Friday, August 9, 2013

Lost Something?

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Revelation 2:4

Jesus' letters to the churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, like all other portions of scripture, are saturated with meaning.  They spoke clear messages to the churches of that day using peculiarities specific to each town addressed.  Also, many have noted that these letters seem to be an outline of church history.  There are warnings involved that can speak to each individual believer at a personal level as well as speak acutely to whole congregations.  It is somewhat interesting to note that the letters containing the 5 rebukes also build on one another in such a way that they can show us why those who leave their first love, Jesus, end up lukewarm over time.  Ironically, these 5 rebukes also align themselves with the 5 things that were not found in the 2nd temple.  Their absence after the return from Babylon is conspicuous in scripture.

Jesus' rebuke to the church in Ephesus is found above--they had left their first love.  What a stunning indictment!  It was as if they were a production machine set to run without any caring or emotion involved.  They were losing the most important aspect of Christianity, a personal loving relationship with the Creator of all.  Had they forgot Jesus' answer to the question of the scribes, "Which is the first commandment of all (Mark 12:28)?"  His answer was definite, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment (Mark 12:30)" ?  Like Israel after the return from Babylon, the Ephesians had lost the place of relationship.  It has been well documented that the 2nd temple was missing the Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat which was the place where God would graciously meet with His people.  They too were going through with religious devotion without the very foundation of loving GOD at the core.  The LORD does wants us to maintain fervent love in our relationship and not have cold, mundane, and mindless devotion.  Ephesus no longer loved GOD with all that was within them and they needed to repent.

The people of Pergamos had many who were faithful to the LORD even in the face of the enemy, but He upbraided them for allowing some in their midst who were beginning to adhere to false doctrine.  This accommodation of that which is false adds to the idea of leaving your first love.  When closeness to Christ becomes second place it seems that false notions about GOD and His Word shortly follows.  A downhill trend towards lukewarmness has grown to a loss of fervency to a point where things God would not teach, say, or do are tolerated.  Israel also experienced this with the loss of the sacred fire that came down from Heaven as recorded in 2 Chronicles 7:3.  The fire burnt perpetually upon the brazen altar of the 1st temple from that point onward.  When one's love for God wanes and error is accommodated, be sure and know that the fire of the LORD of Truth is missing!  Pergamos no longer maintained truth while rejecting error, so they needed to repent.

Whereas Pergamos allowed the teaching of foolishness to start, Thyatira wholly compromised with worldliness.  There was such a lowering of standards that outright sin was tolerated in this church.  When a church loses love for Christ coupled with that which is false being taught, then compromise certainly will follow.  Thyatira looked so much like the godless world around them that they most certainly lost their witness and they ceased being salt and light.  Likewise, the 2nd temple lost something as well, the Glory of the LORD often referred to as the Shekinah Glory.   The cloud of His presence could surely be seen by all even from a distance.  All the way back to the time of the tabernacle when the cloud and fire followed Israel, the glory of the LORD was evident to all, but compromise always compromises the Glory of the LORD.  Pergamos no longer shined brightly to a lost world and they needed to repent.

The next logical step after compromise is corruption:  no fervency of a relationship, to tolerating error, to maintaining sin, to total corruption.  Sardis lost its voice to the world because they acted like the world.  Jesus told them that things had gotten so bad, " that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead."  In similar fashion, the Spirit of Prophecy was said to be missing from the 2nd temple.  Prophecy is much more than just telling what will happen, it is also telling folks what they need to know at that time.  In essence, it is speaking what GOD is speaking.  How could any church speak to a lost world if they were so much like the world that they seemingly are dead?  Sardis lost their ability to communicate the gospel to a lost world through compromise with sin and they needed to repent.

This brings us to the last church in the spiral called apostasy--Laodicea.  Its very name is incriminating as it means "the justice of the people".  They no longer even try to maintain fellowship with God as He directs but make up the rules to suit themselves.  Their apathy towards truth and GOD's word has poisoned them to the point that Jesus says He will vomit them up!  This slippery slope started by simply putting Christ in second place.  It grew to the point that the folks of Laodicea, pleased with themselves, no longer cared what GOD thinks and Jesus is seen outside knocking to gain access.  It was like the 2nd temple that no longer had the Urim and Thummim which were used to discern the will of GOD.  Who wants to learn what GOD wants anyways when apathy sets in?  Maybe this is why the church today cannot seem to settle matters that are clearly already settled in the Bible, things like murder (abortion), perverseness in all of its variant forms, and so on.  Only an apathetic and careless people who want things their way would pervert God's clearly defined statement on marriage.  Laodicea no longer cared about the will of GOD nor cared to discern truth--would they even want to hear the Spirit of the LORD call to them to repent?  How could they hear the knocking of the Redeemer and His concern for a world in rebellion on a collision course with final judgment if all they cared about was themselves?  They truly needed to repent.

Please listen!  Can you hear the loving rap of Christ at the door of your heart?  Do you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches?  Repentance is not a one time thing--it is a lifestyle lovingly lived at the foot of an old rugged cross!  It is not in a vain attempt to earn salvation but is the reasonable thing to do is view of the overwhelming grace of our LORD as Romans 12:1-2 suggests.  Listen, Jesus Christ is Soon2Come!

  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3:22

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