past!
Revelation 3:9-11 I have something for those of the cabal of Satan who claim to be Jews and arent, but lie, I’ll make them come and worship before your feet, and realize that I have loved you! 10 Since you’ve patiently obeyed My Word, I’ll protect you from the Hour of Trial that is coming to the entire inhabited world, to test those who live on the earth. 11 I AM COMING QUICKLY!  Hold tightly onto what you have, so that no one takes your crown.
 From the perspective of the end time seven assemblies—the successors of the prototypical assemblies who first read this prophecy—once these prophesies begin to happen, they’ll happen quickly.
The Philadelphian Assembly, and perhaps Pergamos, will provide modern day counterparts of “Zerubbabel and Yeshua”. They will be “discouraged” and “frustrated”“frustrated” by a future “cabal of Satan”. When Zerubbabel and Joshua began rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, they were approached by Samaritans who claimed to be Jews. They claimed that they wanted to help with the work.
The rebuilding of the Temple will require stepping out on faith because Yehovah will not be blessing the project until after it is underway and the foundation has already been laid! Joshua and Zerubbabel will be doing Yehovah’s will prior to their 1,260 day prophecy.
Haggai 2:18-19 Consider from now on, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day when the foundation of Yehovah’s Temple was laid, consider: 19 Is there any seed still in the barn? Until now, the grapevine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree haven’t produced any fruit. But from this day on I will bless you.”
Notice that when the Two Witnesses being empowered with supernatural ability is associated with building Yehovah’s third temple! The measuring signals their arrival!
Revelation 11:1-3 Then I, John, was given a measuring reed like a staff, and the messenger stood and said, “Get up and measure the Temple of Yehovah and the altar and those who worship there. 2 But don’t measure the courtyard outside of the Temple. Leave it out, because it has been given to the heathens, and they’ll trample the kadosh city underfoot for forty-two months. 3 I’ll commission My Two Witnesses. They’ll prophesy for 1,260 days, wearing sackcloth.
Again, notice Zechariah:
Zechariah 4:9-10 “Zerubbabel’s hands have laid the foundation of this Temple, and his hands will finish it. Then you’ll know that Yehovah the Commander has sent me to you. 10 Who despises the day of small things? These seven will celebrate when they see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. They are the eyes of Yehovah, that quickly traverse the entire earth.”
There is a story alluded to in Isaiah 22, that is elaborated on in Isaiah chapters 36 and 37. The entire account is repeated in 2 Kings chapters 18 and 19. This kind of emphasis is virtually unique in Scripture.
During the time of King Hezekiah, of Judah, when Sennacherib’s army was approaching Jerusalem to destroy it, there was a wicked official serving the king named Shebna. During this great crisis, three representatives of Judah went out to meet the general who was about to besiege the city. Shebna was the chief official of these men. Joah and Eliakim the son of Hilkiah were present as well. Little is said of Joah other than that he was “the recorder”. Due to his great vanity, and apparent lust for power, Shebna built a magnificent tomb for himself, carved from solid rock—a custom usually allotted to royalty. Perhaps he had low self esteem, but he wanted to die well! When Isaiah discovered this highly pompous action, he confronted the Judas treasurer and read him the riot act, so to speak. Isaiah prophesied to Shebna that Yehovah would cast him into a far off country, where he would die among the “commoners”. Shebna’s elaborate tomb would be virtually forgotten until about the time that Yehovah began breathing life into the Seven Assemblies!
Hezekiah’s steward Shebna was cast from political office and replaced with Eliakim. (Isaiah 22:15-25) The new KEY bearer was given the “key of the house of David”, and had the absolute power to open and shut (v.22). The expression apparently symbolizes the royal authority of the office. This is much the same as when Nebuchadnezzar promoted Daniel “and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon”. (Daniel 2:48) Some teach that Shebna and Eliakim are in the same “church”, spiritualizing away the reality of these events. Eliakim will cause a political coup and take control of Jerusalem from Shebna, but he is not of the same political party (or church). Shebna being evil, will not be a part of Philadelphia’s mission, but he in all likelihood will be seeking possession of the planned temple, for political power.
