It is recorded in several places in Scripture that one day there will be an almost complete reversal of the ranking of mankind so that those who are now last will become first, and those who are now first will become last. What is it that will determine a person’s ranking in society at that time?
Matthew 19 records that Jesus said that those who are first will be last, and the last will be first. He had stated this principle earlier in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) where He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
There are two groups of people involved in this rearrangement of society. Revelation 21:5–7 describes one group: “ ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done!’ I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’ ”
Verse 8 describes the other group: “ ‘But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’ ”
These two groups are again described in Revelation 22:14, 15, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
Revelation 21:5–7 tells us that the one who is promised salvation and an inheritance is the one who overcomes. In the messages to the seven churches (Revelation 2 and 3), every church is given a promise, if they overcome.
Ephesus – “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7
Smyrna – “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Verse 11
Pergamos – “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.” Verse 17
Thyatira – “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father.” Verses 26, 27
Sardis – “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5
Philadelphia – “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God and he shall go out no more. 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 out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” Verse 12
Laodicea – “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Verse 21
The church at Pergamos is known as the compromising church. There are many people today who worship in compromising churches, and to them the Lord is saying that if they overcome, they will be given hidden manna to eat.
What is this hidden manna? We find the story of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness in Exodus 16. They had no water to drink and no food to eat, but the Lord promised them that He would provide water and send them food from heaven. And the Lord promised each morning for six days a small, round substance, like white coriander seed, like wafers made with honey, that the people were to gather for food. Not knowing what it was, they called it manna which means “What is it?”
What was this manna and what is the difference between it and the hidden manna spoken of in Revelation 2:17? Jesus answered that question for us in John 6:47–51. “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 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.”
Of course, the Jews got a little miffed when He said that, and they said, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” Jesus responded, “My flesh truly is food, My blood truly is drink. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” They were accusing Jesus of teaching cannibalism, but Jesus was using symbolic language. Verse 63 makes it very clear what He was talking about. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.” Jesus wasn’t talking about literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The Bible attributes many names to Jesus and one of those names, found in John 1, is “The Word of God.”
The manna sent to the children of Israel in the wilderness was physical food meant to sustain the body during their wandering. But the hidden manna is Jesus, the true Bread that will give you eternal life if you eat it, and you do this by consuming His word. The word of God is powerful. It is powerful to recreate in a person new life, new desires, a new spirit, a new mind. To consume the Bread of God means receiving Jesus into your life and then living by His word.
When Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted, the devil tempted Him to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3, 4). But Jesus’ response was, “… ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” ’ ”
To be in the kingdom of heaven, to have salvation, to live forever, you must eat the word of God, receiving it into your mind and heart, and then living according to that word. If you live according to the word, then you have received the hidden manna, and your life will be changed; you will be given a new name.
These days, there’s not much in a name. Most people name their children after someone famous or an ancestor or a character in a book or movie, because it sounds nice. But from the beginning of earth’s history, a person was given a name because it expressed something about the person. The Bible records some of these names. For instance, Jesu or Jesus means a Saviour or Deliverer. Elijah, that mighty Old Testament prophet, means Jehovah is my God. Daniel, who wrote so extensively about judgment, means God is my judge.
When you receive the word of God into your life, when your life is changed, then your new name will be in harmony with the character that you have developed; and as promised to the overcomer of the church of Ephesus, you will eat again of the tree of life.
Looking at the promise to the church of Thyatira, the Lord said that the overcomer would “rule over the nations with a rod of iron.” We see this in both the Old and New Testaments. Psalm 2:7–9 says, “ ‘I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My Son. Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron: You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”
Speaking of what would happen at the end of the world, Isaiah 11:4 says, “But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.”
In Revelation 19:13–16, John writes in symbolic language about the Second Coming of Christ, “He [Jesus] was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called the Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: king of kings and lord of lords.”
There is coming a time when everything in this world is going to be completely reversed. Today, there are people who believe in Christ—the overcomers—all over the world being persecuted, oppressed, and in great difficulty. However, when all things are overturned, they will be delivered, because their names are found written in His book, whereas those who may seem now to have all the power and money and fame, but who are not overcomers, will, when Christ comes, be destroyed.
Those imprisoned, persecuted and in all manner of trouble, but who love the Lord and obey His law, because of the promise given to the people in the church at Thyatira, will fulfill what Jesus said, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last. For many are called, but few are chosen.”
One other thing was promised to the overcomer of the church of Thyatira: “And I will give him the morning star.” Revelation 2:28
This is one of the most wonderful promises in the Bible. Friends, who and what is the Morning Star? Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:19, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts.”
“ ‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ ” Revelation 22:16.
Jesus is the Morning Star. If you are an overcomer, you will have the Morning Star in your heart, the character of Christ will become your character.
What are we to overcome, and how do we do it? The Bible makes this very clear. First, John says in 1 John 5:4, that he that “is born of God overcomes the world.” Then he says, speaking of the world, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15–17
The lust of the flesh (desire for unlawful sexual pleasure), the lust of the eyes (desire for possessions), the pride of life, and the desire for the praise and approbation of men, all are pleasing to the worldly man. However, these are the very things that must be overcome and eliminated from the life of the born-again child of God.
To be an overcomer, one must overcome the world, for everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. But how? “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7, 8
Paul expressed the same principle in Ephesians 4:27–29: “Nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
Both Paul and James say to resist the devil and make no room in our lives for him. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:11, 12, just how to do that. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
And Peter is just as direct, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
We do not have to chase after the things of the world nor yield to the temptations put before us. The Holy Spirit can and will give us the power to overcome all of them. Paul dwells upon this repeatedly in his epistles. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Romans 8:1–9, first part
Friends, we must seek the new birth experience, to fill ourselves with the Holy Spirit, so that the devil can find no place in us for him to dwell anymore. The Holy Spirit is waiting to create in us a new heart and a new spirit so that we may overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil and that we may have eternal life.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.