We are in the Church Stream reading from the New King James Version.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
God, don’t let us risk walking away from our faith as is the manner of some. Increase our faith as we exercise it in your powerful Name. Lord we want to walk with and hear you now v.s. waiting until trouble is so thick that hearing you is a horrible challenge. Thank you Jesus for calling us while you may be found. Amen.
In ch’s 2,3, John relays a seven-fold message to the seven churches of Asia. This is John speaking from the heart he had for God who gave him these straight-on messages to seven churches. Each message has:
1] opening instruction for John to relay. 2] an aspect or title that Christ has that pertained to each churches’ condition. 3] Christ says encouraging words and commendation to, well, five of the churches. 4] then there is keen criticism for five of the seven churches (the lists are not identical) 5] each church receives their due instruction; which was correction for those who needed it. 6] an identical admonition goes out to each church; “…let him hear…” 7] Lastly, each church receives a promise from Christ. These were all current conditions that John is addressing. As we read ch’s 2 and 3 did anything apply to you/us today?
2 – To Ephesus: [a prestigious church who received Paul’s finest teaching] they were diligent and thorough but they had become unloving. Yet they stood firm against false teaching and were promised eternal life. To Smyrna, a persecuted church, they are comforted and receive no condemnation. They seemed purified through their sufferings and would be preserved. Christ promised they would not die (the second death). Pergamos/Pergamum was a staunch and resolved church but they were compromised. They had gone lax on a couple of doctrines and thought that certain sexual sins were tolerable. Some in the congregation needed rebuking and well… but in Pergamum, they let this slide. John orders that they repent and be quick about it. Thyatira is a bit more of an extreme situation. They were syncretizing “Diana” -the breasted goddess into their church life. Christianity was growing fast and some of the Diana people, in a sly move, were hoping to merge it with Christianity. Of course they would bring their sex-goddess trappings with them. It was a Jezebel-like move (they didn’t realize what all danger they were dabbling in!) and God wouldn’t have it in His House. The need for ‘house-cleaning’ was urgent in Thyatira.
3 – Sardis was a church in a wealthy financial center. The legendary rich man “Croesus” [KREE-sus] was from here. The Sardis church was active with busyness and therefore appeared to be alive but was as dead as a departed spirit. Do you know people who go to church and are there just because they’ve always gone and have long since forgotten why they went? This was Sardis – mostly oblivious to the Holy Spirit. Though some had remained vibrant in faith. Philadelphia was a blessed church. They had brotherly love. God had no rebuke for them and he would never shut them out. Others may have looked down on them, but they would one day revere the Philadelphians. These people; this congregation would be a pillar [a vital part] in the Temple of God. The Laodicean Church was so well off, they were comfortable on their own. They didn’t fervently cling to Christ. Y’might call them casual hammock dwellers who were rather nonchalant about their faith. God was about to boot them out of their spiritual stupor. As Christ knocked on their door Laodicea wondered, “is someone at the door? Did you hear a knock? say wha-?” Their ambivalence revealed much greater problems than they were willing to admit.
Note that the church has been mentioned 16 times in chapters 1-3. They are never mentioned again in the remainder of Revelation. The deduction that most adhere to is that they have been raptured away from the cataclysmic events that are happening in Revelation 6-18. So 4 & 5 are what happens in heaven after the Church is raptured while 6-18 are what happens on earth during this same era.
4 – Here starts the abrupt shift from spiritual diagnoses [that are germane to churches even today] to a vision of God’s Throne. Most evangelical scholars believe that this interlude; this jolting vision is God pausing to assure that God is on the Throne and has matters under control. It is indescribable, beautiful and regal/majestic in its authority. It is where God sits. The gems that are mentioned metaphorically are something to behold! Doing a search on these gem names is a blessing. The rainbow, the golden crowns, the elders in worship. Someone has said that the elders, who have access all the way to the top of the universe, know enough to bow in worship before God – should we be doing anything different? The beings around the throne possess strength, intelligence, mobility, and they see [double-spherically] in all directions. They are enraptured in worship of God on His throne. I trust we get the hint?
