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The Book of Revelation- 7 Churches (7d)
The Seven Churches - a revelation!
This is the next part of the explanation of the number 7, which is found throughout the 66 books of the Bible, linking all these books and by doing so provides evidence of the Bible's authenticity. But also the number 7 has so far, through articles 7a, 7b and 7c, revealed that Christ is 'written about' within the 66 books from Genesis right through to Revelation. In this article Yeshua (Christ) can also be seen! The focus is on the 7 churches in the second chapter of the last book in the Bible which is the book of Revelation. But first it is necessary for the following introduction.
To begin with this book of Revelation was written using symbolism and coding for Yeshua's servants. Now Christ spoke (as seen in the four Gospels) in parables, this was so that every person would be able to understand the basic message such as readers at the first or second level; but their understanding would be limited so that they would not gain full understanding.
" The disciples came to him and asked, 'Why do you speak to the people in parables' ?
" He replied, 'The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, (believers) but not to them. Meaning non believers, mockers, deceivers, evil doers, sorcerers and the like. Jesus goes on to say, " Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." Matt 13:10-18
Only those who belong to Christ can understand Revelations true meaning and when the time was right (which is now) the deeper levels have been uncovered further, to help believers to understand the plan for these end times. God is speaking to his people and bringing a great awareness and preparation for these times.
The symbolism and codings are now being revealed to believers ; but the unbelieving may attempt to follow the believer's understanding and interpretation (in the same way that the sorcerers tried to duplicate the miracles in Exodus). However, they are limited because they lack the gifts of the holy spirit to interpret correctly. That is why the unbelieving world has difficulty interpreting its meaning correctly! And why so many (who think they are believers but not 'born again') preach wrong doctrine.
For the same reason that Jesus spoke in parables he also speaks using symbolism in Revelation.
The book of Revelation contains warnings to these people and emphasises what is written in the books of the prophet's found in the Old Testament, regarding events and God's judgements taking place and how these will increase as time goes on.
There is a book just prior to Revelation called Jude. In verse 14 It refers to a book of these end times that was written by Enoch, who was born during the years prior to the flood. Enoch was a man who 'walked with God! " Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: 'see, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him... These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." Jude verse 14.
There are mysteries galore throughout the scriptures, like scrolls waiting to be opened, these scriptures sit and wait for God's appointed time and then suddenly the meaning is revealed to the listener. Is it the words coming alive to the reader because the words have suddenly taken on a life? Or is it because God has lifted our scales from our eyes and ears to allow us to understand, because the time is right? Or is it because our hearts are in the right place so that we are able to digest his words? I guess it is probably all 3, therefore divinely completing God's plan for these end times.
God spoke these words to me, " The world has just been turned upside down! I have turned the world upside down so that ALL will KNOW that I AM GOD! I believe Yeshua is gathering his warriors ready for battle but prior to this he is speaking to his flock in preparation for the times ahead. During the past few years we have seen the churches and Christianity dying because of the spread of the disease of false doctrine. Now it is changing! God is turning the world upside down! Instead of pacification and complacency, God is raising up his people to retaliation and readiness!
Preachers, pastors and leaders during the past decades were encouraged to bring the brethren back to churches and to concentrate on worship, praise and prayer, now I am seeing a change taking place and preachers, pastors and leaders are moving towards equipping the flock to listen to the holy spirit and to acknowledge the gifts that are available for us.
It is now about preparation of survival. it is about putting on the armour of God! He is now saying to believers, " Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."
The armour is the following: Truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Be alert, and continually pray for the saints.
So we come to Revelation - the book that reveals the end times and equips the saints with understanding and guidance on the things to come and the importance of being able to 'STAND until the end'!
There is no reason for believers to fear this book! It is a handbook for the warrior! It is a blessing for those who belong to Christ and a curse to those who do not!
It must be remembered when reading the book of Revelation, that the hero and main central figure is not satan but Yeshua! (Christ Jesus, the Messiah!) Ha Mashiach!
