Revelation 2:1-29 - 7 Churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira

Ephesus

1 “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. 2 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. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

   4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

   7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 1:1-7

 

the Temple of Artemis: #16556

Ruins of the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus-thought to be the first building constructed entirely of marble and one of the 7 wonders of the world.

 

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Jupiter hovering over Ephesus.

 

The church in Ephesus was faced with a culture steeped in a history rife with the worship of pagan gods and goddesses in the abundance of temples and other memorable buildings.  When the Ephesian believers felt the strong presence of the Living God through his ever abiding Holy Spirit, they fell head over heels in love with the Creator God.  This great love motivated them to uphold the rightness of God.  Not everyone believes that God has the right to reign over them.  After all, who does He think He is, God or something? 

The Ephesian members believed from the beginning that everything God does for us, He does through His great love toward us.  Therefore, constraints God places upon His children are acts of deep, abiding affection.  With this understanding, Ephesus was proactive in proclaiming that because He loves us, He is right to deny us.  Therefore, they uphold the rightness of God.

The story of Ephesus is a story familiar to most churches.  It is the war from within.  In each of us our flesh wars against our spirit when we accept the rightness of God.  The flesh will not want to submit to the authority of God and will rebel and rise up.  Within every group of believers there is or has been or will be a portion of their population that will completely submit to the flesh.  This faction will grow by leaps and bounds unless there is a faithful few that will resist the flesh and call the congregation to action in accordance to God's commands. 

In the garden, our original parents were refused the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The flesh wants what it can not have.  Therefore, Eve saw the fruit and longed for it.  She nursed this desire until it consumed her and she had to have the forbidden fruit.  This longing for things that God has denied us will cause each of us to fall out of love with God to the point of resenting Him.  Then we begin to justify our longing for things that we have been warned against.  Others within our congregation that share in our wants will participate in conversation that encourages us to disregard God's desires for us.  We will support our wrong thinking as we question God's benevolence toward us.  However, the congregation of Ephesus consisted of a group that resisted rebellion and insisted that God's love would not allow Him to deny us things that are good for us.  Therefore, if God said no, it is in our best interests that we heed the command.

Sadly for the Ephesians, the very thing that helped them hold their position was quickly fading fast.  Over time and because of great hardships, they were losing their loving feeling toward God.  It is relatively easy to take a stand for good in the beginning of the fray.  However, to continue in the battle when it is long and fraught with heartache is the real test.  This test is a matter of endurance.  It is the work of Satan to challenge your commitment at every opportunity causing you to lose hope in God.  The battle for Ephesus and for each of us is to hold to the hope we have in Christ.  If we lose sight of the magnitude of the gift of God's grace, we will fail to feel greatly beloved by God which will cause our love toward Him to fade.  This letter is one of encouragement.  Hold in there and and hang on.  Jesus is coming.  He has prepared a better place for us and will come and take us there.

God is pleased that Ephesus does not hold with the Nicolaitans.  There has been much written about the Nicolaitans, and much of it is supposition.  I will try to allow the scripture to interpret itself.  The term Nicholas means victor of the people.  Those who follow the teachings of Nicholas have allowed the flesh to be victorious over them.  They have submitted to their fleshly desires rather than to the will of God.  They are ruled by their appetites. 

It has been said that man has four appetites.  Mankind has four things that he is compelled to do--eat, drink, procreate and sleep.  If men and women fail to do these four things, mankind will eventually cease to exist.  God designed our bodies to do these things and then declared them good.  God made provision in the garden so man could do all of these things without interference but within boundaries.  The tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents mans free will.  Mankind has the God given right to make choices regarding how he will react to these four appetites.  The man and the woman were commanded to practice moderation by limiting their choices regarding eating.  God did all He could to assist mankind in this choice by providing them with an abundance of quality choices.  These many choices did not satisfy the flesh that longs for what it can not have; therefore, Adam and Eve chose poorly demonstrating our longing for excess.

In Matthew 24:36-41 Jesus said that the last generation would be like Noah's generation.  Man would be eating, drinking and giving in marriage.  Matthew 24 begins the Olivet Discourse by describing His second coming.  In Matthew 24:38 Jesus calls attention to the first three appetites of mankind.  He never said it was wrong to participate in these activities, but it is wrong to participate in them to excess.  The last generation will be like the days of Noah in that they practice excess without restraint regarding their appetites.  In Matthew 25:1-13, still part of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus talks about the sleeping virgins.  We must all sleep from time to time, but sleeping to excess is foolishness.  The foolish virgins ignored their responsibility to acquire oil during a time of plenty in preparation for a time of need.  This represents excess within the final and fourth appetite--oversleeping.