5 – The Scroll is finally to be opened. The drama of the chapter is that no one in all creation is worthy to open it save the Creator; of Him by Him and for Him all things were created. The pageantry of this chapter cannot be overstated. Did you catch who we are in this chapter? how much we are valued? Did you see what our prayers mean in heaven? Do you feel the choir of millions upon millions rejoicing? My husband and I heard a choir of 150 for Christmas recently and it was an ecstatic chorus that blasted us against our velvet balcony seats with astonishing blessing. Imagine a choir of angels whose numbers covered 2,000+ square miles with angelic body mass?! How does that vibration sound? You can hear it from another galaxy! It can hardly be imagined. All this as Christ is about to open the future and the secrets which reveal redemption’s final stage. Oh my!
6 – The first seal is opened as a white horse rides over the earth. This inaugurates -or forewarns at least, that the tribulation will begin soon – though all out war has not broken out yet. There are six seals total in chapter six. They release war on a grand scale, famine (a day’s wage buys a loaf of bread), death reigns as a 1/4 of earth’s population is killed, the Cry of the Martyrs arises from the earth, and the greatest earthquake ever occurs as there are meteor showers and terrible calamity worldwide. The rulers of the whole earth know that this is the hand of God.
The Thread Through the Streams
“I’m trying to love you guys. For heaven’s sake, are you going to let me love you?” That’s what we heard from God in the narrative each day this week. Some of it’s difficult to sort out but if these guidelines aren’t followed, this nation will become crazed and then you won’t even be able to hear, see, feel, nor understand my love at all. All these things are set up so you can know my love.
-Deut. 21-25 there were difficult things that needed to be dealt with. You will not be a spiteful people, a raping people – not in any other way will my land be a sexual madhouse. Rebels need to be disposed of – they lead to murder and witchcraft. Be decent with and toward each others’ property. My Temple will be sane. The camps will be clean. No kidnapping. No injustice. Don’t leave women stranded. No letting enemies linger in My Nation.
-Neh. 5-8 the abuse of the nationwide volunteers by the financially sharks in the land was dealt with swiftly by Nehemiah. The scam was decoded and then the wall was finished. There was a national tally. The Law was read and a system set up so that all could be blessed with an understanding of God’s Principles. None of this in Deuteronomy; Moses and Joshuas’ day, or Nehemiah; Ezra/Neh’s day was simple. But followed through on they could better understand and learn to live and grow and revel in God’s love.
-Eccl. 1-6 is God’s truth coming forth. God told Solomon and loved Solomon but nothing was ever enough for him. He wanted more. God loving Solomon, who wanted no limits on anything, is similar to a parent trying to monitor a child eating cotton candy. They think they aren’t loved because we won’t let them eat a beehive size wad of it 3X a day. Then when they sneak and eat a big bucket of it, they get a gutache and toothache and declare they wouldn’t be in such pain if you loved them … y’wonder at what point God rolls his eyes and goes out for a walk? God is trying to love us and too many of us keep searching for all and more like Solomon who felt nearly empty by the end.
-Eze. 39-40 Is God preserving Israel through what is going to be the scariest time in their history. But these enemies need to be drawn out so they can be isolated and decimated. God wants to love Israel more but this is a cleaner process with her enemies gone. Then God is able to build a wonderful structure for worship that will overwhelm them. Apologies for the trauma anyone felt in the process. God is just trying to love you.
-Zech. 11-12 God is laying down the gauntlet for the illicit shepherds. So many are going to suffer from the horrid leadership; these derelict shepherds. They need to be gotten rid of. God would like it to be a clean process but ungodliness and greed lead to big messes. Don’t get mad at God for the disobedience that led to the current state of bad affairs. God will deliver Judah; in ways deliver them from these selfish leaders. You may not understand the process but God is going to love you – – – if you will let Him.
-John 16:5 – 17:26 Jesus tells the Disciples that He must go so the Holy Spirit can come. Their loss will transform into unspeakable joy. There are many things coming that will vex and perplex but God knows what He is doing. Let Him love you and guide. You ARE being prayed for ! Take heart. You are so loved.
-Rev. 2-6 There is some encouragement and some housecleaning that needs to take place in 7 churches. It’s vital to do this. Disgusting and repulsive if you won’t do this. The sin’s mentioned by the churches in 2-3 need to go. God wants to love them more and they need to mature. The horrors of history are being unleashed starting in ch. 6 and you want to be protected from this agony. Again, as in all other days this week, are you going to let God love you?