Are You Listening?
This is a call, for those of us who are a part of this Kingdom, for those who have the Spirit of the Living God within us … as you hear the message of Jesus to these churches, you better be listening.
Sometimes knowing someone very closely can be uncomfortable. The more time you spend with someone, the harder it is to hide the things you wish you could hide like pain, worry, mistakes, and aspects you wish were more mature. Time and time again my close friends have called me out on things or helped me to see areas where I need to grow. To be honest, it’s painful. There are times when I want to run in the other direction and not face the change they are calling me to. However, pursuing higher holiness is always worth every bit of the discomfort along the way.
In Revelation 2-3, we get to listen in on a conversation like that. A real conversation between friends. Someone who knows these people intimately and is calling them to something more or urging them to stay on the path they are on. This is a message written to real people who were dealing with real issues. When you read each message to each church it is abundantly clear the message is tailored specifically for them. Revelation 2-3 shows that Jesus knows his people, and when he speaks I pray we listen.
The resurrected King Jesus is displayed in chapter 1:13-16 as the Ancient of Days, Holy and anointed as King, High Priest, and Prophet. We see this incredible image of a King whose Message is a sword, he is Ruler over all the earth, his face is shining like the sun displaying the radiance of his holiness. Overcome, John falls down on his face at the sight of Jesus. And then our Good and Holy King shows just how personally he knows his people.
Each message Jesus gives is unique to the church it is intended for. For example, the letter to the church in Laodicea has details that are intimate to who they are and where they live. Laodicea was an incredibly wealthy place. They were rich for three main reasons. Firstly, they were bankers. Secondly, they had a special clothing line because of a type of dye that was specific to their city. They were able to sell clothing made with this dye for a lot of money. On top of those two things, they had a special eye salve that people would pay handsomely for because it was said to be able to cure even blindness. In light of those things, listen to what Jesus says to them in 3:17-19 “For you say I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Jesus specifically calls out the three things they are taking comfort in or maybe even forming their identity on “money, clothing, their famous eye salve.” They had been socially seduced by luxury to the point they forgot their true need for Jesus. And Jesus as a loving King knows them, sees them, and calls them to repentance.
Jesus knows his people and he is active in his Church. These letters were first written to the specific churches who were going through very real things. We have to read them in the context they were born from. Once we do that, we also must listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching us through what was taught to these churches. There is a phrase that is repeated in these messages “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” [2:7;2:11;2:17;2:29;3:6;3:13;3:22]. This is a call, for those of us who are a part of this Kingdom, for those who have the Spirit of the Living God within us, to allow this message to speak to you too. If the Holy Spirit is working on your heart as you hear the message of Jesus to these churches, you better be listening.
*A main source – Shane Wood’s lectures on his website shanejwood.com. If you would like to do further study I highly recommend listening to these.