The Book of Revelation Revisited 6: Satan Attacks

We had just looked at the six soundings of angelic ‘trumpets’ that revealed partial disasters that God will bring upon the earth, to attempt to motivate those stubborn non-believers to, in fact, believe in Him and then repent. The partiality of the destruction shows God’s restraint in this final act of love – it is a preview of the total disasters that will strike those who persist in rebellion. He is, in essence, pleading with them.

The sounding of the seventh trumpet signals that God’s clemency has expired. At this juncture, the apostle John’s vision shifts heavenward, and towards future events after the tribulation period:

Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” Rv. 11:15 NASB

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His convent was seen in His temple. And there were thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail. Rv. 11:19 NKJV

Thus, the seventh trumpet heralds the victory of God and Christ over the forces of Satan.

Next, Jesus reveals the details of how this triumph will be accomplished. He is bringing the ‘big picture’ together; and to do this, He shifts John’s vision earthward in place and backwards in time:

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seen heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Rv. 12:1 – 5. NKJV

The Child is Jesus; and the dragon is Satan. The description of the woman who bore Jesus is drawn from the Old Testament’ – from Joseph’s vision that He received from God, which revealed that he would rule over his family. (Gn. 37:9, 10.) The twelve stars symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel.

Some Bible interpreters see the pregnant woman as symbolism for the remnant of Israel who ultimately come to Christ. The seven heads of the dragon have been said to represent vast intelligence, the horns: power and strength, the diadems: the princely status of the devil in the world, the third of the stars: demons / rebellious angels. (Rv. 12:7 – 9, below.)

Continuing with this vision, the devil did indeed try to kill the infant Christ through King Herod. (Mt. 2:12 – 23.) Next, we see that God gives His Son reign over the world, (when God brings an end to all of man’s governments), and Jesus will rule with a firm hand (‘rod of iron). But before that can happen, God must remove Christ from the earth, (Jesus’ ascension to His Father), away from the designs of the devil.

John’s vision stays earth-focused but shifts forward in time to the second half of the tribulations:

Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared for her by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. Rv. 12:6 NKJV

Some interpret this to be symbolic of God’s provision for the remnant of Israel (‘the woman), who have accepted Christ as their Messiah, so that they are divinely hidden from the wrath of Satan at this time. Others believe the woman is the witnessing church of Christ.

The apostle’s vision now shifts heavenward, and, some believing to the time of Jesus’ ascension, others to the time of Adam and Eve, and still a third group to the beginning of the tribulations, basing their beliefs on scripture from the book of Daniel. (12:21):

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Rv. 12;7 – 9. ESV

[I think we can eliminate the Adam and Eve time-frame consideration, because the book of Job tells us that Satan still had free reign to travel back and forth from heaven to earth with impunity 1:6, 7.)]

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ has come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before out ‘God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. For this reason, rejoice O heavens and you who dwell in them.

Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he only has a short time. Rv. 12:10 – 12. NASB

Michael was an archangel (an angel of high rank – also mentioned in Dan. 10:13, where he is specified as a warrior and advocate for Israel). The devil has been kicked out of the clouds and now has some major anger issues. The saints at this time, overcome the devil by their faith in the cleansing blood of Christ, and by their public testimony of the same – even in the face of death.

John’s vision moves forward in time to the middle of the tribulations:

Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for at time and times and a half of time, from the presence of the serpent. Rv. 12:13, 14. NKJV

For some, this again refers to the remnant of Israel that is divinely hidden from Satan during the last half (3 1/2 years) of the tribulations. Other believe it indicates the witnessing church.

Satan attacks:

So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth to swallow up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman; and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And he stood on the sand and the sea. Rv. 12:15 – 17. NKJV

Some view the ‘flood’ to represent a mass of anti-Christian opposition from Satan’s followers; others see it as a symbol of all the lies and deceits the devil hurls against God’s children. The ‘swallowing earth is believed to symbolize God protecting Israel:

When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. Is. 59:19 NKJV

So, because the devil was unsuccessful at trying to kill Jesus, or the remnant of Israel, he now vigorously pursues the Gentiles who came to faith during the tribulations. In that pursuit, Satan employs the assistance of the ‘beast.’

