Archive for March, 2011


Jacob had left Beersheba and was on his way to meet Esau. He had sent his family on ahead, so that perhaps Esau would soften and his heart and not kill him as he had threatened years ago. Tired, he picked out a nice rock to lay his head on and get some sleep. He had a dream about a ladder that stretched from earth all the way to heaven. And on this ladder, angels were descending and ascending. At the top of the ladder was the Lord God. In his dream, he heard the voice of God:

“I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said,

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Have you ever gone through some trial and thought, Surely God was in this place and I did not know it?)

And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So early in the morning

Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” Genesis 28:10-22

STEADFAST LOVE

As we peer closely at the Real Jesus, the Jesus of Revelations One, we see another aspect of Divine Love expressed in His appearance.

John saw his golden sash (Agape love that sacrifices all), his white hair (enduring love that lasts through the tests of life), his eyes of fire (discerning love that sets boundaries), his feet of bronze (uncompromising love that desires the strength of His righteousness), and his voice of many waters (distinguishing love).

Now we see his right hand, and in his right hand are seven stars. The stars are the messengers to the churches, which could be angels but more likely represent the Pastors, or those responsible for God’s messages to the churches.

Specifically, the seven stars in His right hand means that Christ holds the power of the churches in His hand. The church age is His age; it is when He is at work among the nations. His kingdom is at work through the church.

His right hand is the hand of power, and the church is to know His power!

  • Ex 15:6 your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, you right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy
  • Ps 17:7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
  • Ps 48:10 Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
  • Ps 63:8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
  • Ps 139:10 your right hand shall hold me.
  • Isa 41:13 For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you”.

The Question we must ask ourselves as we examine our Love for the Lord,

  • Do we hold His Right Hand?
  • Do we hold it with steadfast love?
  • Or do we reach for him only when we are in trouble?

Ps 16:8 “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken”. To have steadfast love is to have a love for Christ that is fixed in intensity and direction; it is steady, unwavering, marked by determination.

The right hand represents strength, it represents steadfastness. When you hold His hand, you will never be shaken.

Jesus commends the steadfast love of the Philadelphians in verse 10: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance”

Patient endurance is hupomoné; to persevere, remain under. A bearing up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances. It refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial[1].

Christ is writing to a church that has a steadfast love that is determined and fixed upon Him, and because of that steadfast love, they are enduring; they have not let go, they have not turned aside, they continue to lift up His name with everything they have, even if Jesus says it is little.

First love is steadfast love, and Jesus Christ demonstrated that:

  • John 13: 1 …”he loved them to the end”
  • Jeremiah 31:3 … “I have loved you with an everlasting love”

Divine Love is triumphant love, love that is steadfast and sure, love that holds on no matter what it encounters or suffers through.

God calls to us in Isaiah 55:

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Isaiah 55:3

Jesus is before the Church of Philadelphia, and in his hand is no rebuke, no call for repentance, only the reminder of His promises for them.

This church was not a big church. It would be considered a rural church in a small farming town on the edge of a fertile valley. There is still a farming town there today. Although just a church in the country, and not a big city church with prestige, the church in Philadelphia was special to Jesus. Therefore, He reminds them of His Promises.

Steadfast Love is always based upon promise

Marriage is always begun with a promise. Marriage is to be a display of God’s steadfast love, yet we all know the tragedy of marriages in America. Steadfast love has been re-defined to mean 5 years, 10 years, or until I find someone better. Well, with God, Steadfast Love is to be for a Lifetime!

Marriage to me is like the word to Philadelphia – He that overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.

My Mom and Dad - Jim and Clare Tompkins

I am proud of my Mom and Dad for the example of being a pillar of steadfast love. They were far from perfect, and their marriage was very strained at times, but underneath it all was a steadfast love that withstood the trials and tests of time. I am so proud that we have in our church such pillars of steadfast love. I hope and pray that each of you will see the need to be pillars in this society of ours, to hold forth an example to your children of steadfast love. America is only as strong as our commitments to our families and our spouses.

