The Seven Churches
The Church of Sardis
The city of Sardis was the capital of Lydia. It was known for its markets in wool, carpet weaving, dying, minting of gold coins, and slaves. The main religion of this city was the Babylonian worship of Cybele and Baal. Cybele is the Asian name for Semiramis. I mentioned in my article on the Jehovah’s Witnesses that Semiramis was the wife of Nimrod, Noah’s grandson. Semiramis turned Nimrod into a god, known as the Sun-god, life giver, or Baal. Therefore, the Babylonians worshiped both Semiramis as the mother, and Baal as the son. We have already seen that Baal was worshiped in Elijah’s time in the Old Testament, but it took a turn here:
1 Kings 19:14-18 – He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoit Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (NIV)
In this passage, Elijah fled to the mountain of Horab. Despite winning the bull sacrifice challenge, he was running from Jezebel and afraid for his life. Elijah thought he was the only one left that followed the true God. However, God tells him to go back to Damascus because there are 7,000 others that have stayed truthful to God. This is a turning point where God’s true followers will come back into power. This turning point represents the age of Sardis, and is prophetic of the Protestant Reformation.
The Protestant Reformation
In 1517, Martin Luther (see picture above) wrote The Ninety-Five Theses which triggered the Protestant Reformation. This paper was 95 statements about the Christian faith. Let me be clear that I do not agree with all of Luther’s beliefs, but Luther’s general idea was correct. He believed that all men could only gain forgiveness from God Himself, and not from a priest or the pope. Many of the statements took power from the papacy and gave it to the public. This resonated well with people regardless of class, status, or wealth. In 1518, Luther even claimed that the papacy should not even be considered part of the Biblical Church. In 1521, Luther was excommunicated, but that did not stop him from spreading his beliefs. In 1522, Luther published his German translation of the New Testament and later finished an Old Testament translation in 1534. The Protestant Reformation signaled a time in which the papacy began to lose power. Thus, 1517 marks the beginning of the age of Sardis.
Despite the Protestant Reformation being in the right direction, God gives a warning:
Revelation 3:2-5 – become watching, and strengthen the rest of the things that are about to die, for I have not found thy works fulfilled before God. ‘Remember, then, how thou hast received, and heard, and be keeping, and reform: if, then, thou mayest not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou mayest not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis who did not defile their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy. He who is overcoming – this one – shall be arrayed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the scroll of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before His messengers. (YLT)
God praises people for their understanding that salvation is by faith alone, and not through some priest or bishop. However, God says that they must continue to reform, because their teaching was incomplete. In my article on the Second Coming, I mentioned the three main ages: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. These three can also be applied to levels of faith in an individual. The people of the Protestant Reformation had a Passover level of faith, but were lacking Pentecostal and Tabernacle levels of faith. God continues to say that there are a few who are worthy to wear white. This is repeated later in Revelation:
Revelation 7:13-15 – And answer did one of the elders, saying to me, ‘These, who have been arrayed with the white robes – who are thy, and whence came they?’ and I have said to him, ‘Sir thou hast known;’ and he said to me, ‘These are those who are coming out of the great tribulation, and they did wash their robes, and made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb; because of this they before throne of God, and they do service to Him day and night in His sanctuary, and He who is sitting upon the throne shall tabernacle over them; (YLT)
In every age there are trials and tribulations, but there are also elite overcomers who withstand them. They have a Tabernacle level of faith, and will sit on the throne of God.
Page 1 of 4
< Back to Revelation
Next Page of The Seven Churches >