When the Romans exiled the apostle John to Patmos, they thought his ministry, for in such an obscure place, how could he affect the spread of Christianity? Little did they know that the Lord would appear to John and give him the last book of the Bible, which would encourage and enlighten millions of Christians throughout the centuries. This proves that God is not limited to human events, and can turn any situation into a blow to defeat Satan.
Revelation takes the cover off the future and reveals things to come.
Chapters 2 and 3 give a history of the church age written before the history took place.
Chapters 4 through 22 describe future events after the church age: the Rapture, the seven year Tribulation, the Second Coming of Christ, the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment, and eternity.
The devil hates this book, it exposes his doom; therefore, that is why this study is being written.
THE WRITING OF THE BOOK
John was accustomed to celebrating the Lord's Day (Sunday); therefore, he continued to do, even during his exile on Patmos. He was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day" when he heard a mighty voice like a trumpet. The voice announced: "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." Jesus Christ, risen lord and King, commanded John to record all that he saw. This vision took place in AD 95.
Most people wonder what the seven churches mentioned in Revelation are. The answer: these churches represent periods in the church's history. More about this will be explained next week, as we look at the churches, what they represent, and what time periods they cover.
WEEK 2: THE CHURCHES
The seven churches mentioned in Rev. 1-3 were church congregations in Asia Minor:
We will look at each church individually, and what time period they represent.
The first church, at Ephesus, covers AD 30-100. The time period which Ephesus covers was noted by the presence of the apostles. The word Ephesus means “desirable”, which is reference to the fact that the apostles, who learned directly under Jesus. There was only one strong threat to the Ephesian church, and that was its waning love. The church’s heart was turning away from God; God addresses this in his letter to Ephesus.
The second church, at Smyrna, covers AD 100-300. Smyrna means crushed. Christ’s letter to Smyrna was the shortest letter of them all. It contained no criticism, only encouragement. The church of Smyrna was persecuted heavily, so they were physically poor. But they were spiritually rich, because they worshipped God through the persecution.
The third church of Pergamos, covers AD 300-500. The root of Pergamos means married. The church during this time period was united with the world, under Constantine the Great. Christ’s letter to Pergamos, he commends the church for keeping their faith in a city where Satan ruled. But, he reminds them to repent of Balaamism, and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
The fourth church of Thyatira covered the Dark Ages, AD 500-1500. The letter to Thyatira is similar to the letter to Pergamos, because the Thyatira church had not changed their ways. This was the era of the Roman Catholic Church, and Christ addresses this in his letter. Christ gave the church ample time to repent; however, they did not, so Christ will judge them during the next period.
The church in Sardis, AD 1500-1700, is also known as the Reformation Church. Sardis means remnant, indicating the remnant that splintered from the Catholic Church. Christ did not commend the Sardis church, because it was on the verge of dying.
The church in Philadelphia, AD 1700-1900, was the church of revival and missions. Philadelphia means brotherly love; Christians showed this by spreading revival. Christ had no word of rebuke for the church, and assured them that he would return quickly.
The church of Laodicea, AD 1900-PRESENT, is the last of the churches. Laodicea means lukewarm, indicating that churches, which had originally been strong and on fire for God’s glory, had turned cold and apostate. Cults attacked the Laodicean church repeatedly, further weakening the church. Small revivals were started, combating the devil’s attempts, but the damage had been done. This church period will end with the rapture, and the Tribulation will begin. Sadly, we live in this time period. We must unite to battle the devil, and win as many souls as we can before we are removed from this wicked world to be with Christ during His judgment.
Next week, we will begin our study on the things to come, i.e. the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Second Coming, the Great White Throne, and Eternity.
WEEK 3: INTRODUCING FUTURE EVENTS; THE RAPTURE, TRIBULATION
After the Laodicean age, Christ will set in motion the final phase of history: Eternity. Several events will precede this: the Rapture, the removal of believers from Earth; the Tribulation, Satan’s period of seven year’s rule on Earth; the Second Coming, when Christ will return to defeat Satan, judge the earth, and set up the next period, the Millennium. The Millennium is the period of a thousand years in which Christ will reign on Earth, and Satan will be bound. After the Millennium, God the Father will set up the Great White Throne Judgment, which will judge all of mankind, living and dead.
First, we will look at the Rapture.
“I was driving on the highway, and all of a sudden the car in front of me and the car behind me swerved! The car in front of me hit the wall, and I got out to look. I looked in the driver’s seat, and there was only a pile of clothes!”
“It was the final play of the game. Our team was behind by a touchdown. Our quarterback snapped the ball, then, in a blink of an eye, he was gone! All that was left were his pads!”
These stories may very well grace the news broadcasts one day. This event, which will happen in the blink of an eye, is the Rapture. This is when the believers will rise in the air to meet Christ. The dead bodies of saints will rise, at the same time those which remain will rise. Christ will not touch the ground, and the non-believers will not see anything, only the aftermath. The believers will hear a trumpet, and then they will vanish. This is a comforting thought for believers, as this gives them hope. We will not know when Christ will return, so we must be alert, constantly preaching the Gospel. After we are gone, a leader will rise up, and unite the world, under Satan’s power. This leader is known as the Antichrist.
The Holy Spirit gone in the Rapture, Satan will run rampant, sending the Antichrist to conquer the world. Fortunately, many will find their way to Christ. These will be martyred in time, only a remnant remaining. But they will win more to their cause. The Antichrist will fall at the end of the Tribulation, and Christ will reign.
Next week, we will study the end of the Tribulation, and the Second Coming.
((This is WAY overdue. As things cool down, I'll get the next one up.))