by Steven P. Wickstrom
Revelations chapter three
(1) And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 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.
To the angel of the church in Sardis. The city of Sardis was built around B.C. 500 and was located on a narrow plateau fifteen hundred feet above sea level, about thirty-five miles southeast of Thyatira. Because the city was built in a mountainous region it was a natural citadel. It was the capital of the Lydian Empire and was still an important city during the Roman Empire. Sardis had become famous for their abilities in arts and crafts. They made lavish use of the local brightly colored and semi-precious stones such as fire opal and banded agate. The Sardians also had a process in which they used blue chalcedony that they mined nearby. Their jewlry was reknown throughout the empire. Some historians claim that Sardis was the first city to mint coinage using the precious metals; gold and silver. The nearby mountains were dotted with gold mines thus making the city the monetary capital of the region. The patron deity, named Cybele, was believed to possess the power and ability of restoring the dead back to life. The Romans built a temple for the goddess Artemis and a large bath-gymnasium complex. An earthquake hit the city in A.D. 17, causing tremendous damage.
According to Matthew Henry, the church in Sardis was founded by the Apostle John. Other people think the church may have been started by the Apostle Paul, and another line line of thinking is it was started by one of his disciples. I could find no data as to when the church was started or by whom. What matters is that the church was real and that it had a real problem.
He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars. Sometimes I have a really difficult time with symbolism. It can be, and usually is, very complex and difficult to comprehend. For example, what are the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars? What does that mean? Why seven? Why not six or eight? Let’s take a look at scripture and see if we can find an answer.
The number seven has a tendency to represent, or be a symbol of, completeness, or perfection. A reference is made in Rev. 1:4 to seven Spirits who are in front of God’s throne. The word Spirits is capitalized, which mean they are part of, and are in essence, God himself. The word Spirits is the Greek word “pnedma” which means breath or wind. Perhaps the seven Spirits are personifications of God, or maybe they represent seven of His powers.
In Isaiah 11:2, the prophet speaks of the Spirit of Lord resting upon Jesus the Messiah. Perhaps these are the seven Spirits. Let’s take a look at Isaiah 11:2.