Thursday, 17 September 2020
Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. Revelation 2:16
Due to the tolerance of those who hold to Balaam’s doctrine, and to those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans – something Jesus says he hates – He now warns them, “Repent.”
The word “repent” signifies a changing of the mind. In the Bible, it is especially so in reference to accepting the will of God. One could say, “to think differently afterwards.” The people are doing one thing, Jesus warns them to not do that thing, and to think differently and no longer do what they had been doing. In this case, it is to no longer tolerate what Jesus finds displeasing. Should they fail to do so, He continues by saying, “or else I will come to you quickly.”
The word translated as “quickly” means “without delay,” “soon,” or “suddenly.” The Lord will not hesitate to take action at the most propitious moment, and when He does, it will be a decisive one. The warning has been given. If they fail to heed, He says He “will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
The word “repent” (above) is in the singular. He is talking to the leader of the church (the angel of verse 2:12 who represents the whole). He now says “them.” The leader is responsible for the actions of those in the church. He can expel them, correct them, etc. If he fails to do so, judgment will come.
Here we see the effective use of the sword mentioned in verse 12. There it said, “These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword.” The sword is the means of judgment for this church, just as it was for Balaam. Before Balaam committed his wickedness against Israel, the Lord withstood him with a drawn sword (see Numbers 22:23).
Eventually, Balaam brought Israel to conduct wickedness before the Lord (as Jesus noted in verse 2:14), and he was slain with the sword (Numbers 31:8 and Joshua 13:22). Jesus promises no less to those who fail to repent. The reason this is so is because they bear His name. In their vile actions, it is perceived that He is tolerant of such things. Judgment must come upon them because of this. What occurred with Israel is promised to also come about in His church.
Obviously, the sword here is being used metaphorically for some type of judgment. It could be some type of disease for those who practice the sins, it could be some type of persecution, or maybe it could even be some type of natural calamity. When it came, the people would be prompted to say, “We were warned.” His hand of judgment would be understood for what it was.
Life application: Jesus has just openly presented the sins of those in Pergamos and now He instructs them to “repent.” Our own deeds are what testify against us. The question has been asked many times in history, “Why does God send us to hell unless we do what He demands?” This question holds to the fundamental error of misunderstanding the nature of God and the nature of hell.
As previously noted, hell was a place prepared for “the devil and his angels,” not for man. Therefore, it is we who choose the path to hell. Instead of God saying, “If you don’t do what I say, I will send you to hell,” the Bible teaches that, “If you do what I say, I will keep you from hell.” Freewill is what makes the difference possible. Therefore, how we exercise our freewill is of eternal importance.
If we fail to wisely respond to His counsel, He will fight against us with the sword of His mouth. Remember from chapter 1 the lesson of the sword. The sword is noted as the power of the Spirit of God, and as the word of God, the Bible. Because this is so, the sword coming from Jesus’ mouth is authoritative, all-powerful, and able to consume anything which comes against it.
Peter speaks of this in his first epistle –
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” 1 Peter 4:17
This judgment, which begins at the house of God, will remove all who fail to make the right choice concerning their relationship with Christ. Again, this is our choice. Assigning blame to God for the consequences of our own actions is like a child blaming a parent when he steals a cookie after being told not to. It is incorrect thinking on our part.
Lord, help us in our confusion concerning the things that we don’t understand. Help us to make right decisions based on Your nature and Your character, and not from our limited perspective. You are the Creator, and we know that Your will, not ours, is what is right and good. Lead us in paths of right thought and right understanding. Amen.