First Love Jesus
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8. 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. The stars and the lampstands mark Jesus' authority over the seven leaders and Ephesus Christians.

Seven Churches

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 the 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. The people described goddess Artemis as "Ephesus' first love." Ephesus was a silver manufacturing center for metal images of the goddess Artemis in Greek religion, the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, vegetation, chastity, and childbirth. She was the patron and protector of young children and women. She brought disease upon women and children and relieved them of it. The Ephesians worshipped Artemis as one of the primary goddesses of childbirth, and midwifery and the Romans identified her with their goddess Diana. Among the rural populace, Artemis was their favorite goddess. She was considered the goddess of nature, who danced, usually accompanied by nymphs, in mountains, forests, and marshes. She embodied the sportsman's ideal, killing game, and protecting it, especially the young. She was described as "the mistress of animals" and often shown by artists and sculptors with a stag or hunting dog.

Ephesus Temple

Artemis was one of the most widely revered of the Ancient Greek deities, and her magnificent Ephesus Temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. A flood destroyed the original temple in the 8th Century BC and deposited over three feet of sand and debris over the original clay floor. Croesus, who founded Lydia's empire, sponsored the new temple. It was designed and constructed from around 550 BC and was 377 ft long and 151 ft wide and supposedly the first Greek temple built of marble. Its imposing double row of columns reached a height of 40 ft and was one of the world's seven wonders and the third oldest ancient city. Excavated deposits from the site contain some of the earliest inscribed coins. The only wonder of the world remaining 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 its shortcomings. He knew that their first love had become not Jesus but the pagan goddess Artemis!

First Love

First LoveA man 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 same intimacy with Jesus. "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 said to the Ephesians, "you have forsaken me," "you have lost the thrill of your first love."

Jesus' Light

Lamp StandA large and proud church had developed in Ephesus. Jesus' message reminded them that he alone still headed the believers there. Matthew 6.21 tells us, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." Because the Ephesians "have forsaken their first love," God could remove their lampstand. The church could cease to 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 Jesus"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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