February 2016 • Volume XV, Issue 22
Rewards for the Saints at Thyatira
and All Overcomers
In the last two issues of the News, we saw that the
church at Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) was commended by Jesus
Christ for five virtues or gracious activities: love,
service, faithfulness, perseverance and good works: “I know
thy … charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and
thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (19). In
this concluding article, we will treat the threefold reward
of grace that the Son of God gives to His saints at Thyatira
and to all who overcome the world, the flesh and the devil
by faith (26-28).
First, our Saviour promises, “And he [or she] that
overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him [or
her] will I give power over the nations” (26). This
encourages all God’s people to serve in the body of Christ
in any way that they can, no matter how small. We are
tempted to be discouraged because typically in the church we
are only doing little things in a small sphere: “What is my
labour in the congregation worth? Surely, it is of little
importance!” Perhaps, the children and the elderly are
particularly prone to think this way, maybe, in part,
because they and their help have been sinfully slighted by
more “able” members.
We must be confident of the mind of Christ regarding all
our love, service, faithfulness, perseverance and good works
in His church, no matter how small or apparently
insignificant. The Lord thinks so highly of them—and
remember that they are His works in and through us (26)—that
He will reward us with the gift of ruling the world! We sow
small ecclesiastical labours and we will reap massive cosmic
and “political” rewards (cf. Gal. 6:8)! Moreover, we will
govern the world from heaven and in the new heavens and the
new earth, together with all the glorified saints and in
Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Revelation 2:26 speaks of our “power [or
authority] over the nations.” This too is significant. In
this life, few Christians have civil authority (I Cor.
1:26-29). Some in the church are given spiritual authority
by the Lord Jesus in the offices of pastor, elder or deacon.
Even then ecclesiastical officer-bearers are forbidden to
lord it “over God’s heritage” (I Pet. 5:3). “Submitting
yourselves one to another in the fear of God” is the calling
of all believers (Eph. 5:21). Yet, in the next life, Christ
Himself will give us all the authority or right to rule over
all the nations. This is an authority of which the President
of the United States or the leadership of the United Nations
or even the Antichrist, the man of sin and son of perdition
(II Thess. 2:3), who will come at the end of this age, can
only dream. Truly, “the last shall be first, and the first
last” (Matt. 20:16)!
The Lord Jesus describes our reward further in this
second statement: “And he shall rule them with a rod of
iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to
shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:27). You
will have recognized that this verse cites Psalm 2:9, which
is an Old Testament prophecy of the coming Messianic king.
However, the “he” in Revelation 2:27 is the individual
believer, as a consideration of the verse’s last clause and
a comparison between verses 26 and 27 makes clear.
The idea is that Christ receives from the Triune God the
authority to smash the ungodly nations. He then shares this
holy duty with His elect, redeemed, regenerated and
glorified people. Thus we are speaking here of our union
with the Lord Jesus, especially in His kingly office (cf.
Heidelberg Catechism, Q. & A. 32). It also must be
pointed out that we will be administering God’s judicial
sentence upon His enemies and not our own sinful, personal
vengeance during our earthly lives.
Again, the difference between our good works and our
reward as God’s people is startling. In this life, we serve
the body of Christ with love and faithfulness; in the next
life, we are given the power to destroy the wicked! The text
is very graphic. Whereas Christians are currently more used
to wielding a vacuum cleaner or a pen or a spade, in the age
to come God will give us “a rod of iron,” with the
impenitent wicked being clay pots. We will shatter and smash
them into pieces, even tiny shivers! This will happen not by
political revolution nor by civil rebellion but by our
Our Lord Jesus also makes a third promise regarding our
eternal inheritance: “And I will give him the morning star”
(28). What is meant by “the morning star”? Christ Himself
explains at the end of this book of Revelation: “I Jesus
have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the
churches. I am the root and the offspring of David,
and the bright and morning star” (22:16).
If it strikes you as strange that Christ should give
Himself to us as the morning star, you should recall that
the Lord Jesus, the bread of life, gives Himself to us as
the bread of life (John 6). In general, what else does our
Redeemer give us apart from Himself and all things in Him?
So what is the idea of Jesus Christ as “the morning
star”? It is an image of beauty and light, heavenly
beauty and light. Moreover, the morning star is the herald
of the dawn of the new day of rich covenant fellowship with
the Triune God after death and in the new heavens and the
new earth for ever!
Listen to Christ’s words: “He that hath an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:29).
This includes, beloved child of God, believing, remembering
and drawing comfort from Christ’s rich promise of a glorious
reward to all who overcome by His grace! Rev. Stewart
A Plethora of Languages and Christ’s Catholic Church
A reader from N. Ireland sent this question for
consideration in the Covenant Reformed News: “Does Genesis
10:1-5 suggest a plethora of languages (dialects?) before
Babel?” I am not quoting the text to which the brother
refers because it gives us some of the genealogies of the
sons of Noah. The reader himself can look up the verses.
