Welcome to Thus Say the Prophets!
The Revelation of Navi Y'shua
By John of AllFaith © 9.16.09 (last update: 10.24.2012)
Revelation Chapter Two (Part 2)
Go to the index page for: The Revelation of Navi Y'shua
Please Note: the video and audio versions are identical.
They are based on the written version below but are not recitations of it.
We pray to HaShem, the Holy One of Israel to fill our hearts with wisdom and understanding as we continue this study into the Revelation of our chief rabbi, Navi Y'shua Amen.
The Seven Periods of the Messianic Jewish Community Continued:
The Period of Smyrna:
170 CE - 312 CE: As the Meshiykhiyyim (Messianic Jews) and other Jews held firm to their devotion to the God of Israel they experienced increasingly severe persecution from various fronts. During this period there was little time to debate doctrine or to participate in an yeshiva education, the talmidim of the Way were struggling just to survive! Despite the persecutions however many Meshiykhiyyim stood firm for the Way of Y'shua!
Here is but one example:
Publius Licinius Valerianus (c. 200 - after 260) was Roman Emperor from 253 to 260 and he loathed the Way Jews as he did all Jews!
As the Catholic Encyclopedia tells us:
In 258, by a new and absolutely merciless edict, bishops, priests, and deacons were executed immediately, men of senatorial and equestrian rank were punished with degradation and confiscation of goods to be followed by death if they refused to offer heathen sacrifice, women were threatened with confiscation of their property and exile, and Christians in the imperial household were sent in chains to perform forced labour on the imperial domains. In this persecution Christian Rome and Carthage lost their leaders: Pope Sixtus II was seized on 6 August, 258, in one of the Catacombs and was put to death; Cyprian of Carthage suffered martyrdom on 14 September. Another celebrated martyr was the Roman deacon St. Lawrence. In Spain Bishop Fructuosus of Tarragona and his two deacons were put to death on 21 January, 259. There were also executions in the eastern provinces (Eusebius, VII, xii). Taken altogether, however, the repressions were limited to scattered spots and had no great success.
It was largely because of the sporadic persecutions, likely to occur anywhere in the Empire with little or no notice that many Jews sought refuge in Rome and embraced the Nicolaitan compromises that were then developing rather than standing firm for Rebbe's Y'shua Jewish Movement. The scattered Way community knew this was happening, as they hated it, but there was nothing they could do but pray (Revelation 2:6).
There were always those who refused to bend the knee to Rome and the Nicolaitans who were maneuvering to transform the Empire! Their numbers however were rapidly declining.
The following video is Keith Green's moving and historically accurate retelling of one such group of Meshiykhiyyim:
The Forty Brave Soldiers for Christ
Y'shua's Name Change
It was during this period of growing persecution that the Maranatha fish and the IHS logo were developed by the dawning Christian sect as secret identifiers by which to recognize one another and to find/offer temporary asylum from the mounting storm. As I discuss elsewhere in more detail, it was the popular use of the IHS logo as a charm that led to Y'shua being renamed "Jesus."
It has been argued that the fish symbol has Pagan origins. This is certainly true, its an ancient icon, however there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Indeed every evidence suggests that these persecuted people employed the symbol in part for that very reason: a fish symbol would not be odd to see in Pagan Rome however to the talmidim it would serve as a reminder of Y'shua instruction and work as an effective hidden indicator:Matthew 4:19 And He says to them, Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.
4:20 And leaving the nets, they immediately followed Him
However this is not the case with all of the ancient images and symbols.
The IHS icon below (as well as the "IC" and "XC" symbols) is one of the oldest Christian symbols, demonstratively dating back to at least the third century and possibly before.
These monograms were also used to represent Y'shua the Anointed but without the biblical support. When these letters are verbalized the result is variations of Iesous Christos (which became "Jesus the Christ" in English translation). That is not our Rebbe's name and so these symbols should be regarded as heretical. The Bible says: "...there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved..." (Acts 4:12) and yet through the use of these monograms our Cohen Gadol's (High Priest's) name was replaced by a Greek counterfeit that conceals the biblical significance of his name: Matthew 1:21: And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Yeshua [Ie'sous in the Greek]: for he shall save his people from their sins. "Jesus" does not mean this and hence can not be accepted as his name.
Our Rebbe's name is Y'shua (ben Miryam: son of Mary). During this second period his very name came under attack and was replaced by a name that sounded better to Pagan ears.
The First Temple Period name Joshua (yehoshua) is the archaic version of the Second Temple Period name Yeshua (we write it as Y'shua to honor the Holy Name it contains). Yehoshua means and is all but universally acknowledged as meaning, "Yah-saved." It is a composite of the Holy Name and the world yasha (openness, freedom). Freedom or salvation comes from Yah.
“Yah” is a reference to the Holy Name (such as in the word Hallelujah: meaning “Praise Yah”). “Shuah” is derived from "shuach" and means to 'bow down', 'with the help of', or 'submit to'. With the name Y'shua/Yeshua therefore we bow before our Deliver HaShem (Yah) and receive His salvation. When the Nicolaitan heretics managed to replace Y'shua's name they scored a major coup for their Universal religion.I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Y'shua the Anointed.
The monograms became very popular among the uneducated masses as good luck charms and before long the "nickname" Iesous Christos had replaced his real name. This was just fine with Roman Pagan authorities who despised all things Jewish! A new Roman name for their new god! This is when the Meshiykhiyyim (Hebrew for Messianics) came to be known as “Christians” despite the later inserted verse at Acts 11:26.
