Updated: Apr 19
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. - Revelation 1:3 KJV
The Book of Revelation starts off with messages to the Seven churches of Asia. The reader is admonished to keep (observe) the words of the prophecy in anticipation of the time ahead and yet a lot of the time, we have read the messages to the Churches as only an admonition to those in the past, a prophetic timeline of the generations of the churches, or as something that applies to the future with no real application for us today. In fact, Revelation 1-3 comprises the most 'glossed over' portion of the book. What is it that we are admonished to keep? In this post, we explore the things which were said to the Churches and sent by God as guidance for the structure of the church and as preparation for the time of the end.
Revelation 1 sets the stage by providing context for the relevance of all the things that are said thereafter. John is on the Island of Patmos and is in the Spirit - in wholly consecrated prayer with all his focus on the task at hand, undistracted by anything else - when he hears a voice behind Him. This voice belongs to one known as the Alpha and Omega (the first and the last). The distinction in this particular appearance of Jesus is important. By being the first and the last, He encapsulates all time and signals that whatever prophecy (testimony of Jesus Christ) is about to be given encapsulates all things from the beginning of time to the end of it. Whatever is about to be said pertains to the 'End Game', to the culmination of all things, the high note towards which all the notes before have been playing. This distinction makes everything in His appearance relevant and this relevance is explained throughout the messages to each of the Seven churches.
There are 4 key elements underlying the messages to each church. These elements are: Which revelation of Jesus the message is from, the things that are going well and should continue, the things that are not going so well and need to be corrected, and the reward for overcoming. All the things mentioned apply to our daily lives and are things that need to be working correctly so we can function in the fullness of the glory of the Church, as the Candlesticks that we are called to be (Matthew 5:15, Luke 11:33). The revelation of Jesus that the message is from informs us of the Name of God/The Revelation of God that we will become familiar with as we pay attention to the message that He is sending to us. Here is an example of where God revealed Himself in a new way to Moses and the Children of Israel.
And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. - Exodus 6:2-3 KJV
As we proceed to look at the messages delivered to the churches, take note of the Name God uses - that's a revelation of Himself that He wants to give to those who hear; the things that He says need to be corrected or continued - these will be paraphrased to convey the gist of what is said in a way that we can examine in our lives and apply; and the spiritual blessing and authority that will come with overcoming/obeying His voice. Every message applies to every believer at some point, for some, multiple messages apply at the same time. Please study the text as you read this as invariably there's so much more to it than will be written here. God will make the things that you need evident to you as you meditate on His word.
See next post for message to the first church.