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Summary: An early wake up call. A church with nothing to commend it

The Letter to the Church at SARDIS

Divided into three sections

1. Introduction of the Writer

2. Reprimand of the Church

3. Encouragement to the Faithful.

Historical Background.

City in Asia, modern day Turkey. Near to Thyatira.

Capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia.

Early prosperity under CROESUS made it a byword for wealth.

Citidal looked impregnable but was twice taken

by Cyrus the Persian in 546 BC

by Antiochus the Great in 214 BC

by scaling walls at a weak point.

By time of letter politically unimportant and in present day - small village - SART

Similarities of Church with City

a. Rested on Old Glory.

1. City by time of Letter had been superceded by Smyrna. No longer of any political importance. Lived on its old reputation.

2. Church had had reputation of Spirituality from earlier times. Known to us as the Dying Church.

b. Wasn’t what it appeared to be.

1. City appeared impregnable but was taken twice in 300 years.

2. Church appeared spiritual and was not. Had been taken by enemy- satan.

The Letter to the Church at Sardis.

1. INTRODUCTION OF THE WRITER

The Lord introduces himself from a different aspect to that of Thyatira, Pergamum or Smyrna.

Most of the terms Christ uses to describe Himself in the Letters to the Seven Churches can also be seen in Chapter 1 vv.12 - 18.

a) He who holds the Seven Stars (Ephesus and Sardis) - Rev.1.16

b) He who is the First and the Last (Symrna) - Rev.1. 17

c) He who has the sharp double edged sword (Pergamum) - Rev.1.16

d) He whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze (Thyatira) - Rev.1 14 & 15.

[The Aspects of

Holiness (Philadephia): Rev.4:8 and of

The Faithful Witness, the Ruler of God’s Creation (Laodicea): Rev.5:13 and 14.]

These are the words of Him who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.

1. Seven Spirits of God.

One interpretation I found interesting was that it could be a reference to Isaiah 11:2 - a messianic promise

Read Isaiah 11. 1 & 2.

1. The Spirit of the Lord - i.e His Being His Personality

2 & 3 The Spirit of Wisdom and of Understanding

4 &5 The Spirit of Counsel and of Power

6 & 7. The Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord;

Psalm 111:10 sums this all up:

The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Practical effect:

1. Do we really think of the Lord as we should as the source of

wisdom, understanding, counsel,power & knowledge.

Then we would appreciate the Fear (Awesomeness) of God.

2. How much time do we have for the Lord?

3. Do we appreciate the Lord for who He is. As a friend and counsellor?

2. The Seven Stars.

In the Bible seven appears to be a special number.

a) After creation the Lord rested on the seventh day and made it holy.- Gen.2:2 & 3.

b) Abraham sealed a treaty with Abimelech (King of Egypt) for the well of Beth-Sheba by giving seven lambs - Gen.21 28-30;

c) It was the seven uncut locks of Samson’s hair that gave him his strength. - Judges 16:19

d) Seven sons of Saul were given by David to the Gibeonites for execution in atonement for Israel’s breaking their treaty with the Gibeonites under Saul.

e) Proverbs 9:1 tells us that

Wisdom has built her house, she has set up seven pillars.

Seven appears to represent a Holy number. It appears a number of times in the Book of Revelation. For example:

a) the letters to the seven churches

b) the Lamb of Rev.5:6 that was slain had seven horns and seven eyes;

c) the seven seals of Rev.6:1 of the wrath of God;

d) In Rev.8: the seven trumpets of the seven angels when the seventh seal was opened.

Rev. 1:20 tells us that the seven stars are the angels (or messengers) of the seven churches.They could also represent the leaders of these churches too.

This tells me

1. That a true Church does not come about by the will of man but by the Call of God. He sends an Angel or Messenger to establish it.

2. Even when a Church loses its way, the Lord does not give up on it. Even at 5 mins. before midnight He will try to save it.

3. Stars give light.

Jesus said in Matth.5:16

Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Church is to be a light. Look at the early Jerusalem church Acts 2:47; they enjoyed the favour of the people.

2. THE REPRIMAND

Focus on a few words:

a) I know your deeds. As Catrin said last week you can’t hide anything from God.

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