Reading For Tuesday Revelation 2:1-29
The churches that are mentioned in Revelation were all located in the area that is currently Turkey. Ephesus was the largest city in this Roman province. The church at Ephesus was doing many good things, but it suffered from a serious flaw. These good deeds did not excuse the fact that they had abandoned their first love. The people were not expressing love with the same intensity and passion at the beginning. The Lord’s rebuke reminds us that we can have solid theology, be busy in service, and do many good deeds without loving Christ as we should. Writing these words must have been somewhat difficult for John, who had served them at one time. Jesus wanted the church to remember the love they once had, repent, and return to their former ways. This call to repentance was accompanied by a warning. Failure to repent would result in the end of the church at Ephesus.
Jesus addresses the church in Smyrna next. The members of this church were suffering persecution and needed to be reminded of the victory that comes through Christ. They were impoverished and were being slandered by the Jews in their city. These Jews would have considered themselves part of God’s synagogue, yet they were proving to be part of Satan’s synagogue. While you might expect words of deliverance from their suffering, they were instead told of the increasing persecution and imprisonment that was coming. This beleaguered body was being exhorted to hang on it's about to get worse.
The city of Pergamum was about fifty-five miles north-east of Smyrna, and it was tough to be a Christian there. The city was an official center for the worship of the Roman emperor. He commends them for holding fast and not denying the faith. While the Lord was pleased with the faithfulness of the church, he was not pleased with those tolerating or advocating compromise in their pagan society. He compares them with Balaam, who advised Balak, the king of Moab, to conquer Israel by enticing them to compromise. Evidently the Nicolaitans encouraged attending idol feasts and engaging with the temple prostitutes.
The Lord began this letter to Pergamum by telling them he is the one with the sharp two-edged sword, and he ends it by assuring Pergamum that he will use that sword for war. To those who conquer through Christ, they will be sustained and receive guidance from the Lord.
The city of Thyatira was known for its trade guilds. This posed a problem for the Christians there. To have a job, Christians had to belong to one of the guilds, and belonging to a guild meant worshipping the representative god and just as Jezebel had troubled Israel, so too a prophetess was troubling the church and encouraging them to indulge in various sins of the flesh particularly promiscuity. The Lord graciously gave this woman time to repent, but she refused to do so and therefore he promised severe judgement for both her and her followers. She would be cast into a bed of suffering, and those who committed adultery with her would suffer a great tribulation. He admonishes the faithful to hold fast and remember that we will rule with Christ and receive the morning star which refers to Christ himself. Jesus is our reward.
Things To Consider:
- What are things or ways that our first love can diminish?
- Why are good works not enough?
- What does it mean to repent?
- How can one be impoverished and rich at the same time?
- Why should we not fear suffering?
- What is the crown of life?
- What are some places that you are tempted to compromise?
- How can one be gracious and uncompromising at the same time?
- What is the sword of Jesus' mouth?
- Do you find comfort or fear in the truth that Jesus searches mind and heart?
- How can we hold fast to our faith?