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

"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this, To the angel of the church in Ephesus write, '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, your hard work, and your perseverance. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.'" (Revelation 2.1-2a,4)

Stars and Angels

Ancient EphesusThis letter to Ephesus is written to "the angel" or "the messenger" of the church in Ephesus. Revelation 1.20 explains, "Here is the secret meaning of the seven stars which 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." The angels represent the leaders of each of these churches. The other six churches beside Ephesus to which letters are sent are situated in an arc roughly radiating from Ephesus. The first letter is addressed to the leader in Ephesus which in ancient times is a large Greek city on the coast of Ionia in Turkey, three kilometers southwest of present-day Selcuk. It has a population of about a quarter of a million people. It is founded in the 10th century BC on the ruins of the earlier settlement of Apasa, a bronze age city recorded in 14th century BC Hittite sources. Ephesus becomes the capital of Asia Minor and an important center of land and sea trade. Along with Alexandria and Antioch in Syria, it is one of the three most influential cities in the eastern part of the Roman Empire and the place where the Gospel of John is probably written.

Goddess Artemis

Artemis IdolThe people of the church of Ephesus are in danger of forsaking their first love Jesus. Jesus is the emotional foundation of their Christian faith. Ephesus, however, is a major center for the manufacture of silver and other metal images of its goddess, Artemis. The magnificent temple in Ephesus is dedicated to the goddess Artemis, and described as "Ephesus' first love." Ephesus was completed about 550 BC and is described as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the third oldest city in the Ancient World. The only one of the Seven Wonders of the World still standing today is the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt. It stands imposingly at 146 meters or 481 feet high. John of Patmos spends a great deal of his ministry in Ephesus and knows its shortcomings all too well. He knows personally that their first love is not Jesus but the pagan goddess Artemis!

Foundation Christian Faith

First Love

Jesus says, "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write, '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, your hard work, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.'" (Revelation 2.1-4)

The church at "Ephesus" may be important, but it has lost its "first love of Jesus." The first love between a man and a woman is a very precious thing. In the same way, new believers rejoice at their first love of Jesus too. There is a lovely chorus that describes this feeling. It is written by a friend and colleague in the Church Army in the United Kingdom, Captain Alan Price. It goes, "Be the center of my life, Lord Jesus; be the center of my life I pray." This was what the Ephesians initially prayed when the Lord Jesus was the center of their lives but then somehow their first love waned. Jesus says to the church or "messenger" at Ephesus "you have forsaken me." "You have lost the thrill of your first love."

Large Proud Church

StarsA large and proud church has developed in Ephesus. Jesus' message reminds them that he alone is still the head of the body of believers there. As in Matthew 6.21, he reminds them, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." These are the words of Jesus who "walks among the seven golden lampstands" and holds "the seven stars in his right hand." These are marks of his power and authority over the leaders and people in all the seven churches including Ephesus.

Light

Lamp StandBecause the Ephesians "have forsaken their first love," their lampstand could be removed from its place. The church could cease to be a witness and not shine forth Jesus' light. Just as the candlestick in the temple gives light day and night, so the church is to give light constantly to its surrounding community. Jesus warns them that their lights could go out or be put out if they do not return to him. The most important questions for us are still, "Is your first love Jesus?" and "Is your light still shining for him?" We need to answer today!

"First Love Jesus"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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