The recast triune Nicolaitan god Iesous Christos took on many of the attributes of the Mithraic sun god Sol Invictus. This is why in Catholic churches throughout the world the common icon is typically surrounded by sun rays as in the photo below and why halos are commonly added to the Christian demigods (saints). The Roman sun god, who sported the sun's rays, had been reborn as God the Son (note that the Greek word "son": uihos offers no support for the idea of a son being his own father!). As Paul wars:Romans 16:17 And I exhort you, brothers, to watch those making divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them.
16:18 For they who are such do not serve our Rebbe, Yeshua the Anointed, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches they deceive the hearts of the simple.
There is nothing "simple" about the heretical notion that the One God of Israel is actually three gods in one! This is why Nicolaitans themselves call this "the great mystery."
Revelation 2:8 "To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write:Rebbe Y'shua was the first human to be resurrected from the dead (the experiences of Enoch and Elijah were different). This meaning is confirmed in the context. He was the first to be resurrected. His being the last is explained at I Corinthians 15:28: But when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subject to Him who has subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all things in all.
"The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:2:9 "I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
2:10 Don't be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won't be harmed by the second death.
The Nicolaitan HeresyHere we see the Nicolaitans clearly identified. These people were claiming "to be Jews" but they were not. They had become something wholly different and their power was growing!
Rebbe Y'shua is Jewish.
All of his disciples were Jewish.
Those who were now taking control of the Way claimed to be Jews, but they were not. This is made very clear in these and other verses.
As the Gentiles embraced the Way movement they considered themselves converts to the Rebbe's reformed Judaism. As converts they understood themselves to be "grafting onto the Tree of Israel" as Jews (Romans 11). These Gentiles were being “adopted” into people Israel (Romans 8:15) and becoming Jews through reformed Jewish courts. They were leaving their Pagan religions and uniting with Israel and with Torah in droves. Mazel tov! Baruch HaShem!
The difficulty with this noble intention was that the Jewish hierarchy refused to accept the gerut or conversions of Rebbe Y'shua and his talmidim (students). The rabbis were rejecting the Way conversions and even persecuting the converts in some cases (much as Orthodox Judaism today blanketly rejects Jewish conversions done via the other Rabbinic movements).
So how could the talmidim of Y'shua be considered Jewish when the leaders of Judaism rejected them? This ongoing quandary and its resolution is described in detail in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. After much debate, the decision of the talmidim was that those Gentiles who wished to convert to Judaism through their elders would not be required to formally convert through normal Rabbinic channels (since that was not possible).
Jews and Noahidim
With this decision the assemblies began to welcome two categories of members: Jews and Noahidim. They ruled on issues like circumcision, the mikvah, obedience to the 613 mitzvot, the Seven Noahide commandments, Kashrut, the role of women and so on. They determined that Jewish Halakha (religious law) would continue for the Jews as always. Gentiles entering the Way would be admitted based on their sincere desire to embrace the Noahide Path through the New Covenant. We discuss the Way structure elsewhere.Romans 10:10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.The ongoing controversies between Way and traditional Rabbinim in part is what led to the Way becoming a distinct religion from Judaism. The Way Jewish sect could have maintained their identities as Jews in the face of Gentile attacks. Jews had done that for a very long time. The added animosity of their fellow Jews was too much however and the eventual success of the Nicolaitans over the Way became all but unavoidable.
10:11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed."
10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich to all who call on him.
10:13 For, "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."
During this period -- 170-312 CE -- Most of the Way Jews still considered themselves fully Jewish as Revelation 2:10 makes clear, but as they reach the 300's that was changing.
The Nicolaitans were determined to undermine the Jewish roots of the Way and establish something entirely different. In time they were successful. One can not accurately say that modern Christianity is the Nicolaitan heresy, because the heresy is a philosophical and political tendency rather than an established sect (although several identifiable orders did and do exist). One can say however that the Nicolaitan heresies fundamentally altered and eventually replaced the reformed Judaism taught by Rebbe Y'shua with a completely different religion.
The developing "Church" (origin: German: Kirche: Pagan assemblies) eventually replaced the Jewish movement of Rebbe Y'shua. With no connection to Judaism it lost its biblical authority.
Did The Original Followers of Jesus Vanish?
As we approach the 300's the Nicolaitan heresy is gaining popularity and influence. This was partly because those who surrendered to Roman rule faced less persecution, partly because the Nicolaitan teachings were being accepted by people who knew no better, and partly because of the growing, even rampant, anti-Semitism of the day. To be associated with the Jews was to invite persecution and death. Since the elders of Israel continued to reject the Way, a growing percentage of whom were Gentile converts, it must have seemed perfectly logical to reject them in return. And this is what most converts did.
Unlike the optimistic Way talmidim, the Jews of the Diaspora were adamant in their rejection of Rome and its developing Universalist Religion. As the new religion systematically abandoned Torah and embraced the Roman hybrid religion, Jews throughout the Roman Empire desperately sought ways to keep Judaism relevant. This led to increasing resentments towards those Meshiykhiyyim who who were embracing the destroyers of the Temple.
The Pharisees were the most effective and they gradually developed what we today know as Rabbinic Judaism. Now the Jews had to contend not only with overt Pagans attacking them but also with people who claimed to be the "true Jews," an alleged 'Spiritual Israel' that claimed to have replaced them! The Jews were now being accosted by people who claimed -- in direct and repeated contradiction of BOTH the Hebrew Bible and their own Christian scriptures -- that the God of Israel had rejected His people and replaced them with modified Pagans who even denied His Oneness!
As the Nicolaitans gradually developed Roman Universalism and established their authority, based upon the See at Rome, persecution against their followers subsided. For the Jews however it was business as usual and their struggle for survival showed no sign of easing! The emerging Roman Catholic Religion was adamant in its demands: All Jews and Pagans must embrace the One True Universal Church of the Prince of Peace or be destroyed!
And millions died.
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