The Promise to Philadelphia, and the Promise to you and me

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. Revelation 3:12

Yet, we read in Revelation 21:  “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof” (Rev. 21:22).

There is no temple, God is the temple. Therefore, the Pillars will be in God Himself. You will always dwell in the heavenly Jerusalem. No more will you go out. You will be one who counts with God!

All who are of the character of Philadelphia, marked by steadfast love, become strength in the place of God’s dwelling and in His interest. To be of great importance to God, in the presence of God, important in the Church, which is the New Jerusalem – love is the thing that must characterize us.

It is not money, title, office, pedigree, or social standing. These things may give importance in this world, but in God’s Kingdom, it is love. It is steadfast love when you are weak, steadfast love when you are persecuted, steadfast love when you are barely able to hold on.

DO YOU WANT TO COUNT FOR SOMETHING BEFORE CHRIST?

The way to be something for God is not based on how much you know, how much you have studied, or even how many verses you have memorized.

Understand this about what God Values: He says in James 5: 11 – Behold, we call them blessed which endured. God will often take us through something that is designed to bring us to a feeling of nothingness. He wants us to love Him not because of what we have, but simply because of who He is.

You do not want to be loved because of what you are able to do. You want to be loved for your own sake.

When it is like that, and we get away from all our ambitions, all our craving for recognition and reputation, and we love the Lord for His own sake, we have attained a place of tremendous importance – pillars of strength in the things of God, in the temple of God, in the presence of God. Love is the key to all spiritual significance.

What matters to God is not the number of our trials, but that we reach God’s goal through them. That Goal is steadfast Love for God no matter what we have or do not have. It is pure love for Jehovah God.

So with the background of Christ wanting us to see that Divine Love is Steadfast Love, let’s look at this letter.

The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. Revelation 3:7

True and Holy

The one who has the sure right hand wants us to see Him as the true one, the holy one. This true refers to the fact that He is the real Jesus, the real God, he is no man made idol, no figment of man’s imagination.

The real Jesus is Holy, He is sacred, He is set apart, and He is God! So when you pray to Jesus, when you talk about Jesus, remember the real Jesus is no Christmas ornament, He is Holy, He is righteous, and His Holiness is essential to love Him with steadfast love.

Key of David

The real Jesus holds the key of David. He has the authority of the throne of David, which is the throne of God! The promises of God to David are held in the key of David. Jesus Christ is coming soon, and He will be holding the key of David. He will have authority to sit on the throne of David and rule the world.

This is a reference to an incident recorded in the 22nd chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah. In the days of Hezekiah the king there was a courtier (we would call him a chief-of-staff, for he was in charge of the palace) whose name was Shebna. He had been caught in a personal scam run for his own benefit, and as a result God says a very unusual, very descriptive thing about him: “I will take him and whirl him around and around (like a discus thrower), and hurl him into a far country,” {cf, Isa 22:18}. It was a prediction that he would be sent into Babylon. He would be replaced by a godly man named Eliakim, of whom God said,

“I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts, no one can open.” {Isa 22:17 NIV}

Our Lord refers back to that passage in Isaiah and applies it to himself: “I am the one who shuts and no one can open, and opens and no one can shut”. His will cannot be opposed. He governs the events of history on earth. He will open some doors; he will close other doors… Jesus has the authority to open and to close. That which He opens, no one shuts, that which He closes, and no one opens.

We have the privilege to partner with Christ here on earth through our prayers.

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:18-20

These verses come on the heal of the teaching on church discipline. They form the foundation for church discipline. That foundation is that when we are united in prayer and are agreed on God’s will, what we pray to be bound will be bound, and what we pray to be loosed will be loosed.

The key is coming together, being led of the Holy Spirit to pray in unity about something. In the case of church discipline, the church comes together to deal with someone who is unrepentant. If the church is led to close the door of the church to that person, then he is bound in heaven. The doors of God’s care and fellowship are shut.

