A Study in Revelation/End Times pt.5

VI.

REVELATION AND THE SEVEN CHURCHES

Rev. 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

The first thing to know is that this book is revelation of Jesus Christ. The first thing to know about revelation of Christ is that it comes from God.

Rev. 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

There are many who interpret this to mean “the time is soon,” that every thing written in this book is promised to happen soon. It does not say that. It says the time is ‘at hand.’

Right now, near me, I have ‘at hand’ a candle, a camera, a fishing bobbin, and a Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible. But I’m likely to use only one of these soon. They are still ready to use, within my reach, instantly.

Many things are revealed in the revelation f Jesus Christ. The time for them to begin is ‘at hand,’ ready at an instant. When that instant will come, however, is a good question, a time Jesus said in Acts 1:7 the Father has put in His own power.

And remember 1 Thes. 5:7 told us to watch, not because we’d know when it came, but because we could recognize it as it got here. And we keep the words of this prophesy in so doing.

Some of these things have surely come to pass. The prophesies regarding the ‘Seven Churches,” as we shall see.

And each thing that happens indeed falls quickly, as will the return of Christ.

But as we will see, some things in Revelation happened ‘soon,’ in the traditional sense, and some?  They will happen ‘hereafter.’

Rev. 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

John wrote to seven churches, seven called out groups of Christians in Asia. To my knowledge there is not one single piece of historic documentation that the Church questioned who these churches were in the first and second century. No Christian writer quoted anyone from the time this was written as having a question.

When John wrote this, there were seven Christian congregations in Asia Minor that this was specifically addressed to.

They were of the Body of Christ. This was addressed to Christians, revelation of Jesus Christ..

Rev. 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Does he come with clouds? Yes, both in the clouds of Heaven and with clouds of angels. Shall every eye see him? Yes. “…And they also which pierced him.” Shall they see him?

Yes.

They shall see him at the resurrection of the just and unjust. This book will tell us about that.

But some assume that those who pierced Jesus Christ saw his return in the clouds. This may leave that open for an opinion, but it does not clarify, and we have the advantage of knowing their seeing him will be at the resurrection.

Rev. 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Without getting sidetracked with its connotations, most texts read “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord.” Now we get into the narrative of the message of Revelation.

Rev. 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

This was not the voice of a trumpet, it was a voice as if a trumpet. Furthermore, he said he was in the spirit in the Lord’s day. We are to keep in mind that this book is focused on the events of the end of time.

Rev. 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Again without getting sidetracked, the oldest texts simply read “Saying, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; etc.” They do not say this speaker claims to be an Alpha and Omega. That was added in later texts.

Rev. 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

The Lord God is Alpha and Omega, the Arche and Telos. Telos is the final. God is the Arche, the architect, He is Who decrees what is and what will be.

Jesus is the first and last, the protos and enteros. First of the series and best of the series.

We, Christians, are the series, we and the olive tree, Israel, we are grafted into.

Rev. 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

John was to write these things: What he sees, of things that are and things that are hereafter.

So not all of Revelation was intended to be looked at as a series of future events. Some was at that time ‘what is,’ like the seven Churches. We shall see that specifically at the end of this section.

Rev. 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Remember, a mystery is not a secret, it is a revelation to the inner circle. It is revealed.

This coming up is the revealing of the seven churches. It was shrouded but no longer. This will explain it clearly.

Rev. 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

We read the great revelation to the Ephesians, how they loved God, how they were faithful.

To the Ephesians God sent revelation regarding, the Mystery, the Body with Christ as the Head, that we are filled with the fullness of God.

But by the time John wrote this, they had grown somewhat cold, had left this love. They labored, but not with the fervor.

Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

“Remove thy candlestick.” Does this say he will condemn them to hell or eternal death?

No. But their candlestick, their high honor, will be removed. Brothers and sisters, the message to the seven Churches reveals how Christians will be judged for highest honors when Christ comes back.

Rev. 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Even in the Church, there are some to high honor, some to obscurity. Do we as Christians think just because we are promised salvation we are likewise guaranteed the highest honors of the Kingdom?

”1 Cor. 3:13: Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

If a Christian builds on the foundation of Christ lies, idolatry, hate, etc., he is saved but his works are burned. Him shall God ‘mar,’ shall keep from being among the most honored in New Jerusalem.

Rev. 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

A crown of life. This too is of honor and glory. Smyrna was a persecuted Church. They would suffer for the name of Christ. But in standing, they would get a crown of life. A crown is authority, responsibility and privilege. But the life of the believer himself is in the foundation Christ lays, as we are told in 1 Cor. Not in his works, even if he (or she) is honored with a crown.

Rev. 2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
You might think it odd that this does not say “He that overcometh shall not be killed of the second death.” It says ‘hurt.’ ‘Adikethe,’ injured.

