Episode #240. Today we’ll read Revelation chapter 2 together. Jesus has John write down four of the letters to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #240. Today we’ll read Revelation chapter 2 together: Jesus has John write down four of the letters to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
Wow, I feel all tingly. I just came out of the sound booth having recorded the first five chapters of Revelation. I cannot emphasize strongly enough how powerful reading Scripture out loud is. I have no idea what all comes into play, but it’s potent. Maybe seeing the words, speaking what I’m reading, and hearing it all at the same time is some kind of trifecta.
I’ve told you before that I have always listened to Scripture while reading it. I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD, but I suspect with all the white noise constantly buzzing in my head, I may lean that way. This is especially troublesome when reading my Bible – heck, reading anything – because my mind starts to wander to everything from the grocery shopping list to whether or not my kids ever give me grandchildren. Add to that my advancing age, I can barely get through a paragraph without dozing off. It make a tremendous difference to listen while I read, not only to stay on task but it also helps me to understand better what I’m reading.
Never in my wildest dreams though did I expect my understanding to increase the way it has by reading out loud. It’s almost like I’m there alongside the characters in the Bible. It’s pretty wild.
Read it Out Loud
I think this material is pretty wild too. Reading Revelation out loud makes my heart pound. Admittedly Handel’s Messiah was looping in my head as I read too. I highly recommend reading Scripture out loud. Get away by yourself, go sit on a log outside, or read to someone at a local nursing care facility. But I think you’ll be amazed how it levels up your understanding. Let me know if you try it at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Revelation Chapter 2
The Letter to Ephesus
“Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and you have not grown weary.
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
The Letter to Smyrna
“Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: Thus says the First and the Last, the one who was dead and came to life: I know your affliction and poverty, but you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will experience affliction for ten days. Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.
The Letter to Pergamum
“Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: Thus says the one who has the sharp, double-edged sword: I know where you live — where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding on to my name and did not deny your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness who was put to death among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. In the same way, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. So repent! Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.
The Letter to Thyatira
“Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira: Thus says the Son of God, the one whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine bronze: I know your works — your love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality.
Look, I will throw her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction. Unless they repent of her works, I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works. I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who haven’t known “the so-called secrets of Satan” — as they say — I am not putting any other burden on you.
Only hold on to what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations —
and he will rule them with an iron scepter;
he will shatter them like pottery —
just as I have received this from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
So, this chapter and the next tells us what Jesus has to say to the seven churches and gives John instructions to write it down. There isn’t time here to give exhaustive commentary (even if I understood all of it!). So, I’ll hit the highlights and you can always comment on the website or on social media.
Probably the most common argument about the book of Revelation is whether to take it literally or figuratively. I’ve always thought these are warnings and commendations to all of us and the admonitions aren’t too hard to figure out. But let’s dive in and see what other conclusions we can draw.
We start with the church at Ephesus. The work and perseverance of the Ephesian church was praised by Jesus. They also had no patience for evil men and tested all the self-professing apostles who visited them. Remember, that there were plenty of visitors moving through Ephesus, so the church there probably saw quite a bit of these people. In addition, they rejected the Nicolaitans. We don’t know anything about this group for sure, but the Ephesians recognized their heretical teaching – whatever it was – and rejected them.
Jesus did have serious criticism for the Ephesian church though. He wanted them to remember where they once were, repent, and repeat their first deeds. It’s really a great formula for us when we are feeling disconnected in our relationship with Christ.
The church at Smyrna is advised not to fear what they were going to suffer. Scholars have different opinions of what the 10 days of testing would be. Some believe it was a literal 10-day period. Others believe it is symbolic of a period of testing. Either way, we know it was temporary but that it was also intense. Jesus encouraged the church to be faithful through this period of testing or tribulation. This is a great lesson for us to resist the urge to pray that persecution ends for the church, but rather to pray that believers will endure it. Persecution is often directly connected to the times when the church was at its best and strongest. Comfort has often led to apostasy and indifference.
Pergamum and Thyatira
In the letter to the church at Pergamum, Jesus criticized both sides: Those who were committing evil acts and those who were putting up with it. Here again, He wants them to repent.
Finally, the story of Jezebel is found in 1 and 2 Kings and her name has become synonymous with blatant idolatry. Whoever this woman was in Thyatira, she called herself a prophetess and seduced people in the church to commit acts of immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols. Those who were not seduced by her, instead tolerated her. They did not confront or deal with her false prophecy and the enticement of others to sin. It doesn’t sound like there’s much hope that Jezebel will repent. However, Jesus does tell the people who are not following her to hold on until he comes again.
We’ll finish up the other three letters tomorrow. Let’s pray.
Father, thank You for this boiled down roadmap of the things that Jesus expects to find when He returns. We do want to be pleasing to You, Lord, but it’s not always easy to persevere and it’s often too easy to be swept away by the world. Help us and sustain us, Jesus. In Your name we pray, Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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