Lesson Two continued
Again we are reminded that Yeshua is on his way.[i]Every day, every hour we watch in joyous expectation for his arrival. Every eye will see him and we will hear the trumpet call and meet him in the air. We will be eye witnesses of his final victory over sin and death – of all the evil that troubles this old world. Again we are reminded of who it is that we worship: the eternal Jehovah, the Sovereign strong. He is the eternal creator of all that is and rules it all for his glory. The earth, which groans now for its redemption, will have peace at last.[ii]
John suffered tribulation[iii]too, so he understands that his readers have reason to need encouragement. The prophesy is to assure the readers that we are under God’s care and protection, with a life of everlasting blessedness ahead, come what may, with the perpetual contrasts of the joys of the redeemed with the agonies of the lost. In verse 5 we are assured that Mashiach is on the throne, regardless of the condition of the world, and is able to control the leaders of the world, according to his perfect will.
As Barkley pointed out[iv]the events must happen quickly.
We must see the events of this prophesy against the background of the first century. And we must remember that worship is the main concern of the book. Watch for the poetry of the book and let is stimulate you to worship. Remember the hero of the book is our object of worship. Let the symbols, metaphors, images, and illusions rouse worship in you as you read.
Another thing to remember is the significance of numbers, especially the number seven. As Barkley pointed out, the number seven appears fifty-four times in the book of Revelation. The number seven has always been considered the number of completion and perfection: God’s number. It will be important, as we study the book of Revelation, to remember that the seven churches refer to the complete Church, the seven seals refer to the complete sealed prophesy that is complete at the last trumpet, and the complete disasters.[v] Barkley points out John’s careful presentation of god as the unchangeable Being. God is seven – perfection. Perfection cannot get better or worse. Perfection does not change.
The book of Revelation was written to the seven churches in Asia but these letters were to circulate among all the churches – the total Church – and since we know seven is the number of absolute inclusion the letters are addressed , we can be sure John was writing to the complete church through the ages. Therefore, we know the message is personal to each of us today. The letters are addressed to these seven churches in particular because John was responsible for them as their Bishop.
These seven churches are examples of the persecution directed at them; and they are examples of false teachings Satan had been enticing god’s people with from the beginning.
The letters to the churches have been applied to seven eras of the Church’s history, which may be based on narrow-minded ignorance or gossip, or may be correct. I personally think the former true.
To be continued
[i] Revelation 1:8
[ii] Romans 8:18-21
[iii] Revelation 1:9-17
[iv] Page 30, volume I
[v] Barkley, volume I, 35, 36 on the number seven, pages 37, 38