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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Fifty-First (Those Outside)

This week we're going to look at a somewhat unpleasant topic, but it's one that needs to be discussed nonetheless. If nothing else, it comes down to being a warning, but I think we might find it to be more eye opening than we realize. There's some aspects to this topic that are misunderstood, or perhaps in some cases purposely misrepresented in order to deceive.

The first question to ask is what is meant by "those outside." There are multiple "outsides" in scripture. In one case, Yeshua, and by extension YHWH, is outside. He tells us He knocks at our door (Revelation 3:20) and if we open it we can dine with Him.

This verse is quoted quite a lot by itself in order to evoke the imagery of our Savior reaching out, waiting for us to invite Him in. There's nothing wrong with that, but what's interesting is that in context, Yeshua talks about repenting right before this verse and overcoming right after. I think there's two ways you can look at that because rarely, if at any time, did He interject some random thought or idea in the middle of things, and especially not when He's trying to convey something important in a succinct manner like these letters to the churches. Everything was always connected, even if it wasn't that obvious how at first.

You can look at this context in one way as a sort of timeline, or process, of events. If you read a little earlier in this letter, Yeshua is pointing out how this church (and I believe more generally this is a message to some Christians today) thinks they're "good," meaning whatever they're doing must be right because they don't have need of anything. In reality, they lack everything that matters. They take no stance on anything, vacillating their way through life so as not to make waves, to the point where Yeshua is so sick of it He tells them it makes Him want to throw them up (technically, spit them out). (Revelation 3:16)

He then goes on to tell them to repent! Repent from what?! If they take no stance, they can't be wrong, right? Wrong! Taking no stance is taking a stance, and by default it's the wrong one. He told us if we aren't for Him we are against Him (Matthew 12:30). So, the process Yeshua is presenting is 1) You need to realize what you're doing is wrong, 2) You need to repent from it, and then 3) He will be standing there knocking for you to invite Him in. He then provides some encouragement by saying this is overcoming, and if you overcome you will be rewarded.

The other way you can look at this context is that perhaps Yeshua, starting at verse 20, is actually telling us how to buy the gold from Him and repent: by opening the door to Him. This interpretation is less likely, in my opinion, because "formulas" elsewhere in scripture involve repenting prior to inviting the Spirit in. John proclaimed, "Repent and be baptized," which prepared the way for the people to receive Yeshua (Mark 1:1-8). Yeshua was even baptized before receiving the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:9-10), and after His crucifixion, Peter, on the day of Pentecost, told soon-to-be believers they must repent and be baptized before the Holy Spirit can be given to them (Acts 2:38).

So, more than likely, in the letter to Laodicea, Yeshua was laying out a process to be with Him such that you need to repent and open the door before He can join you. By now though, you've probably realized Yeshua is not one of "those outside" we're looking at this week. No, we're talking about outside New Jerusalem, not our metaphorical heart (Ephesians 3:17).

You can find the list of these unsavory types in the exhortation of Yeshua in which He includes a prophecy of His return (Revelation 22:15). These individuals include dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, idolaters and lovers/creators of lies. No, not actual dogs, and what are sorcerers anyway?! The Greek word for dogs here, when used metaphorically, is meant to refer generally to those of impure mind, those that are impudent, but even the literal dog at the time of Yeshua was considered a detestable scavenging creature. The Hebrew word for dog was also used as a euphemism for a male prostitute in addition to expressing contempt for individuals.

And sorcerers? This word is actually the source of our word pharmacy, or pharmaceuticals, and is used to refer to people that use drugs to influence people into living by their illusions. Not the way they make sorcery out to be in movies and TV! Interestingly, as a side note, I just watched a video this week from a doctor describing how a heart actually works (hint: it's not a pump!) and the more I dig, the more I'm confident that man, and specifically doctors, know very little about how our bodies work, despite how much confidence they project. So personally, I'm not sure they have enough knowledge to even develop drugs that address the actual problem a person has.

The last three types of individuals are pretty self explanatory, but the interesting part is when you look at what it means by loving lying. The Greek word is phileo, and we've looked at it before, but it describes an intimate friendship, having heartfelt consideration and kinship. So, the two categories of liars in this verse are really describing not only those who are intimate with and regularly use lies, but also those who simply just create lies occasionally for various purposes. Whether someone is a pathological liar or uses lies here and there to get ahead, hide something, get what they want, control people, etc., he or she fits into this category.

But where are these people if they're outside? And is this an all-inclusive list? To answer the first question, we find that this list is included earlier in Revelation, and it turns out all these people, along with some others, will actually end up in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8) which is technically outside the gates of New Jerusalem. This is called the second death, meaning an end, despite the commonly held belief that those there will be tortured or tormented for all eternity. The only individuals described as having that fate are Satan, the beast, and the false prophet (Revelation 20:10).

Honestly, at least to me, the prospect of a final death is more harrowing than eternal torture. That means you're gone, nothing, non-existent, never to return again, not with Yeshua or YHWH, and certainly not with your loved ones. When you think about it, in this eternal torment belief, YHWH would have to be the tormentor of people He loved so much He sent His Son to die for. Mainstream Christianity really needs to dump this belief.

As you probably realized when reading Revelation 21:8, the list in 22:15 is not all-inclusive, but you can find lists with these types of individuals in other places as well. Revelation 21:8 adds the cowardly, unbelieving, and murderers (based on the wording, I'm equating the "abominable" to the dogs of 22:15), and we see Paul includes others in other places of scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-11). He uses slightly different words for some, but he adds some pretty "low level" transgressions to the lists. When listing those that will not inherit the Kingdom of YHWH, he adds the greedy/covetous, slanderers, those who get drunk, and those who swindle (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Let's be clear about who Paul is actually referring to here. He is not talking about those of the world. Taken out of context, that might be the impression you get. In the previous chapter, Paul calls out sexual immorality in the Corinthian church and what they should be doing about it (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). He goes on to say that when he was talking about the sexually immoral in a previous letter (remember, this type of person is on the list we saw earlier) he was talking about those in the church (1 Corinthians 5:10). He even adds the greedy, those who swindle, and the idolaters! Going on, he tells the church not to even eat with those so-called brothers, and adds the slanderers in that list, making it the same people that will not inherit the Kingdom of YHWH (1 Corinthians 5:11). They should be expelled from the church, he says (1 Corinthians 5:13).

Make no mistake, regardless of if you believe the Law doesn't apply to you it is the measure by which you are judged. You can call yourself a Christian and still be counted among the wicked...and that's from scripture, not from me. Those are the ones on the outside, who will experience the second death along with the worldly wicked. We all need to understand this and live accordingly. Yes, we will mess up occasionally, everyone does. But not even trying to be sinless is not what YHWH intended when He extended grace through Yeshua. And yes, we're authorized, even encouraged, to call each other out according to that standard (1 Corinthians 5:12).

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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