Summary: An expository sermon that explores the significance of the white stone and hidden manna, suggesting an interpretation that shows why they are genuine motives for sacrificial Christian living
Legend has it that when the famous frontiersman Davy Crockett was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1827, a newspaper reporter asked him if he’d ever been lost. Crockett had grown up in the woods and wilderness of middle and western Tennessee and was often gone out on hunting trips for weeks at a time.
Crockett thought about the question for a moment and said, “Nope, I’ve never been lost. I have been a might bewildered for a week or two, but I’ve never been lost.”
I’ve been somewhat bewildered for the last three or four weeks, trying to make sense out of this morning’s text in the book of Revelation. But with the LORD’s help I think I’ve found my way to a fairly clear understanding of what it is all about. Please open your Bible to Revelation 2.
17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 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.” ’
Jesus promised two rewards to the believers at Pergamos who refuse to compromise with the world but insist on living for Him. The first reward is the hidden manna.
I. Jesus rewards Overcomers with hidden manna.
A. The history of the hidden manna
When the Israelites were wandering through the desert on their way to the Promised Land, God fed them with manna, a miraculous food that fell on the ground every evening. Moses placed a small jar of manna in the Ark of the Covenant to commemorate God’s faithful provision to His people. Centuries later, according to tradition, the prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark in a cave when Jerusalem was invaded by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The Ark was never recovered; to this day no one knows what became of it.
Over the years the Jews developed a legend based on hope. In the apocryphal books you will find evidence of this legend which states that Israel would once again eat manna when the Messiah arrived to establish His Kingdom.
So to a first century Jew, “eating the hidden manna” was synonymous with the lavish blessings and sumptuous fare that would characterize the Messiah’s Kingdom.
The Old Testament prophets do tell us that in the restoration the desert will become lush. Streams will flow in the desert and abundant produce will literally spring from the ground. Grape vines will bear so much fruit that it will seem as if the mountains themselves are oozing wine.
B. The meaning of the hidden manna
When Jesus promised that the faithful believers would eat the hidden manna, He is probably drawing on this Jewish legend and on the Old Testament prophets to offer the promise of a lavish banquet with sumptuous fare, along with the rich fellowship that friends share at such a great feast.
Remember, the believers in Pergamos were being pressured to compromise their faith. Part of the compromise was to participate in the feasts dedicated to the pagan gods. Jesus promised that if they refused to compromise, they would be invited to a greater feast in His Kingdom.
II. Jesus rewards Overcomers with a white stone.
Jesus also promised that faithful believers will be given a white stone with a new name inscribed on it.
A. The white stone is difficult to interpret.
The white stone is the most obscure figure in the New Testament. After three weeks of poring over ancient manuscripts, reading dozens of commentaries and journal articles, consulting with archaeologists, and evaluating over a dozen proposed interpretations, I’ve concluded that the white stone represents admission to a feast. Let me explain.
In the ancient world small, smooth stones were used for a wide variety of purposes. Polished black and white stones were used to cast votes in elections and jury trials. Small stones engraved with the secret name of a god were carried as amulets that protected the owner. Wealthy benefactors and government agents gave engraved stones that entitled the bearer to food, money from the public treasury, or admission to sporting events and concerts.
Of special interest are the engraved stones awarded to victorious athletes and gladiators. The stones granted privileges, including free admission to feasts. Common folk were given small stones as engraved invitations to participate in pagan feasts celebrated in honor of the gods.
My theory is that the white stone which Jesus will award to the Overcomers will be used to gain admission to a special feast that will be held in his honor. But what feast would that be? Does the Bible mention anything about a special feast that will be held in honor of the LORD Jesus?