As a congregation, we recently finished studying the book of Ephesians, delving deeper into the richness of the spiritual blessings we have in Messiah, understanding the “one new man” and new life in Him, being rooted and grounded in love, and spiritual warfare.
To conclude our study of Ephesians, Pastor Dani took us to the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, to see what Yeshua Himself had to say about that congregation in Ephesus.
Thirty-five years had passed since Paul had written his letter to the Ephesians, and John’s writing of Revelation. Yeshua had many good things to say about the congregation in Ephesus in Revelation Chapter 2, referring to them as a strong and influential congregation. He praises them for their patience, their strength in the Word of the Lord, that they tested those who called themselves apostles (but were not), exposed their lies and did not tolerate evil people in their midst. They suffered because of their faith and didn't grow weary.
Yet Yeshua had one thing against them – that they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4). The word "left" in the Greek also can mean that they neglected their first love. The word used here for "love" is "agape" which describes God's divine love for His creation – the highest of all loves – a love that is not selfish, is sacrificial, and without conditions, that is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit when we receive Yeshua (Rom. 5:5). This is not a love that we are born with. Yeshua warns the Ephesians and shows them the way to return to their first love: "Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent, and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand – unless you repent" (Rev. 2:5).
Clearly they had lost their passion for intimacy with the Lord, and perhaps had been distracted by the busyness of all the good works they were doing. What a loving warning this is from Yeshua to us today, that the “lampstand” of His presence in our life, our families, our congregations, not be removed from our midst!
At this time of Hanukkah as we remember the re-dedication of the vessels of the Lord’s house, take a moment to remember when you first met Yeshua – the excitement of spending time with Him, telling people about Him, eagerly looking forward to being in the congregation in corporate worship and study in the Word, serving freely. If you look at your life today, do you still have the same excitement, that same passion for Him? If Yeshua is showing you have left your first love, repent, and receive a new filling of His infinite love and mercy!