The church has great authority here on earth, and in truth, God partners with His people in effecting His will. However, we fail to partner with God because our eyes and hearts are not open to see the injustice in the world, or we do not desire God’s will.

Our love for God must be steadfast, it must be resolute, always desiring His will here on earth. We must never retreat into thinking there is nothing we can do, that it is hopeless. We have the power to shake the Key of David through our prayers!

The Open Door

I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8

Jesus knows their works, but He does not detail them as the other letters did. However, they are good, because Jesus sets before them an open door, which no one can shut. I believe this door is complete access to Jesus, it is complete access to His power and glory and love! No one can shut it; no one can take it away.

The Door is Always Open

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

The church of Philadelphia has a special door to Christ, one that no one can shut. I believe we all have a special door to Christ. I believe He lives in each of us. The problem is that we shut the door of our heart to Him. We are the ones who are not steadfast in our love and devotion to Him. We are the ones who let go of His right hand, and go our own way.

The church at Philadelphia had a door that was always open because they have kept His Word and not denied His name.

O they were weak in numbers, weak in power, but their love was resolute. They were steadfast in their devotion to His Word and to His Name! To such the Door to Jesus is always open!

Little Power

However, I want you to note something: Jesus said they had little power. These Christians were clearly no Elijah, able to pray fire from heaven. They were no Paul, able to be bitten by a poisonous snake and simply shake it off and go on preaching. They were no Moses, facing off against a mighty ruler and bringing him to his knees.

No these folk were like you and me, struggling to make a life in a small town, where money and opportunities were slim. Yet they did have a little power, they did have an open door, they did have a steadfast love for the Word and for the Name of Jesus. They wore His name proudly in their forehead. They obeyed His Word no matter the cost or sacrifice.

God is the God of LITTLE THINGS

We think we cannot do anything for Jesus because we do not know too much, or we think we have no ‘spiritual power’, but the truth is that Little is Much when God is In IT!

LITTLE THINGS WHICH ARE GREAT IN GOD’S SIGHT.

  • Two or Three Gathered in His Name, Matt. 18:20.
  • Only a Cup of Cold Water, Matt. 10:42.
  • In addition, a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:43
  • Little Children, Matt. 18:1-5 (“little” used 7xs in 18:1-14).
  • A Little Money with…
    • Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15:16
    • Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it. Proverbs 15:17
    • Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. Proverbs 16:8
  • A poor, little widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. Mark 12:43

Little is Much when God is in it!

Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem too small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Are you laid aside from service,
Body worn from toil and care?
You can still be in the battle,
In the sacred place of prayer.
Little is much when God is in it!
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus’ Name.

Those that speak against you will learn

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9

Obviously, there were Jews who were making fun of this little church. They were saying that God loved them, that these Christians were noting to God.

The Church that loves with Steadfast Love can always count on opposition!

The Philadelphia letter reminds that any true church at any time, and especially during the last days, meets Satanic opposition…through imitation, religious ritualism, and hypocrisy—opposition strengthened by mixture of worldliness and religiousness.

Jesus says, remember, the door is always open to me. I will make those “Jews” come and bow before you. They will learn it is you I have loved, and not them.

We should not make fun of small things. We should not think less of one church just because they are small in number. What counts is the Love of Christ. I would rather pastor a church of 20 and know we are beloved of Christ than to pastor a church of a thousand who walked in their own way.

Because you Have endured with steadfast love

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. Revelation 3:10-11

Remember the Door is always open

There is a trial coming on the world, a great day of tribulation.

Joel 2:1 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness!

But Jesus promises these weak but steadfast Christians that they will escape, they will go through that open door and not face the tribulation that the world will endure.

Because of their faithfulness, the Christians in Philadelphia are promised that they will be kept from the hour of trial which will come upon the earth as a divine judgment.

But the promise to the church is specifically that it is to be delivered from the hour of trial. Actually, the word is not “from”, but “out of” — to be delivered out of — not just the trial but out of the very time of the trial! This is one of the clearest promises in the Bible of the catching away of the church before the great tribulation begins.

