|Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious (overcomes), I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)|
This is the end of the letter to the church of Pergamum, the third of the Seven churches of Asia addressed in Revelation 2.
As with the other churches, the Christians of Pergamum were heavily persecuted. Rome demanded Emperor worship. There were major temples dedicated to pagan gods in Pergamum. By refusing to worship any god but God, Christians were actually committing a capital offense. Christians were often executed in barbarous ways for public entertainment.
Those who were “victorious” (had overcome) stayed true to their Christian faith. To these, Jesus made two promises:
I will give some of the hidden manna
Manna was the bread-like, starchy flakes that God provided the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness during the Exodus. (In Hebrew, manna means “What is it?”) If you need a refresher on the story of the manna, see Exodus 16
As a reminder of what they had gone through in the wilderness for 40 years AND of God’s providence, Moses had Aaron put some manna in a gold jar that was kept in the Ark of the Covenant. The other two items kept in the Ark were Aaron’s staff (the staff which had blossomed showing God’s selection of Aaron) and the clay tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
The Ark of the Covenant stayed with the Israelites until about the time of the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 587 BCE. According to some Jewish tradition, the Prophet Jeremiah had taken the Ark and hidden it on Mt. Hebron (Mt. Sinai).
|4It was also contained in the same writing, how the prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the mountain ” where Moses went up, and saw the inheritance of God.5And when Jeremias came thither he found a hollow cave: and he carried in thither the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.6Then some of them that followed him, came up to mark the place: but they could not And it.
7And when Jeremias perceived it, he blamed them, saying: The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive them to mercy.
8And then the Lord will shew these things, and the majesty of the Lord shall appear, and there shall be a cloud as it was also shewed to Moses, “and he shewed it when Solomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God. (2 Maccabees 2:4-8, found in the Apocrypha)
The resurrected Jesus, the Messiah, was the Bread of Life.
|48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. (John 6:48-50)|
He (Jesus) is the hidden manna.
I will also give him a white stone
During the time Revelation was written, it was common practice to render a trial verdict by giving the accused either a white (innocent) or black (guilty) stone. By giving those who were victorious a white stone, Jesus was declaring them innocent of their sins. (This is the origin of the term “blackballing” someone that remains in use today.)
with a new name written on it
The new name is now what is commonly known as a person’s Christian name. God did this many times when He called someone to a specific purpose throughout the Bible. Examples are Abram becoming Abraham, Jacob becoming Israel, Simon becoming Peter and Saul becoming Paul. This tradition has continued today in may religious orders and positions today. An example is Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger becoming Pope Benedict.
To the Christians who has a strong Jewish background reading Revelation these “symbols” would have been readily recognized. They knew their scriptures and the Jewish traditions. It would have been much less clear to the Romans… just as it is not clear to many of us today.
My thanks to Pastor Michael and the Men of the Grow Bible Study group for providing this background.
This blog is part of an ongoing series based on my notes from a weekly Bible Study. For all of the blogs in this study, see: A Study of the Book of Revelation: Index of Blogs
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