What the questioner apparently assumes is that Genesis 10
precedes the confusion of languages in Genesis 11
chronologically (i.e., as regards time). However, that
assumption is wrong.
It is true that the confusion of tongues at Babel is
recorded in the next chapter but it is clear that the
chronologies of Genesis 10 go beyond Babel chronologically,
for verse 25 refers to the “division” at Babel.
In speaking of the children of Shem, Moses tells us that the
covenant line that ultimately brought forth the Lord Jesus
Christ, our Saviour, was from this son of Noah, not Japheth
or Ham. This was in fulfilment of Noah’s prophecy in Genesis
9:25-27. In connection with the line from Shem to Eber,
Genesis 10:25 states, “And unto Eber were born two sons: the
name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth
divided.” Then Scripture gives us the line of Joktan,
Peleg’s brother in the rest of Genesis 10. The covenant
line, through Peleg, is picked up again and extended in
Genesis 11:16-32 from Eber to Abraham.
So the answer to the question above is simply this: Genesis
10 records genealogies chronologically beyond the division
of the people at Babel. Scripture then goes on to record for
us what took place at Babel in Genesis 11.
The event of Babel was such a tremendous event and so
important for an understanding of Bible history that I am
going to take the liberty to go beyond the question and say
a few things about Babel.
The confusion of languages at Babel was not simply a work of
God in which He gave various groups of people a language
that they had never had before. The word “languages” is used
in Scripture to designate much more than languages. It
refers to the fact that God divided all the people of the
earth into races. In fact, it was most likely that the three
major “races” were created by God at Babel: the Jews and
Arabians from Shem; the white race from Japheth; and the
yellow and black races from Ham. Each race was not only
different in colour, but also different in physical and
Gradually, as the races moved in different directions, each
race was also given different parts of the world for its
possession. Then each race, separated geographically, was in
turn divided into individual nations.
God made such differences between the people for two
The negative reason was a blow sent to men to prevent them
from forming prematurely the Antichrist. Nimrod, the obvious
leader of all that lived under his rule, was bent on
building a tower that would keep all the peoples of the
earth together so that they could accomplish a one-nation
world to make war against God (Gen. 10:8-10). That effort,
in building the tower of Babel, would have meant the
obliteration of the line of God’s covenant and the
prevention of the birth of Christ.
Henceforth, because of Babel, the history of the world is
characterized by repeated warfare between the races and the
nations in the endeavour of each to build a one-rule empire,
but one in which each nation wants to be superior to all the
others, e.g., Babel, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece
and Rome. The line temporarily ends with Rome, because the
new dispensation is the time of the gathering of a catholic
church. When that elect church is nearly gathered, the final
Antichrist will rule.
In discussing all this, Scripture describes what happened at
Babel as the “deadly wound” of one of the heads of the beast
which will be “healed” (Rev. 13:3). The last Antichrist
succeeds, under the sovereign providential government of
Christ, to unite the world in one kingdom over which he
rules. Babel was God’s way of preventing Antichrist’s rule
until the catholic or universal church is gathered.
That is the positive purpose of Babel. Dividing the world
into races and nations, God gathered a truly catholic church
from all nations and tribes and tongues. I am not speaking
of the false Roman Catholic Church but of Christ’s universal
church of those elected from eternity, redeemed in the cross
and preserved unto glory by the sovereign mercy of the
I cannot go into the beautiful doctrine of the catholic
church here. It is sufficient to say that it takes an almost
infinite variety of people to reveal fully the riches of
God’s grace! God’s grace is so rich and full that it is like
a diamond, each facet of which reveals another colour found
in one beam of light. Babel has served its purpose and all
the catholic church will be gathered! Prof. Hanko
Homer C. Hoeksema: “Finally, for a little while at the very
end of history, the wicked world will apparently succeed in
overcoming the effect of Babel’s deadly wound; but that will
be only to enable the final kingdom of Antichrist to fill
the cup of iniquity to the very last drop in order that the
wicked may be cast out into the everlasting confusion and
desolation of which Babel is a picture. The only true and
lasting unity is made from all the nations of the world in
our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and raised, through his
Spirit, beginning on the day of Pentecost. There the
difference in tongues falls away, so that in Christ Jesus
the elect, new humanity, the church, is united in the bond
of faith. That kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ shall have
the everlasting victory. Babel is the name of the world.
Babel is the world’s essential character. God confused them,
and he shall confuse them in the end and forever. But they
who love the Lord Jesus Christ shall inherit the everlasting
kingdom” (Unfolding Covenant History, vol. 2, pp. 79-80;
available from the CPRC Bookstore for £18, plus £1.80 P&P).
An attractive box set of 9 CDs entitled “The Church’s
Invisibility, Unity and Catholicity,” on Belgic Confession
27, is available from the CPRC Bookstore for £10/set (inc.
P&P). These audios are also
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contact Rev. Stewart and we will
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