Our 2-year chronological study of the Scriptures brings us to the final book of the Bible, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle.” The Book of Revelation is just that, a book of prophetic revelations of the future. It was the “Apocalypse,” literally the revelation, the unveiling of Jesus Christ (1:1). It was God’s disclosure to believers; a prophetic insight into not only the future, but also the beginning of the end of this world with its sin and corruption. While our Scripture reading is Revelation 1 and 2, today’s devotional will serve as an introduction to the book, and offer a brief survey of those chapters.
The Apostle John’s Prologue (1:1-3)
The historical setting of the Revelation is near the end of the first century, and at a time of increasing persecution against the saints of the Lord. Some 60 years had passed since Jesus ascended to heaven. Now elderly, the apostle John was perhaps in his 90’s. He was the last of the apostles, the others having been martyred. It was at such an hour that the LORD saw fit to encourage John and the saints of God with a message of HOPE (Revelation 6:10; 8:1-5).
Revelation opens and closes with a special blessing for all who read this book of prophecy. John commenced the book of Revelation, exhorting the saints, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (1:3). The Book of Revelation concludes with Christ’s assurance, “Behold, I come quickly,” and John’s promise, “blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (22:7).
The Object, The Purpose, The Method, and the Recipient of Revelation (1:1-2)
The first two verses of John’s Revelation stated the object of the revelation as Jesus Christ, and it was given to Him by God the Father (1:1). The purpose of the revelation was to present Christ in His present and future glory (1:1).
While the Gospels presented Jesus in His humility (humanity), the Book of Revelation presented Him in His divine (heavenly) glory. Jesus Christ was the Lamb that was slain in the Gospels, but in Revelation He is the Sovereign God who reigns. In the Gospels, Jesus was pierced, while in Revelation He is praised. In the Gospels He was condemned and crucified; in Revelation He is presented as the returning King and Judge of the earth.
Notice the method of the revelation was by an angel (God’s messenger), who was sent from God to communicate all “which must shortly come to pass” (1:1). Lastly, as the recipient of the revelation, John was tasked to be a witness, and to “bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony [witness] of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he [John] saw” (1:2).
The Seven Churches of the Revelation (1:4–3:22)
John was commanded to write “to the seven churches which are in Asia” (1:4). Time and space do not permit an exhaustive study of Revelation 1 and 2; however, I invite you to direct your attention to the seven churches that were located in Asia Minor, in what is today modern Turkey (1:4, 11). Of particular note, John identified the seven churches and their spiritual state.
The church at Ephesus was commended for much (2:2-3), but condemned for having departed from the love they once had for the LORD (2:1-7). The church at Smyrna, often identified as the “Martyrs Church,” was praised for enduring persecution (“tribulations, and poverty,” and slander, 2:8-11). The church at Pergamos, whose doctrine had been corrupted by two heresies (the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans), was exhorted to repent immediately or Christ would make war with the church (2:12-17).
Thyatira, often described as the “Church of Spiritual Whoredom,” has been suggested by some to be a fitting portrait of the Roman Catholic Church. Thyatira was extolled for its “works, and charity, and service, and faith, and patience” (endurance, 2:18-19). Yet, was said to have suffered “that woman Jezebel,” and was guilty of seducing God’s servants “to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols” (2:20). (The Old Testament Jezebel brought idolatry into Israel’s northern kingdom, and gross immorality. In the same way, the Roman Catholic Church has introduced and observes to this day rituals that originated with pagan practices.)
Closing thoughts – Our next devotional will consider the church at Sardis (its spiritual state was described as living, but “dead,” 3:1). The church at Philadelphia was identified as a faithful church (3:7-13). Lastly, the seventh church of the Revelation was the church at Laodicea. That church was infamously described as a proud, wealthy church, and had become spiritually indifferent and compromised (3:14-22).
Sadly, perhaps of the seven churches in Revelation, the majority of 21st century churches would identify with Laodicea: “Rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (3:17). Tragically, some reading this devotional may realize they are in the midst of a Laodicean church. I urge you, get out before the chastening hand of the Lord befalls you and that church (3:19).
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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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