Summary: Message to the Churches
How many of us like criticism?
„X Yet this is exactly what we find in the next couple of chapters of Revelation
„X Not just criticism from a fellow human being, but from Jesus Christ
„X How would we fare if Jesus Christ showed up one day and started to critique our church and the people in it
„X Might say its not very politically correct nor psychologically correct ¡V bad for our self-image
„X Yet this is exactly what Jesus does to the seven churches in Asia Minor
„X Self examination and criticism is something we find encouraged throughout scripture
„X In a way, our denomination has been put through this process
„X We have been forced to look at ourselves very carefully and evaluate our doctrines, our culture, our worship patterns, how we relate to other churches and how we relate to the world
„X This is a healthy process to go through
„X But it is only effective if we heed the criticism or as Jesus says here, 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches
„X But it also shows Jesus cares about his church. The Lord of the universe is like a loving parent hovering over his children
„X He knows peoples names, places and events
„X He makes this same critique of every congregation that is his
„X So we need to take our Christianity seriously, because God does
As we go through the study and we look at these criticisms, both good and bad, we learn the criteria by which Jesus measures the church
„X The messages themselves are a mixture of encouragement and warning
„X The messages are personal enough so that at the end of each reading, each person knows where he stands, as those who are praised or blamed
„X Yet on the other hand they are given with the hope those guilty will change
The situations addressed in these seven messages are interchangeable.
„X What is said to any one congregation is said to all.
„X At the end of each message comes the appeal to listen to "what the Spirit says to the churches" (not just this church in particular)
„X In the message to Thyatira comes a promise that "all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds" (2:23).
„X The language recalls expressions of Jesus in the Gospels, such as "let anyone with ears to hear listen" (eight occurrences) or "what I say to you I say to everyone: `Watch!’" (Mk 13:37).
One feature of the seven messages is the self-introduction of the Speaker at the beginning of each message.
„X Of course this is Jesus, but he introduces himself with a different designation each time:
(1) him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands (2:1);
(2) him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again (2:8);
(3) him who has the sharp, double-edged sword (2:12);
(4) the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze (2:18);
(5) him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars (3:1);
(6) him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open (3:7);