THE 7 CHURCHES
It has always baffled me as to why God allowed only 66 books to make up the Bible, particularly because the number 6 symbolises mankind and the number sequence 666 symbolises the unholy trinity. It seems more fitting that God would have 67 books so that numerically it would make sense because it would be God's complete word for mankind! Remember the number 7 means God's Divine Completeness. So why 66 books? Well it has all became clear!
The book of Revelation is a unique book, separate from all the previous books in the Bible, why?
Because all the Old Testament books had hidden within their words, chapters or passages, a code that revealed Yeshua (Christ) somewhere andit pointed towards His birth, life as a man, His ministry, crucifixion and resurrection. Therefore, people were introduced to Yeshua before he became known and they looked forward to the cross.
In the New Testament the books focus on Yeshua's life up to and including His crucifixion, death and after his ascension. So in these end times we are looking back to the cross!
However, the book of Revelation is different from these because Yeshua is now central to the cross!
You could almost say that the book of Genesis is different to all others because it speaks of creation of the world; and because Revelation speaks of destruction of the world, it could be said that it makes 64 books plus 2 unique books. But that will confuse things. There is a definite uniqueness about this last book in the New Testament and it stands alone form the other 65 for many reasons! Revelation is revealing the end times - the destruction of this world after many other events have taken place.
Also all the other 65 books were written about Yeshua, now the book of Revelation consists of Yeshua himself writing the book. In other words, up until now Yeshua has been a mystery for many , but now this one book reveals His identity to the whole world!
This is a good time to introduce you to the number 1(one) and multiples such as 1,000. These numbers always refer to God, this also includes Yeshua who is as one with the Father, but Yeshua as the Messiah and saviour is represented by the number 2. This will be evidenced in future hubs.
Because of the vast amount of information and coding in the book of Revelation I have to limit my text to explain its meaning and cannot therefore write every verse of scripture exactly as it is written. I rely on the reader to have their Bible at hand andtreat this as any other bible study, reading the scriptures for themselves. You will find that I omit scripture in order to keep to the point but I am not removing anything or adding anything, just explaining scripture in a simple format for all to understand. I believe many people have become bogged down with so many interpretations of this book and they have tried to fathom the contents for themselves, so that it has caused a mental block, I am attempting therefore to write it in simple, easily digestible format, to avoid any further confusion.
so I am not breaking the rule "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophesy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophesy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." Rev 22:18-20
It is important for the reader to have an overall picture of this book in order to benefit from it's contents. We have seen that it is different from the other books because it is Yeshua's revelation of Himself but it is also a book of prophesy and it was written for the churches- not for anyone else, not for unbelievers, false prophets, new agers, humanists or satanists or any other member of satan's church. It was written purely for the 'born again' believer's edification and revelation of the mind of God and His plans for His people. It is a revelation of some of the mysteries of God. And through all of this Yeshua is revealed as the Lamb, the Holy One, the King of Kings, The Conqueror, The Judge, etc!
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Yeshua), which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw - that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophesy, and blessed are those who hear it and take it to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." Rev 1
Notice that it starts off with a blessing, but as you read in the final chapter 22, it ends with a curse (as I wrote above) to those who try to change the prophesy in the book! The blessing is to God's people and the curse is to those who are not God's people. They are the ones most likely to want to change its content in order to deceive God's people.
Then in chapter 1 verse 4, John sends greetings from Yeshua to the 7 churches. And we are reminded of the Gospel message. Then it reminds us that Yeshua is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
John was then told to write what he saw onto a scroll and send it to the 7 churches.
Each of these 7 churches have been taken as literal descriptions of specific middle eastern churches in the time of the apostles and I am not disputing that, however, It has a deeper relevance like most of God's inspired word. It is very relevant to individuals today as well as to groups i.e. churches.
It is necessary for the reader to get away from the image of a church building and to recognise that during AD 34 onwards churches did not exist like today's church buildings. Places of worship were either the Temple or synagogues and house meetings, pretty much like today. God knew long before now that we would have church buildings and house groups, which is why the book of revelation is a prophetic book.
So Yeshua here, uses the middle east, as a baseline for all believers meeting places. But it is relevant to each individual in these end times. Our faith and walk has become an individual and accountable and personal one. No longer are our sins or blessings passed down through the generations as in ancient biblical times, each person must become 'born again' and claim their own salvation.
