PROPHECY HEADLINES: Russia faces pressure to stop rebel offensive in Ukraine | After 5 months of U.S. airstrikes, ISIS has only lost one percent of the territory it seized in Iraq | Iran threatens to attack Israel from the West Bank | Iran says nuclear deal is dead if U.S. Congress votes for more sanctions | Syrian rebels reportedly monitoring Lebanese, Iranian, and Russian troops on Israeli border
PROPHECY BOOTCAMP: “Judgment Begins at the House of God” (Part 1) from Dr. Ed Hindson’s book “Revelation: Unlocking the Future”
The second section of the book of Revelation contains the letters to the seven churches. These are personal epistles from the risen Christ to seven literal churches in Asia Minor. Imagine that Jesus wrote a personal letter to your church. What would He say in that letter? These letters give us an idea of what Christ thinks of the Church.
John the Revelator has already introduced us to the seven churches in chapter 1. The risen Christ has appeared to him and instructed him to write a book and “send it to the seven churches.” These churches are symbolized by the seven golden lampstands. Thus, the connection is made between the preface and the proclamation. Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Church is moving actively in the churches as our heavenly High Priest. His love and concern for these churches has already been demonstrated on the cross. Now, as the risen, living Lord of the Church, He sends a personal message to those churches which were under John’s care and influence.
Before the Apocalypse presents any message of judgment on the unbelieving world, it first calls the churches to repentance. Judgment must begin at the house of God. If the local churches are not a proper expression of God’s truth and righteousness, how can they influence the world for Christ? In these letters, we find the Lord of the Church lovingly but firmly speaking to His Church. Some have called these “love letters from the Lord of Heaven.”
The seven churches were seven literal churches that existed in Asia Minor in the first century AD. Ephesus was the largest city in the area and presumably the largest church. Thus, it served as a “mother” church to the others. All seven were connected by the local Roman highway. They were arranged in a circular pattern going from Ephesus to Smyrna, on to Laodicea, and back to Ephesus.
Attempts to find prophetic parallels between these churches and a supposed “seven ages of church history” are forced and fanciful at best. Such parallels have been suggested since medieval times, but have always proven unsatisfactory as time moved on. Even the seven suggested in the old Scofield Reference Bible hardly do justice to the facts of church history. A careful reading of these chapters, and indeed the entire Apocalypse, will reveal that there is nothing in the text itself to indicate that these seven churches are symbolic of church history.
OCCUPY TILL I COME: “Waiting on the Second Coming — Living Like a Christian (Part 4)” by Ray C. Stedman
MUSICAL SELECTION: “Soon and Very Soon” by Andrae Crouch