The seven churches in the Book of Revelations, pointing towards seven physical organizations of the church of its time is a symbolic pointer to the whole spiritual church of the end times (The number 7 signifies complete or whole. In 7 days God created the whole world.). It is not meant to fit into a specific church of the present day, but it is used to admonish the spiritual characteristics of His whole Temple, the Body of Christ! There are over 37000 denominations today (the Whole Temple), they share common denominators which God hates (and what He loves), in the message to the 7 historical churches.
You may have a little bit of Ephesus and Sardis while being absent in Pergamos. It is referring to the spiritual characteristics of the end times churches, not a one to one mapping to a physical organization. All things happen in the spiritual realm, and any attempts in reasoning it in the physical realm will end up in endless debates and dissensions!
It is here that Jesus washes the feet of His Temple!
John 13:10 “Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”
Five of the seven churches are admonished and asked to repent!
But only the Philadelphia and Smyrna are not admonished. Yet, all seven churches are given promises should ”The Temple” overcome.
What does ”The Temple” need to overcome??
The church that is characterized by “You have left your first love.”
Revelations 2:4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Left your first love, not forgotten.
This is the church who love themselves more than they love God! Although they know the Word, they have wrongly prioritized their love, for the love of God must come first in all things. This is characterized by the journey of the bride(i.e., The Temple) of the Song of Solomon.
Song of Solomon 2:16 My Beloved is mine and I am His.
Song of Solomon 6:3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
It illustrates a rectification of the value system (me and Him becomes Him and me) after the bride(i.e.,The Temple) undergoes tribulations and hardship.
Luke 14:25 Jesus gave an exaggerated figure of speech to define the priority of your love, not asking men to hate.
Luke 14:25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
It is also illustrated in the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.
“You will be done” comes first,
then ”give us our daily bread and forgive our sins.”
”For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory” at the end, signifying the Him as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and His Temple in between!
Rev 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
It is further proven in the number of times the word ”Worship”(Giving Praises and Glory to the Lord) appears in the bible compared to the word Prayer(Request for help). The word Worship appears more than 500 times, while Prayer appears around 370 times. Many believers today speaks so much of praying in self exalting terms like “Prayer Warrior” whilst neglecting worship. Indeed, worshipping is the highway to deliverance!
Hosea 7:11 “My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him.”
How often are we neglecting worship while making a prayer request?
To those who overcome
Rev 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’
The church who craves the world more than God. They love of wealth of this world, and crave the exaltation and acceptance of men.
This is the church who boasts, “Look at the number of followers I have in my church!”, “Look at the qualifications of people I have in my church; they are of high social standing!” Once a church pastor told me, ”Look at how many doctors and engineers I have in my church!”, “Look at me, I have gone to Israel to preach the gospel to Israelites and walked the Temple Mount.” “Let me make a television program and sell books so I may help God spread His words!”. “Look at me, I am a best selling author of an “anointed” book!”.
John 12:43 “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
It is this spirit that Jesus rebuked in Luke 11:42-43:
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.”
The Pharisees were Old Testament masters, dove sellers, exceptionally well versed in the Law, believed in God with all their hearts. Yet, subconsciously, their first love is geared towards the world and for the exaltation and approval of men.
Luke 16:14-15 “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
History rhymes, and we have water baptized, New Testament masters today, exceptionally well versed in the New Testament, housing the same exaltation seeking and money-loving spirit which resided with their Old Testament counterparts.
I have often heard ”dove sellers” repeating this verse from Ecclesiastes 10:19 as they pray for money:
A feast is made for laughter,And wine makes merry; But money answers everything.
We should take heed when quoting scriptures out of context to suit evil intentions.
In addition to their boasts, ”even some of you commit sexual immorality and eat at the idol’s table.”
The symbol of an idol worshipping goes beyond a molded statue. It is a worship of elements created by men’s hand. Recently, I heard a pastor who authored a book say “My best selling book on Amazon is used by other churches as a text book for believers!”. Are they worshipping God, or are they worshipping a book written by men?
Many times I heard a pastor say, “as long as you accept Christ, you will be forgiven and ascend to heaven.” They believe that even if they continue living in their sinful ways, their acceptance of Christ is a guaranteed salvation. This is the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before is Israelites. Read 1 Cor Chapter 3 to Chapter 6 for a more direct admonition from Paul.
Rev 2:15 “You also have some who in the same way are holding to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”
Nicolaitans means Conquerors of men. The Temple is characterized as an Organism, but many are running hand made temples as a hierarchical organization with titles of Directors,Presidents,CEOs and Co-Founders.