Next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

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The Book of Revelation Revisited 5: Seven Trumpets

We left off where Jesus had let loose the seventh and final seal of the scroll that describes God’s final redemptive plan for man. The ‘seals’ were an overview of the wrath of God, coming for those that rebel against Him. The seventh seal was an introductory vision about the coming ‘judgments of the trumpets,’ which describe that actual advent of partial disasters that are coming (‘partial,’ because God is still trying to get as many people to come to repentance and salvation as possible.

The first trumpet tells of a disaster whereupon one third of the earth is burned because of heavenly-induced hail, fire and blood. The second depicts a burning mountain cast into the sea – killing one third of all marine life and ocean-going vessels and defiling the sea with blood. (Some have interpreted the first and the second trumpets as extreme volcanic destruction.)

The third suggests a meteor strike which pollutes one third of the world’s fresh water supply. (Some have interpreted this to be collateral damage from warfare.) The fourth calls for the loss of light from a third of the sun, moon and stars – resulting in utter darkness for a third of a day and a night. (Foretold by the prophet Amos – 8:9.)

After the fifth trumpet blows, John says:

…I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. Rv. 9:1 ESV

Some interpret this to represent a ‘good angel,’ others say it corroborates with Jesus, when He described the star as Satan being can out of heaven. (Lk. 10:18)

When the pit is opened, locusts resembling horses dressed for battle, having faces like men, long hair, teeth like lions, breastplates of iron, tails like scorpions and wings that roar, are released. Some have interpreted the locusts to being demons, others see them as rebel angels that sided with Satan, and finally there are those who understand them to be one and the same.

However, demonic activity has been going on ever since Satan was cast from heaven; but the Bible tells us that the rebel angels have been imprisoned since that time. (Jude 6)

Nevertheless, these rebel angels / demons / locusts are allowed to torment the unbelievers (not possessing the seal of God on them) with a vicious sting for 5 months. As a side note, these demons are commanded to refrain from harming any plant life; thus, these judgments are not sequential but are somewhat simultaneous in their occurrence.

When the sixth trumpet sounds, four ‘bound’ angels (we are not told why they are shackled, but it suggests that they are malevolent) are unbound, so they may lead a demonic army of two hundred million to kill a third of mankind. This represents an army ‘from the east,’ separate from the one from the north that attempted to defeat Israel but was decimated by God. Some interpreters deduce that this eastern army comes from Asia, as it is the only region that could muster one of this size.

They too are on the march to Israel, but their intent is to fight the final battle of Armageddon. It is believed that this army kills a third of mankind while on that march.

The sixth trumpet is mankind’s last warning! There will be no salvation made available to anyone once the seventh trumpet sounds. Still, there will be hard-hearted hold-outs:

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent even then of the works of their hands, so as to cease worshiping and paying homage to the demons and idols…and they did not repent of their murders nor their sorceries (drugs, intoxications) nor of their sexual immorality or of their thefts. Rv. 9:20, 21. AMP

Just as there was a ‘heavenly interlude’ just prior to the unveiling of the seventh seal, there is a second interlude that precedes the sounding of the seventh trumpet. John’s vision shifts earthward, whereupon he sees a great angel (who some interpret to be Christ), holding a scroll and calls out heavenward, declaring an oath to God:

…there would be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets. Rv. 10:6, 7. NASB

Thus, the culmination of everything that God has been revealing throughout history, will begin to manifest at that sounding of the seventh trumpet.

The angel tells John that he must continue to preach the gospel; and then it assigns him a new task:

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God, and the alter and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.” Rv. 11:1, 2. ESV

Forty-two months (3 1/2 years – according to the Jewish calendar of 30-day months) represents the second half of the tribulation period. The measuring rod is generally interpreted to symbolize God’s protection. The temple is seen by some to represent the body of Christ, and the ’trampling of the holy city’ being the persecutions set against that body during the tribulations.

Others interpret this scripture to refer to a literal ‘new temple’ that will be built in Jerusalem during the first half of the tribulationsafter God delivers Israel from the ‘army of the north,’ which leads to Israel accepting Christ as their Messiah. These interpreters look to Ezek. 4:11 as the foundation of this interpretation.

Continuing on in this second interlude, Jesus brings additional revelation:

“And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophecy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouths and consumes their foes…They have the power…to strike the earth with every kind of plague… Rv. 11:3 – 6. ESV

The wearing of sackcloth by the witnesses, signify a last call to the unbelievers to repent. Some interpret the witnesses as symbolic of the ‘witnessing church,’ either during the present age or in the last half of the tribulations; and others see them as literal prophets of great power, but their identities cannot be resolved with certainty.

