Summary: Part two of an eight part message looking at the 7 churches of Asia
It was the first of the seven. Out of all the church in all the countries Jesus singled out these seven to originally receive the message of the Revelation, but before they were to read the book Jesus had a message for them. You ever wonder why? Why not just jump in with all the weird and wonderful stuff that the Revelation had to offer. There are probably a couple of reasons; first it wouldn’t have been polite. This was after all a form letter, so the least that could be done would be to personalize it. Realize that 2000 years ago there was no mail merge, had John wanted to send a personal letter to all seven of the churches telling them about his vision he would have had to hand write it seven times, which would have been time prohibitive and also very expensive. Remember this letter was not written on paper it was probably written on parchment made up of tanned animal skin.
But I don’t think that it was simply a matter of courtesy or practicality that caused Jesus to include these personal notes to the seven churches in the Revelation. Instead I think it was a spiritual issue. Before these churches could hear from God they had to make sure there were no issues standing in the way.
And it’s the same way two thousand years later; before we can hear from God collectively or individually we need to make sure there is nothing that’s going to get in the way. Sometimes not always but sometimes I hear people say “When I pray it’s like God doesn’t hear me or like my prayers don’t go any further then the ceiling.” And I think what do you expect you are living in disobedience to God’s law? You understand don’t you that sin puts a barrier between you and God? You can not have it both ways, you can’t flaunt God’s laws and have a relationship with Him. And so Jesus was saying, “Ok boys and girls let’s get things straightened out and then we can talk.”
And so we begin with the introduction Revelation 2:1 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. Last week we looked at some of the different meanings that could be ascribed to this term angel and decided that for the purposes of these letters that the term meant the overseer or pastor of these particular churches. Continuing on in the same verse This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
From Chapter one we discover that it is Jesus who holds the seven stars which are later identified as the seven angels or seven pastors and the seven gold lampstands are these churches. It is important to note a couple of things about this reference. The first is that the stars or angels or pastors are held in the right hand of Christ. The pastor’s primary responsibility is not to please the local church or even the people who make up that church, the primary responsibility of the pastor is to please God, now hopefully when the Pastor makes God happy he will in turn make the people of the church happy, but that isn’t always the way it works, sorry.
The second thing we need to note is that Jesus is walking among the lampstands or the churches. Jesus doesn’t just watch what is happening in our church from a distances but he is to be a part of the daily life of our church. And if Bedford Community Church is to be the church that it’s supposed to be then Jesus needs to be not only a symbolic presence in our church but he needs to be a very real presence. And that happens as he is present in the lives of the believers who make up the church.
And so this letter is addressed to pastor of the church at Ephesus and from there to the people of the church of Ephesus. If we pull up a map we discover that the city of Ephesus was located in what is now Turkey. It was the most important city in the area, while Pergamum was the actual capital of the Roman Province of Asia Ephesus was its greatest city. It was called The Gateway to Asia because it was the home of the largest harbour in Asia. It’s kind of interesting that 2000 years later the ocean is now 10 kms away, and what was once a proud harbour is now beach and marsh where silt from the sea washed in and eventually destroyed the thing that made Ephesus so important. And so once the cities connection to the sea disappeared so did the city.