Saturday, December 24, 2011

Revelation 2: God's word to four churches

How wonderful of God to speak directly to specific churches, and individuals. I believe the Greek word for it is the Rhema word, when God's Spirit speaks his Word directly to a person or persons. By faith I believe I have given and received these words. They are precious.

Ephesus - very possibly the "chosen lady" of 2 John - the Spirit praises her rejection of adulterous suitors (false teachers, another theme of 2 John) and her perseverance. Yet like many a one-time bride, she has lost the intensity of her first love with the Bridegroom. To this the Spirit says: "repent and do the things you did at first." He doesn't say what. Presumably she knows. Outreach? Generosity? Devoted prayer and worship? Expressions of love once thrilling and spontaneous have grown stale. Perhaps by grace re-engagement will rekindle love. Diane and I rediscovered love when we just sat and talked, undisturbed, every morning in her hospital and rehab rooms during the winter/spring of 2010. Maybe busy Ephesus just needed to give the Bridegroom her priceless gift of time and attention.

Disobedience will cost Ephesus her lampstand, either the church itself or the Shekinah glory of the Lord, the holy fire of God's presence in the temple, which departed in the face of Israel's continual, obstinant iniquity. When the ark was stolen by the Philistines, and high priest Eli and his faithless son Phineas died, the latter's wife named her son Ichabod, which means "The Glory of the Lord has Departed."

God desires more than anything for me to desire Him. He wants me to eat of the tree of Life. But the bridegroom will not abide adultery. "He who has an ear, let him hear."

Smyrna - Afflicted. Poverty-stricken amid godless riches. Slandered by a "synagogue of Satan." Prison waits for some, persecution for everyone. Think of a godly storefront church in the Bronx, where the brothers and sisters do honest menial work for godless greedy people who cheat and hate them and get wealthy trying to enslave their kids with drugs. But the one who died and came to life again calls these embattled believers one word:


Yeah, that's right. That's what he calls them.


Teach me Lord what it means to be rich in Christ. And to repent when your idea of riches offends me.

Pergamum - Faithful in persecution. But wimpy towards false teachers. It's always the attack from within that the church must fear the most, and Pergamum is a great example. Identify the false teachers, and repent of their teachings. The craven, fleshly part of me thinks the Spirit could use a few lessons in Tolerance, and will tactfully ignore Him......

Thyatira - Ditto Pergamum. The Spirit knows her deeds, love, faith, service and perseverance BUT.....

She is WAY too tolerant of "that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess." She misleads into sexual immorality and unclear food/idolatry practices. If I am tempted to just go along to get along, the Spirit has a firm word: "I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will replay each of you according to your deeds."

So on that Great Day, it just won't cut it to say "Lord, everyone ELSE in the church was doing it."

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