NEWDOMINOES 120

Seven Prophecies, Seven Churches

In our Sneakers article, The Context Of Prophecy, we discuss how prophecy is recurrent, that is it has more than one occurrence in kind. The same holds forth for the seven churches in the Book of Revelation. The description of the seven churches begins in chapter two of Revelation. But in chapter one, the apostle John was directed, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” [Rev. 1:11]. In the first century, these churches were located in the region called Asia, it's the westernmost region of Turkey today, separated from Greece by the Aegean Sea. Most likely, they were churches begun by the apostle Peter. [See 1 Pet. 1:1]. The term strangers in Peter's epistle refers to the fact that those of the House of Israel living there were not native to those lands. And Peter was an apostle to the House of Israel, not Gentiles. [See Mat. 10:5, 6; Acts 15:7; also the Feature article, Moving Forward].

The phrase “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” while listed in the King James Version’s verse eleven, is omitted from other English translations, as the oldest manuscripts do not include it.

We also read in the first chapter, “Write these things which you have seen and the things which are and the things which shall be hereafter.” [Rev. 1:19]. Thus, we have three periods of time referenced here. First, what John had seen. Then those things that are, meaning they were in existence in John’s lifetime in the first century. And the third time reference is the future.

John witnessed the seven candlesticks, or lampstands, mentioned in verses 12 and 13. These are the seven churches. The seven churches existed in the first century. But their descriptions also were a reference to the future, the prophetic seven eras of the church from the time of Christ’s first coming until his second coming. The future prophetic reference is not geographical in nature.

The descriptions in Revelation two and three apply to the character and behavior of the churches in the first century, but also are prophetic regarding the seven successive eras of the church over the past two millennia or so. These church eras do not stop and start abruptly, but they transition, or overlap from one into the next. We have this situation today.

The last two eras of the church prior to Christ’s return are Philadelphia, the sixth and Laodicea, the seventh. And they are two very distinct groups with two very different approaches to the word of God. Those of the Philadelphian church are active participants, while those of Laodicea are spectators when it comes to the word of God and the love of the truth. The latter is somewhat of a prodigal son, at least for those who overcome. One church will be kept from “ … the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world …” while the other will require passing through the fire of tribulation. “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire …” Those who are victorious will sit on the throne of Christ.

Which group we fall into depends on how we live our lives before God. Are we passionate daily in putting the kingdom of God and the love of the truth first in our life before all else? Or are we blasé, lukewarm in our day-to-day life when it comes to matters of faith? Below are the descriptions of the two churches from Revelation.

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, 'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: [a reference to Christ] "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

"Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie [a reference to Edom; see the Feature articles, Isaiah 63: Big Brother and Revelation 17: Big Brother as well as chapter six in The Blind Man's Elephant]—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.

"Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." [Rev. 3:7-10].  "And the woman [the chosen ekklesia, i.e., those of the Philadelphian church] fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. ... And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." [Rev 12:6, 14; also see the Feature article, Obadiah And The Prophetic Parable Of The Tares]. The amount of these days, 1260 and three and a half times are 42 months, or the same time Babylon the Great has reign over the Earth.

"Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes [Greek nikao, to conquer, to come off victorious], I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” [Rev. 3:11-13].

"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." We see evidence of this in Revelation 12. When the Phildelphian ekklesia are taken to place prepared of God, the Laodoceans shall remain behind to be tried in the fire. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." [Rev. 12:17]. 

“Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.

“Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" [Rev. 3:14-22].

 

Italics and [ ] are the author’s.

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