FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 10
EPHESUS: THE FIRST CONDITION OF THE CHURCH
To the angel of the church of Ephesus write: ‘These things s says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven of the seven golden lamp stands (candlesticks, K.J.V).” Revelation 2: 1, N.K.J.V.
Let’s start from the very beginning of New Testament church history from the resurrection of Christ, followed fifty days after by the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon 120 prepared disciples (including Mary, the mother of Jesus, at an upper room at Jerusalem—last mention of her in the Bible) to the close of the first century, or the death of the last apostle, john the beloved, writer of the “big” gospel epistle and the three “little epistles” with his name, and the Revelation, of course.
Unless otherwise indicated, the following is quoted from Daniel and the Revelation by Uriah Smith , “The Letters of Jesus to the Churches,” Chap. II, Southern Publishing Association, 1944, 1972, pp. 363-368:
“The first church named is Ephesus. According to the applications here made, this would coverthe first, or apostolic age of the church. The definition of the word ‘Ephesus’ is ‘desirable, which may well be taken as a good descriptive term of the character and condition of the church in its first state. Those early Christians had received the doctrine of Christ in its purity. They enjoyed the benefits and blessings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They were noted for their works, labor, and patience.
“In faithfulness to the pure principles taught by Christ, they could not bear those that were evil, and they tested false apostles, searched out their true characters, and found them liars. That this work was done by the literal and particular church at Ephesus more than by other churches of that particular time, we have no evidence. There is nothing said about it by Paul in his epistle to that church. But this work was carried on by the Christian church as a whole, in that age, and was a most appropriate work at that time. (see Acts 15: 2 Cor. 11: 13).
The Angel of the Church. —“The angel of a church must denote [as covered in our August 18 issue] a messenger, or minister, of that church. As each church covers a period of time [in this prophecy of Revelation], the angel of each church must denote the ministry, or all the true ministers of Christ during the period covered by that church. The different messages, though addressed to the ministers, cannot be understood to be applicable to them alone, but are appropriately addressed to the church through them.
The Cause of Complaint. – “‘I have somewhat against thee,’ says Christ, ‘because thou has left thy first love.’ Rev. 2: 2: 4. ‘Not less worthy of warning than departure from fundamental doctrine or from Scriptural morality, is the leaving of first love. The charge here is not that of falling from grace, nor that love is extinguished, but diminished. No zeal, no suffering, can atone for the want of first love.’ –Augustus C. Thompson, Morning Hours in Patmos, pp. 122, 123. The time never should come in a Christian’s experience, when, if he were asked to mention the period of his greatest love to Christ, he would not say, The present moment. But if such a time does come, then he should remember whence he is fallen, meditate upon it, carefully call up the state of his former acceptance of God [if that really took place or was just a flight of fancy, fanatical feelings or “pressure to join the crowd, etc], and hasten to repent and retrace his steps to that desirable position. Love, like faith, is manifested by works; and first love, when it is attained, will always bring forth corresponding works.
The Admonition. —“I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.’ Rev. 2; 5. The coming here mentioned must be a figurative coming, signifying a visitation of judgment, inasmuch as it is conditional. The removal of the candlestick would denote the taking away from the church of the light and privileges of the gospel, and the committing of these advantages to other hands, unless the church should better fulfill the responsibilities of the trust committed to it. It would be the rejection of them by Christ as His representatives, to bear the light of His truth and gospel before the world. This threatening would be just as applicable to individuals as to the church as a body. How many who professed Christianity during that period came short and were rejected, we do not know, but doubtless many. Thus things would go on, some remaining steadfast, some backsliding and becoming no longer light-bearers in the world, new converts meanwhile filling up the vacancies made by death and apostasy, until the church reached a new era in her experience, marked off another period in her history, and covered by another message. [The next, being Smyrna.}
The Nicolaitanes. — See Revelation 2: 6. “How ready is Christ to commend His people for whatever good qualities they may possess! If there is anything of which He approves, He mentions that first. In this message to the church at Ephesus, after first mentioning their commendable traits and then their failures, as if unwilling to pass by their good qualities, He says that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which He also hated. In verse 15 the doctrines of the same characters are condemned. It appears they were a class of persons whose deeds and doctrines were both abominable in the sight of Heaven. Their origin is involved in some doubt. Some say they sprang from Nicholas of Antioch, one of the seven deacons (Acts 6: 5}; some, that they only attribute their origin to him to gain the prestige of his name; and others, that the sect took its name from one Nicholas of later date. The latter theory is probably more nearly correct. Concerning their doctrines and practices, there seemed to be a general agreement that they should be held to a community of wives, regarded adultery and fornication as matters of indifference, and permitted the things offered to idols. (See Clarke, Kitto, and other commentators.)
The Summons to Attention.— See Revelation 2: 7. “He that hath and ear let His hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.’ This is a solemn manner of calling universal attention to that which is of general and most momentous importance. The same language is used to each of the seven churches. Christ, when upon earth, made use of the same form of speech in calling the attention of the people to the most important of His teachings. He used it in reference of the mission of John (Matthew 11: 15), the parable of the sower (Matthew 13: 9), and the parable of the tares, setting for the end of the world (Matthew 13: 43). It is also used in relation to an important prophetic fulfillment in Revelation 13: 9. .