Jesus continues:

“And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt where there Lord was crucified.” Rv. 11:7, 8. ESV

Thus, we see that the two witnesses have been preaching in Jerusalem; but in the time of the second half of the tribulations, the conditions have degenerated so badly that it is now compared with an ancient city renowned for moral degradation and with a country infamous for its idolatry. We are also told that when the witnesses’ call for repentance is at an end, they are attacked by Satan’s ‘beast.’

And then:

For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. Rv. 11:9, 10. ESV

So, the world throws a party because these meddlesome prophets had been putting a damper on their immoral and pagan frenzy. Yet, there is a big surprise coming:

But after three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear and panic fell on those who were watching them. And the two witnesses heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” Then they ascended into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. Rv. 11:11, 12. AMP

In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. in the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid  and gave glory to the God of heaven. Rv. 11:13 NKJV

The resurrection of the two witnesses makes the end of the tribulations. All chances for repentance and salvation are no longer available for the unbelievers.

Those who interpret the two witnesses as symbolic for the witnessing church, see their resurrection as symbolism for a ‘post-tribulation’ rapture of the martyred church – those who converted during the tribulations.

The interlude concludes, and the seventh trumpet is about to sound…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 4 – Seven Seals

The apostle John has just been spiritually transported to God’s heavenly throne room, where He is able to look upon our Creator. This is a major shifting point in the relationship between God and man, because heretofore, no one was allowed to look upon His face except His Son. (Ex. 33:20; Jn. 6:46.)

However, the glory of God’s countenance is so overwhelmingly magnificent that John cannot describe it other than as a stunning rainbow, emitting from incomparable jewels, with accompanying flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. (Rv. 4:3 & 5.) Surrounding God’s throne was 24 other thrones, occupied by 24 ‘church elders’ – consisting of the 12 apostles of Jesus and representatives for the 12 tribes of Israel. The elders were prostrate before Christ in worship, bringing forth the prayers of the saints. for His consideration. (Rv. 4:10, 11.)

John also sees the ‘seven Spirits of God, representing the Holy Spirit in His complete fullness.

Then, the apostle shifts his gaze to God’s right hand:

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and loose its seals?” Rv. 5:1, 2. NKJV

The scroll contains God’s final plan for redemption – the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is written on both sides and sealed, denoting its completeness. There will be no further additions.

To John’s amazement and relief, the ‘one who is worthy’ turns out to be the ‘Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David – Jesus Christ who takes the scroll in the presence of the elders and of angels who worship Him:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God, and we shall reign on the earth.” Rv. 5:9, 10. NKJV

We see then that only the Son of God is worthy to carry out His Father’s plan for salvation. Christ is presented here as a ‘lion’ (especially to those who rejected Him), and as a ‘lamb’ (to those who have invited Him in their hearts. John further describes Jesus as having the appearance of a lamb who has been slain (to represent His death and resurrection); and having 7 horns and 7 eyes – symbolizing His divine power and complete amalgamation with the Holy Spirit.

Next, Jesus calls John to witness an overview of the nature of events which will unfold during the seven-year tribulation period. Jesus begins by opening the first four seals, which reveal the symbolic ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse. The first rider is interpreted by some to be the Antichrist (counterfeit christ), who is loosed upon the earth at the beginning of the tribulation.

The apostle Paul had also prophesied about this event:

…that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God… 2 Thess. 2:3, 4. NKJV

The ‘Day’ is the day of God’s wrath.

The second rider represents war – interpreted by some as a personification of a great ‘army from the north,’ said to be a coalition from countries that comprised the old Soviet Union and those populated by Islamic radicals.

The third rider signifies famine, and the fourth symbolic of death and disease.

When Jesus opens the fifth seal, John sees a vision of all who have been martyred for Christ, pleading for justice; but they are told to be patient a bit longer, so that our merciful God can use a little more time to gather in anyone who may yet choose Him.

The opening of the sixth seal reveals a preview of severe cosmological disturbances that will manifest when Christ returns to the earth.

