As the church takes over the leadership of God’s people, the armies of Satan march to knock us down. John sees a vision of Christ with messages bracing His armies to face the enemy.
- Times of the Gentiles
- Messages to churches
Background of Revelation
- In the second great wave of persecution emperor Domitan demanded public worship to him as god.
- John was banished to Patmos to do hard labour under lash of military overseer.
- It is most probably at this time, that while worshipping God on Lord’s day he sees a vision of the risen Christ with messages to Churches.
The Church takes over
As the church takes over the leadership of God’s people, the armies of Satan march on to destroy the church. One by one, they start knocking down the ranks of God’s kingdom.
The Letters to the Churches
In the letters, Christ prepares His armies to face the enemy – Revelation 1-3
- Author: God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit ( Revelation 1:4-5).
- Recipient: Angel of a church (i.e. pastor), with dual referencing to everyone in many churches through ages (Revelation 2:7)
- The number 7, the 7 churches, stars, candlesticks, etc. represent perfection, completion.
- Several fake believers bringing in sex, religion, politics, wealth, power, etc.
- Individual conquerors in every church though the church may be destroyed.
- Prophetic revelations have and are coming true.
Ephesus: “The Desired One”
Christ’s characteristics: Holds seven stars and walks among seven lampstands.
Church characteristics: Toil, patient endurance, cannot bear those who are evil, tests false apostles.
Complaints: Abandoned first love
Conquerors’ reward: tree of life
Smyrna: “Myrrh – Death”
Christ’s characteristics: First and last who died and came to life
Church characteristics: Poor (yet rich), facing slander, Testing, tribulation, death, crown of life
Conquerors’ reward: Not hurt by second death
Smyrna: “Myrrh – Death” Death of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna
- Fed and provided for his arrestors.
- Asked for one hour with the Lord.
- Was offered to curse Christ and say “Caesar is Lord” to live
- Responded: “86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who loved me and saved me”.
- Burnt at the stake.
Pergamos: “Mixed marriage”
- Christ’s characteristics: Has sharp two edged sword
- Church characteristics: Dwells where Satan’s throne is, hold fast name in spite of Antipas’ martyrdom.
- Complaints: hold teachings of Balaam, Nicolaitans, practice sexual immorality.
- Conquerors’ reward: hidden manna, white stone, new name
Thyatira: “Continual sacrifice”
- Christ’s characteristics: Son of God, eyes are flame of fire, feet burnished bronze:
- Church characteristics: Love, faith, service, patient endurance, latter works exceed first, have not learned deep things of Satan
- Complaints: Tolerate Jezebel – sexual immorality, food offered to idols
- Conquerors’ reward: Authority over nations, rule with rod of iron, break to pieces, morning star
- Christ’s characteristics: Seven spirits, seven stars
- Church characteristics: Few have not soiled garments, will walk in white
- Complaints: Reputation of life but are dead, works not complete
- Conquerors’ reward: White garments, name never blotted out of book of life, acknowledged before Father
Philadelphia: “Brotherly Love”
- Christ’s characteristics: Holy, true one, holding key of David, opens door that no one can shut, shuts doors, no one can open
- Church characteristics: Little power, kept word, not denied name. Jews from synagogue of Satan will bow down before them.
- Complaints: None
- Conquerors’ reward: Keep from hour of trial, make pillar in temple, write name of God, city of God, new Jerusalem, new name of Jesus.
Laodicea: “Power of the Laity”
- Christ’s characteristics: Faithful true witness, beginning of God’s creation
- Church characteristics: Nothing good.
- Complaints: Neither cold not hot, lukewarm. Say: rich, prosperous, need nothing, whereas: wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, naked.
- Conquerors’ reward: Sit with Jesus on His throne
“As it was in the days of Noah”, there are few righteous people defending God’s kingdom. As Satan’s control, dominates the church of God, and God’s faithful few await the second coming of Christ which will finally demonstrate the final victory of Christ leading his people to destroy Satan.
Recap – The Church of God
|Ephesus: The Desired One||Toil, patient endurance, cannot bear evil, tested false apostles,||Abandoned first love|
|Smyrna: Myrrh – Death||Poor (yet rich), facing slander, testing, tribulation, death, crown of life||None|
|Pergamos: Mixed Marriage||Dwells where Satan’s throne is, hold fast name in spite of Antipas’ martyrdom.||Hold teachings of Balaam, Nicolaitans, practice sexual immorality|
|Thyatira: Continual Sacrifice||love, faith, service, patient endurance, latter works exceed first, not learned deep things of Satan||Tolerate Jezebel – sexual immorality, food offered to idols|
|Sardis: Remnantworks not complete||Few have not soiled garments||Reputation of life but are dead,|
|Philadelphia: Brotherly Love||Little power, kept word, patient endurance, not denied name. Jews from synagogue of Satan will bow before them.||None|
|Laodicea: Power of the Laity||Nothing good||Neither cold nor hot, lukewarm, Say: rich, prosperous, need nothing, whereas: wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, naked.|
- All churches were eventually destroyed implying they did not heed God’s warning. Given the dual relevance, what does this imply to the global church?
- Rev 3:20 shows Jesus outside a door, knocking, in a letter to a church. Reflect and discuss this picture. While this refers to individuals could this refer to the church?
- In what ways do we see similarities with our churches today to Laodicea?
- How can we be a “conqueror”?
- @ Dr. Heinz Lycklama