“…The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:” (2:1).
While still trying to catch my breath from the voluminous vision of Him Who Is Revealed in the opening of this letter, I once again found myself undone. And this time it was not only because of all that He Is, but also because of the lengths to which He goes in His amazing grace to Reveal exactly what We Need in our lives to Overcome and Be Victorious.
And perhaps it is because we are so very dense and our focus is so easily set on the natural, that before He Reveals What We Need, He Revealed Himself in His Supernatural Glory, that we would heed all He has to say.
Chapters two and three are comprised of seven individual messages to be sent to the seven individual churches of Asia Minor that existed in John’s day. And the One Who stands among them, knows them and their individual Need, and ensures that they will know as well.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash, (Revelation 1:10-12).
The Lord addresses each letter to the angel of the church. This word in the original language can be translated as angel or messenger, and can refer to either a heavenly or earthly messenger. Some believe He is speaking to a guardian angel over each church, but most agree this is probably addressed to the pastor/elder who held the responsibility of conveying God’s message of Truth to his congregation. And while we may not be sure which kind of messenger He was addressing, we can be certain that His messages were received.
There is also debate as to the interpretation of these letters to the churches.
“Some take the seven letters as a preview of church history in its downward course toward Laodicean lukewarmness. Others interpret them as characteristics of various kinds of Christian congregations that have existed from John’s day until the present time. In either case, they were historical churches in Asia Minor… a general pattern in the letters is commendation, complaint, and correction,” NIV Study Bible.
But what is not up for debate is His heart for His churches to Overcome and Be Victorious over the enemy!
From NIV Study Bible: “overcomes. The challenge to be victorious in the battle against evil (see 12:11) occurs in each letter (2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21).”
From Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: Overcome: “39.57 νικάω; νίκη, ης f; νῖκος, ους n: to win a victory over—‘to be victorious over, to be a victor, to conquer, victory,'”
And while these letters to the churches were intended to address the Needs within a corporate body to not only survive but Overcome and Be Victorious in the midst of an increasingly hostile environment towards Christianity, there are truths for every individual believer that can be applied personally as well.
It is interesting to note, that before the Lord conveys His individual message addressing the Need in each church, He introduces Himself; and no two introductions are identical. And I was reminded of His Covenant Name He gave when He appeared in a burning bush and called Moses to lead His people out of the bondage of Egypt
Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you,’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
Through His Name, He Is Revealed as Eternal, Sovereign, and Able; He Is; He Is All that is Needed in every Need. And perhaps His introductions were exactly what each messenger Needed to hear before they heard His commendations, complaints and corrections; they Needed to be reminded that He Is the Great I AM Who Is Able to provide their every Need.
As we well know, chapter divisions are not inspired but were inserted in the early 13th century to aid us in navigating through His Holy Scriptures; and aren’t we thankful! With that in mind, we will consider chapters 2 and 3 together (to be continued tomorrow) as one collection of seven letters dictated by Him Who Is Revealed to His messengers as He Reveals What We Need to Overcome and Be Victorious.
Consider Him Who Reveals What We Need to Overcome and Be Victorious
- He Reveals What We Need: Remember Our First Love
- “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love,” (2:4).
- He Reveals What We Need: Refuse to live in fear of the future
- “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life,” (2:10).
- He Reveals What We Need: Remain in His Truth
- “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15 So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans,” (2:14-15).
- He Reveals What We Need: Reject false teachings
- “But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols,” (2:20).
How do we respond to Him Who Reveals What We Need to Overcome and Be Victorious?
At the close of each of His seven letters to His messengers, the Lord speaks His promise of what is coming to those who Overcome to the end, with a caveat; we must hear what the Spirit has to say. We must have an ear to hear His Spirit prompt and lead us into His Truth if we are to Overcome and Be Victorious.
Let us ask Him to give us ears to hear what the Spirit would say to us today; for in every Need we have He Is Revealed as the One Who is Able.
His Spirit tells us that He holds His church in His hands and that His Spirit moves in the churches of those who Remember Him as their first love and look to His promise of eternity with Him in Paradise.
To the angel of the church in Ephesus He Is “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands,” (2:1).
“‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God,’” (2:7).
Do we Remember our first love?
Oh, that we would listen to His Spirit, depending on His Presence, Provision, and Promise of Eternal Paradise as we daily remember our first love so as to keep His commandments.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).
His Spirit tells us He is Eternal, and because He has conquered death, we can Refuse to fear the future for He promises we will never be hurt by the second death.
To the angel of the church in Smyrna, He Is “The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life,” (2:8).
“‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death,’” (2:11).
Are we Refusing to live in fear of the future?
Oh, that we would listen to His Spirit as we set our minds on the assurance of His promises and not on the things that are seen.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, (Hebrews 11:1).
His Spirit tell us that His Word is sharp to cut away the stumbling blocks, and He promises to nourish those who Remain in His Truth through His intimate Presence.
To the angel of the church in Pergamum, He Is “The One who has the sharp two-edged sword,” (2:13).
“‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it,’” (2:17).
Are we Remaining in His Truth?
Oh, that we would remain faithful to His Word even when it goes against popular opinion and invites insults or persecution.
Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right, (1 Peter 4:19).
His Spirit tell us that He is the Son of God Who has authority over everything He sees and everyplace He goes; and He promises He will give His authority to those who Reject false teachings and Overcome until the end.
To the angel of the church in Thyatira, He Is “The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze,” (2:18).
“‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,’’ (2:26-29).
Are we Rejecting false teachings?
Oh, that we would study to know Truth so as to be enabled to detect and reject what is false.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth, (2 Timothy 2:15).
Oh, that we would begin each day by tuning our ears to hear and our hearts to heed what the Spirit has to say, that we would learn His way as we trust Him Who Reveals What is Needed to Overcome and Be Victorious.
Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning;
For I trust in You;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul, (Psalm 143:8).