The Nicolaitans are ruled by the appetites of the flesh and gorge themselves with excess food.  They are also drunkards which encourages the loss of control regarding sexual appetites.  Therefore, they have indulged their sexual desires to the point of perversion.  Their ears have become hard of hearing because of the drone of their excuses for bad behavior.  They have lulled themselves into a false sense of security and sleep through the alarm sounded by their fellow members within the Ephesus congregation. 

There are many historically that fit this description, but it clearly describes the condition of the world today especially in America.  My grandmother used to say that if Jesus didn't come soon, perhaps He should apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.  She would be appalled today.  We have surpassed Sodom and Gomorrah and live in the days like unto Noah.  Yet, we justify our behaviors and despise those that warn us.  Many churches today have lost their first love and have decided if you can't beat them join them.  We excuse the world and invite them and their perversions into the House of God.  We must repent, return to our first love and deliver the message of warning to those greatly beloved by God.  If we do not sound the alarm, who will know?  If we resist the appetites of the flesh and subject our will, God will restore to us that which was lost in the garden through unrestrained appetite--the tree of life.  We also have the same choice before us offered to Eve in the garden.  Will you choose life?  If so, then congratulations.  You are now fellowshipping in the Ephesian congregation and have been restored to the first love spiritual condition.


Smyrna

 8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

   These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!   10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

   11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Revelation 1:8-11

Izmir016.jpg

Ancient Smyrna and modern Izmir

Very little of ancient Smyrna has been excavated because the ancient city sits in the center of modern Izmir, the city with the second largest population in Turkey.  We know that it had a massive city market (agora) and an underground sanitation system.  We can assume that this was a city made wealthy by commerce.  However, the congregation in Smyrna was very poor in the things of this world because they invested in and peddled Heavenly treasures.  There was an abundance in the supply of God's items and not much demand; therefore, the merchants handling Heavenly merchandise did not expect to increase in the wealth of this world.  They were among the poorest individuals in the city of Smyrna, but they were very rich in wealth from above. 

The Smyrna believers gave up all they had in this world to purchase the field containing the pearl of great price which is eternal life and contains all Heavenly rewards. Matthew 13:44-45  They were so thoroughly convicted regarding the rich gift of eternal life that they did not fear the one that could only destroy the body, but they had a great respect for the one that could destroy and/or preserve both body and soul.  Matthew 10:28  All of the promises made to the church of Smyrna in this letter relate to life and death.  Smyna will face great affliction including imprisonment and martyrdom.  They will follow Jesus wherever He leads including to the cross.  Their reward for faithfulness includes the crown of life and victory over the second death.   Jesus even identifies Himself to this church as the one that died, but came back to life.  The following passage clearly applies to the church of Smyrna.

 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

Matthew 16:24-27

The saddest commentary regarding the church of Smyrna is that their persecution comes from the church.  It is fellow believers that afflict them.   I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Revelation 2:10  Jesus told the Pharisees that the devil was their father because they were slandering Him and His teachings.  John 8:39-47  Sometimes the best place to find grievous harm is in the body of believers.  Historically, that has been the case.  Truth is ever unfolding and as God reveals His mysteries to His children, those with a strong craving for the taste of old wine will resist truth to the point that they despise those that have received and embraced the new wine.  Luke 5:36-39  The result is persecution of the body by the body.  We begin to abuse ourselves in the most heinous ways indicating that the father of the abusers must be Satan.

Martyrdom as experienced by the church of Smyrna has existed in every era since the church was established.  Indeed, it has existed since the beginning demonstrated when Cain slayed Able.  There hasn't been a time when innocent blood has not been shed.  This will occur in the time of the end as well.  Revelation 6:9-11  Martyrdom will exist during the time of reconciliation.  Satan will greatly desire to stop the testimony of the church and will use his old and favored method of ensuring silence--death of the witness.  There is something about righteous blood that can not be silenced because it cries from the ground and declares the innocence of the martyrs and the guilt of the murderer.  Genesis 4:10 

The persecution of Smyrna lasts ten days.  Oh, how I wish that it would only last ten, twenty-four hour periods.  However, if the persecution only lasts a literal ten days, the time of reconciliation will last that same limited amount of time.  The number ten is symbolic of an amount of time that is complete and sufficient.  For example:  ten commandments, ten plagues, ten virgins, ten parts equaling total income with one part being God's tithe, ten silver pieces, etc.  The amount of time that the martyrdom of the time of the end will be allowed is represented by the number ten because is a sufficient time for God to fulfill and complete His act of reconciliation.  However, prepare for this time to last longer than ten literal days.  I humbly suggest that you will need enough oil in your lamp to last 3.5 years. 