Just as we in our time often give a symbolic “key to the city” to individuals who have demonstrated some exemplary character, so it will be, and more so for Eliakim the next KEY recipient. Again:
Isaiah 22:20-22 When that time comes, I’ll call for My servant, Hilkiah’s son Eliakim. 21 I’ll give him your robe to wear and tie your sash securely around him. I’ll hand him your authority, and he’ll be like a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the tribe of Judah. 22 I’ll place the key of David’s dynasty on his shoulder. What he opens no one will shut, and what he shuts no one will open.
The Bible also associates the term “key of David” to the Messiah Himself. Yeshua, in Revelation 3:7. This should signify beyond all doubt the kingly authority that can be granted by Yeshua, that Great King, who will empower a Philadelphian.
By associating the Key of David of the Philadelphia Congregation, with Isaiah 22, we should anticipate a latter day fulfillment by a modern day Eliakim. He will truly be a spiritual “father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” and he will be commissioned to rebuild the Latter Temple. This will be a literal temple, not simply some “church organization” as some would have you believe. The future of the Seven Assemblies hinges on their participation in this literal rebuilding. Ultimately, during the next fall of Jerusalem, Yehovah’s servant Eliakim will be killed in the streets of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:7-8, Isaiah 22:25). Eliakim is one of several men associated, by typology, with the Two Witnesses. It appears that only one of the Two Witnesses is from Philadelphia. Perhaps a modern day Antipas, from the Pergamos Congregation, will be the other. Antipas, “my faithful martyr” is the only person, mentioned by name among the Seven Assemblies who is not evil.
In a similar way, Yehovah will empower His two “anointed ones”. “And I will give power to My Two Witnesses ...” and perform even greater miracles thru these two men than He did thru Yeshua! Since this hasn’t happened yet it must happen then!
John 14:12 I am absolutely certain that anyone who believes in Me will also do the works that I do. And they’ll do greater works than these, because I’m going to My Father.
Yehovah’s eons old plan is to regather Israel and fulfill the Covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The latter Temple is the focal point and rallying cry for the Second Exodus. The messages to Seven Assemblies tell a story. While the message was delivered long ago, it is yet to be heard.
Will the Assemblies heed the warnings and repent? Don’t count on hearing another warning. Listen to John’s!
Most of the Sabbatarian Assemblies frequently teach contrary to many Biblical truths. Is it any wonder that so many of the Assemblies of Revelation are such a sorry lot? However, is Philadelphia—said to have “little strength”—a negative statement? Could this mean spiritual strength? I think not, they are among the most spiritual and alert. The Online Bible Greek Lexicon lists six possible nuances of the word “strength”. Here are two of the usages that seem most applicable:
If this is the case, then Philadelphia will lack the wealth that Laodicea boasts of possessing, and they will truly have no glaring spiritual deficiencies. Yet they may be “little” numerically and economically because they have concentrated on laying up their treasures in heaven with less concern for their careers. Laodicea, and perhaps others, are “rich” and “blind”:
Revelation 3:17 You say, ‘I’m rich and I don’t need anything’, not realizing that you are sick [Aramaic], miserable, destitute, blind and naked!
Most of the Sabbatarian Assemblies deny virtually everything that serves as a “memorial” of the past and particularly those things that are “a shadow of good things to come”,“a shadow of good things to come”, as explained in Israel’s 7 Apocalyptic Days.
In addition to what we know directly about Philadelphia and Smyrna we can discern more by deduction in these instances by the faults that they dont have. If these assemblies had the weaknesses that the other five assemblies had, surely Yehovah would have mentioned them—if for no other reason, just to be fair. Going thru the issues specified in Revelation 2-3 and applying a little logic, we can conclude that Philadelphia and Smyrna would not possess any of the negatives of the other Assemblies, or John would surely have mentioned them. Nor would Philadelphia and Smyrna lack any of the virtues of the other Assemblies or it would have been just as inconsistent not to mention those. It would seem equally logical that if any of the five Assemblies with a “but” clause had some virtue that Smyrna or Philadelphia was lacking in, then that would have been mentioned as well. The combined list of recorded virtues and weaknesses would certainly be high priorities with Yehovah in the final generation of His fragmented Congregation. So here is a composite list of the virtues that Yehovah was watching for in an ideal assembly. “Works” in particular and a couple other points are repeatedly included so I believe the emphasis is warranted!