The time of trial and trouble described in Revelation 6 to 19. This time of tribulation will overtake the entire world, as God inflicts His wrath upon unbelieving Gentiles as well as upon Christ-rejecting Jews. The Philadelphian church is therefore promised deliverance from the time of trouble, which will overtake the world but will not overtake them.

He is coming soon

Hold fast what you have. Even though your strength is weak, even though the trials have sapped your strength, keep holding on!

Your crown is at stake, the crown of steadfast love!

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Reward

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:12-13

“A pillar in the temple of my God.”

We read, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof” (Rev. 21:22).

It indicates a fixed and unchangeable state. He shall go no more out. They have now overcome. They are partakers with their Lord in all his glory. They abide in his presence. They rejoice in his kingdom, and their joy no man takes from them. Oh how unspeakably happy is this prospect!

A pillar is a symbol of triumph.

And what a triumph has the Savior accomplished for me! He spoiled principalities and powers for me, in his death on the cross, triumphing openly over them there. Every saint a separate illustration of his power. All the saints a combined demonstration of his all-conquering grace.

A pillar is an instrument of commemoration.

Living monuments of his works of grace. What testimonies do they give! What evidences do they remain forever! In the history of each of them, what wonderful chapters have been written, and are to be read hereafter! They are thus pillars of record. Upon them are inscribed such histories of grace and power as the universe has never seen but in them.

A pillar is a place of Sacrifice

Jacob sacrificed atop the pillar he made. There he pledged Jacob’s pledge.

A pillar is an instrument of support.

There is an end of all schisms in the body–of all separations of feeling or affection. Each saint is a cordial supporter of this happy union among the people of God. They unite in one song of praise. They engage in one heavenly worship. They surround one throne and one Lord in one common affection and obedience. The many tongues of earth are all forgotten in the one song of heaven. Each saint is a supporter of Divine authority.

New Name

A pillar sometimes has an inscription or an identifying mark chiseled into it by the stonemason. Jesus promises to write upon the pillar (the faithful Christian) the name of God, the name of the New Jerusalem, and Christ’s new name.

A change of names would be meaningful to the Philadelphians because that city changed its name twice in its history. It called itself Neocaesarea when Tiberius helped it; and later on, in honor of Vespasian, one of the Flavian emperors, it changed its name to Flavia. (It later resumed the name Philadelphia.) Thus these people understood what it meant to have a different name.

In addition to this promise Christ gives them a threefold assurance that they will be identified with God, because

They will have the name of God, “the name of my God”.

This is a promise that believers will be made godlike. “Godliness” is a shortened form of the word “godlikeness”. The purpose of the Spirit in our lives is to make us godly or godlike.

They will have the name of the city of God, the new Jerusalem.

And, “I will write [on him] the name of the city of my God.” The last two chapters of Revelation give a vivid description of this wonderful city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven “as a bride adorned for her husband” — a beautiful bride meeting her husband. That again is a picture of loving intimacy; someone captured by the beauty and goodness of another and longing to be with him or her. That is the second promise given to those who hold on, who stand fast in the midst of a decaying world. They will know the intimacy of a husband’s love for his beautiful bride.

They will have a new name belonging to Christ.

“I will also write on him my new name.” What is that? Since a name symbolizes one’s character this is a reference to the fact that when our Lord’s work of redemption is finished he will have a new name. Everyone wants to know what that new name is, but in Revelation 19:12 we are told that when Jesus appears he will have that new name written upon him, but it is a name that no man knows.

The Choice is yours:

You can be a pillow Christian, choosing the comfort to your pillow when it comes to seeking after Christ, or you can be a Pillar Christian, steadfast in your love for Jesus, proudly bearing His name regardless of Satan’s attacks, or trials, or testing’s. You may not be strong in your own ability, but you are strong in Christ. Your faith allows you to see Him at work, and allows Him to make you a Pillar in the Temple of God.

A Pillar Christian always holds the strong right hand of Jesus Christ. He holds eternity, He holds the churches, He holds the Holy Spirit, yet He can hold your hand. When you hold the hand of Jesus, you hold on to all that power, you are holding on to eternity!