In the fall festivals celebrated by the Israelites as commanded by God, the Feast of Trumpets is celebrated as a time of warning to the Israelites that their king (God) is coming to judge them on the Day of Atonement (tenth day).  The Feast of Trumpets lasts for ten days and represents the time of the end.  The Feast of Trumpets is also known as the Days of Awe.  They will be full of awe and because it is a time of trouble, they will be awful.  They are awful in the same way that a woman's labor is awful, but when the child is born, everyone is full of awe. Matthew 24:1-8 describes the time of the end as beginning of birth pains in the New International Version.  Each time a woman gives birth, she risks her life to deliver the child to her husband.  Smyrna represents the church being willing to suffer in childbirth to deliver the children of God during the time of the end.  It is often painful and life threatening for the church to give birth to believers and explains why God punished Eve with pain during childbirth.  This object lesson illustrated the pain and suffering that neglecting God's word brings to the world. 

Christ loves the church and demonstrates how the man is to treat that significant woman in his life.  When a man loves a woman, he will demonstrate his affection in various ways.  He will proclaim her, protect her and provide for her.  When a man loves a woman, he also loves those she loves and will extend his name, protection and provision to her and hers.  When a man loves a woman and she delivers his child, his affection for her loses boundaries.  He will go outside the lines to proclaim her, protect her and provide for her.  When the church demonstrates love for Christ by her willingness to deliver His children through affliction, His love for this woman knows no bounds.  There is not a limit to His affection.  It surpasses depth, width and height.  Therefore, this woman is rich in the love of Christ and will be made joint heir with Him.  Historically, men owned everything and only shared with their wife when they were moved by generosity.  (Rarely happened!)  It is the desire of Christ to regain dominion lost just so He can give it back to us holding nothing back.  Romans 8 and Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10; 21:7

For you manly men, do not be put off by the language describing the relationship between Christ and the church.   The apostle Paul was indeed a manly man.  He was a Pharisee and was of the same lineage as King Saul.  God chose Saul to be king, but Israel was greatly pleased with the choice because Saul was handsome, tall and rugged.  He had the appearance of a provider and protector.  It is ironic that a child went out to defeat Goliath, yet this warrior king was afraid.  It is relatively safe to assume that the apostle Paul had the appearance of a warrior.  We know he made war against the church.  Yet, once he saw Christ his life changed and instead of taking life from the family of God, Paul became dedicated to the travail of labor required to deliver children of God.  Galatians 4:19   I encourage all of us, male and female, to love God so steadfastly that our loved ones see God in us and are moved to receive Him.  Together, we with them, will ascend to the great reward God has prepared for those that love Him.


Pergamum

 12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

   These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

   14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

   17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. 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.

Revelation 1:12-17

 


Temple of Trajan at Pergamon


Reconstructed Great Altar of Pergamon
thought to be dedicated to Zeus
housed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin


The church members at Pergamum (Pergamon, Pérgamo) would not have been nominated to win a popularity contest within their community.  The community of Pergamum was religious to the extreme and its citizens were serious about serving their various gods.  There was an abundance of temples providing food that had been sacrificed to their idols and consumed by the general public.  The poor sustained their families from the food offered at the temples.  The early Christian believers would have been among the poorest.  However, they would have been hesitant to eat this food sacrificed to idols.  Paul addressed this issue in a letter to the Corinthian believers.  I Corinthians 8 

According to Paul, since the idols are not real and neither are the gods they represent, there is not a moral dilemma in eating or refusing the food sacrificed to idols.  However, the next step which includes not only eating at the feast but participating in the feast celebrations which were sexual in nature is offensive to God.  When others see you eating the food sacrificed to the idols, you should be aware that it may invite them to partake of the food and the perversions.  Therefore, when contemplating your conduct, you should consider the effects your behavior will have on others.  Also, while it is not acceptable in the eyes of God to judge others regarding food and drink, it is also wrong to entice others to do partake of things they know to be wrong.  This is the spirit of evil that prevailed in Balaam and Balak which leads many away from God.  

