Excuse my absence yesterday but it’s been manic here and Mr.B’s poorly, so it’s not quite been business as usual. However, I’m here now and have the time (and internet connection) to go into this topic with you.
People are often scared or confused by the book of Revelation in the Bible, but like Jesus’ parables, you have to learn to look for the lesson that is often contained in symbolism.
There are 7 churches mentioned in Revelation (chapters 2 & 3) that are in modern-day Asia (and Turkey for Ephesus). Where they are and who ran them at the time is interesting historically-speaking, but makes little difference to the lessons we can learn from them:
Firstly, they are referred to by place name, ‘the church at Ephesus’ for example, this signifies that there should be unity in the churches; it should be the church of Truro or Liverpool or Manchester, not denomination, community or status-determined.
Secondly, the writer says how each of the churches is doing and whether or not they’re going the way God intended.
In brief, the churches are:
- Ephesus, doing lots of great works but have forgotten their first love (God).
- Smyrna, you are suffering right now but their faithfulness assures they will not suffer forever, rather they will wear the victor’s crown.
- Pergamum, they stand up for Jesus in a bad place but their teachings are not all from God (they’ve gone off-track with their doctrine).
- Thyatira, doing amazingly in all areas except one; tolerating a false prophet who allows sexual immorality
- Sardis, they have messed up and not finished their God-given jobs and are told to save what they can and repent before it’s too late.
- Philidelphia, even though they don’t have much and don’t feel strong they have kept to God’s law and Jesus’ teachings and are given a promise.
- Laodicea, they are luke-warm, half-hearted and too concerned with wealth.
Needless to say, this was the state of those churches generally and not necessarily every individual, but these things could be applied to individual people too.
So what can individual Christians learn from this?
- Work together.
- Don’t forget to love God first, with all your heart, soul and mind.
- Works aren’t enough, they’re good to do but not the only thing that matters. (Not all of them were on the right track, even if they thought they were…in fact, only 1 of the 7 was completely right.)
- Be careful who you listen to and make sure it’s in-line with God’s teachings.
- Avoid false prophets and sexual immorality.
- Find your God-given purpose and keep working at it.
- You can always repent and turn back to God.
- Don’t be half-hearted.
- God gives you the strength you need.
- The faithful will be rewarded.
Heavy stuff to fit into a daily blog post, I recommend you go and study it more in detail. But I think you’ll agree, Revelation is not as confusing or scary as people think it is; it is simply guidance on what to do…in fact, all of the Bible is there to teach us something.
Have a blessed Thursday Peeps!
P.S. Picture is of the amphitheatre in Ephesus where Paul preached.