Friday, October 12, 2012

It Is All In The Name

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Revelation 2:8-10

In the post, What's Your Number?,  the thought that the ordinal position of each church was related to the message that Jesus shared with each congregation was explored.  While writing and studying that idea, it also became apparent that the name of each church chosen by the sovereign, omniscient Savior was also related to the message He shared with them thus enhancing the meaning for all generations.  The inspired and inerrant word of God is simply and utterly amazing!

Consider the meaning of the name of Ephesus.  It has two possible meanings.  The first is "permitted" as listed in the lexicon found on Blue Letter Bible and from other various sources.  How does this speak to the idea of unity or primacy since this church is the first one listed and these symbolic ideas are usually associated with the number one in scripture?  The more important question is, "how does one find unity with God?"  Abraham may be the person to ask.  In Genesis 22 he is seen taking his son, Isaac, to the summit of Mt. Moriah in obedience to God.  The LORD was testing the depth of his unity and whether God was first place (primacy) in his life.  As Abraham passed the test, the LORD placed a ram in the bushes nearby and gave us one of the greatest shadows of the sacrificial atonement of Christ in all of scripture.  It was faith in the promise of this future atonement of God's only begotten Son through which Abraham was proclaimed righteous--it PERMITTED him to be in unity with God by faith.  The LORD also revealed himself through the first special covenant name at this time--"The LORD will see to it" or "The LORD shall provide".  

Faith in the plan of God's salvation that He, Himself, oversaw is still what permits each and every believer to have unity with Heaven.  Christ and His sacrificial death permits us to boldly go before the throne of grace while His priestly intercession oversees our transformation as we walk in obedience to His purposes.  Maybe that is why the other possible meaning for Ephesus is "overseer" as is found on the Online Etymology Dictionary.  Grace permits us access with God who in turn oversees our life.  In His overseership, there are times when He must remind us that we have left our first love.

Let's briefly look at the position and the rest of the names of the churches:

Smyrna, as mentioned in the last post, means myrrh.  Myrrh is the Aramaic word for bitter and this is the church that was going through bitter trials.  Furthermore, myrrh was used as a pain killer.  That is also important for a church in severe persecution.  There was also the use of myrrh as an antiseptic.  Maybe this is why it is one of the two churches without condemnation?  Finally, myrrh is a perfume and was used to symbolize prayer.  When you are suffering, do you not want to hear from the One who understands your suffering and pain?  Jesus heard and comforted them with the word above, "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

Pergamos is the Greek word for a watch tower.  This is also the church that was third--the place of divine completion or perfection.  Yet, they were not perfect as false doctrine was creeping in.  Maybe they needed to be more wary--to be on guard?

Thyratira's name is very fitting for a church wholly given over to godlessness and worldliness.  The name means, "odor of affliction."  When God's people allow worldliness to creep in to the point that the world and the church appear to be the same, it is certain that they look, walk, talk, and SMELL like the world.  Great affliction always come to those who are worldly!

Sardis was the church that was in the fifth place which is symbolic of grace.  Sadly, they were not alive in grace, they were dead in their works based foolishness.  What they needed was the one thing that gives all believers a right standing with God--the blood covering.  When judgement comes our way, God always passes over those who have the blood on the doorposts of their heart even as is seen in the picture of the Passover.  It is interesting to note, then, that Sardis means "red ones".

Philadelphia was the church in the sixth place, the place of man.  Six is the product of 2 and 3.  When believers fellowship (2) correctly with God and allow Him to bring divine perfection into their lives (3), they always produce saints and reach out to the world around them.  That is when they are living under the two greatest commandments which bring both fellowship and divine perfection and makes them the witness God wills.  They are directed by "brotherly love".  "
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."  Romans 13:10

Laodicea, of course, was the church that saw themselves a spiritually perfect (symbolic meaning of seven) but to God they were not what they appeared to themselves.  Christ was left out of their church.  This is certainly the reason that this name signifies, "the justice of the people".  It was the people's church and not Christ's!  What a sad place to be.  Make sure you are His.  As you know, He is Soon2Come!

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