In verse 12, Yeshua is seen walking through the 7 golden lampstands (the churches), this indicates his involvement with us, as individuals andas groups. He shows that he is always with us. He also allocated 7 angels to watch over us.
Further detail of the meaning and message involving the 7 churches:
1. This church or individual has forgotten their first love, " I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet...you have forsaken your first love...Repent ... I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, ..in paradise of God." Chap 2.
These individuals are very upstanding and pious but have fallen short of their faith (and possibly their initial enthusiasm, determination and desire to work for the Lord). When we first come into the kingdom as 'born again' we see things so fresh and new, we are keen to do anything to serve and please the Lord. We are eager to go out and share the Gospel with others and we constantly plead for and strive for all that God has to offer. We lay hands on the sick, we pray for those who suffer, we cried with those who cried and laughed with those who laughed. We would help others and offer them our home and food.
Today believers have withdrawn into their own little worlds or joined the world and their ways in order to escape persecution and hardship or to avoid rejection or they comply with worldly behaviour to be accepted and popular in order to have an easy stress free life. Some of us may have just wearied under the strain or become dry or stale and need to be lifted and renewed in strength or motivation and to receive love from the brethren and encouragement from God. Here you have it.
Yeshua is offering you the olive branch and saying it is time to step out! It is time to step onto the dry land and begin again! If you do that (and here comes the motivation) he will reward you because you will see God's holy kingdom, that has good food that CAN be eaten from the tree of life without condemnation or temptation by a serpent for you to enter into sin! It will be a place where all things are holy and no sin abounds!
Find your first love again, show you love him and want to serve him and start doing what scripture tells us to do.
But the alternative outcome is this, "If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Says the Lord.
The REWARD is, if you do repent, that you will eat from the tree of life in God's paradise. Take Note- this suggests that even believers can loose their birth right!
Too often the word is preached to the flock that they will never loose their gift of eternal life. When a believer backslides, they reject Christ (which is a form of adultery, because they become lovers of the world,) and fall into idolatry (because they indulge in the things of the world). God always waits patiently for them to return andnever rejects or turns them away when they do return - as with the prodigal son. But the individual has the choice to return or not. God provides ample opportunity to come back to him.
I know from personal experience when I backslid into the world many years ago, I knew Yeshua wasn't with me because I had driven him into the distance! Yet I heard his voice on numerous occasions calling me back to him. I chose to ignore these calls because I was scared of more persecution and rejection from the world. Then one day I was driving my car with my two children in the car also. When suddenly, for no reason, the car went out of control, I could not steer the car - the steering wheel was not doing what I wanted it to do. The car steered over to the other side of the road and a car was coming towards us. The children were screaming and I shouted out at the top of my voice Lord help us!
At that very moment seconds before impact with the oncoming car. the steering wheel suddenly veered to the left and went up onto a grass verge and hit a small tree where it came to a halt! We thought we were safe when suddenly the car tipped upside down.
My 10 year old daughter in the back seat had undone her seatbelt so she fell tumbling upside down.
My 9 year old son was stuck and could not get his seat belt undone and I had a picture in my mind to get them out as soon as possible because there would be petrol leakage and a potential for an explosion.
I was also in shock. I tried to calm the children and eventually managed to get them out safely . My daughter struggled out with a broken arm.
That day was a turning point for me. It wasn't about me any more it was about my children and their safety.
I went to work the next few days and all the time I was convicted that my children could have died and I could have died without Christ!
I was drawn to go to a church where I stood on the doorstep crying a deep cry of sorrow and repentance. The pastor and his wife ministered to me that evening and helped me back to my place with Yeshua in his kingdom. (not on the doorstep I hasten to add).
A week later I read in the newspaper that a car had slid on the exact spot where we had our accident. It was a woman in the car, she also hit a tree, the car flipped up side down and she died!
Another week later the same thing happened and a male was killed. I knew then how blessed I and my children had been! Even though I had backslidden, Yeshua kept me under his wing. He gave me a way to return to him. Had I chosen not to call on his name that day and dug my heels deeper into rebellion. Then the story that day may have ended differently.
