Revelation 2:1-7 The Letter to the church in Ephesus.
Each of the seven letters in Revelation begins with a description of Jesus. One of the ways God is known to us, by His names and descriptions. They tell us about His character, personality, and how His love is manifested. Verse 1 describes Him to the church in Ephesus.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.”
In this image to John and to the church in Ephesus, Jesus holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. Recall from Revelation 1:20 the meaning of the seven stars and seven lampstands.
“As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”
Jesus cares for the ministers to His churches. And like His authority over all the earth, He has authority over the heavens and every celestial being. He is involved in what the angels do. He is the commander of all the heavenly beings. They are in His right hand, the hand of justice and action. They do His bidding. Hebrews 1:1-4 describes Jesus supremacy over angels,
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
He is God. He is the Son of God. Angels are celestial ministering spirits who work for the sake of God’s children. (Hebrews 1:14). But they are not God and are not equal to God, but Jesus is. Jesus is their commander, the leader of the Heavenly Army and the one who tells them where and when to do His work.
Jesus walks among the seven golden lampstands. In the tabernacle, the lampstand or menorah had a very special place. It was one of three objects in the Holy Place, where the priests ministered. It was hammered out of one piece of gold, was lit continuously, and was the only light source in the Holy Place. (Exodus 25:31-40). That lampstand represented the presence of God and the priests were responsible for keeping it burning continuously. Leviticus 24:1-4 describe the priests’ responsibilities regarding the menorah.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil from beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly. 3 Outside the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, Aaron shall arrange it from evening to morning before the Lord regularly. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 4 He shall arrange the lamps on the lampstand of pure gold before the Lord regularly.”
Today, the lampstand is the church. Jesus is the light that came to us. He gives us His light. John 1:9-13 reads,
“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
And now since Jesus is in us, we are the light of the world. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said,
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
During Hanukkah, when we celebrate the miracle of one day’s worth of olive oil burning for eight days, we light the lampstand and we keep the light in the window to shine brightly in praise to The Lord for all to see. And we let the light of Jesus shine for everyone to see as well. A menorah lit and hidden under a bed wouldn’t tell a single soul about the greatness of God.
And here’s the kicker of the description of Jesus in verse 1, He “walks among the seven golden lampstands” He is walking (acting, moving, and doing) among (with, intermingled, together with) us.
After the introduction of the letter, Jesus got to the matter at hand with the Ephesians. He commended them for many things. Verses 2-3 read,
“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary.”
Isn’t it wonderful that Jesus is paying attention? He knows your good works. He knows your struggle. He appreciates your hard work and perseverance. You and I are also recipients of this message. Read the words and when Jesus says, “your” and “you” know He means you and me. He knows. He’s been there with you. He is walking among us and with us.
The believers at Ephesus were like many of us they couldn’t and wouldn’t let the church be sullied by evil masquerading as good. They couldn’t stomach false teachers and lies defiling the Truth. And they bore the suffering that caused them with patience and determination. They weren’t “over it.” They weren’t ready to throw the towel in. They knew the hope of eternity and they held on to their future. But though they cared so diligently for the Truth, they were not perfect. Who among us can say he is? Only Jesus. Verses 4-5 read,
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
Do you remember the way you felt when you first knew Jesus? Do you remember the excitement, the joy, the zeal, and love that you couldn’t contain? Jesus does. And He wants us to feel like that again. He wants us to be so giddy with love for Him that people see the obvious difference in us. Maybe the world beat you down, when you tried to exclaim the power of Jesus’ name. Maybe you got embarrassed by your peculiarity and decided you needed to calm it down and cover it up a bit. But covering your light is not the answer. What good is a light that is covered up? Jesus said, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.” Think back to how you were at first. That is the enthusiasm and passion, the eagerness and intensity that Jesus gave you and He loves that.
Uncover your light, shine on full bright. Be the peculiar chosen noble you are meant to be, Citizen of Heaven! If you don’t uncover your light, Jesus will take it away. He’ll put out the light. He won’t bother transforming you to His image if you refuse to let His image show.
Jesus gave the church another commendation Verse 6 says,
“Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
Who were the Nicolaitans? Two historians from the days of the early church Ireneus and Hippolytus said the Nicolaitans were the spiritual descendants of Nicolas of Antioch one of the first appointed deacons of the church. (Acts 6:5). According the historians, Nicolas taught a doctrine of compromise, that complete division between Christianity and paganism was not essential. He had no problem combining belief systems. (Renner, n.d.). This is not fundamentally a new commendation but a reiteration of the one they were given before. It says, Jesus really cares about this issue. He hates the idea of Christianity being just another religion or belief system that can coexist with any of the other religions and belief systems out there. Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship with God which transforms us into new creatures. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 in The Message reads,
“Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”
Just as there is a consequence for not heeding or paying attention and taking action regarding the message to the church at Ephasus there is also a result for heeding it. Verse 7 reads,
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
God will allow us to eat from the tree of life! The tree of life grants eternal life to the one who eats its fruit, not just a spiritual eternal life, a physical eternal life. He could not allow anyone with a sin nature to eat from that tree. The costs and effects of the wrong person eating from the tree of life was so dire that God took serious action to prevent it. Genesis 3:22-24 reads,
“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Yet, you and I Believer, we get to eat from that tree in paradise. We get eternal life both physically and spiritually if we hear, listen, and follow the warnings of Word of God. Are you in love with Jesus, the way you were when He first saved you? Is your joy and passion so much that it overflows and people can see how peculiar you are? Is your lampstand burning bright and constant for the whole world to take note? Let your light shine!
Renner, R. (n.d.). Refuel: Who were the Nicolaitans, and what was their doctrine and deeds. Retrieved from LightSource: http://www.lightsource.com/ministry/refuel-with-rick/articles/who-were-the-nicolaitans-and-what-was-their-doctrine-and-deeds--14510.html