Next, here is a composite list of the characteristics that the two better assemblies won’t tolerate.
There is of course one very apparent difference between Smyrna and Philadelphia—Smyrna must endure more testing!
Revelation 2:10 Don’t fear the things you are to suffer! Look, the Accuser will throw some of you into prison to test you, and you’ll undergo tribulation for ten days. But be faithful until death, and I’ll give you the crown of Life.
Just as only one envoy (apostle) was spared martyrdom, apparently only Philadelphia will be entirely spared that fate:
Perhaps the virtue that John (who wrote the book!) excelled in the most is the reason that he alone was spared martyrdom. He was the one “who Yeshua loved” the most. I rather suspect that the Philadelphians are the most lovable assembly.
So who are the Philadelphians? Look for them to be found with some “fake” Jews.
There are countless references to Jews in the Bible. Why is it that in the account of the Seven Assemblies, that commentators want to say that Jews represent Yeshua’s disciples in this, and only this, context? Jews means Jews! These Assemblies will work with Jews, a special Levitical priesthood—very enlightened Jews! (Revelation 3:9, Zechariah 12:10)
Revelation 2:8-9 To the messenger of the assembly in Smyrna, write: The First and the Last, the One who was dead and now lives, says: 9 ‘I know your works and your suffering, and your poverty, but you are rich, despite the blasphemy coming from those who say that they are Jews, but arent. They are from the cabal  of Satan.
 The Greek word “synagogue” is generic, it doesn’t specify the function of a group. In this instance a sinister congregation is certainly implied.
Here is the historic account of the “Second Temple” that reveals the crux of the previous sabotage:
Ezra 4:1-5 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles who had returned from captivity were building a Temple to Yehovah, the Elohim of Israel, 2 they approached Zerubbabel, and the heads of the families and told them, “Let us help you build, because we ‘worship’ your Elohim, as you do, and we have been offering zebakim to Him since the reign of King Esarhaddon of Assyria, who brought us up here.” 3 But Zerubbabel, Yeshua, and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel, told them, “You will have nothing to do with our building a house for our Elohim, because we alone will build it for Yehovah, the Elohim of Israel, as King Cyrus, king of Persia has commanded us.” 4 Then the locals discouraged the people of Judah, to keep them from their work. 5 They hired agents to work against them and frustrate their plans 'during the entire reign' of King Cyrus of Persia, until the reign of King Darius of Persia.
However, some wicked men who claim to be Jews—believers in Yehovah’s Covenant—will again seek to undermine the temple project by gaining the trust of “the people who know their Elohim”.
Daniel 11:31-35 Armed forces will rise up, and they’ll defile the Temple refuge, and put a stop to the daily burnt zebakim, and they’ll set up an appalling detestable idol [KJV, abomination of desolation]. 32 With slick and corrupt talk he will corrupt the wicked who violate the covenant. But the people who know their Elohim will be strong and take action. 33 Their wise people will share understanding with the many, yet they’ll fall by swords and flames. They’ll be captured and plundered for many days. 34 When they fall, they’ll be given a little help, but many who become allies with them will not be sincere. 35 Some of the teachers will fall away, to refine them, and to purify them, and make them white, all the way to the time of the end, but it will still happen during the time appointed [Hebrew, Mowed, a special Festival Day].
Aside from a single reference to the word “Jews” in 2 Kings, the term is not even mentioned until the book of Ezra, where there are seven mentions of them diligently rebuilding the temple.
“Fake” Jews continued to thwart the faithful people who were rebuilding the temple. Eventually they succeeded in having an official governmental prohibition placed on the temple project. Later, encouraged by Haggai, Zechariah, Zerubbabel and Joshua they gallantly resumed the construction of the temple ignoring the official prohibition.
Samaritans: “who say they are Jews and are not, but lie” who really are a “cabal of Satan” who surreptitiously obstructed the rebuilding and persecuted Zerubbabel and Joshua will give it another go. I expect the same scenario to occur to the Two Witnesses after the command to “Get up, and measure the Temple of Yehovah, and the altar, and those who worship there.”. (Revelation 11:1)
Fortunately, in Yehovah’s time, He caused King Darius to fund the rebuilding of the temple at taxpayers expense and commanded that anyone who would hinder the construction should be promptly exterminated! I would not be surprised if something like this is necessary in the latter fulfillment.