God provides many opportunities to return.
In my life I knew I did not have God's protection at that time and things happened to me that I knew would not have happened had I remained with God in his protection. It is never too late to return.
But to leave it too late means you are vulnerable to anything that may shorten your opportunity to return!
Those who choose to turn from God and never return back to him will be, as any none believer- he will be vulnerable to the world events without God's protection because sin has separated them from their saviour. This is hard for many in the churches to accept and has led to false doctrine but their are many scriptures to confirm this is so and the 7 churches in Revelation demonstrates this. It is not that God has rejected us but that we have rejected Him that is what separates us. WE condemn ourselves!
These churches indicate that if you behave in the same manner as the unbelieving world then you will receive the same judgement as the world.
The 2nd church is a good one. Yeshua says " I know your afflictions and your poverty - yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are God's chosen and are not (they are false and belong to the synagogue of satan) . Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. . .. the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for 10 days. Be faithful even to the point of death- their reward is the crown of life!
The 3rd church: In this church satan has his throne. Yet, believers remain true to Yeshua. They do not renounce their faith in Yeshua even when they see a faithful one being martyred. However, there are people in the church who are not 'born again', they worship and teach of false gods.They attempt to entice the faithfuls into sin such as idol worship, breaking the commandments and indulging in sexual immorality. Repent ! The reward is some hidden manna and a white stone with a new name on it...
The 4th church is Thyatira. Yeshua has the most to say about this church, they do all the things the other 3 churches are not doing, but they entertain Jezebel amongst them, in other words, they allow people to be in the church who are involved in sexual immorality of various kinds such as pornography, adultery and idol worship. If this church does not repent from this then Yeshua will come and cause intense suffering on them leading to spiritual death.
" Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. ..To you who do not hold to jezebel's teachings and have not learned satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): hold on until I come.
Theirreward? They will be given authority over the nations. They will be leaders!
There is a lot to be said regarding this church. Firstly,
Yeshua searches the hearts and minds of the people, to detect their sincerity, faithfulness and obedience. He demands nothing from those who are faithful to him. He offers a reward for their loyalty and perseverance during difficult times. He knows how difficult it is for us right now! He demands nothing more than perseverance and faithfulness.
But he says to those who are unfaithful and indulging in witchcraft or occult and/or unlawful sexual practices, he will cause them suffering that will lead to their spiritual death and their children will die the same way! Rev 2: 23
This means that those who are entering into Jezebel's world (committing adultery and idolatry) will lose their birth rights! there are many such churches or groups today that entertain Jezebel! But he gives anyone involved, an opportunity to repent!
The 5th church, gives the impression of being a lively church (or individual) but inside they are spiritually dying!
Many believers pretend to be spiritual, they have been a christian (in mind and body, but not in spirit) for many years so they are ashamed and fearful to come before the brethren to admit they do not have a deep relationship with our Lord! They are afraid to admit to themselves that they have never heard the Lord speak to them or whisper comfort in their time of need. They cannot admit that they have never felt the closeness of the Lord in their lives or that the holy spirit has never counselled them. They struggle to understand the word of God and therefore remain on the milk as a baby.
These are the people who are dead - spiritually dying or dead! This is similar to the 'spiritually dead mentioned above!
These may be people who have never entered God's kingdom as a son or daughter. They may never have been born again. Some may have been born again but dried up spiritually inside and so play act the role of a spiritually filled believer, or they may even have convinced themselves that they are spiritually discerning and practice the gifts yet deep down they know they are kidding themselves! Whatever the circumstances those readers know who they are and this message is for them.
Yeshua says: Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore what you have received (salvation) and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. "
I understand this to mean, they will miss the boat, because they will not be spiritually ready!
Yeshua indicates that these people have soiled their clothing, in other words, they are not clothed in white robes any more! This is indicated when Yeshua says in contrast, there are some amongst them that have not soiled their clothing - in other words they are still clean (righteous in the Lord's eyes) Therefore their reward is to walk with God! (Yeshua) dressed in white (means purity and sinlessness but also holiness). By this it is inferred that there are those who have soiled their clothing.
