First Love Jesus
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11. First Love Jesus
Revelation 2.1-4

Jesus says, "Write to the Ephesus church angel, 'These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, hard work, and perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people. You have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not and have found them false. You have persevered and endured hardships for my name and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.'" (Revelation 2.1-4) ✞

Stars and Angels

Ancient EphesusJohn of Patmos sends this letter to the "Ephesus church angel" or the "Ephesian church messenger." In Revelation 1.20, John of Patmos explains, "Here is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the seven church angels, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." The angels represent each of these church leaders. John of Patmos also sends letters to the other six churches, roughly situated on an arc from Ephesus. The first letter addresses Ephesus, a sizeable Greek city with a quarter-million people on Turkey's western coast. It was founded in the 10th century BC and built on earlier ruins recorded in 14th century BC Hittite sources. Ephesus became Asia Minor's capital and a significant trade center. Along with Alexandria and Syrian Antioch, it was one of the three most influential eastern Roman cities and where John probably wrote his Gospel.

Goddess Artemis

Artemis IdolEphesus' Christian people were in grave danger of forsaking their first love of Jesus, their Christian faith's emotional foundation. Ephesus was a silver manufacturing center for metal images of the goddess Artemis. Ephesus' magnificent temple was dedicated to Artemis and described as "Ephesus' first love." It was one of the world's seven wonders and the third oldest ancient city, completed about 550 BC. The only wonder of the world still standing today is Giza's Great Pyramid in Egypt, which stands an imposing 481 feet high. John of Patmos spent most of his ministry in Ephesus and knew only too well its shortcomings. He knew that their first love had become not Jesus but the pagan goddess Artemis!

What does first love mean?

First LoveA man's and a woman's first love is a very precious thing. The "Ephesus" church may have been famous, but it had lost its "first love of Jesus" A friend and Church Army colleague, Captain Alan Price, wrote a lovely chorus describing this feeling. "Be the center of my life, Lord Jesus; be the center of my life, I pray." The Ephesians initially prayed that the Lord Jesus would be their lives' center, but somehow their first love waned. Jesus says to the Ephesians, "you have forsaken me," "you have lost the thrill of your first love."

Jesus' Authority

StarsA large and proud church had developed in Ephesus. Jesus' message reminded them that he alone still heads the believers there. Matthew 6.21 tells us, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." These are Jesus' words, who "walks among seven golden lampstands" and holds "seven stars in his right hand." The stars and the lampstands mark Jesus' authority over the seven church leaders and the Christian church people, including Ephesus.

Jesus' Light

Lamp StandBecause the Ephesians "have forsaken their first love," God could remove their lampstand. The church could cease to be a witness and not shine forth Jesus' light. Just as the temple candlesticks gave light both day and night, the church continually provides light to its surrounding community. Jesus warns them that he may extinguish their lamps if they do not return to him. Our most important questions are still, "Is your first love, Jesus?" and "Is your light still shining for him?" We need to answer these questions today!

"First love of Jesus"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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