Ezra 6:6-12 So Tattenai, governor of the province beyond the Euphrates River, Shetharbozenai, and your companions the Apharsachites, who who live beyond the River, you must stay far from there. 7 Don’t disturb the work of this Temple of Elohim, let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild the Temple of Elohim on its original site. 8 I hereby decree what you’ll do regarding these elders of the Jews in the reconstruction of this Temple of Elohim: The full cost is to be paid to these men from the royal treasury from the taxes collected from the provinces beyond the Euphrates River, so that the work isn’t interrupted. 9 Whatever is needed, both young bulls, rams, and lambs, for burnt ze’bakim [sacrifices] to the Elohim of heaven, as well as wheat, salt, wine and oil—any requests of the priests in Jerusalem should be given to them daily without fail, 10 so that they can offer acceptable zebakim to the Elohim of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons. 11 And I issued a decree concerning any man who alters this decree: a beam will be pulled from his house, and he must be crucified on it, and his house turned into an outhouse for this. 12 May the Elohim who has caused His name to live there overthrow any king or people who lift a hand to alter this, to destroy the Temple of Elohim in Jerusalem. I Darius have issued this decree. It should be carried out with diligence.
The Two Witnesses are associated with measuring of the temple, but they don’t do it. Again, Yehovah made it easy to identify which temple could be measured because “measure” and “temple” are only associated with one other verse in the Bible. We’re back to the nine chapter long description of the rebuilding, found in Ezekiel chapters 40-48:
The purpose for the temple “project” is to cause the House of Israel to be “ashamed of their iniquities”. It’s back to square one with animal ze’bakim [sacrifices] etc. The Beast will cause the zebakim to cease:
Daniel 8:11-13 It became arrogant and powerful, and even challenged the commander of heaven’s army, and it took away from him the continual burnt zebakim [sacrifices], and the Kadosh Place was overthrown. 12 Because of the rebellion, the army [of the kadosh ones (saints)] will be given over to it, along with the daily burnt zebakim, and it will throw truth to the ground, and 'the horn' will do what it wants to and prosper.
13 Then I heard a kadosh one speaking, and another kadosh one asked the one who was speaking, “How long will the prophecy [vision] about the continual burnt zebakim last—the desolating transgression [ravaging of the city], the surrender of the Kadosh Place [Temple], and the army being trampled under foot?”
This is when the armed forces will rise up and defile the Temple. The prophecy about the “abomination of desolation” and the “Kadosh Place” is explained in detail by Yeshua in Matthew 24. It is a message to all of Israel!
The Two Witnesses will only “witness” to the Israelite nations. This is because it is our modern day Israelite nations that will be conquered by the other nations. It is only Israel that needs this warning.
The true “Good News” will not have been heard by most of the world “until the Son of Man has come”.
Matthew 10:23 When they persecute you in one town, escape to another. I am certain that you won’t have finished your mission in the towns of the lineage of Israel, before the Human Son appears in public.
Philadelphia is the only Assembly credited with keeping “My word”. This would imply a much better mastery of the Bible than the other Assemblies.
Ephesus and Pergamum are associated with “My name” or “My name’s sake”. This can mean that they know His actual name—Yeshua, but most people, particularly Jesus people, prefer to limit the meaning to His reputation, without any reference to the name His mother gave Him.
Because the Philadelphian Assembly has “obeyed My Word and haven’t denied My name!” we must conclude that the Philadelphia Assembly excels in both “word” and deed.
It appears that the Philadelphian Assembly will play the lead role in the end time panorama of prophetic events. Who are the Philadelphians? I suspect that anyone begotten of Yehovah, who is not overwhelmed with the doctrinal and spiritual problems associated with the other five or six sects—and who is growing in favor and knowledge—those scattered individuals are Philadelphians. They will certainly recognize the truths expounded by the Two Witnesses. Other kadishea (saints) may reject them because they are not associated with their sect! Some of the “misfits” in the incorporated and/or exclusivist Assemblies (sects) will abandon these organizations with the first miraculous sign or on hearing their message, others may not even be Sabbatarian yet, but may go on a crash course. Is anyone zealous? Is anyone preparing their minds for the temple project? The incorporated Assemblies are in bondage! (See “Free Church”).