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book.


Moses with one wave of his staff was able to see the seas part and the seabed dry up. He was able to see the waters stand tall as if held back by a thick wall of glass. When the enemy army was crossing after them, with another wave of the rod of God, he saw the waters fall upon them and drown every soldier.

But when it came to leading this complaining horde of people across a desert land, Moses was at his wits end.

Moses and the Tent of Meeting

In Exodus 33, we find that Moses would take a tent and pitch it outside the camp, far away from the people, and there Moses sought the Lord. He called it the ʾōhel môʿēd (tent of meeting). This was the forerunner of the tabernacle. Here Moses would speak face to face with God (Ex 33:11)

When Moses would enter the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and God would speak to Moses.

When Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up, go to their tent door, and watch. And when the cloud would descend, the people would worship, each at their tent door.

Later on, when they constructed the Tabernacle according to God’s commands, it was brought within the camp, and the people worshipped there. I can’t help but wonder if Moses longed to return to that tent outside the camp…

Letter to Concerned Jewish Christians

It is a reference to the Tabernacle that the writer of Hebrews is using to address the concerns of the Jewish Christians in Hebrews 13. Here the writer makes the foundational statement which should guide these Christians, and I believe it is the foundational statement for our church.

Foundational Statement of Hebrews

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:10-16

The Problem Facing these Jewish Christians

There were pressures from the world-pressures as to how they should worship, how they should not worship. It was so much easier to follow a hybrid Christ-one who was Jewish and Christian. One who was worldly and Godly.

On the other hand, the world was becoming more antagonistic toward Christians, especially those that really followed Him. So the struggles they were facing are the same ones we face in our lives.

Two Problems

1.  Driven by formalism-How they worshiped was more important than Who they worshiped.

2.  Paralyzed by Fear – Faced expulsion or persecution-wanted to have the glory of God and stay in the safety of the camp. Their desire for comfort overwhelmed the command to risk it all.

Remember:

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

If we insist on serving from a place of comfort, or a place of ‘tradition’, or a place of safety…we can not eat from the altar of Jesus Christ. We will lose out on the sweet abiding fellowship that is in Him alone.

Choice Number 1

  • Will we Die in our Religion or Die in our Devotion?

The writer addressed the plight of the Hebrews by calling their attention to those who wandered in the wilderness:

Num 13:31-14:4; Num 14:20-23, 32-34

Here the Jewish wanderers had the chance to believe in God’s Word, to embrace His power that they had witnessed first hand. However, they refused to see Him Who is able, and focused on their own weakness and inability. Instead of advancing into Canaan and trusting God to overcome the giants, they wept in bitterness and retreated from the mission God had given them.

They had two options:

  1. Retreat from the Mission

  2. Risk everything for the Mission

To risk everything requires the faith to see Him who is invisible. To risk everything requires a total disregard for personal comfort, personal safety, but an overwhelming CONFIDENCE in the power of God to allow you to finish the mission!

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Choice Number 2

  • Will We Embrace our Comfort or Will we Embrace His Cross?

If you want to eat from this altar. If you want to experience God face to face. If you want to know the presence and power of God, you must go outside the camp. You must be willing to be disgraced just like Jesus. You must be willing to bear His disgrace.

Let us Go to Jesus …Outside the Camp

Dead and Dirty things

And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. Leviticus 16:27-28

Diseased and Despised

“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46

Blasphemers

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:13-16

Dangerous

Murderers, blasphemers, adulterers were all kept and stoned outside the camp.

Do You Really Want to Follow Jesus?

Then you must go to Him OUTSIDE the camp!

  • Mission without suffering is like Christianity without a cross
  • Suffering is not a consequence of our mission: it is the central strategy for achieving our mission.

Moses met face to face with God outside the camp!

If you desire to fellowship face to face with Jesus Christ, you must meet with Him outside the camp, and bear His reproach.

