God Speaks through His Word
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
—John 5:39, emphasis added
The Bible is like many textbooks in school: all the answers are found at the end of the book. The end of the Bible is, of course, The Revelation of Jesus Christ that John recorded for us.
The Bible is comprised of sixty-six books, written by forty authors over fifteen centuries, yet it possesses a supernaturally engineered message. The guiding hand of God, through the Holy Spirit inspiring each human author, placed every word, letter, name, place, and number there. Thus every detail of God’s Word was orchestrated by God to reveal himself and His plan.
Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in Revelation. Its 404 verses, which hold allusions to over 800 Old Testament verses and passages, tie the entire Bible together in a grand finale. In fact, if you understand the Old Testament, you will understand Revelation.
Jesus wrote messages to the seven churches that we all need to hear. There were many other churches at that time which would seem to be more historically significant than the seven that Jesus addressed, such as the churches at Jerusalem, Rome, Galatia, Corinth, Antioch, Colossae, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Miletus. So why did Jesus select just these seven:
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and ? The reason is that they represent all of us today. Seven is always God’s “number of completion.” He picked seven local, individual congregations to write to, using some very interesting words. His message was not only to them there and then but also to us here and now. Jesus actually gives us at least a four-level message in each of these letters. Laodicea
Jesus gives a specific message: “to the church in” (Revelation 2:1 NASB). He spoke to the local churches that were in those geographic places then. Jesus is likewise interested in today’s churches. God’s Word speaks to individuals in the twenty-first century because God knows what they are doing at church, at work, and at home. He knows what is going on in private and public lives. He says, “I know what your church is doing; I know where you are headed.” When we offer worship to God, if it is cold, it is because we came in cold; if it is fervent, it is because we came in fervent.
Jesus gives a universal message: “Hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:7). This is plural and speaks of an admonition to all churches throughout all the history of the church. Here Jesus addresses His divine expectation that He wants our devotion to Him.
Jesus gives a prophetic message: This is perhaps the most fascinating part of Revelation, as Jesus describes, with divine precision, the seven successive eras the church would pass through from Pentecost to the last days of apostasy. Jesus was also describing the seven types of Christians who would make up the visible church throughout the church age.
Jesus gives a spiritual message: “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:7). To Him, the one with the “ear” is the individual “who overcomes.” This is the most valuable part of these letters. Jesus goes from speaking to the local church to all the local churches throughout the ages, and then He zeros in on the individual. At the tail end of all seven of these letters is the greatest set of promises in the Bible. Because it is a spiritual message, the most valuable part of this book is probably to singular-eared individuals who listen to these practical, personal messages and respond in faith and obedience to the Lord—and actually live the lives Jesus calls them to live.
Jesus’ seven letters describe the unfolding of all subsequent church history. In any other order, this prophetic panorama would not be true. Just as the book of Acts covers about thirty years of the growth and ministry of the church, the second and third chapters of Revelation cover the next 1,900 years, and seem to be the explanation for the interval between the sixty-ninth and seventieth “weeks” of Daniel 9. (For a full explanation of Daniel’s seventy weeks, see Week 31: “Remember the Plan of the Ages.”)
I pray that you are among the singular-eared individuals who will listen to Christ’s practical, personal messages and respond in faith and obedience to the Lord by actually living the life Jesus calls you to live!
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.