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Letters To The 7 Churches. 516. Feb 18, 2024

Updated: Feb 26

   


KEY SCRIPTURE: Revelation 1:1-4

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;


RELEVANCE

The last time I looked at these seven specific institutional memos, I found them informative, particularly the patterns and characteristics. These living letters become more timely the closer we get to the return of Jesus Christ.  


They passed through four hands, God, Jesus Christ, an angel and John before they reached their destination—the Church leaders and congregants. 


Rome exiled the Apostle John to the isle of Patmos when he was old. He lived in a cave and possibly worked in the mines until he could no longer work. Patmos is a small island approximately 100 Km from Ephesus as the crow flies. Under Roman occupation, Ephesus was the second largest city, overshadowed only by Rome itself. 


Before we go on, it's important to recall John's relationship with the one who asked him to write—The Lord Jesus Christ, his beloved friend from 63 years ago, and Saviour. But Jesus' appearance wasn't the same as it was the last times they met. Then, Jesus was brutally secured to a Cross while entrusting John with His mother; and after His resurrection, He appeared before them with the piercings in His side, hands and feet. 


This Jesus looked nothing like the Lamb of God who had called him and his brother James to service so many years ago and whose chest he'd laid on at the Last Supper. This Jesus looked fierce and needed to calm John, who was in fear.


And no wonder. He was clothed with a garment down to His feet and wrapped about the waist with a golden girdle. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace. His voice was the sound of many waters. Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and his facial expression was as the sun shining at its brightest.


Then Jesus instructed him to write in a book the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter, and send that book to the seven churches in Asia (Turkey today). So he did. 


The Bible and historians can't tell us whether he mailed it openly or despatched it through the underground church. 


It appears that all letters and the rest of the Book of Revelation did the rounds of the churches, allowing each church to know what the Lord said to them and the others and what is to come. Considerately, the Lord laid out the churches in the letter in a linear order, as they were geographically, allowing them to pass it on in sequence.   


John introduced himself as a brother and companion in tribulation, empathising with them and allowing us to glimpse the hostile environment in which the churches found themselves. They all would have known of him. 


I wonder how John took the news as he transcribed the details. Being an Elder of the first church, he would have known or known of those seven churches. The faithful would have relayed information to Patmos about the good and not-so-good elements of each gathering. And here he is, dictating direct messages from God about the same issues. All their works were now out in the open, and I think John would have nodded to himself in acknowledgement as he wrote. 

  

While Philadelphia and Smyrna seemed problem-free despite the level of persecution, the other five had severe problems. These ranged from a lack of love, distortion of scripture, idol worship, and sensualisation of the pulpit to laziness, over-comfort, and complacency. All issues were sins and provoked God. 


The church letters are worth dwelling on, as they may be like some of us. Satan buffets us in every way he can, as he did the churches, and we fight back with prayer, praise and obedience to God. Despite nearly two thousand years passing, the tribulation hasn't ceased, and neither has the sin. The same evil angels provide the bullets in every generation and get people to fire them against believers. If Satan can find a crack in the wall of our minds, he will squeeze in and try to presume leadership.

 

Each of the seven letters also incorporated this line, which was both a warning and encouragement. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. Five of the seven Churches, for one reason or another, had stopped hearing the Holy Spirit.


PRAYER

Dear Lord, thank you for the Book of Revelation, as it prepares us to examine ourselves in the seven letters, getting ourselves right with you before you roll out the end of the righteous and unrighteous. 

Photo by Alvero Serrano  

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