Choice Number 3

  • Will We Live for Pleasure in this World or for Paradise in the World to Come?

The Truth of the Real Jesus

  • Jesus calls the church to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world.
  • Jesus calls me to live according to a radically different definition of success than the rest of the world

If we do not advance toward Jesus in our Christian walk, we:

  • Give way to formalism
  • Give way to paralyzing fear
  • Give way to a retreating spirit

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

Do we desire to stay inside the comfort of our camp? Do not count on feasting on Christ.

Believer’s can be forgiven but cursed to wander in the wilderness apart from the power and presence of God.

God does not need our church to gain glory for Himself. He will glorify His Name regardless of whether we go to the altar outside the camp.

Following Christ does not mean coming to the cross and then neatly carrying Jesus back into our safe and comfortable American lives. It means risking everything and going outside the camp to bear His reproach on His altar of total sacrifice. (A thank you to David Platt for the core points of this message)

Notation about my Faith Journey

In 2004-2005 I became burdened about the nation of Myanmar. I even went there in January 2006, and now serve as Treasurer on the Executive Board of the Friends of Burma, Inc. This all came about as I began to understand the true meaning of discipleship.

While going through a sermon series on Mark, I was struck anew with Mark 8.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Mark 8:34-35

The greatest example of these verses was the life of Adoniram Judson. I was fascinated with the truth that what he risked with his life and family was the reason for the Christians in that forsaken country today!

His life led me to became so interested and concerned about Burma (Myanmar).

Adoniram Judson is why I am going outside the camp. Adoniram Judson went outside the camp and bore the reproach of Jesus Christ.

Adoniram Judson

Once when a Buddhist teacher said that he could not believe that Christ suffered the death of the cross because no king allows his son such indignity, “Judson responded, ‘Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God.’ (Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 240.)

Judson’s conversion to Christ was due in large measure to the same deist friend who led him away from Christ. After graduation, Judson left home to become a wanderlust. One night in a country inn, his room was adjacent to the room of a dying man. The moaning and groaning of that man through the long night permitted Judson no sleep. His thoughts troubled him. All night questions assailed his soul: “Was the dying man prepared to die?” “Where would he spend eternity?” “Was he a Christian, calm and strong in the hope of life in Heaven?” “Or, was he a sinner shuddering in the dark brink of the lower region?” Judson constantly chided himself for even entertaining such thoughts contrary to his philosophy of life beyond the grave, and thought how his brilliant college friend would rebuke him if he learned of these childish worries.

But the next morning, when Judson inquired of the proprietor as to the identity of the dead man, he was shocked by the most staggering statement he had ever heard: “He was a brilliant young person from Providence College. Ernest was his name.”

Ernest was the unbeliever who had destroyed Judson’s faith. “Now he was dead — and was lost! Was lost! Was lost! Lost! Lost!” Those words raced through his brain, rang in his ears, roared in his soul — “Was lost! Lost! Lost! There and then Judson realized he was lost, too! He ended his traveling, returned home, entered Andover Theological Seminary and soon “sought God for the pardon of his soul,” was saved and dedicated his life to the Master’s service!

In Burma

But opposition came, also. Finally, Judson was imprisoned as a British spy — an imprisonment of twenty-one months. Judson was condemned to die, but in answer to prayers to God and the incessant pleadings of his wife to officials (one of the most emotional-packed, soul-stirring stories in evangelism), Judson’s life was spared and finally British intervention freed him from imprisonment.

Following the missionaries in their holy adventure, we behold scenes too horrible for words. On one occasion Judson, pitifully weak and emaciated, was driven in chains across the burning tropical sands, until, his back lacerated beneath the lash and his feet covered with blisters, he fell to the ground and prayed that the mercy of God might grant him a speedy death. For almost two years he was incarcerated in a prison too vile to house animals. He was bound with three pairs of chains and his feet were fastened in stocks which at times were elevated, so that only his shoulders touched the ground. The room, into which he and many other prisoners were crowded, was without a window and felt like a fiery furnace under the merciless glare of the tropical sun. The stench of the place was terrible, vermin crawled everywhere and the jailer, Mr. Spotted Face, was a brute in human form. And, as Judson saw other prisoners dragged out to execution, he lived in terrifying suspense and was able to say with Paul, “I die daily.”