It is a mark of Providence that the very seal that Eliakim used to authorize documents has survived until our time. This seal bears the inscription “The property of Eliakim, steward of Jehoiakin”. It is from Debir (Tell Beit Mirsim) located 13 miles southwest of Hebron. It was excavated by William F. Albright in 1926.
Click on the seal to check out this and other interesting finds.
And Shebna’s Tomb Too!
Amazingly, in 1953, archaeologist N. Avigad translated an inscription from the lintel of a rock tomb in Jerusalem. Written in the old Paleo Hebrew form, dating from the time of Hezekiah, the inscription said: “This is the sepulcher of [Shebna-yahu: a more complete form of the name], who is over the house [Isaiah 22:15]. There is no silver or gold here but only his bones, and the bones of his slave-wife with him. Cursed be the man who breaks this open.”
Apparently he even had the tomb engraved and “cursed” in advance to dissuade looters.
The sketch below shows the Paleo Hebrew text with current Hebrew inserted above and below. Click on the image for more information.
[September 1, 2018 update] For most of the past ten years I have been quite regularly meeting with Messianics, or Hebrew Roots, or Messianic Israelites (not so much Messianic Jews). I came to believe that I have been actively involved in the Laodicean Assembly of Revelation 3, and I want Laodicea to be more center stage here because it is in so much peril! I am not any more sure what to call them than they are themselves. Many of them pronounce Messianics as “messy-antics”, and with good reason! I have never claimed to be a Messianic I ended up here by default—THEY DON’T THROW ME OUT over Biblical truths because their doctrinal standards are nearly non existent. The people are not bothered that I have so many different beliefs than the rest of them. The vast majority of these people have quite recently left Protestantism behind. Tho they generally believe that Christians and Jews are their brothers, they rightly see each of those bodies as deficient and don’t really identify with either. There is a strong Pentecostal flavoring among many of the groups, but each congregation is different. There is a wide spectrum of traditions which are entirely dependent on the whims of the local charismatic individual leader. I say leader in the singular because I have not met a Messianic elder or deacon-the alpha dog has no local rivals this way. Yet bringing in popular speakers is a very common practice. At a conference (where conferring never takes place) one speaker may promote the rapture theory, only to be followed by someone who debunks it. The degree of Jewish traditions of each congregation varies considerably. However, after a decade of being an independent observer I can easily say I know far more about what they don’t teach than I do about any supposed commonly held beliefs. It is the wild west!
So lets start with the framework as described.
14 To the messenger of the assembly in Laodicea, write: “The Aw-main, the Witness, the Faithful, the True, the Originator of Yehovah’s creation, says: 15 ‘I know your works, that you are neither hot or cold. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot or cold, I’m about to vomit you from My mouth.’ 17 You say, ‘I’m rich and I don’t need anything’, not realizing that you are sick [Aramaic], miserable, destitute, blind and naked! 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so that you’ll actually become rich, and buy white clothing from Me so that you can clothe yourself, and the shame of your nakedness won’t appear, and eye salve for yours eyes, so that you can see. 19 I admonish and discipline everyone I love. So be zealous and make amends. 20 I have been standing at the door knocking. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in to them and eat with them, and they with Me. 21 Anyone who is victorious I’ll allow to sit with Me on My throne , even as I was victorious and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 To anyone ‘listening’, listen to what the spirit says to the assemblies.”
Let's start with “Yeshua standing at the door knocking”. I have heard every verse of the Torah (Genesis thru Deuteronomy) read and discussed repeatedly these last 10 years since it is always the topic of each Sabbath, cycled on the annual Jewish reading schedule. There can be a minor secondary focus on the prophets or what they mistakenly call the Brit Hadasha (aka New Testament). Yet in my 10 years of observation we have never covered one chapter involving Yeshua and exceedingly rarely even examine a single verse!
The typical Messianic adds a new found appreciation of the Torah to their belief system, but essentially retains most of whatever “packaged deal” of Christian beliefs that they happened have abandoned.
