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A Walk Through Revelation - Part 4

Ruins of Ephesus (creative commons image)

Letter #1
To the Church in Ephesus - Revelation 2:1-7

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. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, 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 the love you had at first. Consider how far 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.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
In this, the first of 7 letters to the churches, Jesus tells John to write a letter to "the angel of the church of Ephesus."  The word angel here means messenger.  First, Jesus commends the Church in Ephesus for several things... 
  • Their deeds, hard work and perseverance
  • That they cannot tolerate wicked people
  • They carefully test those who claim to be apostles, but are not - exposing their deceipt
  • They have endured hardships for their faith and have not grown weary
These things still please God today - are they a part of your life?

Next, Jesus tels them one thing that he is disappointed in them for...
  • They have lost their first love
Remember when you first heard the gospel - that God love you so much that He sent His only Son to die on a cross in punishment for your sin, so that through forgiveness, you could be restored to a right relationship with God and live forever in Heaven with Him for eternity?

Remember how you felt - the love and gratitude that flowed in your heart? The joy? The clean feeling of a newly washed sinner? The excitement of telling others? The deep intimacy you felt when talking to God in prayer?

What about now? Do you still love God every bit as much as you did the day you were saved? Or have you let your love grow dim...even cold? What can you do to stir it up again...or to see that it never grows dim? (Read verse 5)  What happens if you don't return to your first love? (again the answer is in verse 5)What do you think it means to have your "lampstand" removed from its place?

After admonishing the church in Ephesus, Jesus again commends them because they "hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."  Doesn't hate seem like an awfully strong word for Jesus to use. Notice that He didn't say He hated the Nicolaitans, but that He hated their practices. It's the same today. God loves everyone, but He hates the sinful practices of mankind. Want to know more about the Nicolaitans and what they were doing that Jesus hated so much?  Click here to dig a little deeper.


Jesus closes this letter with the following...

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
What do you think the phrase "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit says to the churches"? 
What do you think it means to be victorious as Jesus meant it?

Jesus said that if we are victorious, He will give us the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Heaven). The Tree of Life was first mentioned in Genesis 3:22-24...


22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

What happens when someone eats from the tree of life? Why would God not want man to eat of the tree of life after having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? (You can read the whole story in Genesis 3.)  

For believers who are victorious in maintaining their first love for Jesus/God, we see that He gives us the right to eat from the Tree of Life, which is now in paradise (Heaven). What do you think will happen when we eat from this tree?


Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit say... 

Prayer:
Father, thank you for showing us some things that please you. We understand that doing these things do not assure us a place in Heaven, for it was the life, death and resurrection that purchased our salvation. Doing these things are a result of our love and devotion to you. Help us to be busy doing those things, which you would have your children doing until we are with you in Heaven. God, help us to keep the fire of our love burning bright for you. Make us aware of sin so that when we fall, we will repent and return to the things we did at first. We look forward to the time when we can be with you forever in paradise. Thank you for making that possible! Amen

Want to know more about Ephesus?
Read the book of Ephesians - CLICK HERE
Ancient Ephesus - CLICK HERE
Watch a video about Ephesus...


What did you think about this study?
What was your "take-away" thought?
What do you plan to do as a result of studying this letter to the Ephesian church?

Please post your thoughts in a comment below.
 
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