Sunday, 19 February 2017

Revelation: The Seven Churches.

Continued from last post:
Did you ever have a best friend?  Someone with whom you had a lot in common; someone you hung out with constantly; someone you would trust with your most important secrets and possessions?  John, the guy who wrote down what became the book of Revelation in the Bible was, and had, a best friend – Jesus.  When Jesus was on this earth John was his closest buddy and as Jesus was dying on the cross he trusted John enough to ask him to take care of his mother Mary as if she were his own mother. (John 19: 26, 27)  And when it came time to reveal (the definition of Revelation) the end time prophecies, Jesus once again turned to John, someone he could trust.

          In the first chapter of Revelation we learn that John was in exile on a little island called Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the Gospel of Jesus to anyone who would listen.  By this time John was an old man and one Sabbath morning, while he was praying, a loud voice behind him made him turn around and there was Jesus, his old friend.  Jesus was clothed with the glory of heaven and was standing amid seven lamp stands while holding seven stars in his right hand.  Jesus explained to John that the seven lamp stands were the seven churches in Asia and that the seven stars were the angels of the seven churches.

Who are the seven stars, or angels, of the seven churches?  Some say they are literal angels assigned to guide and watch over the churches, but because the messages sent to the churches contain reprimands, we have to conclude that the seven angels/stars cannot be perfect heavenly beings.  The stars must represent flawed humans, so the logical conclusion is that they represent church leaders such as priests, pastors, elders, etc.  And what are the seven churches?  Jesus himself lists them in Revelation 1: 11:  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. 

          Middle East                            Turkey and the location of the seven churches              

            As we have seen in previous studies,  prophecies often have a dual application.  The characteristics of the literal seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) parallel the spiritual characteristics of the Christian church as a whole throughout its history.  So as we study what Jesus says about the seven churches we will be applying it to the history of Jesus’ true followers for the past 2000 years. 
But that is only half the story.  Along with the spiritual characteristics of the church at different times, we will also learn what worldly experiences the church went through.  In Revelation Chapters four and five we are shown something that occurs in heaven.  God, on his throne, is holding a book with seven seals securely closing it.  The Lamb of God – Jesus – takes the book from God.  The Lamb has “…seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”  Rev. 5: 6   Jesus is the leader, the horn, of all seven churches, and the Holy Spirit (the eye) watches over and guides the seven churches through their experiences. (see Appendix 2)