To those who overcome:
Rev 2:17 To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
The church in Sardis, many scholars have pointed this as the Restored Protestant church. However, it is the spiritual characteristics that we must examine and not the physical organization. This church is labeled and glorified by its name, “Your name is alive, yet you are dead.” More than 20 years ago, when I visited a church, I was admonished by not going through a symbolic ritual of water baptism. The elders said, without water baptism, I will not go into heaven. I have not gone through water baptism in my life, but I live by faith. And then they broke bread and distributed a grape drink and declared, ”This is the flesh and blood of Jesus.” One of them then forwarded me a scientific study of how the bread and grape drink turns into the actual flesh and blood of Jesus upon consumption. The consequences of this misunderstanding of the Scripture is reflected in Luke 13:25.
Luke 13:25-26 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he labels these as rubbish! God is Spirit, and we must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24).
All physical symbols and rituals are designed to communicate and teach men. (The physical realm’s ”old man” mentioned in Roman 6:6, is not a coincidence that the number 6 symbolizing man, read ”The Beast”). The New Man, New Creation, is not called to partake in dead rituals and sanctifying dead symbols, or even worse, fall in love with it (Read “What do you love”)
Philippians 3:2-3 (Amplified)
Look out for the dogs [the Judaizers, the legalists], look out for the troublemakers, look out for the false circumcision [those who claim circumcision is necessary for salvation]; for we [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, set apart for His purpose and] are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory and take pride and exult in Christ Jesus and place no confidence [in what we have or who we are] in the flesh—
The Sardis church symbolizes the rituals and traditions craved by the flesh, which sometimes devolves into witchcraft and sorcery. They dwell on dead symbols and rituals whilst lacking in lively stones (substance). Hence “your name is alive, yet you are dead.” Dead stones as opposed to living stones (1 Peter 2:4-5). Dead stones practicing dead rituals and to sanctify dead symbols.
1 Peter 2:5 “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.“
Read What do you love?
To those who overcome:
Rev 3:4-6 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
The church of Laodicea, characterized by being lukewarm. How are they lukewarm? This is the church that have kept the Word but took a politically correct ideology. It equalizes The One True God with Baal, Asherah and all other Satan created religion, including the scientific leaning Atheism. I hear men of this church say “Muslims are also right because we are all worshipping the same God!”. Sometimes labelled as the apologetics, these Christians accept both Jesus and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. This is incompatible with the Word. In the not so distant future, as the statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay collapses, this church will look for new ways to financially sustain their organization.
While we respect the free will of Mankind, we should not declare and equalize God with all other religions. We peacefully reject of the “politically correct“ idealogy. It is the mixture of the acceptance of Jesus and acceptance of other religion and erroneous scientific beliefs that represent the hot and cold mixture. Read “The Beast”.
To those who overcome:
Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”
The longest warning is reserved to the church of Thyatira. Many have speculated this to be a modern day Catholic church. However it is describing the spiritual characteristic, not a physical organization!
It is the only one associated with the beast of Revelations through the harlot Jezebel. It is the church where some tolerates or cohabits with Jezebel, the politician harlot who rides with the beast for power! When I think of Thyatira, I often think of the yearly UN Assembly, and often, they invite the prominent religious leaders to give a speech. The church who is politically integrated with the Beast will end up in the beast’s stomach. This church is symbolized in the statue of Daniel’s vision (head of Gold=Deity=Religion). You cannot map this church to a physical organization, but it is a composition of many denominations who ride the beast for power, whether they call themselves openly as Catholic or Protestants. It teaches the doctrine of ”many” (the spirits of ”Legion”=We are Many), a complete opposite with The One God (Ephesians 4:4-6).
Mark 5:9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”
Ephesians 4:4-6 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
The harlot takes up a prayer posture whilst proclaiming a day of fasting to achieve her political agenda. Read 1 Kings 21.
In a not so distant future, when the statue of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay collapses, in order to keep their power, many will choose willingly to receive the mark of the beast while devising new rationales.
Rev 17:16 The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.
Read “The Beast.”
To those who overcome:
Rev 18:26-29 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations
‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’
as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
To Philadelphia and Smyrna
The only two churches without a need for repentance, is characterized by suffering and poverty in the world (Smyrna), and one who has little power (Philadelphia).
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
There is hope of redemption to all the five churches. Philadelphia and Smyrna illustrate that His Temple in this world is not predicated on riches or the lack of it.
To all seven churches, it always ends with a message of overcoming and promise. We pray for strength to overcome in Jesus’ name, let he who has an ear, let him hear!! Praise God and Amen!
Mike Ang, May 2020