Revelations. A book containing revelations that Jesus gave to John. It was also written with hidden revelations, he knew we would have today. They give testimony to Him. Today we learn about the church in Ephesus.
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamp stands. I know your deeds your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love; Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:1-7
I read an interesting fact about the letters relayed to the seven churches in Revelation. It is thought, that John would have written all these letters on one scroll and that the scroll would have traveled via a mail route in western Asia Minor. In essence, all seven churches could glean important insight and information from all churches. Just as we can today. Which could be why each letter contains the words, “He who has an ear to hear, what the Spirit says to the churches (plural). This could also be referring to the original seven churches, the churches throughout history and the church today. Collectively, “the church” of all time.
The apostle Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus (book of Ephesians) gives some insight as to what things were going on and needing to be addressed in this church. Jesus compliments the church on its deeds, hard work and perseverance. They cannot tolerate the wicked men and tested those who have claimed to be apostles but are false. They persevered and have not grown weary. They hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which he also hates! The Nicolaitans named themselves after a man named Nicolaus of Antioch. They were leading believers to practice immorality, take part in pagan rituals, have more than one wife, sleep with prostitutes and eat food sacrificed to idols. The Nicolaitans taught spiritual liberties allowed them to practice such. The church of Ephesus endured hardships because they did not deny the name of Jesus.
The complaint in this letter, is that they have forsaken their first love.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 23:37-40
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” -John 14:15
“Whoever has my commands and obeys then, he is the one who loves me.” -John 14:21
Jesus then tells them to repent and do the things they did at first. He warns them that if they do not repent he will remove their lampstand from their place.
From Paul’s letter, we know that he was encouraging unity and love in the body. That God’s purpose prevails and that the church universal needed to work in unity to see that it is accomplished, under one head Jesus Christ. The key theme to the book of Ephesians is found in chapter 5:22-32.
“Wives, submit to your husbands as the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the church- for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery- but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
He is our husband and he loves his church (wife). He loved us (the church) so much he gave himself us for us! The church submits to Christ in everything. He is our first love! He is the head and we are the body. We are united and have become one flesh! Who does that remind you of? Adam and Eve!
The story of Adam and Eve is actual prophesy of the coming church. God made Adam and Eve in his own image. Adam was made of the dust and was representative of the coming Jesus. Eve was not made of dust too, but was taken out of the rib of Adam and presented to him. Eve represents “the future church, his bride!” They are united in one flesh just as we are all members of his body.
You see, God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. “Does that mean God is responsible for sin and evil, you ask?” Absolutely not! He knew the end of the story before the beginning and everything in between. He created us with a rescue mission in mind all throughout the entire essence of time! “So are we puppets?” (these are my devil’s advocate questions) Not puppets either. From the very beginning he created this wonderful beautiful garden just for us. He created us and this paradise for us because he loved us, ever before we were in existence! From the very beginning, he wanted a relationship with us, just like with Adam and Eve. He wanted us to live forever with him in a garden of paradise!
Because he loved us, he also gave us free will. Love is freely given and not something that is forced upon. That is why there were two trees. We could choose the tree of life to eat and be healthy and live in the garden all of our days or we could choose ourselves and take a bite out of the forbidden tree.
Still, God had a plan. I find it symbolic that because sin entered the picture, so did childbirth and the first birth was twin boys. Cain and Able seem to represent the two paths we can take. The way of Able, or the way of Cain.
Even when Able was killed, God had a plan C. Seth was born. “When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.” -Genesis 5:3 See the family tree here. Adam-Seth-Noah-David-Jesus. Jesus truly IS the root and offspring of David!
All the while satan was trying to corrupt the church (Eve) bringing sin and death. He was trying to taint the blood of the line of David swaying Cain and taking out Able. Then sending the Nephilium to breed with the human race in attempts to “taint the blood” so God saved Noah’s family and sent the flood to remedy this. Even after all that, satan was trying to use King Herod to kill all the baby boys and take Jesus out.
Jesus came to undo all that Adam had done. Jesus was in the plan all along. “So it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being;’ the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” -1 Corinthians 15:45-49
Even more astounding, at the end of Revelation in chapter 22 it speaks of us having access again to the tree of life. It says that, “No longer will there be any curse….It will bear twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month……the leaves of the tree are for healing the nations!” Revelation 22:2-3 To the church of Ephesus it says, To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (vs 7). It comes full circle from beginning to the end.
The introduction to this letter to the church of Ephesus, bears witness of both God and Jesus that these are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. In Revelation 1:19-20 we find out what the seven stars and lampstands are. “The mystery that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” Jesus is bearing witness to the fact that he walks among the lampstands. My interpretation is that cares for and loves them to be in close proximity with them.
He also holds the seven stars in his right hand. There is significance in the right hand. It implies guiding and protecting. In Strong’s Greek concordance the word angel is #32 ἄγγελος anggelos: an angel, messenger. “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the church- for we are all members of this body.” Ephesians 6:29-30 He is using these “stars/angels” to feed the church and care for it. Relaying information pertinent to encourage and correct out of his love for his bride “to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Ephesians 5:27 He is bearing witness that he is the head of “the church universal” and he is fully involved in the process of making her beautiful again! It is like he is telling Ephesus/us: Don’t give up, stay strong, I see what you are doing! I am the head of the church. I’ve got it under control! Return to me (submit) your first love and join me in unity and purpose as one body! What a glorious God we serve!
I am continuously AMAZED by you! You are truly, the Alpha and Omega and Lord of all! Help me to submit to your purpose of unity and love. Help me to be your hands and feet and to use my life to uplift the church and bring you glory! I want to be a part of building your kingdom and point others to the wonder that you are! You are SO GOOD!!! Amen!