Summary: Learning what Jesus had to say to the 7 churches of Revelation.
February 19, 2012
Mail Call: Ephesus
Have you ever had someone looking over your shoulder and reading your mail? Or maybe you’re on a crowded bus or train, and the person sitting next to you is as engrossed in your book as you are. One of the privileges we have as a church is to look at the Bible as a long letter, sent to others, but we get to look over their shoulder and read it.
For the next 7 weeks, we’re going to be taking a deeper look at mail which was sent to 7 churches in the book of Revelation. We’ll see what was happening and how we can learn from these early churches. It could be very scary if Jesus were to write a letter to our church and tell us what He believes we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, what we should be doing and what our reward will be. That’s kind of the gist of these two chapters that were going to take a look at.
You ever wonder what Jesus would say about us?
Would He be impressed by the things that impress others?
Would He mention the size of the congregation?
Would He notice how much money was given last week?
Would He feel like an outsider?
What would Jesus be looking at?
Let me give you a couple of quick points, then we’ll jump in. These letters were written by the disciple John. He wrote them from the small Mediterranean island of Patmos. John was banished to this island by the Romans, but it didn’t stop him from writing. The letters were written to actual churches in Asia Minor, or what we would call modern day Turkey.
Here’s a map of where the letters were sent and where Paul was in relation to the churches. Each letter was written regarding specific situations the churches were facing. These churches were filled with real people struggling with real problems. Though 2000 years separate us, their issues are not much different from ours.
The first letter went to Ephesus, it was a city with a population of about 250,000, making it the second largest city in the world. The city was an important trade and religious center. Ephesus had the temple of Diana, who was one of their central gods. The temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The city had the best harbors in Asia Minor. Paul spent two years there and was eventually run out of town. Over the years the church had been taught by Paul, Apollos, Timothy, and eventually by John. Not a bad group of pastors and teachers.
So, John gets to writing . . . and we’ll take this verse by verse . . .
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands:
Woe Pastor Michael, what’s going on here. You’ve read one line of scripture and I’m lost. Now don’t worry, you see Jesus was really nice to us, because in the verse right before this, He told us what this means. In Revelation 1:20, He said, 20 The mystery of the seven stars 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.
Let’s not get all weirded out over this. Jesus is really telling us this . . . I’m 100% qualified, I have the power and authority to tell you what’s going on in your churches, because I am the One who is holding your church. In fact, I’m the author of the church. I see all that’s going on, I know you, I see you, and I have not forgotten you.
And just as Jesus loved these churches, He also loves First Baptist Church and wants us to be the church we are called to be. Every letter follows the same general pattern. Let’s look at what the Church at Ephesus was doing that was good.
Jesus said ~ 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.
3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
The church was hard working. In fact, their hard work literally means an intense labor, coupled with toil and trouble. It can also mean great sorrow. So, we know they worked hard, and it was brutal work. They were persevering through their hard work. It was a labor of love. If you love who you serve and what you’re doing, hard work isn’t a problem. This church worked hard.