The reward for resisting this very tempting offer is the promise of partaking of the hidden manna.  The Israelites ate manna while in the wilderness, but the hidden manna is the bread that Jesus ate while He was here on earth.  He went without food for forty days and nights and was tempted by Satan to turn the stones to bread.  He told Satan that man did not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God--this is the hidden manna.  Matthew 4:1-4  If you resist idolatry, you will be fed the hidden manna of the word.  It will be an experience that is as sweet as honey and you will be compelled to share your new found wisdom.  Revelation 10  When you do, Satan will resist and delivering your testimony will be a bitter experience.  However, God will prevail in the bitterness of your experience because many will receive the word and be saved because of your faithfulness and His grace.

Over time a person's absence from the pagan festivals celebrated in Pergamum became apparent and offensive to friends and family.  A great deal of courage would be required to resist the opportunity to participate in the feasts and festivals.  The city of Pergamum was very loyal to Rome and in addition to their many other temples, they even had a temple dedicated to Caesar.  It was at this altar that you would declare Caesar lord.  Those that refused would face certain death.  Of course, the followers of Christ would not bow down to Caesar or any other.  Martyrdom was a risk these believers faced everyday of their lives.  Just living their convictions would be dangerous, but sharing the testimony of Jesus with others would be paramount to suicide.  The fault that Christ finds with the church of Pergamum is that the church has compromised its teaching with the teachings of Pergamum becoming under the influence of Balaam demonstrated through lewd conduct and conversation.

The citizens of Pergamum worshiped snakes and serpents.  Images of snakes and serpents were all over the city especially in their temples.  Asclepius the serpent god of healing was worshipped in Pergamum.  People from all over the world came to submerge into a stream and find healing from the serpent god.  Realizing that Satan is the old serpent, the worship of snakes in Pergamum would have been very offensive to the early Christians living in Pergamum.  The early Christians would have recognized Pergamum as the throne of Satan from this teaching alone.  It was unlawful to destroy snakes and serpents in the city of Pergamum.  Even accidentally stepping on one was a crime; however, this is in direct violation of the promise in Genesis where God said that the serpent would bruise the heel of the offspring of Eve and that her offspring would crush the head of the serpent.

In Pergamum there was the Great Altar of Pergamon that was renowned throughout the Roman world, and stood near the summit of Pergamum's acropolis.  It was considered to be the throne of Zeus.  This would have been considered a sizeable temple, but it was huge for an altar and would have been one of the first things you would have noticed as you drew near to Pergamum.  The altar was built in a horseshoe shape and even looks like a throne.   

Pergamum is the home and namesake of parchment.  The citizens of Pergamum began making parchment as writing material from sheep and goat skins when the Ptolemies of Egypt refused to send them anymore papyrus.  The development of parchment reduced the Roman empires dependency on papyrus from Egypt significantly enhancing Pergamum's standing with Rome.  The introduction of parchment greatly increased the holdings in the library at Pergamum making this library one of the most important in the ancient world.  It was estimated that the library in Pergamum housed more than 200,000 volumes.  Pergamum became known all over the ancient world as a keeper of the word.  If you wanted to know truth and partake of wisdom, you desired to visit the library at Pergamum.  According to legend, Mark Antony gave all 200,000 volumes to Cleopatra for the library at Alexandria. 

Seeing Jesus with the two-edged sword coming from His mouth, which represents the word of God, reminds the believers in Pergamum that Christ is the true keeper of the word because He is The Word.  In addition, He will have the final word in all matters.  Losing their library should have been a testimony to those in the church who embraced the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans that Jesus will come and fight them with the sword that is coming forth from His mouth--the sword of truth .  Since they rebelled against the truth, He will come and fight against them with the Word slaying all unbelievers with the sword. 

The irony is that the citizens of Pergamum considered themselves to be so open minded always searching for truth and yet, they failed to recognize the time of their visitation.  This has been true in every era and will be the prevailing situation in the time of the end.  Pergamum called a lie the truth and the ones that came to deliver truth to them, they called liars.  Repent and you will no longer be called liars, but will have a new name written on a white stone.  In the ancient court of law, white and black stones were used for registering the verdicts of juries--black for condemnation and white for acquittal.  If your new name is written on a white stone, you have been more than acquitted, you are blameless! 

 
Thyatira

 18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

   These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

   20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

   24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’

   26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 1:18-29

 

The community of Thyatira was smaller in population than some of the other cities that housed one of the seven churches.  Thyatira was never a large metropolis.  Thyatira was widely recognized for their worker's guilds.  This community would be largely populated by what we might consider blue collar workers.  However, these individuals were highly skilled, had followed a family occupation for generations and were artisans.  To work in the surrounding areas, a worker would need to be a member of one of these guilds.  The guilds were very active in the worship of their gods and goddesses because the people of Thyatira believed the gods blessed the works of their hands.  The primary purpose of the guild was to solicit bounty and blessings from the gods and goddesses.  The trade guilds were very opposed to Christianity.

