Focal Passage: Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5, 12, 21
There once was a man had trouble communicating with his wife. He thought she was having trouble hearing so he devised a test. He sat on the other side of the room and asked “Can you hear me?” and there was no response. He moved a little closer twice and asked but still no response. Finally, he got right up next to her and asked her, “Can you hear me?” and to his surprise she responded, “For the fourth time – yes, I can hear you!” (McHenry’s Quips, Quotes Other Notes, Hendrickson Publishing, 313) If we are not careful we can be like this man and think our (spiritual) hearing is good when it is not. We might be missing out on some positive consequences in our lives because we have failed to hear and heed the commands of Christ. John wanted his readers to avoid that potential danger.
John shares with the church at Ephesus that they would receive the right to eat from the tree of life. The right to eat from the tree had been lost due to sin. Now that our sins have been cleansed by Jesus the right to eat has been reinstated. Ephesus had a temple garden for the goddess Artemis which had a tree shaped shrine in the middle of it. Believers know that there will be the tree of life in a garden also known as heaven.
John brought good news to the church at Smyrna by telling them they would not have to face the second death. John does not share that they will not have to face death; but rather they will not have to face or fear the second death which would be eternal separation from God in a place called hell.
John had several positive consequences to share with the church at Pergamum. The hidden manna points to the blessings and provisions found for believers in Jesus. He also mentions a white stone and on it a new name. There is much debate about what this stone is and what name is on it but the important factor is what it does. It serves as a pass to enter into eternal glory with Jesus.
John informs the church at Sardis that they would receive white robes. They would never have their name erased, and they would be acknowledged to the Father. There were a few believers in this church who were living for the Lord and they would be rewarded with white robes symbolizing the purity and holiness they have in Christ. In that culture, if someone died or committed a crime, their name was erased from the city registry. Jesus promises to never erase their name but instead vouch for them to the Father which guarantees their citizenship in Heaven.
John proclaims to the church at Philadelphia that they will become a pillar in the sanctuary of God. This pillar speaks of their permanent place in God’s presence. The names that are written speak of ownership (Name of My God), citizenship (New Jerusalem), and relationship (My new name).
John reports to the church at Thyatira that they will be able to rule and reign with Jesus Christ. If they kept His deeds then they would be used to help reign during the Millennial Kingdom. They also would experience the fullness of Jesus Christ (the Morning Star).
John reveals to the church at Laodicea that for those very few (Jesus mentioned no positive actions for this church) believers they would have the right to sit on the throne. He not only promises believers eternal life but they will also rule and reign in His kingdom.
“Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” How is your hearing?
— Styers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Junction.