Sometimes I wonder how it is that I am writing a blog about Revelation, now, at this point in my life and why, when I have steered so clear of religion, would I tackle the Bible? The only exposure I had to scripture growing up was at the Catholic mass my mother dragged me to every Sunday (or Saturday night), God love her. Never really paying much attention to what was being said, I just stood and knelt when I was supposed to and recited the prayers that sort of automatically came out of my mouth. I don’t remember Revelation being on any childhood reading list.
As adults we have questions. Some of us go to the church of our parents, some find spiritual meaning elsewhere, and others avoid the subject of God altogether. I’ve done all of these things. Recently, a friend of mine who had attended, or should I lovingly say endured, parochial school commented on my blog. She said that the posts helped to validate some of what she felt as a child but was discouraged, maybe even forbidden, from expressing. Scripture has surprisingly been a useful tool in helping me reconcile old energy teachings with new energy truths. If by sharing my experience, others gain personal insight, I am overjoyed!
This week’s lesson covered Revelation 2:1-11 where Jesus gives information to John for the angels of Ephesus and Smyrna, two of the seven churches in the province of Asia located in what is now Turkey. There is speculation on whether the angel of a church was code for its leader or actually some kind of angelic being. I’m going with a variation on the latter. I think the messages were meant for the spirits, or collective consciousness, of Christian communities in each area. Isn’t another word for angel spirit?
To the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. Revelation 2:1
To review, recall that the seven lampstands and seven stars represent the churches and church angels respectively. I think it’s significant that Jesus mentions he’s holding the stars in his right hand because energetically, the right side of the body is the sending side of the energetic anatomy. This validates for me vibrationally that Jesus was sending information, or guidance, to the churches in addition to being ever present.
In John’s vision, Jesus first commends the Ephesians for their deeds, hard work, perseverance, and ability to discern false apostles. He recognizes their stamina in spite of the hardships they’ve had to endure. Then he zings them. He proclaims that they’ve fallen out of love with him; they must get back to basics and repent. As the great Celtic, Larry Bird, would say, “Practice the fundamentals.”
To repent is to change one’s mind or actions. Spiritual maturity gives one the ability to identify patterns of behavior that don’t serve one’s highest good (change one’s mind about a situation) and do something about them sooner (take appropriate action). Of course the Bible definition of repent would include words like sin and remorse as well, but I don’t go there.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7
This reference to the tree of life at the end of the passage means eternal life in the kingdom of God will be given to those who follow Jesus’ guidance. Note that although there is a tree of life in the Adam and Eve story, this is not the tree from which they ate. The forbidden fruit was on the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There are apparently two extra special trees in the metaphorical Garden of Eden.
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came back to life again. Revelation 2:8
Here Jesus reinforces the concept that his essence and God are of the same consciousness, one, eternal, and everywhere at the same time. Smyrna is one of only two churches that were walking the talk; Jesus’ message to them was complimentary. Their earthly afflictions and poverty were acknowledged, but Jesus assured them they were rich. He encouraged the Smyrnans to remain faithful and be brave and assured them suffering was only a temporary condition; you will suffer persecution for ten days.
Interpretations vary from literal to symbolic on the meaning of ten days. I look to numerology. Ten reduces to one (1) which has the potential of new beginnings and perhaps unity. This is consistent with Jesus’ point that spiritual wealth ensures eternal life. These words were probably very comforting to followers since in Smyrna, it was mandatory for Roman citizens to worship the emperor. Refusal to comply was punishable by death.
The notes say the Roman government exempted Jews from the requirement to honor the emperor as a god. Rome had originally considered Christians part of this community, but they lost their protected status. The verbiage about slander and a synagogue of Satan are most likely references to these political challenges.
Both the message to Ephesus and to Smyrna wrap up with Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. This tells us that Jesus intended the message for each church to be shared with the others. In both instances, eternal life is promised to the one who is victorious (one who overcomes earthly obstacles).
Sparkling gems are embedded in these two first century messages. For example, how diligent are you to fall back in love with your spouse when the honeymoon is over? How willing are you to change your mind or less than stellar habits? Do you endure hardships with grace? Do you compromise your beliefs to fit in or avoid conflict? Why?
Taking a good look at what motivates our thoughts and actions takes time, quiet time. Contemplation, meditation, prayer or rest, it doesn’t matter what we call our practice, happiness depends on it.
Last week I learned one of my greatest spiritual teachers, Zoe Marae, transitioned and I have no doubt she is enjoying eternal life. It affected me profoundly. She’d say that joy was the true purpose of life and that we’d find it inside. Are you joyful? To honor her, I will sign off with a zoeism.
Attach to nothing