Yeshua offers an opportunity to those who are spiritually dying to return, "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his/her name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels." Chap 3:4
The 6th church - It is interesting because it mentions the Jews in this one. Now people have suggested the 7 churches relate only to those churches mentioned throughout Paul's ministry
The names of the churches,i.e. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis,Philadelphia and Laodicea. All of these churches are familiar to us, we have read about them. yet we know that this book of Revelation is about the end times. We also know that many Jews have rejected Christ but many Jews have become born again. Yet here in this 6th church Yeshua says " I will make those who are of the synagogue of satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but liars-I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. "Rev 3:7
He has a message for his faithfuls which is this! ' You have suffered so much that you have become tired and weak. He understands what you have suffered, and demands only that you continue in your faithfulness and endure patiently. He has 2 promises for you: the first is that he will make your persecutors fall on their knees before you and acknowledge that Christ loves you! (Remember the story of Joseph and his brothers). Secondly, he promises to keep you from further persecution (from the tribulation to come), you have already proven your faithfulness therefore there is no need for you to prove yourselves in the trials to come.
Yeshua says, " I am coming soon, hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown, him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name,." This whole text appears to be speaking to Jews who may or may not follow Christ as their savior. It mentions the temple and Jerusalem both very important to the Jewish people.
The final church - the 7th is the church of Laodicea, an interesting church because it is the 7th but also because it speaks of people who are not necessarily believers. This is for those who are sitting on the fence- they are either serving two masters i.e. serving God and satan or worshipping God and idols. For example someone who goes to church on Sunday then goes to a secret society meeting in the afternoon or after church indulges in sexual immorality. Or someone who cannot decide whether to make the step to become born again and dithers to and fro. Yeshua uses the example of people who have made money their god. They are concerned with wealth and success , therefore have no need for God or a savior. Verse 17 .
Yeshua also says:
" I counsel you to buy from ME gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;
and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness,
and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.
So be earnest and repent.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with him and he with me.
To him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,
just as I 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."
So to sum up all of the churches situations can relate to us individually and as groups of brethren, each of the churches situations can apply to us at anytime during our walk towards the promised land!
We can all become weary, weak from trials and persecution, we can all backslide or forget our first love Yeshua! We can all become complacent or dry or remain on the milk because we cannot admit we have lost our way and our closeness with our saviour. We can all fall into sin or deception or tempted into idolatry or spiritual (or physical) adultery and we can all, at sometime, find ourselves sitting on the fence or wavering in the breeze. It is what we are going to do about the situation we presently find ourselves in, that counts.
Are we going to do something about it? or remain in this deficit situation that deprives us from blessing and Yeshua's rewards?
Yeshua said in every situation Repent!
If you do something about it you will not 'miss the boat' you will be ready! So that when he comes like a thief you will be gathered up by him. You will be like the 5 wise virgins and not like those who refused to accept Christ's invitation to the wedding banquet - you will be the few who are chosen.
What a promise how can anyone remain in their present deficit situation with a promise like that !
May God richly bless you with all of those rewards.
We can be suffering from all of those deficits but by the same token, if we overcome and repent, we can also claim all of those rewards. It was not just relevant to that particular church situation it was relevant to our spiritual deficits which could be all or any of those.
Yeshua is speaking to all of us in these end times, he is telling us to get our act together! To seek righteousness through our Lord and his ways. To fight the good fight, to persevere until the end. Be ready for when he comes, be watchful . Behave as he has shown you by his example.
Yes it is hard work! It is easier to opt out for the easy life - but are you prepared to pay the price? The price is that Yeshua will spew you out of his mouth or you will become spiritually dead, or you and your children will suffer. I know which I prefer?
I hope that this hub has been a blessing to you and encourages you to seek to sort out any deficits in your walk. I hope you have been moved to seek all that Yeshua has to offer. And if it has been a blessing then pass it onto others so that they can also be encouraged. We are building the army of God together. He does not need our help but as his servants it is nice to do our bit. Endeavour therefore, to put on the whole armour of God and remember to praise him continually as this is your weaponry for the future. Ephesians 6:10