Summary: Expounding on the first few chapters of Revelation & looking for modern applications.
REVELATION – a letter to the churches
Of all the books of the bible none is more misunderstood and more avoided than the book of Revelation. Some will say the book of Revelation is so filled with mystery & symbolism how can we know what to take literally and what to view as symbolic? What is a Child of God to do with this book? Well, the answer is simple. Read it!
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Let’s start with a simple question: Is Revelation scripture? Yes! Therefore Revelation is profitable for doctrine. There are teachings in this book that God wants you to know. If a believer goes through life ignoring the book of Revelation he or she will not be thoroughly equipped.
If you had to go through life blind or deaf, if you were missing your arms or your legs you could survive, you may even achieve great things but it would be that much more difficult. To ignore Revelation and end times prophecy is to be spiritually and doctrinally deficient and even though a person may get by they will be missing something that God has declared valuable.
Before we began to read from chapter one let me point out a few things. First of all the book is called REVELATION, not Revelations (plural). Revelation means an “uncovering” or an “unveiling”. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ, that is, what was hidden is now being revealed. It is revealed to the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos towards the end of his life somewhere around the year 90-95 A.D. You have heard the word apocalypse? Apocalypse is the Greek word that means Revelation.
REVELATION 1:1-8 --- Preach!
In chapter 2 The Lord tells John to write letters to the 7 churches which are in Asia Minor which is modern day Turkey. The first letter is written to the church of Ephesus which was only around 50 years old give or take – The Lord says to them “I have this against you that you have left your first love (2:4)” He tells them they must repent or else their lampstand would be removed - in other words God will bring an end their church.
Have we lost our first love? Have we continued to grow in the faith or have we become sidetracked by the things of this world. If you’re not as close to God as you once were that means somebody has moved, and we can be sure it wasn’t the Lord.
However Verse 7 says - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God”
If they were willing to hear the voice of the Spirit and if they overcame they would most certainly enter into Paradise.
The 2nd letter was written to the church of Smyrna which was suffering great persecuting from the Jews. The Lord refers to those doing the persecution as being part of the “synagogue of Satan”. They say they are Jews but they are not. It wasn’t that they were not Israelites according to the flesh but that they made themselves enemies of God by persecuting the Lord and His Church.
This church is encouraged in that although their suffering would be great it would be brief and if they were faithful until death they would receive a crown of life. Verses 11 says “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death”
We here in the United States simply do not know what real persecution is, Millions of Christians have suffered and died for their faith and they remained faithful unto death! We simply don’t know what that’s like but one thing remains true both for us and for them – a believer must remain faithful. If a person falls away from the faith it only proves they never had a true saving faith to begin with.
The third letter was written to the church at Pergamos. Pergamos was known as a compromising church, there were those in it who gave themselves over to worldly pleasures, a preoccupation for wealth, sensuality and self-indulgence. Someone might say but aren’t these things always a temptation – to individuals maybe but for a church to have this as their reputation tells a lot about where they stood spiritually and what was worse they used their liberty in Christ as an excuse, of course their liberty quickly turned to license.
This is most certainly an issue that we face in America today, I had one former Pastor challenge me after I made the statement that Christians ought to try to obey the 10 commandments. He said “what do you mean ‘try to obey the commandments’. I was surprised he would argue the point after all we both agreed nobody is saved by keeping the commandments, we have all sinned, we cannot quote unquote “keep the law” that’s why Christ did it for us – so we understood all that but when I say we ought to try and keep the commandments I mean if you find somebodies wallet on the ground you should give it back to them without taking all the cash out.