I have a great deal of respect for the Torah. Indeed as a teenager I discovered it as I was giving up on lawless Christianity. I knew it to be totally illogical for a Creator to only expect a few “magic words” to be spoken to prevent eternal torture, with the individuals involved being no better people than they were before they learned to utter those words. I could never respect or sincerely worship a Being like that! Even people who are constantly enduring the faith without responsibility (works) brainwashing have difficulty believing that nothing matters at all beyond confessing a few rehearsed words—sort of a secret handshake.
The Torah is the milk of the word! It’s not the main or only course of the meal. It involves the basic civil responsibility of loving your neighbors. Before Yeshua even cared to reveal His very existence, or say much about eternal life, He expected personal responsibility for your actions (works) in this life and a promised land or physical blessings (also in this life) for those who accept personal responsibility for their behavior.
Hebrews 6: So let’s go beyond the preliminary Word of the Messiah and move toward spiritual perfection. You don’t need to ‘begin again’ turning away from spiritually dead works and faith in Yehovah...
9 But Friends, even tho we say these things, we’re convinced that better things await you, things pertaining to eternal Life. 10 Yehovah isn’t unjust. He won’t forget your works and the love that you have displayed in His name, seeing that you have served and continue to serve the kadishea [saints].
So in this revised Laodicea segment I decided to enumerate some of the many things that I don’t know about the people who attend the two Messianic groups I have associated with. (Bear in mind that the congregations are constantly changing. People endlessly move from group to group, apparently looking for something better.) I am sure I could add more to this list but I am off to a good start here:
As far as salvation goes, I don’t know what is generally thought by them to be the fate of Jews, who reject the Messiah, or Christians who for all practical purposes reject 3/4 of the Bible, or even their own fates! Salvation never comes up, it is carefully sidestepped! However going to present day Israel is a big deal!
1) I don’t know if a majority or a minority of them believe in an ever-burning hell. Some express disdain for doctrine of any kind!
2) I don’t know if a majority or a minority of them plan on going to heaven! I did ask a ministers wife where she was planning on spending eternity and she said heaven.
3) I don’t know if they generally plan on a millennium of peace on earth inhabited by humans, or lean toward the Adventist belief of the earth becoming a burned out cinder after the ‘advent’.
4) I don’t know if they believe that Yehovah is omnicient (having complete or unlimited knowledge).
5) I don’t know if they believe that Yehovah is omnipotent.
6) I don’t know and can only presume that they would acknowledge that “One of Them” created everything.
7) I don’t know if they believe Yehovah is immutable (never changing) since most were taught in Christianity that He scrapped standards entirely and came up with a new liberal plan of salvation.
8) I don’t know how many believe in a trinity, tho one minister once said that Father, Son and kadosh (holy) spirit all together formed a “blob”. Fortunately he did not elaborate!
9) I don’t know and can only presume that most believe in a virgin birth, since most were Christians.
10) I don’t know how many believe that Yeshua was “fully God and fully man” as Christians are so apt to say. It seems pretty clear to me that He divested Himself of His grandeur temporarily. Philipians 2:7.
11) I don’t know specifically how many believe that salvation is a free gift with no further responsibility beyond those magic words I mentioned, since it never comes up, tho it would only make sense that the Torah teaches responsibilities in life.
12) I don’t know how many want to be raptured: 90% to 10% or visa versa?
13) I don’t know what they think about the New Heavens, the New Earth or even the New Jerusalem. Those topics never come up.
14) I don’t know how many of the people like a form of government where they have no input. But with people coming and going like the tide, stability would be difficult anyhow.
15) I don’t know how many believe in the inerrancy of the Bible (since basically only the first 5 books get any real exposure). But there is far more emphasis on learning Hebrew words than first learning what the Bible actually says in simple English. I delve into every word I am curious about, but I would hope that they would at least read thru the whole thing once first before spending years striving over individual words.
16) I don’t know what people believe about Yeshua returning. Presumably they do believe that, but it would be nice to hear about it sometimes—since we are so close to the time!
