The Lost Books Of The Bible: The Great Rejected...
32-36. Call to remembrance the former days. Some former day of persecution, after they were enlightened (Revision) by the gospel. Possibly the great persecution at the death of Stephen is referred to, or that of Acts 12:1-3 . 33. Made a gazing stock. Looked upon with reproach, abused and afflicted personally. Companions. Sharing the suffering of those who were persecuted. 34. For ye had compassion on them in bonds (Revision). And actively showed their sympathy. Took joyfully the spoiling of your goods. The losses made necessary by becoming Christians. Knowing. Knowing that if they lost on earth they would gain in heaven. 35. Cast not away therefore. In as much as formerly ye endured so well, be faithful now. Some great period of trial was evidently being endured. 36. For ye have need of patience. Patience is an essential element of patient endurance. See Rom. 5:3-5 .
In writing about Revelation 3 it is not my intention to dwell primarily on the teaching or different interpretations of this great book; others have done this. From the very beginning of the history of the church there were deviations and remedies have been given by God's grace (Acts 20:32). It is important to see that John's ministry is characterised by what is essential, in order to preserve believers in the knowledge and enjoyment of God's blessings. He presents to his readers things that remain till the end and so gives strength to the overcomer. In a word, his ministry brings back to first love! The church as a professing body has lost this first love (Rev. 2:4). More than that, it has abandoned and forsaken it. What does this mean? It does not refer to the love we may have had for the Lord at the time of our conversion. First love rather means a moral condition where Christ is all, being everything concerning any matter that may occupy the believer. Such a condition, of course, would suggest at the same time a healthy spiritual maturity. As far as the public profession was concerned this condition had been abandoned, as Paul had already warned in his message to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29ff).
Some might like a more systematic approach to this subject. There are so many good books available with outlines and details, that I limit myself to the burden I have, just to try to present something of the greatness of this glorious Person to our hearts.
The influence of David pervades the historical, poetical and prophetical books of the Old Testament and much of that influence points unerringly to his greatest Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
A third achievement of the critical study of the Old Testament is the recognition of the fact that the prophetic books are also editorial compilations. This was a discovery of prime importance. An uncritical reading of the Book of Isaiah, for instance, results in the impression that that prophet was largely interested in predicting events which were not to happen until, in some cases, three hundred years or more after his time. But the application of the critical method to the book has revealed that only a very small part of the material contained therein comes from the prophet of the eighth century; and that in that material he deals entirely with the circumstances of his own age, giving utterance to the divine condemnation of the immoral policies pursued by the statesmen of Judah, and declaring the punishment which God was about to inflict upon the nation for its failure to trust in His almighty power. Isaiah, that is, prophesied for his contemporaries. So, too, did Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Their prophecies were written down, partly by the prophets themselves, partly by their disciples, and preserved. Hundreds of years later, certain men of insight, discerning that their utterances contained truths which were significant for all time, and realizing that they would not be read by the ordinary man unless they were presented in a form relating them to "modern" conditions, edited them by interpolating their own comments and anonymous prophetic oracles and eschatological poems. Since by far the greater part, if not all, of this material was of a later date than the prophetic works thus edited, the result was the impression, which for so long remained dominant, that the great prophets were chiefly concerned with prediction. The realization, however, that, with some minor exceptions, the books of the prophets in each case contain material originating over a period of from two hundred to five hundred years, effects a striking change in our view as to the nature of their significance. [For the prophets, cf. Bewer, op. cit., also T. H. Robinson, Prophecy and the Prophets, Scribners, 1923.]
The predictions of Amos and Hosea were fulfilled. The Northern Kingdom fell before the Assyrians in 722, but the Southern Kingdom of Judah remained, though now a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire, for more than a hundred years. In the last quarter of the seventh century a program of reform [Now contained in the Book of Deuteronomy.] was published, which endeavored to give effect to the demands of the prophets by purifying the cult. But before this could be implemented, Judah fell before the Neo-Babylonian forces, and the exile supervened. The center of gravity for Yahwism now shifted for the time being to Mesopotamia. There the spiritual leaders of the nation worked out a thorough and far-reaching reformation. Forced by their contact with other peoples, who made great claims for their gods, they thought out the implications of their faith. The result was an explicit monotheism, the belief in Yahweh as a holy God, who had chosen Israel to be his holy people. [The great prophets were clearly monotheists, but their monotheism remained implicit. The nation as a whole, before the exile, did not advance beyond monolatry.] It was the vocation of Israel to maintain that holiness, and this could be done only by a policy of rigid national and religious exclusiveness. The history of the nation was rewritten to enforce this lesson, and ancient customs which lent themselves to the realization of this policy were codified, given the status of law, and ascribed to definite commands of Yahweh, mediated through Moses. [The editorial process referred to above as the second point established by the critical method.] When as a result of the conciliatory policy of the Persians, who in 539 gained control of the Babylonian empire, the re-establishment of Jerusalem as the national and religious center of the people of Yahweh was permitted, the exclusiveness which had been built up among the exiles was, though with some difficulty, enforced in the Palestinian community, and became dominant. [The Books of Jonah and Ruth may be noted as protests against an extreme form of this exclusiveness.] The Priestly Code was adopted, the people ceased to be a nation and became a Church. They devoted themselves to the fulfilment of the Law, and waited eagerly for the day when God would intervene in human history, and exalt them to the position to which they were destined by the fact of the divine choice. [This hope appears to have been held in some form even before the exile. Cf. Amos 6:18. Expression of the post-exilic expectation is found, for instance, in Isaiah 9:2-7; 11:1-8.] The prophetic books were edited to encourage this hope, and the prophets thus (erroneously) represented as alternating their oracles of doom with messages proclaiming the future glory of the nation. [Cf. what was said above regarding the third point established by the critical method.] It is this messianic belief which forms one of the chief links between the Old Testament and the New.
In other words, it was through the corporate consciousness of the Church that the Holy Spirit worked then as now. The leaders had their parts to play in mediating His message, but it must not be forgotten that frequently in their lifetime they were not accepted as leaders. This is certainly true of the great prophets of the eighth century. Amos was expelled from Bethel, and the preaching of Isaiah was evidently without immediate effect except upon a small group of disciples. It was due to the faith and constancy of these disciples that they were later recognized as the inspired messengers of God. It will therefore cause us no disquiet when we realize that the books which have traditionally been assigned to certain outstanding figures are largely composed of material emanating from authors and editors of a later age. For they too were working in the power of the Spirit, content themselves to remain nameless as they enshrined the teaching of their masters in a frame, often calculated to bring out its hidden lights and shadows, and to make it speak to the heart of other ages than that for which it had been delivered. Such a sentence as "It is with reluctance that one is driven to assign a thought so finely expressed to an interpolator" is meaningless to those for whom inspiration reaches beyond the individual to the whole Church. [Skinner on Isaiah 48:17-19, Cambridge Bible, first edition.] 781b155fdc