Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians’

Revelation Chapter 2 – Ephesus

Messianic Community in Ephesus

‘Church’ or Community

I will be using the word community because the word ‘church’ holds preconceived ideas about worship, study, and doctrine. In the first century when Yochanan (John), the apostles, and Sha’ul (Paul) preached the message of Messiah, there were no Christians or churches. Instead followers of Messiah, both Jewish and gentile, continued to go to the Temple, attended synagogues on Sabbath to hear Torah, and met in homes for table fellowship (Acts 20:7-12). By gathering in homes, a community of fellowship developed with unity of faith and faith-based goals (Acts 2:46, Romans 16:23, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2). It is in this context that Yeshua sent his messengers to challenge, rebuke, encourage, and promise rewards to his followers.

Ephesus was an ancient Greek port city on the Ionian coast –– present-day Turkey. It was situated on the northern slopes of the hills south of the Cayster River. It was known for its Temple to Artemis –– one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Artemis was called the ‘goddess of the dawn, the bringer of the light‘ illuminating lives and directing people to find their way.

According to Acts chapter 19, Sha’ul began his diaspora preaching in Ephesus. He spent more time in Ephesus than any other city, nearly three years on his second visit. His ministry began by telling the crowds that man-made gods (idols) are not gods at all. The craftsmen in the city worried that their trade of making silver articles for the worship of Artemis would suffer. No one wanted the temple of the “great goddess Artemis … to be taken lightly. It could end up with the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and indeed throughout the whole world, being ignominiously brought down from her divine majesty!” Upon hearing the message of Sha’ul, they were filled with rage and began bellowing, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:27-28).

Sha’ul’s letter to the Ephesians is filled with hope and encouragement about their redemption and their eternal inheritance. He reminds them they are no longer foreigners to the covenants of Elohim and are being built into a holy, spiritual temple, a dwelling place for God.  He teaches them that salvation is by grace through faith, not by works; and how to stand against the wiles of the enemy.

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Ephesus, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven gold menorahs:  “I know what you have been doing, how hard you have worked, how you have persevered, and how you can’t stand wicked people; so you tested those who call themselves emissaries but aren’t — and you found them to be liars. You are persevering, and you have suffered for my sake without growing weary. But I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its place — if you don’t turn from your sin! But you have this in your favor: you hate what the Nicolaitans do — I hate it too. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life which is in God’s Gan-‘Eden'” (Ephesians 2:2-7).

Yeshua sends his first messenger –– ‘angel’ in Hebrew is malak and means ‘messenger’ –– to the community in Ephesus. Yeshua reveals himself as the “one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven gold menorah.”  He holds the seven messengers in his right hand and releases them to take messages to the seven communities.

John 8:12

The golden Menorah in the Tabernacle had seven branches made of pure, hammered gold.  It was lit every evening by the priests with a new supply of pure olive oil. The central lamp, the ner tamid, was never to go out, even during the day. No specific dimensions were given to Moshe as it was made in the image of the heavenly Menorah that Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (Adonai) showed him on the mountain.  It becaue a ‘shadow’ of the heavenly Menorah.  As the holy Menorah, the Light of the World, Yeshua walks among the seven individual branches representing his light; for without him, they would have no light.

Yeshua sees their works of faith and perseverance through adversity. He has seen they don’t grow weary, even though they are persecuted. He sees how they test those who come to them as missionaries to make sure they are not liars. He sees how they hate wicked people, but something is missing.

The Messianic believers in Ephesus have one grievous sin –– they have lost their first love. They work hard, but not for their ‘first love,’ but for themselves –– humanism. They have lost their love for Yeshua, the Light, for whom they should be doing their righteous acts. If they don’t repent from this sin and return to loving him with all of their hearts, their menorah will be removed. Without light from the ner tamid, the darkness will engulf them, and their testimony of good works will be snuffed out (Matthew 5:16).

To the credit of the Ephesian community of believers, they hate the Nicolaitans. In Greek, nico means ‘conquer,’ and laitan refers to ‘lay people’; Nicolaitan means ‘conquer the lay people.’ This implies there is a hierarchy in Ephesus –– those who rule and those who submit.   Yeshua hates this hierarchy because he is to be the only Shepherd over his sheep, King over his Kingdom, High Priest over his Priesthood, and Bridegroom for his Bride.  

Christiandom has come to exemplify a Nicolaitan culture with priests or ruling over the masses and pastors being in authority over lay people.  If someone studies the Word and sees a Truth that is not embraced by church tenets or doctrines, the the leader quenches the Spirit’s work in order to keep control. This is called ‘conquering the people.’ There are millions of people who warm pews and sit in auditorium chairs and no longer read the Scriptures for themselves. They have come to depend on a pastor’s interpretation for the Word or just the pastor himself. This is evidence of modern-day Nicolaitans.

Yeshua uses the word overcomer for the victor.  In Genesis 32:22-32, Ya’akov (Jacob) wrestles with with an ‘angel of Adonai.‘  The wrestling match appears to be between equals, but Ya’akov doesn’t give up; he perseveres. To try to end the confrontation, the ‘angel’ touches Ya’akov’s hip, dislocating it. Ya’akov continues to wrestle the ‘angel’ until daybreak even with an injured hip. At the end of the match, he requests a blessing. Yeshua, who is the ‘angel of the Adonai,‘ tells Ya’akov that his name is changed to Isra’el because he struggled with Adonai and prevailed –– an overcomer.