Before the seventh seal is opened, we are privy to the first of three ‘interludes’ in heaven, where we can see the disposition of the saints during the various phases of John’s visions:

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice…”Do not harm the earth, the sea or the trees till we have sealed the servants of God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed. 7:2 – 4. NKJV

What follows in a list of the 12 Jewish tribes of 12,000 each – all of which have been sealed by the angels. The ‘seal’ is the name of the Lamb and of God – the seal of salvation. (Rv. 14:1) Some interpreters see the 144,000 as a symbolic number of Jews who come to the realization the Christ is the Messiah, after they witness the rapture of the church of Christ, and watch God defeat the enemies of Israel in the final battle. Thus, like the church of Christ, the Jews are sealed as well. (Rm. 11:26)

John’s vision of the ‘interlude’ continues as he sees the appearance of an innumerable multitude of people from all over the world, dressed in white robes and worshiping the Lamb of God. (Rv. 7:9, 10.) One of the ‘elders’ explains who they are:

“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore or thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Rv. 7:14 – 17. NKJV

Some interpret the multitude to be Gentiles from around the world that witness the rapture of the church, the defeat of Israel’s enemies by God, and the salvation of the Jews. In the face of all this, they too decide to embrace Christ. (Zech. 8:23)

This interpretation then, calls for an additional rapture, which occurs at mid-tribulation. It is another loving example of God’s mercy – giving His children a final chance to come to Him.

John’s vision shifts earthward to see how the inhabitants are faring at this time, and then it returns to Jehovah’ s throne room as Jesus opens the last of the seven seals:

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of the saints on the golden alter which was before the throne. Rv. 8:1 – 3. NASB

Then the angel took the censor, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake. So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. Rv. 8:5, 6. NKJV

The seventh seal reveals the ‘judgments of the trumpets,’ which herald the coming of the cataclysmic events of the tribulations. From this scripture, we can take comfort in knowing that the prayers of the saints are ever-present before God’s throne.

The censer that the angel threw to the earth contains the prayers of the saints calling for justice to be served upon their persecutors. God is answering them through His imminent judgments on the ungodly.

Next time…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited 3 – Introduction to the Rapture

Immediately after the apostle John receives the messages for the seven churches in Asia, Jesus calls him up in the spirit, to the very throne room of God in heaven:

…I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a [war] trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Rv. 4:1 AMP

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. Rv. 4:2 NKJV

We see then that Revelation is now shifting its perspective to both a heavenward locale and towards future events.

This is one of the major scriptures cited as being symbolic of a ‘rapture’ of the church, whisking it away from the time of the ‘tribulations’ (God’s judgments of wrath), which lie in store for those on earth who have rejected Him. The word ‘rapture’ is not found in the Bible. The first description of this concept has been attributed to an evangelist in the early 1800s, who preached it.

“Rapture’ as it is used in biblical schools of thought, means to be ‘caught up’ or taken away,’ referring to when it is believed that Jesus will return and take God’s children out of harm’s way during the tribulations. How and when this rapture occurs, or not, depends upon who is doing the interpreting. The concept has been formulated from various scriptures. One is drawn from what Jesus said:

“…watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Lk. 21:34 – 36. ESV

Another is from the Holy Spirit-inspired apostle Paul:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the LORD.  1 Thess. 4:16, 17. NKJV

So, Jesus comes and gathers all of God’s children (both dead and alive) and swoops them up to heaven. Why does He do that?

For God has not destined us to [incur His] wrath [that is, He did not select us to condemn us], but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ… 1 Thess. 5:9 AMP

Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]… 1 Cor. 15:51 AMP

Returning to the Revelation narrative, Jesus said this to the faithful church (of Philadelphia) in His previous address to the seven churches in Asia:

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Rv. 3:10 NKJV

I understand this to mean that the children of God will not suffer the trials because we won’t be living on the earth.

There are three different interpretations regarding when this ‘rapture’ will take place. The first says that Rv. 4:1 – 2 (above) means that it will happen as a hidden event prior to Jesus’ globally public ‘second coming.’ The second interpretation is borne out by those who refer to Dan. 7:25, which they take to mean that the rapture will occur at the midway point of the 7-year tribulation period. Finally, there are others who look at another scripture spoken by Jesus, and believe it to mean that the rapture will occur after the tribulations are complete:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give up its light; the stars will fall from heaven and the power of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all of the tribes of the earth will mourn, and see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one heaven to the other. Mt. 24:29 – 31. NKJV

The important thing to understand, is that these are the best interpretations of the Holy Spirit – induced scriptures that man has to offer. What we can know with certainty, is that God will indeed rescue His children, through Christ, as some specific point in time and separate them from the stiff-necked unbelievers, whose outcome is thankfully not ours…

Goodnight and God bless.

