Summary: Relates the truths the angel revealed to the Ephesion church to our modern times.
REVEALING THE REVELATION –PART 1
“The Church at Ephesus”
August 30, 2009
"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: 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 lampstand 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.”
I don’t usually preach from the book of Revelation, nor do I usually preach a series of sermons on one topic – but I feel like God is leading me to doing just that. For the next few weeks I want to direct our attention to this strange book of John’s revelation. It is filled with mysteries and riddles and allegories. Any preacher who says He has figured it out and understands it – is a liar or a fool. God has given us glimpse of things to come, He has given us a taste of what is coming – and we are privileged to be able to read the ‘end of the book’ – so we can prepare ourselves for what is to come. But the whole has not been revealed.
John is an old man now. He was the youngest of the apostles – just a teen – when he walked with Jesus. He is different from the other apostles. I think he probably acquired more of Jesus’ characteristic and attributes more quickly than the other apostles for two reasons; One, he was young and sharp and able to learn more quickly. Don’t you envy those kids and how quickly they can memorize things and learn new things so easily? And secondly, he had a more intimate relationship with Jesus than the others. He spent more time with Jesus and didn’t have the restraints that an adult would have. He wasn’t afraid to lay his head on Jesus shoulder, like he did at the last supper, or ask him difficult, but innocent questions.
Now he is an old man, and his Friend comes to him one last time. Of all the apostles and disciples, Jesus comes to John. Why? John is called the “Beloved”. It is for more that just being loved in a special way by Jesus, it is because HE is love. He has acquired a tender loving nature from the One he has emulated all his life. He writes that “God is Love” in one of his letters – and he has become a very loving old man himself. So for all the frightening things you read in the book of his revelation, understand that it is a love letter from a loving God, transcribed by a loving pastor. He cares about his tender flock. God is concerned about His beloved children – so we get this book as a result.
The section of Scripture we are focusing on this morning is to one of the churches Paul started with Aquila and Pricilla – Ephesus. Ephesus had been around a long time and was an ideal religious city. It was a center of trade with a lot of people from all over the known world visiting it. You could be a missionary and stay home at the same time. Unfortunately the religion it was known primarily for was to those who worshipped the god Artemis. But Paul started a home church here and it thrived for many years. Your homework is to read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this week. Check out what Paul wrote to them.
John begins his letters to the churches by addressing the ‘angel’ of this church. The word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger of God’. Most scholars would say John was addressing the pastor or leader of the church – not a literal angel. Jesus is the message Creator, and John is passing on the message to be given to the one who will pass the message on to the churches. And there are twelve specific things Jesus wants to say to this church. They can be divided up into six areas.