The city of Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia and was located near the major east-west trade route. The jewel and textile trades made this city quite wealthy. Sardis is also known as the first place coins were minted. It was a religious center of worship for the goddess Artemis, as well as for the imperial cult.
Geographically, the city was strategically located on a plateau 1,000 feet high in the Hermes Valley, which made it easy to spot the enemy approaching. Three of the four sides of this plateau were too smooth to climb, and the fourth, the south side, was difficult to climb and heavily guarded.
In church history, this letter to the Church in Sardis represents approximately 1517-1800 A.D., beginning with Martin Luther nailing his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and ushering in the time of Reformation, with “protestants” breaking away from the rule of the Catholic church and returning to the Word of God and justification by faith and not works. If only today’s churches had the zeal, Biblical soundness, and faith of these early reformers.
“He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.'” ~Revelation 3:1-3
We know that the seven stars are the pastors, shepherds of the seven churches. But the seven Spirits of God??
There is only one Spirit, the Holy Spirit, but in Isaiah 11:2, there is a description of the nature and fullness of the Spirit~ “And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” From this we know the Spirit is from the LORD and will rest on us (Him in this verse is referring to Messiah, Jesus, and is part of a prophecy), gives wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and the fear of the LORD. [A side note on the capital letters “LORD”- whenever you see that in the Bible, it is referring to the name of God, we say as “Yahweh”- literal Hebrew “YHWH”- for which is often substituted the word Jehovah. The pious Jews, in reverence and fear, stopped saying this word aloud, instead substituting “Lord, Adonai,” and the exact pronunciation of YHWH has been lost.]
“‘I know your deeds'”- this is the only commendation that Jesus gives this church, until verse 4. “‘that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.'” The reputation of the church in Sardis was that of spiritual life, but there were no fruits of the Holy Spirit, they were not growing, walking, living in the Spirit.
“‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain'”. In approximately 549 B.C., Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was able to lead a successful attack and conquer Sardis. How? It seems the guards were asleep. After all, the plateau was nearly impossible to climb! So when Jesus tells them in this letter to wake up, they understand all too well from their own history what He is saying to them. “‘If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.'”
“‘Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.'” Keep it. Hold fast. Repent. Return to having faith in Jesus, walking in the Spirit, reading the Word, obeying God.
But. “‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.'” ~Revelation 2:4-5
Clothed in white garments represents complete righteousness, the righteousness of Jesus, which covers us when we believe and accept His payment for our sins on the cross. We are assured that if we believe, we may know we have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and our name is written in the book of life (Luke 10:20, Philippians 4:3). Jesus said in Matthew 10:33~ “‘Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.'”
I want Jesus to confess my name before God and the angels! 🙂 Please, God, let me walk with You all the days of my life.