To the overcomer in Ephesus, Yeshua promises a reward when he returns. To receive the reward, the community in Ephesus must return to their first love so their menorah will not be removed leaving them to completely assimilate into the dark world.

When Adam and Eve sinned and lost their ‘first love,’ they lost the light of Elohim’s presence. They made a covering of leaves for themselves –– a work of their own doing. After receiving the consequences for their sin, spiritual death, they were sent out of Paradise and away from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24).

The reward for the overcomer in Ephesus will be a restoration of what was lost in the beginning to Adam and Eve. In the new heavens and new earth, the cherubim will be removed and the overcomer will enter through gate into the New Jerusalem and eat from the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:14).

Those [in Ephesus] who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit, Ruach haKodesh [the holy wind] is saying to the Messianic community

Yeshua uses these same words in the gospels when he speaks in parables, however, he doesn’t include the words, ‘what the Spirit says to the communities.’  One reason he taught in parables was so that people could ‘look but not see, and listen but not understand’ the message of the Kingdom (Isaiah 6:9-10, Luke 8:10).  Because he wanted his disciples to have a deeper understanding of the coming Kingdom, he explained the hidden meaning away from the crowds.

Yeshua spoke all of his parables before the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot when the ‘holy wind’ was poured out and the new covenant was instituted (Acts 2:2).  With the arrival of the new covenant, men and women who obey the message of Yeshua are given new hearts and a renewed spirit.  The Ruach haKodesh gives them ‘ears to hear what the Spirit is saying’ so they can obey His voice.

Yeshua doesn’t want this community to just ‘hear’ his message, but ‘listen’ to it.  His message was to be heard through spiritual ears that were fine-tuned to his voice, the voice of the Shepherd (Psalm 95:7-8, John 10:27-28)  His sheep were to ‘listen’ and ‘obey’ the message so they would be overcomers –– Isra’el –– and receive their eternal reward.  

But you [Ephesus], how blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear!” (Matthew 13:14-16). 

Revelation 2 – Messianic Community of Smyrna

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Praying Like Sha’ul

“Praying for you, asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all the wisdom and understanding which the Spirit gives; so that you may live lives worthy of the Lord and entirely pleasing to him, being fruitful in every good work and multiplying in the full knowledge of God. We pray that you will be continually strengthened with all the power that comes from his glorious might; so that you will be able to persevere and be patient in any situation, joyfully giving thanks to the Father for having made you fit to share in the inheritance of his people in the light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

Lately, the Spirit has been guiding me to read all of Sha’u’ls prayers in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians.  The depth of his prayers challenge my own prayer life.  When I read how Sha’ul prayed for the believers in each of these cities, I am convicted by the shallowness of my prayer life.

Do I pray for the knowledge of God’s will for the believers around me?  Do I pray that they will be pleasing and fruitful in the fullness of knowing God?  Do I pray for strength, patience, and perseverance in whatever situation they may be in?  Do I pray that they will be fit to share in the inheritance of people in the light?

So often my prayers are about my own personal problems rather than focusing on the bigger picture and the needs in the Body of Messiah.  Though my issues are important to God, and the salvation of people I love are important to me, many unanswered prayers in the Body are caused by  focusing only on personal issues  rather than being prayerful, thankful, and grateful.

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Messiah, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I also pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his imcomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:16-19).

Is this how I pray for those who struggle with knowing the fullness of Yeshua through the Scriptures? Do I pray for those who don’t want  the complete message of ‘obeying the gospel’ to be given wisdom and revelation?  For those who walk in hopelessness and fear,  do I pray for their eyes of their hearts to be enlightened?  There is a rich inheritance for those who believe in Yeshua and the Spirit’s power to overcome all things through wisdom and revelation.  Do I contend for the holy ones of God to be overcomers?

“This is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Messiah, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Messiah Yeshua – to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1 9-11).

Do I pray that a brother or sister’s love for God may abound more and more with knowledge and deeper insight into the Word of Truth?  Do I pray for them to mature as a believer and have discernment between what is good and evil and what is righteous?  Do I pray that they are filled with the fruit of righteousness to the glory and praise of God?

When I read these prayers, I realize how I allow the little battles in my life to weigh me down and focus on the failures rather than on the strength and power given to me through the Spirit.    Sha’ul was in prison, beaten, starved, abused and everything in between, but he never focused his prayers on his circumstances.  He focused on encouraging the Body of Messiah so she would be prepared as a pure and spotless Bride for her King.

“We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Messiah, Yeshua” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).

Do I thank God for all of those people who have discipled and encouraged me, while all the time suffering persecutions and judgments for the testimony they had?  Do I mention in my prayers those who have faith works in spite of difficult circumstances?   What about how they labor in love and endure hardships because of their hope in Word?  Do I pray for endurance so that they do not weary of living out God’s call on their lives?

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Yeshua may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord, Messiah Yeshua” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).

Are my prayers constant?  Do I desire that God fulfill every good purpose in the lives of my family and friends who are called by God into His Kingdom?  Do I sincerely desire that the name of Yeshua be glorified in them as they are in Him?

Yes, my prayer life is too shallow.   It needs to change.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.