The Book of Revelation Revisited – 2

The apostle John begins describing the events of Revelation from Holy Spirit-inspired visions that he received while banished on the island of Patmos, by the Romans, for preaching the gospel.

The first vision shows Jesus as He appears today:

Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair where white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like brass, as is refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. Rv. 1:12 – 16. NKJV

The white hair denotes the wisdom of His Father (Dan. 7:9), the flaming eyes suggest Christ’s omniscience, the feet of brass His omnipotence, the voice of many waters represents His power and authority to speak for God (Ezek. 1:24), and the two-edged sword symbolizes the power of the word of God to seek out the truth. (Heb. 4:12)

Jesus then tells John that He has conquered death and is victorious over the devil. He also explains the symbols in John’s vision that we saw last time (Rv. 1:17 – 20.): the stars being the angels of the seven churches, and the lamp stands the churches themselves.

Next, Jesus gives John the messages for the seven churches – which ultimately are messages for church congregants everywhere, as each church is a reflection of them:

Jesus said that the first church was ritualistic – coming off as a rigid religion, rather than a place of love, where He can be found. His remedy is to return to our initial love and zeal for Him, keeping Him as our center focus. In addition, to repent of all behavior that has diminished that focus. (Rv. 2:1-5.)

It is easy to let our faith-related activities fall into thoughtless robotic habits. We need ‘daily dips’ in God’s word to remind us of the infinite love that the Father and the Son has for us.

The second church is living in material poverty. Christ acknowledges that, but He tells them that their greater rewards come from their spiritual abundance. He also recognizes their suffering from persecution by Satan-inspired detractors of the gospel in the world. Jesus tells them that if they will remain steadfast in opposition in the world’s ways, they will be rewarded with eternal life.  (Rv. 2:8 – 11.)

Not everyone is blessed with material abundance. As long as your lot in life is not due to sloth, you can seek God, knowing that you’ve tried your best, and He will provide what you need. (Mt. 6:25 & 33.) Remember too that the closer you get to God, the more you’ll be attacked by the devil’s minions; but Christ has got your back. (1 Jn. 4:4)

Jesus condemns the third church for polluting their doctrine with worldly behavior and false religion – commanding them to exercise immediate repentance. (Rv. 2:12 – 16.)

The only doctrine that belongs in the church is the Bible. The emphasis on the immediacy of repentance is because you don’t want to be caught up in unrepentant sin when you die or when Jesus returns, because at that point in time, salvation is no longer available.

The fourth church is filled with love, faith and service, but has allowed a satanic false prophet into their assembly. Jesus demands immediate repentance and a full-faith return to Him and His gospel. (Rv. 2:18 – 25.)

You know when there is a fox in the henhouse. It’s when anyone is teaching anything contrary to scripture. They must be uprooted.

The fifth church had lost the presence of the Spirit because of their ho-hum approach of doing church.  Jesus called it a ‘dead’ church. He speaks the remedy, which consists of repenting, returning to the Truth, and then living it out. (Rv. 3:1 – 4.)

Christ speaks only praise for the sixth church – encouraging them to continue on their faithful path, even in the face of persecution, because He will be by their side. (Rv. 3:7 – 11.)

Conversely, Jesus had nothing good to say about the seventh church. It was a place of ‘lukewarm’ parishioners with no spiritual conviction and a misplaced focus on material things. (Rv. 3:15 – 17.)  Yet even with this church, Jesus offered encouragement:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Rv. 3:18 NKJV

Jesus loves you so much. He cares so much, that if you mess up, He’s going to bust your chops to try to nudge you back onto the right path.

The bottom line with respect to these seven messages, is that Jesus is guiding us in how to build a stronger church by being stronger Christians. We do that by patiently enduring our trials as we wait for His return, using good discernment to separate ourselves from the ungodly, emulate Jesus, keep Christ as the center of all that we think or do, keep the undefiled word of God in our hearts, be zealous for God and His Son, carry the gospel to as many as we can, and repent when we slip and fall.

Our God is a forgiving God – that’s why He sent His Son.

That’s the making of a strong church…

Goodnight and God Bless.