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If I Were Told the Future - Lesson 21

Introduction to the Seven Letters

Picture 1 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 1
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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Picture 2 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 2
Revelation 1:1,3 Comments
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.
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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Picture 3 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 3
Revelation 1:4,5 Comments
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.»
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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Picture 4 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 4
Revelation 1:9-11 Comments
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.»
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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Picture 5 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 5
Geographical situation of the seven churches of Asia
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Picture 6 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 6
Revelation 1:12,13 Comments
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.
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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Picture 7 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 7
Revelation 1:17,18 Comments
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.»
So, the powerful being is Jesus Christ Himself.
Romans 6:9
Christ being raised from the dead dies no more.

Death has no more dominion over Him.
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Picture 8 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 8
Revelation 1:12,13,20 Comments
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.
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.
Matthew 28:20
[Jesus said,]

«And, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.»
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Picture 9 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 9
Revelation 1:12,13 Comments
I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the middle of the seven candlesticks One like to the Son of man. By using the expression «Son of man», John brings out the human nature of Jesus Christ, just as Daniel and Matthew did before.
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.
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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Picture 10 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 10
Revelation 1:14 Comments
His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire. 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.
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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Picture 11 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 11
Revelation 1:17,18 Comments
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.»
A little farther on, John affirms once again the divinity of Jesus, quoting His expression «the First and the Last», attributed to God only.
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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Picture 12 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 12
Revelation 1:16 Comments
Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. 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.
Ephesians 6:17
And take (...) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Hebrews 4:12
The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.
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Picture 13 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 13
«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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Picture 14 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
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A short look at the first letter shows the five points of the pattern
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Picture 15 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 15
Revelation 1:10,11 Comments
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.»
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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Picture 16 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 16
Revelation 1:19 Comments
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. 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.
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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Picture 17 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 17
Revelation 2:7 Comments
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.»
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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Picture 18 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 18
Revelation 1:1 Comments
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show to His servants things which must shortly come to pass. 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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Picture 19 If I Were Told the Future Lesson 21
Introduction to the Seven Letters
Screen 19
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.
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Lesson 21 - Test The test of Lesson 21 is waiting for you!

Source of the Pictures of this Lesson
Screen 1: In: «Photo Gallery 25,000» by Media Graphics International, CD #2, AC090.JPG. Screen 2: HARLAN, Russell. In: «Votre Bible et Vous» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.286. Used by permission. Copyright ©1959, 1987 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 3: In: «La Révélation - le grand dénouement est proche», New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1988, p.7. Screen 4: BURGKMAIR, Hans. «Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos» (1518), Alte Pinakothek, Munich. In: «Revelation - Art of the Apocalypse» (GRUBB, Nancy), Abeville Press Publishers, 1997, p.11. Screen 5: In: «Revelation Seminars», Seminars Unlimited, 1986, lesson #17 («Prophètes et Visions Modernes»), p.1. Table of Screen 5: In: PORTER, J.R., «The Illustrated Guide to the Bible», New York, Oxford University Press, 1995, p.254. Screen 6: MANISCALCO, Joe. In: «Images from the Bible and Sacred History CD», Chosen Works, MLI Software, JM240.BMP. Screen 7: In: «The Bible Story, volume 10» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.170. Used by permission. Copyright ©1957, 1985 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 8: HUTCHINSON, William. In: «The Bible Story, volume 10» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.172,173. Used by permission. Copyright ©1957, 1985 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 9: STEEL, John. In: «La Sentinelle» magazine (April 1993), Pacific Press Publishing Association, p.10. Screen 10: PROVONSHA, Clyde. In: «God Cares, volume 2» (MAXWELL, C. Mervyn), Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985, p.88. Screen 11: HARLAN, Russell. In: «The Bible Story, volume 5» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.151. Used by permission. Copyright ©1955, 1983 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 12: MANISCALCO, Joe. In: «Images from the Bible and Sacred History CD», Chosen Works, MLI Software, JM231.BMP. Screen 13: MANISCALCO, Joe. In: «Revelation Seminars», Seminars Unlimited, 1986, lesson #5 («Sept Messages Particuliers de Jésus»), p.1. Screen 14: MEMLING, Hans. «Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos» (1474-79), Memling Museum, Belgium. In: «Revelation - Art of the Apocalypse» (GRUBB, Nancy), Abeville Press Publishers, 1997, p.9. Table of Screen 14: In: «Revelation Seminars», Seminars Unlimited, 1986, lesson #2 («L’Etoile du drame de l’Apocalypse»), p.1. Screen 15: In: «Revelation Seminars», Seminars Unlimited, 1986, lesson #1 («Une Aventure Avec la Prophétie»), p.1. Screen 16: RUDEEN, Herbert. In: «Uncle Arthur’s Bible Book» (MAXWELL, Arthur S.), p.273. Picure edited by Cyberspace Ministry. Used by permission. Copyright ©1945, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1968, 1996 by Review and Herald® Publishing Association, USA. All Rights Reserved. Screen 17: In: «The Watchtower» magazine (February 1, 1991), New York, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, p.1. Screen 18: OTTO. «The Ascension». In: «Beautiful Bible Stories» (MARTIN, Patricia Summerlin), Southwestern Company, 1964, p.450-h. Screen 19: In: «Photo Gallery 25,000» by Media Graphics International, CD #2, AG115.JPG.
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Lesson 21 - Test The test of Lesson 21 is waiting for you!