Our slate as Christians is not wiped out at the gathering Paul spoke of, though we shall ever be with the Lord. It is wiped at the Judgment, when the elements will melt with fervent heat.

Rev. 2:12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

This cries against several things, things we are not to contaminate ourselves with.

Pergamos was home to ‘the Great Altar,” which resides in a museum in Germany now. At the time of this writing, it was where Satan himself hung out, from where he ruled the kingdoms of this world through the influence of subordinate spirits.

But the Scriptures were dabbling in the doctrine of Balaam: False prophesies, ‘seer’ speaking ‘foretelling prophesies’ on demand, like we see in some Churches.

Some even held to the gnostic mysticism and religious sexuality of the Nicolaitanes, who preached unbridled sexuality as a form of spiritual nirvana and passageway on earth.

Many of us have seen these doctrines creep into our own Churches.

Rev. 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

“Or else I will come?”

This obviously does not speak about the second coming, but rather like Jesus’ appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus. Yes, Jesus can do this. He is, after all, Head of the Body.

Rev. 2:17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

See? This is not about eternal life. It is about honor and glory and even privilege.

Rev. 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Remember God is not mocked. Jezebel was a real woman in a very real Thyatira who lead God’s children into idolatry and set an example of open fornication, promiscuity.  A consequence she by now long ago received was that her children were given to death, and I’d bet it was not of old age.

Whether we call our idolatry gods or saints, and justify our fornications by ignoring God’s Word, we allow ourselves to be suckered in, this is the judgment.

Rev. 2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Those who can resist these situations and temptations can rule nations. We see our own national leaders following fornication, religious leaders doing likewise calling themselves prophets.

Neither are fit to lead. That’s not my opinion, that is from revelation of Jesus Christ.

Rev. 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

28 And I will give him the morning star.

God does not give this awesome responsibility to those who abuse leadership to satisfy their own lusts. And Jesus as Lord is the morning star. These shall work immediately with the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Rev. 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Rev. 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

In all these situations, we can relate to some. Here most of those in Sardis have entirely abandoned faith, who are told to repent.

But there are those who have not just said, “Heck with it. No one else is standing, why should I?”

Rev. 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Those who stand when no one else seems to be will be clothed in white.

Rev. 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Some just stand, day in, day out. They keep his word, and do not deny his name. Such will be spared ‘the hour of temptation’ and will receive a crown.

Rev. 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

He comes quickly. That word, again, is ‘tachios,’ quickly. Not ‘soon.’ When he comes, snap, done. So don’t let it catch us.

Rev. 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

We the Christians are the Temple of God, in whom He lives and dwells. These that simple unswervingly stand on the word of patience will be pillars.

Rev. 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

We’ve seen the social club Christians. We may be or may have been one. They mentally assent but neither fully reject or fully believe. Lukewarm.

Rev. 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

One of the most difficult environments to overcome is this lukewarm environment.

“Yeah, I’m a Christian, I go to Church, but that Joe, and that Sara, they are some kind of religious nuts.”

Rev. 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Through each environment, as we stay focused intently upon God, we have opportunities to receive blessings, honor and recognition in the Kingdom.

But this is all based on our steadfast love for God and His Son and His peoples.

These are what each of these Churches will be judged by, and what each Christian will be judged by, according to his or her circumstances and how well they did to overcome.

These, brothers and sisters, are things now. These are the things we are told in the first chapter of this revelation to keep.

And as we do so, we shall indeed be blessed.

Rev. 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Our mystery, our revealed doctrine regarding the seven churches and rewards, i.e., our judgment, is basically:

Each aspect is what applies most in any situation, any spiritual environment we might find ourselves in.

Ephesus? Their challenge was a church environment of complacency, of people pursuing things of this world except in Church. They had ‘left’ their first love.

Smyrna was hot for God, but the persecution was horrible.

Pergamos was a city fully given to evil, and the believers had to overcome an intense culture of wholehearted idolatry and a church leadership that was self-serving in their service to the Church.

Thyatira was an environment of spiritualism in the Church, and sexual misconduct.

Sardis’ Church was nothing more than a social club. Believers had to have faith when the others around them claiming to be Christian were dead in their faith, barely if at all even going through the motions.

Philadelphia was a major center of trade, Greek culture, and Roman Imperial rule. The rulers of the Jewish community were wholly given to Satanic service. There was every influence of temptation for lust and profit, riches and comfort.

Laodiceans had the temptation of a comfortable situation. The believers there were lukewarm on their faith. Mental assent. They thought they were so well, Laodicea was a wealthy city, but it was illusion. The spiritual reality is they weren’t doing much for Christ.

But using these examples as guides that we today can follow to see how we are to deal with our situations, we can see our obligation to Christ pertaining to that situation.

And we can behave as Christ tells us, keeping the words of this book.

Amen.

 

 

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