Summary: A study of the letters to the churches - Sardis
Revelation 3: 1 – 6
The Church Of The Living Dead
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Sardis was the capital of famous kingdom of Lydia. It was a city exceedingly fabled for its past wealth and splendor, but it had deteriorated greatly. Its greatness lay in the past. Sardis had, at one time, been considered to be impregnable because of its ideal physical arrangement and topography for defense. It sat on a hill or mountain surrounded by steep cliffs almost impossible to scale with only one narrow way of approach. Yet Sardis had been attacked and conquered twice because of its arrogance manifested in its lack of watchfulness. They were known to be very successful and creative in the fields of commerce and economics. The city was also famous for its woolen, textile, and jewelry industry.
The Sardis was ruled by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. then by the Roman Empire in the 2nd century B.C.
The temple of Artemis next to the Pactolus river (Sart cayi) dates from the 4th century B.C. There was a temple dedicated to goddess Kybele before that during the time of King Croesus. No temple worshipper was allowed to approach the temple of the gods with soiled or unclean garments. A white and clean robe was required to approach its so-called gods.
The king Croesus was the wealthiest man of his time and Sardis became the richest city of antiquity. The famous wise man of Athens, also the reformer, Solon, came to see this great city and its famous king. It is thought that the famous story teller Aesop was a Phrygian who lived in Sardis during the reign of king Croesus.
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
The answer, as always, is centered in Who Christ Is—The Savior who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. These two aspects of Christ Jesus our Lord’s ministry to the church are brought immediately to the forefront because they give us the key to both the problem of this church and its solution.
I am sure you know that the number 7 represents perfection. The Seven Spirits of God equals the 7 angels assigned the 7 bowl judgments. We have already become aware that the stars equals angels. These are the 7 angels who are in our Lord’s Holy Temple who will ultimately go and pour out the Lord’s bowl judgments. They have been waiting around since their creation for this very purpose. Now that may seem like a dumb reason. These angels have been just waiting around for the end of the first earth’s lifetime? Again I will affirm this position and I will tell you why. Have you ever witnessed what our military nuclear personnel go through? They go through mock emergencies to see if they will push the button which will launch the nuclear missiles. As you know one-third of the angels sinned and followed Satan. I believe our Lord has these angels observing what is going on in the world, all kind of murder and vicious treatment of other humans, animals, and of the earth itself. When it comes time for our Precious Holy Ruler to issue the command these angels have seen it all and are ready to deliver the bowl judgments.
You might ask, then why didn’t our Holy Lord Jesus just say 7 angels for this and 7 angels representing the churches. He could have but I believe He has listed these for the purpose of making sure we know the angels have separate duties to perform. Don’t forget that angels are spiritual beings.
The church at Sardis was described as being “dead”. It appeared to be alive – had “a reputation of being alive” – looked spiritually vibrant on the outside – but was spiritually lifeless. The church was Christian in name only. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 23 verse 27 our Master and King gave a scathing rebuke of the Pharisees by saying that they “look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” This is what had become of the church in Sardis.