By definition, a gift is something given without cost to the recipient and intended for his help or pleasure. Most of the best gifts say as much or more about the donor as about the recipient. A particularly appropriate gift reflects, not only the kindness and generosity of the giver, but also his sensitivity to the needs or desires of the recipient. For example, as wonderful as are Beethoven’s nine symphonies, giving a CD of those recordings to a deaf person would be deemed worthless if not hurtful or even insulting. In other words, giving a good gift is not the result of chance but of wise, careful, and kind consideration. Needless to say, every gift God gives is perfect. And just as He showered gifts on the church in Pergamum, so He lavishes gifts on us. As with all the gifts God gives, their full significance awaits eternity; nevertheless, without becoming too speculative, we may find hints of their import even now.
“To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:17). When He was on earth, the Lord Jesus explained to the Jews: “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die” (John 6:48-50). The manna that God provided in the wilderness was physical, visible, and intended merely to sustain physical life for no more than forty years. The “manna” that the Lord Jesus gives to His church is spiritual, invisible (i.e., “hidden”), and bestowed in order to provide eternal life. This bread is nothing less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit, who comes to indwell every child of God, sustaining him with His very own eternal life, nourishing him with the knowledge and fellowship of His Presence.
“I will give him a white stone” (v. 17). Whether this stone is something inherently valuable such as a diamond, as some suggest, whether the whiteness signifies purity, or is some New Testament equivalent of the Urim and Thummim on the breastplate of the high priest by which God’s will was revealed, whether given as a symbol of approval (as opposed to a black stone symbolling disapproval), or the stone given by the Romans to winners of athletic contests, I cannot say. Whatever its meaning, the stone will be more than a paperweight or an object to store on a heavenly shelf. Surely, it will be more valuable and more expressive of the Lord’s love for us than any diamond a young man gives to the girl he intends to marry.
“I will give him . . . a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it” (v. 17). Once again, the Holy Spirit is reticent to explain this gift in detail. And whatever its nature, it is doubtless beyond human language to express fully. We may be satisfied this side of eternity with these inspired hints. That the name is designated as “new” has reference to quality rather than to chronology. Perhaps, as God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and the Lord Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, in order, in both cases, to reflect a change in status and character, so the Lord will bestow on us names that reveal the grace He has wrought in us. That it is written on the stone, may suggest the eternal and unalterable nature of the work Christ has done in and through us. But the fact that it is a private name suggests that it may include personal, intimate terms of endearment. The Lord saves us individually, gifts us individually, and loves us individually, not merely en masse or collectively. He knows and loves you and me personally.
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