The Seven Churches Of Revelation
Revelation 1:11-13; 20 — “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. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 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 … 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.”
The book of Revelation is book that offers great insight to future events that will take place concerning this world, primarily in the Middle East and with Israel. We often think of the book of Revelation with those thoughts in mind: the Antichrist, the tribulation period, Israel’s great suffering, the second coming of Christ, and the battle of Armageddon. However, we don’t often consider the powerful illustrations that are given to us—the seven churches of Revelation— provided in Revelation 2 and 3. The seven churches that Jesus addressed in the first few chapters of the book of Revelation actually give us great insight on the history of the church, individual churches, and believers today.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will explore these seven churches to see how they were interpreted during John’s day, and how they apply to us today.
John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos by the Roman emperor Domitian. This isle was used as a prison work camp, which means that John was exiled here as a prisoner. He would have been treated just like any other prisoner, subjected to strict slave labor. This isle was a volcanic island, small, rocky, and basically barren of all plant life. Yet, in this lonely, awful situation God gave this apostle some of the greatest insights regarding future events.
You do not have to be a preacher in an expensive suit, or have a big platform and a lot of talent to receive great revelation from the Lord.\. You can be an apostle, alone in a prison camp, overworked, starved, beaten, stripped of all dignity, and still hear great things from God. In fact, it’s normally in uncomfortable situations that God is able to speak to us. That can be encouraging. Maybe you’ve recently found yourself in this type of situation, maybe not so much physically but spiritually. You are lonely, broken, and desperate to hear from God. That is the place where God can speak to you. It is in this place the God gave John the book of Revelation.
The things that John saw prove difficult for us to interpret. In fact, if you will look at the use of the Greek language that John used, it was hard for him to write it down. The grammar used in this book is so much different than any other book in the Bible. That’s because what John saw was hard to describe. He saw God in all of His glory, Jesus is all of His splendor, and heaven! The first chapter begins with a glorious description of Jesus Christ and a picture of Christ standing in the midst of seven golden candlesticks, and seven stars. The seven candlesticks are the seven churches of Revelation, and the seven stars are the pastors of those churches. So Jesus has a message for the churches and a message specifically for the leadership. There is a threat that these candlesticks can be put out, and yet there were some churches that were thriving.
Next week, we will begin with the church of Ephesus—a doctrinally sound church, but a church that had wandered from its first love, Jesus Christ.
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