17) I don’t know what they believe about Bible prophecy. Prophecy is almost as rarely referenced as Yeshua’s so called Brit Hadasha (aka New Testament), but I would expect the vast majority of them would believe that “the desert blossoming like a rose” in Isaiah 35:1 is being accomplished right now, but that passage has nothing to do with 1948, desalination plants or irrigation (see Isaiah 30:18). Not another verse in this chapter or any verse from Chapter 30:18 to the end of chapter 35 (all referencing the same future time) is ever cited by the proponents who claim that the desert blooming like a rose is being fulfilled now. Same goes for Jeremiah 31:31. Try Isaiah 34:8 for context!
18) I don’t know if they believe that immersion (baptism) is necessary for salvation, but they do practice mikvehs. While I have seen this done, little to nothing is said as to why they do it or how often it should be done.
19) I don’t know what they believe about the Kadosh (holy) spirit indwelling in them since there is so much desire to see it fall on them now and then.
20) I don’t know what people generally believe about tithing. They speak of tithing often enough, but I really doubt that many would consider it 10%. This is fairly close to my viewpoint.
The Torah is the basic common denominator. So Christmas and Easter are out the window due to their pagan origins and they are replaced with Sabbaths, Feasts and Festivals: Biblical days of celebration. And of course unclean flesh is certainly a no no (Leviticus 11). Oddly, while eternity doesn’t seem to be of importance, being a bride does. Being Yeshua’s bride gets coverage virtually every Sabbath, whatever that means to them. (What it means in the Bible.)
The fellowship I have spent the most time with puts on a “Conference” every year. They hire several big names among the Messianics to speak at a considerable expense. Hundreds of people show up each year. Often the expenses run several thousand dollars into the red, the organizers personally footing the bill. None of the speakers are in any way associated with each other so far as I know. They are loners. For the most part I generally avoid these conferences since there is no conferring really going on. Each speaker sells their wares (and in locations where they are permitted even on the Sabbath) and moves on. Then on the Sabbath following the conference a few of these people may show up for a hort time. Perhaps half of the attendees at a conference are there for the first time. Another reason why I avoid Messianic conferences is because they outshine the Biblical Feasts so much. During a recent year about 75 people scheduled for the Feast of Tabernacles (virtually always referred to as Sukkot). On any given day 75% of the people were missing, with people coming and going from work schedules, school or whatever form of indifference they chose. It is a different crowd each day, just like the weekly Sabbaths where a different assortment of people show up each week, mostly people attending every few weeks or months. Many drifting around to different congregations looking for something elusive I suppose, most tho apparently simply breaking the Sabbath occasionally or frequently because they “had to work”. How many of them “have to” break any of the other nine Commandments? Indifference (lukewarmness) is the norm and that is the other primary reason why I believe them to be Loadicea. On a recent Pentecost I was to be the second speaker after lunch. It would have been a new thing for me since I have never really done much of a monolog before. However everyone broke camp and left that Sabbath after making a showing. Of course it is normal for people to come late and/or leave early. I was not bothered or surprised. Same story when I was to speak at the Feast of Tabernacles. The few ladies who showed up just wanted to just do a Torah reading, so we did. It wasn’t anything personal. They didn’t even know me. I contrast this to the decades I spent in WCG and offshoots (I believe to be Pergamos) where I never met one person of the hundreds I knew who would work on a Sabbath or a Feast Day. If anyone missed a week people would check to see if they were OK! Of course no one dared question the most minor point of doctrine there.
The Ten Commandments are the entire foundational basis, carved in stone, that separate Yehovah’s (God’s) people from the rest of the world! If “believers” can’t even come together every Sabbath to share knowledge and inspiration about this way of life, they will have no part in eternal life! However, ignorance of the Bible is a bonafide excuse, as I explain in Are the “Unsaved” Lost, but “A person who knows what is right, but doesn’t do it is guilty of sin” (James 4:17). This is why I believe that the Messianics are Laodicea!
The “gold refined in the fire” is a reference to the Great Tribulation. Unlike the Philadelphian’s (who I believe will be organized by the two witnesses) these people—those who haven’t already bought their “white garments” and fled to Philadelphia as soon as it finally arises—will have no choice but to begin diligently seeking Aloha (God) and SERIOUSLY celebrating His Sabbaths AND suffering martyrdom for it OR miss out on eternal life altogether!
Laodicea, Yeshua is knocking on the door, trying to get your attention! Will some of you please wake up!
Now for Part 3