Surely, he would have fallen and perished under the weight of his cross, except for the tender, persistent, beautiful ministrations of Ann. As often as possible, she bribed the jailer and then, under cover of darkness, crept to the door of Judson’s den, bringing food and whispering words of hope and consolation. Finally, for three long weeks she did not appear; but, upon her return, she bore in her arms a newborn baby to explain her absence. An epidemic of smallpox was raging unchecked through the city and little Maria was smitten with the dread disease. Due to the double strain of concern for her imprisoned husband and the suffering baby, Ann found herself unable to nurse the little one. Tormented by its pitiful cries, Ann took her baby up and down the streets of the city, pleading for mercy and for milk: “You women who have babies, have mercy on my baby and nurse her!”

Near the prison gate was a caged lion, whose fearful bellowings had told all that he was being starved against the day when he would be turned loose upon some of the prisoners. But the lion died of hunger before the plan was executed. Thereupon, plucky Mrs. Judson cleaned out the cage and secured permission for her husband to stay there for a few weeks, since he was critically ill with a fever.

One of the most pathetic pages in the history of Christian missions is that which describes the scene when Judson was finally released and returned to the mission house seeking Ann, who again had failed to visit him for some weeks. As he ambled down the street as fast as his maimed ankles would permit, the tormenting question kept repeating itself, “Is Ann still alive?” Upon reaching the house, the first object to attract his attention was a fat, half-naked Burman woman squatting in the ashes beside a pan of coals and holding on her knees an emaciated baby, so begrimed with dirt that it did not occur to him that it could be his own. Across the foot of the bed, as though she had fallen there, lay a human object that, at the first glance, was no more recognizable than his child. The face was of a ghastly paleness and the body shrunken to the last degree of emaciation. The glossy black curls had all been shorn from the finely-shaped head. There lay the faithful and devoted wife who had followed him so unwearily from prison to prison, ever alleviating his distresses and consoling him in his trials. Presently Ann felt warm tears falling upon her face and, rousing from her stupor, saw Judson by her side.

And there were other sorrows. Before he had been in Burma fourteen years he buried Ann and all of his children. But “the love that never fails” sustained him. “If I had not felt certain,” he says, “that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings.” Judson joined with Paul in declaring: “The love of Christ constraineth me … Therefore I will glory in reproaches, in persecution and in distresses for Christ’s sake.”[2]

The work progressed and gospel power began to open blind eyes, break idolatry-shackled hearts and transform the newly-begotten converts into triumphant Christians. On April 12, 1850, at the age of 62, Judson died. Except for a few months (when he returned to America after thirty-four years from his first sailing), Judson had spent thirty-eight years in Burma. Although he had waited six years for his first convert, sometime after his death a government survey recorded 210,000 Christians, one out of every fifty-eight Burmans! It was a partial fulfillment and a monument to the spirit and ministry of the man, who at Ava, the capital city, gazed at the temple of Buddha and challenged, “A voice mightier than mine, a still small voice, will ere long sweep away every vestige of thy dominion. The churches of Jesus Christ will soon supplant these idolatrous monuments and the chanting devotees of Buddha will die away before the Christian’s hymns of praise.”[1]

Will You Go Outside the Camp?

My question is, if Christ delays his return another two hundred years – a mere fraction of a day in his reckoning – which of you will have suffered and died so that the triumphs of grace will be told about one or two of those 3,500 peoples who are in the same condition today that the Karen and Chin and Kachins and Burmese were in 1813? Who will labor so long and so hard and so perseveringly that in two hundred years there will be two million Christians in many of the 10/40-window peoples who can scarcely recall their Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist roots?

May God use his powerful word and the life of Adoniram Judson to stir many of you to give your lives to this great cause!

We must keep advancing to Him, to His altar which is outside the camp!