The first seven chapters of the Book of Revelation mark the beginning of the end of our 40 day journey. This final book of the New Testament (and the Bible for that matter!) written by the Apostle John gives us a glimpse of the glory of God in Heaven through John’s vision and a series of events that mark the “end times”. While John used the most precious gems and metals he knew to attempt to describe what he saw, you can be sure that these things will pale in comparison with what believers will see for themselves one day. Beyond the descriptions of glory and the metaphors for future events, Revelation still has relevant messages for believers’ lives today.
Revelation not only reveals the events of the end times, but it reveals Christ in a way that leaves us with no question about who He is. He is “the Alpha and the Omega…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev 1:8). He tells John “I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Rev 1:17-18). He is also “the Lamb who was slain” Who is worthy “to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12). As I read about how the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders and the myriads of angels are all praising and worshipping our well identified Lord, it struck me that this is what is going on in Heaven right now and it should be no different for any believer still here on earth. The question is, am I praising and worshipping Christ the way He deserves? Does He get my praise and worship only on Sunday morning or do I give it to Him with my whole life? He is worthy to be praised!
In chapters 2 and 3, Christ addresses seven churches that were located in Asia. At first glance this series of compliments, admonitions and rebukes may seem like they are meant solely for these specific churches, but a closer look reveals some characteristics that sound a lot like churches of our own time. Are there churches today that could be described as having “abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev 2:4)? A church that has substituted entertainment and “feel good” messages in the place of biblical teaching and a Gospel presentation might fall into this category. Could Christ say to any of today’s churches, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” (Rev 3:1-2)? This might describe those with massive buildings, inwardly focused programs and small missionary budgets. What about a lukewarm church like in Laodicea where the attitude is “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing”? (Rev 3:17) Jesus’ rebuke of those with this mindset not realizing that in reality they are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” again applies today and unfortunately to much of the American church. The prosperity that this country has been blessed with has become a curse to the church here. Material wealth has led to a poverty of spirit. The pursuit of making much of self has led to making little of Him. The lessons of the seven churches have much to teach us and we have much to learn.
Chapter 7 leaves believers with another promise from God about their future. Christ describes it saying, “they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water,and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:15-17) No more pain, no more sorrow and being in the presence of our God forever – that’s a future to look forward to…