Friday, 9 October 2020
Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9
In the previous verse, Jesus said, “See, I have set before you an open door.” As noted then, that more literally said, “I have given before you a door opened.” Now, using the same verb, He says, “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan.” In this, it more correctly says, “Indeed, I give out of the synagogue of Satan.” The idea is being picked up again from the previous verse.
It is a way of saying, “I have given you an opened door, and I will give you those from the synagogue of Satan to acknowledge this fact.” The Jews claim they have access through the door, but it is – in fact – believers in Christ who do. The opened door is, as noted in the previous verse, probably speaking of access to evangelism. The Lord opens opportunities to spread the gospel, and the gospel is what leads people to salvation. It is the opposite of what the Jews who rejected Christ did –
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15
Indeed, instead of bringing their converts to the Messiah and heaven, they led them in the opposite direction to the Adversary (Satan) and to hell (Gehenna). Of them, Jesus next states, “who say they are Jews and are not, but lie.” This is the same basic thought as Revelation 2:9 –
“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
As noted at that time, this does not mean that they actively worship Satan, but that in having rejected Christ, the incarnate Lord (Yehovah), the Lord is not among them. Without Christ, they then – by default – belong to the devil. That is explicitly stated by Jesus in John 8:44 –
“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
This is why Jesus added on the words, “but lie.” They say they are Jews, but they are not. Rather, they lie. Their words follow the words of their father, the devil. It is what Paul then refers to in Romans 2 –
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28, 29
Paul’s words are speaking only about people of Jewish descent, but who are either believers in Christ (and who are thus true Jews), or who are broken off from being true Jews. Jews may have the lineage, but those who do not come to Christ Jesus do not qualify for what that lineage was intended to bring about, meaning an internal circumcision of the heart. As noted in the commentary on 2:9, this does not mean that a Gentile becomes a Jew through faith in Christ. Gentiles remain Gentiles and are grafted into the commonwealth of Israel. To ensure proper theology, the categories must be maintained.
Of these non-converted Jews who are of the synagogue of Satan, Jesus next says, “indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet.” The word translated as “worship” signifies to kiss the ground when prostrating oneself before a superior, and thus to worship. If Jesus is speaking of these people worshiping Him before the feet of those at Philadelphia, then the word “worship” is correct. However, if He is saying that the prostration is directed to those at Philadelphia, then the word “worship” is incorrect. Only God is to receive worship (see Revelation 22:9).
Either way, the words here are reflective of what it says in Isaiah –
“Kings shall be your foster fathers,
And their queens your nursing mothers;
They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth,
And lick up the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.” Isaiah 49:23
“Also the sons of those who afflicted you
Shall come bowing to you,
And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet;
And they shall call you The City of the Lord,
Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 60:14
The very promises made to the people of Israel are given to those in the church – both Jew and Gentile. Jesus’ words are inclusive of Jews who do not come to Jesus, but who instead persecute those in the church. Understanding this, Jesus finishes with, “and to know that I have loved you.”
Again, the promises of the Lord’s faithful love to Israel are transferred to those in the church – both Jew and Gentile. Being a Jew through natural descent does not ensure that the individual will be loved by the Lord. Rather, only those who come to the Son will receive the favor stated here by Jesus.
However, this does not exclude the Lord’s love for national Israel. This is the point of Paul’s words of Romans 9 through 11. Despite unbelieving Jews being cut off from the promises of God, the nation as a whole will never be cut off. Again, to ensure proper theology, the categories must be maintained.
Life application: God is working through history and every promise of the Bible will be fulfilled. The words of the Old Testament, promising that the Gentiles will come bow before Israel (as cited in Isaiah above), will come to pass, but it will only happen after Israel, as a nation, has fallen down in worship of Jesus in the presence of the church.
The time of the Tribulation is coming when the world will align itself against Israel. When all hope seems lost, there will be a conversion of heart and mind in the nation of Israel, and they will call on Jesus as Lord, acknowledging their previous rejection in remorseful repentance (Zechariah 12). When this happens, Jesus will return to the land and set up His millennial kingdom.
None of this is fantasy, but rather it is the reality of what will surely occur. For the church now, we can know that Jesus has loved us and will continue to do so. We are secure in our faith in Jesus Christ. In the end, all will come and worship before Him. No person, even those who have rejected Him, will be exempt. The dividing line for all humanity now is faith in Christ. Some bow willingly now, some will bow later in remorse, but all will come to acknowledge the truth of God in Christ –
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
Lord, Your plan for the ages, and for the people of the world, is simply astonishing. You have bound all under disobedience that You may have mercy on all. By simply acknowledging You as Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised You from the dead, we are saved. What an amazing demonstration of Your wisdom and kindness! Amen.