Have you ever kept a letter someone sent to you, that means a lot to you? Maybe it was a love letter from your husband or wife while you were dating. Cheryl has a group of letters I sent her, tied together with string, that she puts out on our table each February for Valentine’s Day. Or maybe you have a letter from some famous person that you have kept.
All through history people have kept letters that have become very precious. Some have also become very valuable as well. The most expensive letter sold at auction went for $6,098,500 on April 10, 2013 by Christie’s in New York, for a letter written by Francis Crick in 1953 to his son Michael Crick, outlining the revolutionary discovery of the structure and function of DNA. In the seven-page handwritten letter to his 12-year-old son, Crick describes his discovery of the structure of DNA as something “beautiful,” and it includes a simple sketch of DNA’s double helix structure. That’s a neat letter, I think — but SIX MILLION DOLLARS? I don’t know …
But starting today, we are looking at seven letters, that are perhaps THE most important in all history: the seven letters that Jesus had John send to the seven different churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, in what is now the nation of Turkey.
When you read through these seven letters, you find several things that each of them has in common. For example:
— Each of these letters is addressed to “the angel” of the church, which is what we would call the church’s “pastor.”
— Each begins with Jesus describing Himself, like to Ephesus He says: “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands …”, and He describes Himself in a way like that to each of the churches.
— Then He begins each message saying, “I KNOW”! Most (5) of them begin “I know your deeds …”
— Then in each one, He gives them a personalized message: He talks about what they are doing well (except Laodicea), and where they were falling short (except for Philadelphia). But He had a personal message for each of these churches that fit their particular circumstances.
— Then in each letter He promises a blessing for “He who overcomes” the problems that they face.
— And He closes each message to the seven churches with an admonition: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (In the first 3 letters this is the NEXT to last thing He says; in the last 4 He closes with these words, but they are always present in each of the letters.) He tells them to LISTEN! “He who has an ear, let him hear …”.
So before we begin to look at these letters individually, let’s look briefly at these things which all of them have in common, because they have a LOT to tell us — and let those of US who have ears, hear!Continue reading