May 3, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”(Revelation 4.1)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
What is interesting in the discourse to be shared by John with the seven churches under his leadership and care are the promises and opportunities that will be granted to those who hold fast to the faith. We could outline the punishments rendered by the justice of God for those whose faith is “cold.” We already know the ‘tweeners fate as they will be “spewed from the mouth of Christ” because they are tasteless. This does not mean they will escape any punishment for not being “hot” in their commitment of faith. What it does imply is that they must make the choice and decide before God and the world whether they will be authentically “hot” or authentically “cold.” Will they be for God or against God. We know, as mighty ones of God, that if we are for God then nothing will prevail against us. The “what comes next” will include the expanding upon the promised act of justice to those who refuse to declare and choose to put their faith and trust in God. Let’s put it this way: first comes the nightmare of hell on earth and second comes hell. There is a great difference between standing next to the roaring fire and standing in it. Standing next to the fire and starting to get burned, one can move away. But, standing in the fire out of which there is no escape but the desire is to escape is another thing altogether. Enough about that. Let’s focus and reflect instead on what is promised to those who are “hot” in each community and remain steadfast in their pursuit to live out their days in faith. Let us remember that just as the words given to each of the communities individually, they were also given to them as one community corporately. The warning to one was a warning to all. The promised blessing to one would be one promised to all. In that regard, this is something then we can learn from ourselves, individually and corporately as members of the body of Christ and as the body of Christ whose head is Christ Himself. What then awaits us who persevere to the end to be faithful and true to the call of Christ in our lives?
Ephesus: To the victor will be given the privilege of eating from the Tree of Life which is in God’s paradise. We know there were two trees planted in the heart of the Garden of Eden, or Paradise. One Adam and Eve could eat of just as they could from any other tree save one: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It would seem obvious that to eat of the Tree of Life and live forever would be sage advice. What became appealing was the opportunity to be “like God.” To live forever as a human being would be good and certainly had its advantages over all the other creatures of earth. But, to be “like God,” whatever they thought that meant, had to be more advantageous because it entertained the idea of power, dominion and authority. Sadly, we know they did not choose wisely. They were ordered out of the Garden and thus never had the opportunity to eat from the Tree of Life and taste of its eternal fulfillment. In the promised Kingdom that opportunity would be restored.
Smyrna: To the victor comes the joy of life without facing the second death. What does this mean? Well, the second death is not death as we know it in its first reality. There is a difference between the cessation of life and dying forever. Death in the flesh becomes a release from the pain and suffering which comes from living in a world broken by sin. Many despair that God allows such tragedies to exist among all the people on earth. Diseases, hungers, thirsts, deformities, ailments, poverty, drought, fire, flood, storm, earthquake, terrorism, bullying, murder, etc. are all those tragedies. What God promises is that they will not define who we are in His sight. He does not desire for us to suffer. He desires even more that we do not suffer forever. Death then can be seen as a release from the pains of this world for those who pursue the Kingdom of God. But, there is yet a “second death” which exists as the judgment of justice. It is reserved for those who refuse believe in God. Despite the realities of testimony of God’s call to life which are faced in this world on earth, they choose still to not believe. Theirs will be a torment of their own decision to say “There is no God” even when they will see God fully on ‘that Day.’
*That is enough for today. I will offer reflection on the other churches Thursday and Friday. I leave the promises as “food for thought” until then: Let those with eyes to see perceive and ears to hear listen for understanding. Shalom.
Pergamum: To the victor will be given manna which has been hidden for that moment and a white stone on which their personal name will be engraved.
Thyatira: To the victor will be given authority of nations, an iron scepter and the morning star.
Sardis: To the victor comes the charge to be dressed in white and to have their name lifted up before God and the angels.
Philadelphia: To the victor will be given the standard of a pillar in the temple on which the name of God, the new Jerusalem and the new name of the Christ will be written.
Laodicea: To the victor will be given the right to sit with Christ on His throne.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
You are our God and we shall be Your people in spirit and in truth. Continue to dwell among us and clothe us with what is fitting and good that Your will be done and our will be Your will done on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name we live, serve and pray. AMEN.