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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 21

Introduction to the Seven Letters
 

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Welcome to this new chapter of Bible prophecy! Let’s pray together:

Father,

We heartily thank You for allowing us to study more deeply the prophetic book of Revelation.

May Your Spirit guide us, He who inspired the content of this book to Your servant John.

In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.




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Revelation 1:1,3

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John. (...)

Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.

For the time is at hand.

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Right from the first verse of Revelation, we discover the purpose of this prophetic work: to reveal to us the «things which must shortly come to pass».

Moreover, a special blessing is granted to those who study this book.




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Revelation 1:4,5

John to the seven churches which are in Asia:

«Grace be to you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful Witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.»

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From the island of Patmos (near the coast of Turkey) where he was exiled, the apostle John entrusted the revelation he received to the seven major churches of Asia, where he had previously worked as a pastor.




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Revelation 1:9-11

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, (...)

«What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.»

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On the orders of a powerful-voiced being, John sent a letter to each one of the seven churches of Asia.

Let’s take a moment to locate those seven churches on the map.




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Geographical situation of the seven churches of Asia




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Revelation 1:12,13

And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me.

And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks.

And in the middle of the seven candlesticks One like to the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.

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Then, John saw the One who instructed him to send the letters to the seven churches.

Walking in the midst of the candlesticks, this being is described in a gripping way.

We can already guess who He is; indeed, His identity will soon be confirmed by His words...




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Revelation 1:17,18

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand on me, saying to me,

«Fear not; I am the First and the Last.

I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.»

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Romans 6:9

Christ being raised from the dead dies no more.

Death has no more dominion over Him.

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So, the powerful being is Jesus Christ Himself.




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Revelation 1:12,13,20

I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the middle of the seven candlesticks One like to the Son of man. (...)

The seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches.

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Matthew 28:20

[Jesus said,]

«And, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.»

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By letting the prophecy interpret itself, we learn that the candlesticks symbolize the churches.

Standing in the midst of these candlesticks, Jesus gives us the message that He will always be with us, until the end of the world, faithful to the promise He has made.




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Revelation 1:12,13

I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the middle of the seven candlesticks One like to the Son of man.

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Matthew 24:30

All the tribes of the earth shall mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.

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Daniel 7:13

Behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.

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By using the expression «Son of man», John brings out the human nature of Jesus Christ, just as Daniel and Matthew did before.




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Revelation 1:14

His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire.

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Daniel 7:9

The Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame.

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But, by using the description of the Ancient of Days, who is God the Father, John also brings out the divine nature of Jesus Christ.




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Revelation 1:17,18

He laid His right hand on me, saying to me,

«Fear not; I am the First and the Last. I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more.»

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Isaiah 44:6

Thus said the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts,

«I am the First, and I am the Last; and beside Me there is no God.»

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A little farther on, John affirms once again the divinity of Jesus, quoting His expression «the First and the Last», attributed to God only.




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Revelation 1:16

Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.

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Ephesians 6:17

And take (...) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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Hebrews 4:12

The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.

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Jesus, who is called «the Word» (John 1:1,14), appears with the Word of God in His mouth, ready to test our thoughts, words, and deeds.




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«What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches.» (Revelation 1:11)

Now, let’s look at the seven letters.

Each one follows an almost identical pattern. Here is their general outline, in five points:

1.  Portrait of Jesus, according to the spiritual state of the church.
2.  Praise, acknowledgement of the positive points.
3.  Condemnation, identification of the negative points.
4.  Correction, counsels to restore the situation.
5.  Promise, encouragement to persevere.




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A short look at the first letter shows the five points of the pattern




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Revelation 1:10,11

I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, (...)

«What you see, write in a book, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia; to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.»

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We have just seen that the message of Jesus was addressed to the seven churches of Asia listed in these verses.

However, Jesus’ message is not only intended for those specific churches: its range is much more extended, not only in space, but also in time.

Let’s read the following verses.




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Revelation 1:19

Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.

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Daniel 2:39,40

And after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to you, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron.

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Jesus shows that the letters to the churches also have a prophetic value.

Following the pattern of Daniel’s prophecies, they will describe the seven stages of Church history, from the days of John until the end of the world.




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Revelation 2:7

He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.

«To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God.»

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Besides describing the situation of the seven local churches, as well as the seven stages of Christian Church history between the first and the second coming of Jesus, these seven letters are personally addressed to each one of us: «He that has an ear, let him hear.»

They picture seven spiritual states that each Christian can experience throughout his life, and then they give us the appropriate advice and encouragement.




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Revelation 1:1

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass.

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In fact, the very first verse of Revelation clearly shows that this book is addressed to each one of us («to show to His servants»), and that it also has a prophetic range («things which must shortly come to pass»).

So we shouldn’t be surprised that the seven letters also show this double application, both personal and prophetic.

May the study of these letters help us to grow in our Christian life.




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Let’s pray:

Lord,

We thank you for having given us the book of Revelation, especially the seven letters that You addressed to Your church.

Through their prophetic value, they will strengthen our confidence in Your inspired Word.

Also, through their personal application, they will be a source of advice and encouragement for us, whatever our spiritual state may be.

May Your Holy Spirit guide us, as we study each one of these seven letters. In Jesus Christ we pray.

Amen.


The test of Lesson 21 is waiting for you!


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