Rather than even try to go through those events (sorry, if that’s what you were hoping for) – I was more interested in the letters to the churches – and what meaning they had back then &do they still have any meaning today?
This whole project actually got started more than 13 years ago.
I’ll put the 2016 updates in text like this so you can identify them.
We get the book of Revelation – that’s Revelation, not Revelations – from the Apostle John.
Rev 1:1-3 The revelation of Jesus Christ, 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 prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
It was written while John was in exile on the island of Patmos, Greece. He was in a little cave at the top of a hill, with no view of the water. I do mean little. I visited the cave a number of years ago, and at 6’4″ was not able to stand up straight.
If one thing is certain about the book of Revelation – it would be that it’s incredibly difficult to interpret the events in it – and there’s a whole lot of disagreement about them – even including when / if they will really happen. For example, the following comes from the Asbury Bible Commentary:
John Wesley wrote of Revelation, “Oh how little do we know of this deep book! At least how little do I know!” (Journal, 4:540). Elsewhere he confessed, “I by no means pretend to understand, or explain all that is contained in this mysterious book” (Notes, 650). Likewise, Adam Clarke “resolved for a considerable time, not to meddle with this book, because I foresaw that I could produce nothing satisfactory on it” (Clarke, 966).
There are a number of commentaries talking about whether the letters should be taken as letters for the actual churches at that time (about 70 AD) – or are they meant as parables that have a meaning for us today. As you may gather from what I’ve written previously – I tend to think it’s actually both. There seems to be enough historical evidence that these churches did exist and did have the types of problems written about in Revelation. So the question would be – do they have any significance for us today? Given that the rest of the Bible is God’s handbook for us – and that the rest of the New Testament is completely about how we should live and behave as Christians – and IS still relevant – it’s beyond belief that this one book wouldn’t have meaning for us as well.
As I’m moving this series over to my new site, I’ve also come across a very interesting concept put forth by Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book titled “Satan”. I’m reading that for research into yet another series about Satan, which is also in progress at this time. Chafer says there is a direct correspondence between the seven Parables in Matthew 13 to the Seven Letters in Revelation. As it progresses, you can read that series here.
So – what is this series about? Like I said – I’m not planning on going into the events of the tribulation. But when I realized the relationships between the churches and the hype cycle – it seems like a pretty simple message for us. It’s a type of road-map for us –
- a way to identify where we are in our faith – whether we are truly following the Word of God and the path that Jesus has set for us.
- a way to see what might lie ahead for us – what Satan may be planning and the types of things that we need to be wary of. Yes – this is about churches, but it’s also about people – our ways of thinking and reacting to things. And Satan takes advantage of that – so it’s something we can watch for.
- a way to know how we need to react as we travel along the cycle – how to avoid the false highs from unrealistic expectations and the devastating lows of disappointment after we recognize that things aren’t always going to follow our misled expectations.
It’s also important to remember – since people come and go from a church, different influences on those who remain take place – God can bring about great changes in a very short period of time – even Satan can have influence over a weakened church. Therefore it’s place on the hype cycle can change in either direction and quite drastically. This can be good or bad – and can bring about movement in either direction. I believe it’s also possible to have “born again” events that can actually bring a church (or a person) to a very different point on the cycle in the blink of an eye.
BTW – in keeping with the theme of this site – God versus Religion – we’ll look carefully at the real meaning of the words uses in Revelation – what they meant when John wrote them – and what that means to us today. Given all the fictional books that have been written about Revelation, including by Christian authors, it’s important to keep this based on real biblical thoughts and concepts.
There’s plenty of brutally honest words in those letters – as well as some incredibly hopeful promises. How we take the letters, whether we prefer to accept the promise and overcome – or take the other path – is entirely up to us. However, when so many consider Revelation to be a book of doom and gloom, I choose to also present is as one of amazing hope. Hope that is available to every one of us. Hope that will keep us out of the doom and gloom that will come – but doesn’t have to come to us.
So – here we go. On to the churches – but it’s probably a good idea to return to this segment from time to time while going through the letters.