As people of God, our first and greatest priority is worship. Worship is when God renews and confirms the covenant He has given to us, and it is also the time when God measures us. For those who honour God in worship, who offer themselves as living sacrifices to God, great blessings await. We see this in the seven churches in Revelation. They represent the churches of the end time, and each of them are measured by Jesus Himself. Jesus says to them, “I know what you are going through. I know your faith. But here are the things that you are not doing correctly.” And so Jesus admonishes them but also promises them blessings; the blessing of entering the New Jerusalem.
Jesus speaks about the distinction between those who enter into the New Jerusalem and those who remain outside (Revelation 22:11-17). He speaks about the judgement, the lake of fire, and the blessing of the morning star and the restored garden. This New Jerusalem completes God’s work of creation and redemption that began in Genesis 1, and so it shows us the state that God wants us to be like. The 25 places in Ezekiel’s temple tell us about the parts of our spiritual body which need to measure up to God’s standard. In Revelation 22:15 we see the list of people whose lives do not measure up. Are we going to be able to enter into this final temple, or will the walls separate us in the end?
The New Jerusalem is also described and explained through Ezekiel’s temple. Together, these two temples show us the conclusion of all things and the saints. They are the images of the recovered garden of Eden. Because sin came into the garden of Eden, mankind was unable to stay within the garden which symbolized the presence and dwelling of God. It means that because of sin, we couldn’t dwell together with God in fellowship. And thus the Sabbath was broken, along with our relationship with God.
Throughout the bible, redemptive history is about restoring that relationship and that temple. And the conclusion of the bible tells us about that restoration. The Israelites were kicked out of Jerusalem in Babylonian exile, but while they were in Babylon, Ezekiel received the vision of the temple. In Revelation, the Apostle John sees the saints of God in Babylon, and they receive the call to “Come out!” (Revelation 18:4). Babylon is the beast of this world that holds the saints captive. For us to be freed from such bondage, we need to receive the blood of Jesus Christ.
Ezekiel 8:6-12 tells us about the reason why the first temple was destroyed. It talks about the temple in Jerusalem which was destroyed by Babylon. There was a small hole hidden in the wall, and through that hole in the wall, detestable things started to come in. Sin came in, and the whole wall was carved and painted with images of idols. Priests, elders, Levites, these people who were supposed to be serving God were serving idols instead. But after God measured the temple wall, the glory of God returned. So in this way, measuring is restoring.
The wall of Ezekiel’s temple distinguishes between the holy and the profane (Ezekiel 42:20). Profane doesn’t mean dirty or unclean, but common. What is ordinary and common in the world does not measure up to God’s standard. What the world approves, the trend of the world does not fit inside the temple of God. It is only the holy who are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. The walls set the boundary between the holy and the profane, showing that there is no compromise for the holiness of God. (Numbers 5:1-4; Ezekiel 43:1-5; Revelation 21:27)
The measurement of the seven churches
So how do we measure up? Is it by our strength and our works? It isn’t about our ability. The measuring rod is the Word of God, and if we don’t measure up, Jesus tells us what we need to do through the Word. When we obey the Word in faith, we can measure up. Obedience to the Word requires our body and spirit to come together.
The church of Ephesus received an admonishment of having abandoned their first love (Revelation 2:2-4) but also received the promise that, should they overcome, they will eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
The church of Smyrna was already going through intense persecutions and hardships, and so they weren’t admonished but warned instead. Jesus told them not to fear the suffering that is to come and to be faithful unto death. (Revelation 2:10) If they do so, they would receive the crown of life and immunity from the second death in hell. (Revelation 2:11)
The church of Pergamum was admonished for holding to the teaching of Balaam, which symbolizes idolatry and sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:13-16) Jesus told them to repent, and, upon their obedience, would give them the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it. (Revelation 2:17) White stones were given to slaves as a sign of their freedom, and judges at the time also gave white stones to declare the innocence of the accused.
The church of Thyatira received admonishment for tolerating the woman Jezebel, a self-proclaimed prophetess who led the people to practice sexual immorality and idolatry. (Revelation 2:19-25)
The church of Sardis was admonished for appearing alive on the outside but being dead spiritually. Jesus thus told them to wake up and strengthen themselves through the Word they have received. (Revelation 3:1-4) Should they obey, Jesus would clothe them with white garments and never blot their names from the book of life. (Revelation 3:5)
The church of Philadelphia was commended for keeping Jesus’ Word and not denying His name. As such, Jesus encouraged them to hold fast to what they have and to endure until the end. (Revelation 3:8-11) If they endure to the end, Jesus would make them pillars in the temple of God, the New Jerusalem.
Finally, the church of Laodicea was admonished for being lukewarm in their faith. Jesus warned them that, should they remain neither hot nor cold, He would spit them out of His mouth. As such, Jesus told them to be sold out for Jesus alone, to buy the riches of heaven rather than that of the world (Revelation 3:15-20). Jesus promises them that if they overcome, they will be granted permission to sit with Him on His throne (Revelation 3:21).
We need to follow Jesus’ instructions to these seven churches and live according to it by faith. The most dangerous thing for us to think when it comes to the Word of God is the phrase, “I’ve studied that before.” That kind of thinking is why we cannot be fixed. Let us pray that God will make us holy. Let us not take this lightly. May we be able to uphold the holiness of God’s church.