• Christ Church, Willesborough

Sunday Next Before Advent - Morning Prayer (21 November 2021) Revelation 3:13 and 22

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Last week, we meditated about the people of Israel rejecting the LORD God who was their king and asking for a king to rule over them like other tribes. They forgot all that the LORD God had done for them. The Lord God brought them out of their bondage land but the kings led them back to a life of bondage. Jesus came as the Passover Lamb to free us from the bondage of sin. Like the Israelites, we the church also forget the sacrifice of the LORD Jesus. We too walk away from Jesus and live our lives like people of the world.


God revealed the end time events to the Apostle John when he was imprisoned in Patmos. The spirit of the living God helped John to write this epistle to the early churches in Asia Minor. Letter to the seven churches is a familiar passage. We read about the positives and negatives of the seven churches and God’s expectation on each of them. Today, I would like to meditate on the ‘Deep cry of the Holy Spirit unto repentance’ based on our New Testament reading from Revelation 3:13 and 22. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”. This verse is repeated many times in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. In today’s reading, we read about what the Spirit is saying to the early churches in Philadelphia and Laodicea. The characteristics of these two churches were very different and opposite to one another. Let us compare the two churches and meditate on our Lord’s expectation on the churches, which is applicable to us also.


Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia was located nearly 32 miles Southeast of Sardis. The early church in Philadelphia was established by the early Christians in Pergamos. This early church in the midland of Asia Minor pleased God and glorified Jesus. The early Christians in this church had very little strength but kept the Word of God and did not deny Jesus’s name. Living as a Christian and bearing witness was not easy in the first century. The churches were faced tribulation. The early churches were established after the death and resurrection of Jesus and were founded on the ‘Solid Rock’ Jesus Christ. God did not mention any negatives about the Philadelphian church.


Although the Philadelphian church walked through tribulation, they did not deny their faith or Jesus. They followed what Jesus taught in Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”. Jesus was well pleased about the church in Philadelphia.


In Revelation 3:8 Jesus promised their reward: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it”. In verse 9 we read about what would happen to those who call themselves Jews but lie: “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee”. Spiritually, it means accommodating their enemies in the church. But the promise was that they would have victory over their enemies because the church was faithful. If we meditate the context, the church transformed the lives of many people. At the same time, the Jewish leaders and the Romans troubled the early Christian church. In this situation, God promised to make them to come and worship before the church’s feet. He does this to show He has loved them. God also opened their door to reach eternity because they kept the word of God. They received another promises in Verses 10 and 12.


Although God was pleased with this church and did not mention any negatives about this church, we read His caution was in verse 11: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”. The Lord was pleased with the Philadelphian church, but He cautioned them to hold on to keeping the Word so that they would not lose their crown. We can read in verse 12 that the Lord expected the church to overcome temptation so they will have their place in new Jerusalem.


Laodicea

The city of Laodicea was located approximately 60 miles Southeast of Philadelphia.


This early church was neither hot nor cold in the sight of God. God said He would spue them because they were lukewarm. The Laodicean church said they were rich and did not need anything. But they did not know that they were wretched, miserable, poor and blind and naked. They did not meet God’s expectation on them. God knew their works and rebuked and chastened them because He loved them. We can read God’s guidance in verse 18: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see”. God offered three things to this early church in Laodicea to be restored: gold tried in the fire, white raiment and eyesalve.

- 1 Peter 1:7 tells us about the spiritual meaning of gold tried in fire: “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”. God offered gold tried in fire so the church would be rich in their faith.

- Spiritually, white represents purification or transformation from a sinful life to live a holy life for Jesus. The white garment that God offers refers to God’s righteousness and salvation. Isaiah 61:10 says, “he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness”. God wanted the church to be clothed with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness and be ready like a bride to meet the bridegroom.

- The spiritual meaning of eyesalve is growing in the word of God. Psalm 19:7 says, “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes”. God expected the church to meditate on the Word of God and grow in the knowledge of God.


God expected the church of Laodicea to give up their pride and accept that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. He called them to accept the gold, white raiment and eyesalve so they could be really rich, be clothed and see.


If they were zealous and repented, God promised to have a personal relationship with them. If they overcame, He promised they would sit with Him in His throne.


Even before God told them what He was offering them, He cautioned He would spue them out of His mouth because they were lukewarm. Those who are spiritually hot will inherit their eternal life in the kingdom of God. Those who are spiritually cold will be judged on the day of the great white throne judgement and cast into the lake of fire and the brimstone.


We briefly meditated about two churches with two different attitudes. The church in Philadelphia pleased God because they walked in His ways. God did not say that was enough and they would inherit eternal life. Instead, He expected them to hold fast to the Word and remain faithful. He called them to endure unto the end so they would not lose their crown. God promised them the open door which cannot be shut because the Philadelphian church kept the word of God and did not deny the Lord’s name.


The church in Laodicea was not pleasing in the sight of God. God expected the church to repent and accept that they were wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. He offered them gold, white raiment and eyesalve so they would become rich, be clothed and see and have a personal relationship with Him. If they repented, were zealous and overcame, they would sit with Him in His throne.


The open door promised to the church of Philadelphia and the throne promised to the church in Laodicea refer to eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to this world and sacrificed His life to save sinners. He came to pave the way for us to walk in the path of righteousness to inherit eternal life. He rebuked and chastened the church in Laodicea as He loved them. He offered them the opportunity to accept or acknowledge the need to repent and be zealous for Him.


Let us self-examine ourselves. Where can we place ourselves? Are we like the church in Philadelphia or like the church in Laodicea? Our lives should be either pleasing or displeasing in the sight of God. We can’t be pleasing God in some areas and making Him sad in other areas. If we are lukewarm, God will spue us, and if He does, what will be purpose of our lives? If we are like the church in Laodicea, He is offering us gold, white raiment and eyesalve. Jesus’s offer stands good even today for us also. It is our choice to repent and accept what He has to offer. If we do, we can become rich in faith, be clothed with righteousness and salvation and see clearly the path in which we should walk. We can then be zealous and overcome temptation to endure to the end. When we are born again and live for righteousness, our Lord will build His church on us. The gates of hell cannot prevail against us.


If we are like the church in Philadelphia, as said in Titus 1:9, we must hold fast the faithful word as we have been taught, that we may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. If we hold fast, we too will have the door to eternal life opened by Him who “hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth”.


Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the first Advent on the Cross. He preached about the repentance and the kingdom of God and prepared the way to eternity. He commanded that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem”. Repentance and the remission of sins will be preached until He comes again. While we are waiting for the second advent of Jesus, let us ask ourselves if the purpose of the first Advent fulfilled in our lives. Are we ready to face second Advent when Jesus will come as king and judge? As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the first Advent, let us set listen to the deep cry of the Holy Spirit that calls us unto repentance. As 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”.


I pray “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17, 18). Amen!

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