In Thyatira, their primary god was the sun god Apollo.  The surname of the sun god was Tyrimnas.  The physical attributes of Tyrimnas included flaming rays and feet burnished like brass.  Jesus describes Himself with these same features for our God is a consuming fireHebrews 12:29  Jesus is the true image of the Father, but Satan always has a counterfeit.  Jesus also says that if we can overcome our unbelief, then we like the believers in Thyatira will receive the Morning Star.  The Morning Star represents the spirit of prophecy that reveals the deep, secret things of God and moves the recipient to earnestly do the work of God.  2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 2:26-29, 22:16

Lucifer was created to be light to the sons of Adam.  Isaiah 14:12  However, he fell and became dark, therefore, the world became dark.  Jesus predetermined from the foundation of the world that He would fill this vacated role and become the true source of light to the sons of Adam.  Therefore, He is our Morning Star.  2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16  We have the opportunity to observe Him and in beholding Him, we can also become like Him as the day star rises within each of us.  Then, like Him, we too become a source of light to the world.  Jesus reminds us of this in His promise to the overcomers in the church of Thyatira.  

In the introduction of His letter to Thyatira, Jesus tells them He knows about their works.  The believers in Thyatira were workers that were members of Heaven's guild.  Jesus wants them to know that their stellar works in the artistry of delivering the gospel was unparalleled in the churches.  He greatly desired for them to know that Heaven noticed their good works.  Good works are produced by faith because without faith there are no good works.  The works of the believers in Thyatira are the perfect example of show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deedsJames 2:18

Jezebel represents the belief system of the world.  It has been and still is idolatrous.  The ways of the world lead us away from the works of God.  Jezebel represents all of us that have great ambitions in this world, and she teachers others to desire the things of the flesh provided by the world.  Thyatira was the smallest and less impressive in many ways than all the other seven churches.  However, the guilds made them well known and many traveled to Thyatira to partake of their goods and their guilds.  The guilds sponsored great social events and were led by merchants with powerfully persuasive personalities. 

The attack on the church in Thyatira was more subtle than some of the other churches.  The influence of Jezebel was within the church persuading the members to partake of the guild and their social events including the worshipping of their false gods.  These events would draw people from all over the world much like a market fair providing opportunity for a massive increase in the sale of goods and/or services.  It would be very difficult to resist and easy to justify joining in with the rest of the crowd expecting God to understand your need to support your family by strengthening your business relationships.  Today we call it networking.

In the beginning, Jezebel would be persuasive with her arguments assuring the believers that God would understand their participation in the great, grand events that lead to prosperity.  In fact, the prosperity would have been offered as evidence that God had blessed their efforts.  Keep in mind Jezebel's wicked side.  She will rapidly move from persuasion to persecution.  Elijah had just come off Mount Carmel and demonstrated to the people the faithfulness and power of Almighty God, yet, the fear of Jezebel had him crying in the woods to his God.  It was Jezebel that had the prophets of God killed.  It was Jezebel that taught the teachings of Baal.  It was Jezebel that fell to her death.  All those that follow her will do the same.  Jezebel is about using religious tolerance and compromise to obtain political expediency.  How many of us face that same temptation daily?  Resistance to compromise is required and expected because when you join the guilds of the world, you, like Cain, often produce the work of your own hands and lose sight of the work of God.

Lydia was from Thyatira and was converted to Christianity by Paul.  Acts 16  Lydia was a merchant dealing in cloth of the red/purple color unique to Thyatira.  The citizens of Thyatira were visited by representatives of royalty from various places desiring to purchase this cloth for the members of their monarchy.  Sometimes, Thyatira was visited by the very kings and queens.  Considering how laborious life was for these merchants, I suspect as they witnessed the entourage of these reposed individuals that  they sometimes aspired for more than the industry of their lifestyle.  There is a desire for prominence within each of us that will not be replaced even by prosperity.  Thyatira was filled with extremely talented and gifted individuals; however, regardless of their skill level and prosperity, they were still considered common.  The church in Thyatira recognized something the rest of the citizenship did not.  If you will resist the ways of the world, your reward is political power and prestige at the coming of Jesus.   To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father.  Revelation 2:26-27  Wait for it!  Turn the page and learn more about the other churches.

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