Ebb and Flow

Firstly, happy Significant Birthday to my beloved wife!

Our readings today are 1 Samuel 4 and Revelation 2

Today we see the ebb and flow in the life of the church across the ages.

In 1 Samuel we see the Philistines were struck with fear as they hear of the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant. They recount all they have heard of the feats of the “gods of the Hebrews”. Yet Israel is defeated, the Ark captured and the end of Eli’s family line has come to pass as promised.

Definitely a low point for Israel as summarised in the naming of the child Ichabod:

“The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
1 Sam 4:21

Revelation 2 begins the first four of the messages to the seven churches. Why seven churches? Numbers often have symbolic meeting in Hebrew writings. Seven symbolises completeness or perfection, so perhaps the seven churches provides a complete picture of the church across the world at the time. Whatever the meaning, there is a mix of praise and condemnation or warning in the messages. Certainly there are things that the church today can learn from these messages too.

Some of the points we see for these four churches:

Ephesus

  • toil, patience, endurance, hate evil
  • abandoned their first love

Smyrna

  • undergoing tribulation
  • encouraged to be faithful and receive eternal life

Pergamum

  • remained faithful under persecution
  • “some” hold to false teachings

Thyatira

  • love, faith, service and patient endurance
  • tolerate a false prophetess

As I read through these messages I am reminded of Jesus’ summary of the law:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:37;40

Don’t abandon your first love, keep loving God. Remain faithful to him, even under persection or shaming. Be so true to him that you cannot entertain any false gospel.

Let your love for God flow through to loving your neighbours and reflect the servant heart of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

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