The Word for today:
Revelation 2: 18-29
I'm not as keen on all the "Left Behind" elements of Revelation as others seem to be. Because, you see, I will not be here past Revelation chapter three.
Either I am going to die, and therefore embark on my personal exodus to be with Jesus; or else I am going to be raptured along with the believing church, in mass exodus to meet Jesus. Either way, I'm not going to have to worry about beasts and 666 and the four horsemen and all of those things which are featured in the Revelation movies.
Therefore, the most interesting things in Revelation for me--by far--are the character of Jesus Christ and the character of the church ("the Bride) which he saved.
Chapters 2 and 3 consist of letters from Jesus to seven churches. Taken together, these churches show us the good, the bad, and the ugly of the church at large. So we must pay great attention to these letters, because they are addressed directly to us!
The Seven churches of Revelation
Furthermore, many commentators see, in the arrangement of the letters, a chronological history of the church through its 2000+ years:
Ephesus—the apostolic church; this had been the church at its best, but now shows the need for revival (Pentecost to A.D. 100).
Smyrna—represents persecution and martyrdom in the church. Told to stand firm in persecution (100 to A.D. 314).
Pergamos—the church becomes worldly. Shows us the seduction of idolatry (314 to 590 A.D).
Thyatira—represents Romanism; the Dark Ages. Shows us the results of the lack of self-discipline (590 to 1000 A.D.)
Sardis—represents the Protestant Reformation. Shows us the lure of materialism (1517 to 1800).
Protestantism recovered justification by faith, the depravity of man, and the authority of the Word of God. But all of the truth was not recovered by the Reformation. The doctrine of eschatology (prophecy) is just now being recovered.
Philadelphia—the revived church, which turned back to the Word of God, from both Protestant and Catholic denominations, showing faithful love and service (1800 A.D. to the Rapture).
(Note: Only Smyrna and Philadelphia have no condemnation from Christ.)
Laodiceans—The apostate church which professes to be Christian, but has long since departed from the Word of God and from the person of Christ: neither cold nor hot, lukewarm and self-satisfied.
We are now living in the time of the Philadelphian and Laodicean churches, side by side:
· That church (represented by the Laodicean church) which is moving farther and farther into apostasy. The church of Laodicea makes God puke. (3:16)
· That church (represented by the Philadelphian church) which is staying by the Word of God. This is the church which will be raptured.
You won't see much of chapters 2 and 3 at the next Revelation-inspired movie. But these letters have our names on them, so it makes sense to pay them particular attention. As Jesus repeatedly says,
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."