The Praise to the Overcomer. — See Revelation 2: 7. To the victor it is promised that he shall eat of the tree of life that grows in the midst of Paradise, or the garden, of God. Where is this Paradise? It is in the third heaven. Paul writes, in 2 Corinthians 12: 2, that he knew a man (humbly referring to himself in the third person) caught up to the third heaven. In verse 4 he says that he was caught upinto ‘Paradise,’ leaving only once conclusion to be drawn, which is that Paradise is in the third heaven. In this Paradise, it seems, is the tree of life. There is but one tree of life brought to view in the Bible. It is mentioned six times, three times in Genesis, and three times in the Revelation; but is used every time with the same definite article ‘the.’ It is the tree of life in the ‘Paradise’ (the term used for ‘garden’ in the Greek translation of Genesis) in Eden at the beginning, and the tree of life in the Paradise of which John now speaks, in heaven above.
“If there is but one tree, and that was first upon earth, it may be asked how it has now come to be in heaven. The answer would be that it must have been taken up to the Paradise above. There is no possible way that the identical body which is situated in one place can be located in another, but by being transported there bodily. That the tree of life and Paradise have been removed from earth to heaven there is a very good reason to believe. One commentator remarks at this point:
“The act of God in appointing the cherubim ‘to keep the way of the tree of life’ (Genesis 3: 24) in the Garden of Eden, likewise appears not only in an aspect indicating judicial severity, but also in one which conveys a promise full of consolation. The blessed abode from which man is expelled [after sinning], is neither annihilated nor even abandoned to desolation and ruin, but withdrawn from the earth and from man, and consigned to the care of the most perfect creatures of God, in order that it may be ultimately restored to man when he is redeemed. (Revelation 22: 2.) The garden, as it existed before God ‘planted’ or adorned it, came under the curse, like the remainder of the earth, but the celestial and paradisiacal addition was exempted, and entrusted to the cherubim. The true (ideal) Paradise is now translated to the invisible world. At least a symbolical copy of it, established in the holy of holies in the tabernacle is already granted to the people of Israel, after the pattern which Moses saw in the mount (Exodus 25: 9, 40); and the original itself, as the renewed habitation of the redeemed man, will hereafter descend to the earth. (Revelation 21:10.)”- John H. Kurtz, Manual of Sacred History,p. 50.
“To the overcomer, then, is promised a restoration that will include more than Adam lost. Not to the overcomers of that state of the church merely, but to all overcomers of every age is the promise made, for in the great rewards of heaven there are no restrictions. Reader, strive to be an overcomer, for he who gains access to the tree of life in the midst of the Paradise of God shall die no more.” (End of quote from U. Smith’s book, Daniel and Revelation).
The closing paragraphs of the chapter, “The Victory” of that most wonderful book on Christ, The Desire of Ages by Ellen G, White, wraps up the three temptations encompassing all that man, starting from Adam down to the last person living, will ever be tempted with, that Jesus gained complete victory over in His adopted human nature that was weakened to the point of death by a 40-day-night fast! Read and be encouraged “to overcome even as He overcame.” (Rev. 3: 21)!
“Satan questioned whether Jesus was the Son of God. In his summary dismissal he [Satan] had proof that he could not gainsay. Divinity flashed through suffering humanity. Satan had no power to resist the command [“Get thee behind Me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4: 10; cf. Deut. 6: 13). Satan perfectly knows that Jesus is Godwhile so-called scholars and intellectuals try to outdo one another in denying the divinity of Christ. Indeed, “the “wisdom of this world is foolishness with God!”1 Cor. 3: 19.]
“Writhing with humiliation and rage, he was forced to withdraw from the presence of the world’s Redeemer. [For being unmasked as to who he really was—Satan disguised as an angel of light, purportedly sent from heaven to assist Christ. Satan has countless human agents and agencies on the ground busy doing his bidding]. Christ’s victory was as complete as was the failure of Adam. [In our spiritual rebirth, we can retrace our spiritual roots to the victorious “second Adam,” Jesus Christ the Righteous!}
“So we may resist temptation, and force Satan to depart from us. Jesus gained the victory through submission and faith in God, and by the apostle He says to us, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh [near] to God, and He will draw nigh to you.’ James 4: 7, 8. We cannot save ourselves from the tempter’s power; he has conquered humanity [in the fall of Eve and Adam], and when we try to stand in our own strength, we shall become pray to his devices; but ‘the name of Jesus is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.’ Proverbs 18: 10. Satan trembles and flees before the weakest soul who finds refuge in that mighty name.
“After the foe had departed, Jesus fell exhausted to the earth, with the pallor of death upon His face. The angels of heaven had watched the conflict, beholding their loved Commander as He passed through the inexpressible suffering to make a way of escape for us. He has endured the test, greater than we shall ever be called to endure. The angels now ministered to the Son of God as He lay like one dying. He was strengthened with food, comforted with the message of His Father’s love and the assurance that all heaven triumphed in His victory. Warming to life again, His great heart goes out in sympathy for man, and He goes forth to complete the work He has begun; to rest not until the foe is vanquished, and our fallen race redeemed. “
(To be continued next week)