Friday, 18 September 2020
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’ Revelation 2:17
Now, for the third time, Jesus repeats the words previously spoken to both Ephesus and Smyrna, saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Refer to the comments of verse 2:7, if necessary. In short, it is a call out to the churches to pay heed to His words.
Next, He says, “To him who overcomes.” Again, it is the same idea as previously mentioned to both churches. A person “overcomes” when he believes in the finished work of Christ, meaning the God/Man. There is no other way to overcome than through what He has done.
For the one who overcomes, the Lord says, “I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.” It is debated what the meaning of the “hidden manna” is. However, to understand the original context of it, one can refer to this sermon from the Superior Word study on the book of Exodus. At the end of the sermon, the hidden manna is first explained – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1pFhhIQg48
Ultimately, the manna was given in Old Testament typology to picture Christ who sustains His people. He explicitly equates Himself to the manna in the wilderness in John 6:30-34 and 6:47-51. For example –
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” John 6:47-51
In Colossians 3, those who have come to Christ are said to be hidden with Christ in God –
“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
At this time, what is true about our relationship with God through Christ is hidden, but what is hidden will be revealed. God’s people will be glorified, and we shall partake of Christ’s sustaining influence for all eternity at that time.
Along with the hidden manna, Jesus also says, “And I will give him a white stone.” There are many opinions concerning what this is referring to, and countless ideas have been brought forth to explain exactly what is being conveyed.
One possibility is that in the culture of the time, and even in certain instances today, when a vote was cast, a white stone meant “not guilty.” Jesus handing us a white stone may mean that we are not guilty before God and we will never be judged for condemnation. This wonderful release from sin comes from Jesus’ shed blood. By trusting in Him, He has become our substitute. He bore the wrath that we deserve. However, this particular idea is not actually found in Scripture.
However, what may be referred to here is a reference found in Deuteronomy 27, where an altar was instructed to be set up and covered in lime (whitewash). On it, all the words of the law were to be inscribed. After that, the people of Israel were to stand on two separate mountains, and the curses for disobeying the law were to be called out while the people confirmed those things with the word “Amen.”
The last curse to be pronounced was, “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.” With that, the people were to confirm it with, “Amen.” Paul refers to that in Galatians 3:10, saying, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’”
The idea of this is that the “law brings a curse” because, as Paul says, “the just shall live by faith.” The one who overcomes, then, is given his own white stone – symbolized by this Old Testament altar of white stone – which declares the person “not guilty” because he has been imputed Christ’s perfect obedience to this law. Christ bore our guilt (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13) in our stead.
Jesus continues, saying, “and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” The giving of a name indicates several things. The one who gives the name has authority over that person – to accept or reject. For example, the Lord renamed Abraham and Sarah. He renamed Jacob, and so on. In renaming them, He was giving them a new identification which was bestowed by Him, showing that He had accepted them.
Further, in giving a name, it signifies the new nature of that person. In the renaming of Jacob to Israel, the new nature is explicitly stated –
“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:28
The Lord is saying that those who receive the white stone are His, and they have been given a new nature – one in which the law is fulfilled, adoption is granted, and full inheritance as sons is realized
Paul explains that the moment we trust in Jesus, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit which guarantees this will take place –
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14
The stone is a physical token of this spiritual truth.
Life application: Christ has done the work – all of it – in order to redeem fallen man. All God asks of us is to accept what He has done, receive it, and be reconciled to Him. This is how one overcomes. In overcoming, all of the blessings promised by God are granted to His adopted children. Be sure to not miss the simplicity of what God offers. Just reach out, by faith, and receive it.
But, remember that there are warnings and admonitions in these seven letters as well. We cannot please God by disobeying what He has forbidden, or by doing those things that He hates. Let us put aside our misdeeds, come to God through Christ, and live holy lives to Him for all of our days.
It is beyond comprehension, O Lord, that You would do all the work to save us. All we have to do is, by faith, accept Christ’s deeds of righteousness in fulfilling the law on our behalf. How great is Your love that You have done this! Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, given to us when we believe, and which is the guarantee of the good things to come for all eternity. Amen.