Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Welcome to Day 240 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
Ezekiel 1-3:15 records Ezekiel’s calling as a priest and a prophet, not unlike the calling of Isaiah in Isaiah 6.
The glory of the Lord, holiness and sovereignty are central themes in Ezekiel. (Not to mention Israel’s sinfulness and the necessity of God’s wrath in dealing with it. I thought we might get a break from this, but no such luck.)
28, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”
Ezekiel 2:3, “He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day.”
Ezekiel 3:10, “And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”
17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”
The letters to four of the seven the churches in Asia, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos and Thyatira. (Revelation 3 records the remaining three letters to the churches in Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea). Each church is commended for what they are doing that is good or right, followed by words of condemnation (except for Smyrna) and related warning, an exhortation and a promise.
The church at Ephesus is commended for its steadfastness, especially against false apostles. But while standing for the truth, they had lost their first love. Exhorted to repent and be restored by doing the “first works”, they are warned that their “lampstand” would be removed if they did not repent (1-7).
The church at Smyrna is commended for being “rich” despite their tribulation and poverty. Unlike most churches, there are no words of condemnation directed toward it. While they would experience a little persecution, they are exhorted to remain faithful to death (8-11).
The church at Pergamos is also praised for its steadfastness, but faulted for allowing false teachers in their midst. The Lord threatens to come and fight with the sword of His mouth if there is no repentance (12-17).
The church at Thyatira is also commended, for their last works are more than their first. But they too have a false teacher and followers which jeopardize the condition of the church. Despite giving this “Jezebel” time to repent, she has not and so the Lord intends to make her and her followers an example before the other churches (18-29).
I found a great study guide online for the Book of Revelation. The author’s name is Mark A. Copeland. Click here to see a pdf file of the study guide. (I emailed the author, but haven’t heard back yet.)
As if trying to make sense out of Revelation wasn’t enough, now we have to digest the Book of Ezekiel, with all its imagery at the same time! lol
I wonder what a letter to the Vineyard in Beavercreek might say?
“I know your good works and your heart for the poor, your earnest desire to worship me. Nevertheless I have this against you… _________________”
There is no perfect church. Keep in mind, the church itself was just getting off the ground when Revelation was recorded.. in the last decade of the first century, just a generation or two after Christ. It was still being established.
And it still is.
Two thousand years later, with tens of thousands of churches world-wide, the message of the Gospel is still spreading. (At this time, mostly south of the equator.)
I am convinced that the Lord could and will always have a word of rebuke or correction, for me, for us, for our church, our city, our nation…
Just like the rich young ruler, “I have kept all these from my youth… what do I lack?” in Matthew 19. Jesus could and will always have an answer for that question, because we never arrive.
That’s no excuse for not trying though…
We can always draw close again to our first love. We ought always keep on lookout for false teachers and remain faithful through persecution.
That’s why each letter closes with the admonition, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” This suggests the letters were not just for the personal benefit of the churches addressed, but for all who would hear those words as they were read. (Keep in mind, no one had personal copies of these letters or the books of the Bible until centuries later. There was no such thing as a pdf file easily downloaded… no podcast of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or of Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost. No YouTube interpretations of the Book of Revelation as one can easily find today.)
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
I wonder if I have ears to hear…
I think I do, but does that mean that I really do?
Lord, I want to have ears to hear what you are saying, not just to the church, but to me…