Reading: Revelation 2:1-7
The first message is to the angel of the church in Ephesus. Paul founded this church in about 52 AD (Acts 18). In approximately 65 AD Paul’s apprentice, Timothy, became the pastor (1 Tim 1:3). Tradition tells us that after Timothy, the Apostle John himself became their pastor. After John, at the time this book is written, (while John is exiled in Patmos), Onesimus, the former slave (see the book of Philemon) is temporarily the pastor.
Who is this angel? There are a number of theories: first, that every church has a guardian angel and that this is a prophetic message to that being. Second, some have thought that the ‘angel’ is the overriding ethos, atmosphere or mood of that church, it’s unspoken character, which all churches seem to have, whether it be proud, welcoming, bullying or gentle. Third, and this gets my vote, that the ‘angel’ doesn’t mean a supernatural being here, but the messenger, that is the pastor of the church. In the Greek translation of both the Old and New Testaments, the word ‘angelos‘ sometimes refers to a human messenger or herald, one who represents a king or who carries an important message. So in this instance the ‘angel’ of the church in Ephesus is possibly ‘Onesimus’: the slave turned pastor.
Jesus is positive about a number of things in their fellowship: their hard work (2) has not gone unnoticed, they have stood firm (2) and had huge perseverance even in the face of trials and hardship (3) and even at great cost had opposed a movement to join their Christian faith with the pagan practices around them (2,6). However, (and this is serious) while doing all this they have lost their ‘first love’ (4). They have doggedly put their hand to the grindstone and with one foot after the other they have drudged on, but they have lost in the process the joy of their salvation. Sadly, their deep love and delight for Father, Son and Holy Spirit, once very present, is now missing. The matter is so serious that Jesus says that unless they have a change of heart, and start working on their affection for the Lord he may remove their lampstand, (5) that is, close the church.
To delight in God (Ps 37) and to love him with our whole being (Deut 6:5, Luke 10:37) are perhaps the greatest commands in the Bible. Yet business for God, and our own cares can sometimes squash the love for God right out of us. Perhaps today we need to return to our first love. Maybe you need to stop what you’re doing right now and ask his forgiveness for a cold heart, and ask him to renew the joy of his salvation in your life. Possibly, there is a need to worship him right where you are, sing to him of your love! Augustine wrote, “A Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.” That is the reality. That is the truth of our lives. God made us, loves us, redeems us and provides for us, He knows your deeds, but he wants your heart! God still wants and always will want, churches and people that are passionately loving him.
“…. Do you truly love me?” (John 21:16 NIV)
“Repent, and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5)
Father, when the music fades, all is stripped away and I simply come, longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless your heart. King of endless worth no one could express
how much you deserve. Though I’m weak and poor all I have is yours, every single breath. I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it, when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus. Jesus I love you. Amen.
(‘When the music fades’ by Matt Redman)
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