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 Revelation Chapters 2 - 3 Overview (Part 12)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapters 2 - 3 Overview (Part 12)   Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:06 am

Revelation Chapters 2 – 3 overview (Part 12)

Before we look at chapter 2, I’d like to give a quick overview of the next two chapters. There are several repeating themes or motifs in chapters 2 and 3. Jesus is the speaker in both chapters. For each church he opens by addressing the angel of that particular church. If Jesus has a rebuke to say about a church, he starts by giving the church praise of what they are doing well before he rebukes them and tells them what they are doing wrong. For each church he offers a blessing particularly to the overcomer of that age, which starts with something close to: “To him who overcomes…” And for each church he says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” That is as if Jesus is saying: “For the person who can comprehend, take head to the warnings and messages I am telling you.” Or basically, “Pay attention!” Jesus is talking, but he says, “Listen to what the Spirit is telling you”; so it is as if both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are talking, speaking the same message.

To give a good commentary of these 2 chapters, it would be most beneficial if we look at each church in two separate studies. There are 3 applications for each message to the 7 churches. 1.) There is a practical application: a message to the actual Asia Minor church that Jesus designates. 2.) There is a perennial ageless application that pertains to all churches and Christian individuals. 3.) There is a prophetic application. The first 2 applications we can tackle in one study, but if it carries over too long, we might break up the third application in a separate study. A very important point is that these 2 chapters pertain only to the Christian church, not to Jews.

There are key phrases that indicate the prophetic dates the church represents. You might box these phrases out with pen or pencil in your bibles. For the Church of Ephesus, the key phrase is “you have fallen!” in Revelation 2:5. For the Church in Smyrna, the key phrase is “suffer persecution for 10 days” in Revelation 2:10. For the Church in Pergamum, the key phrase is “the teaching of Balaam” in Revelation 2:14. For the Church in Thyatira, the key phrase is “that woman Jezebel” in Revelation 2:20. For the Church in Sardis, the key phrase is “have a reputation…but you are dead” in Revelation 3:1. For the Church in Philadelphia, the key phrase is “an open door” in Revelation 3:8. And finally, the key phrase for the Church in Laodicea is “you are lukewarm” in Revelation 3:16. An equally legitimate key phrase for this church could also be “You say, I am rich” in Revelation 3:17.

There is one important thing to understand about time and God’s prophesies. When God prophesies events in history, time is a continual whole; as if time is boxed. I can only give an example to illustrate what I am trying to say. The prophesy account is in correct order, but stretched out over a broad period of time. An example of what I am trying to say can be found in Isaiah 61:1b-3. It reads, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” This is all one sentence. In Isaiah’s mind, this is a single prophesy that will take place in a single swoop. But if we analyze the separate parts of this prophesy, we see that this prophesy spans over 2,000 years. The first parts: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…” was fulfilled in Jesus’ first coming. The year of the LORD’s favor is the Day of Grace, made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross. But then there is at least a 2,000 year gap between this clause and the next, which says, “and the day of vengeance of our God”. This part has yet to happen and will be fulfilled when Jesus returns in His Second Advent. The next part, “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion” takes place at least 7 years after the last clause that did not yet happen. It takes place during the Millennium. God often speaks a prophesy that sounds like it will all take place in a short period of time, but can span across thousands of years.

Jesus gives His interpretation of this passage in Luke 4:18-19, where He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” What is most notable in this passage is what Jesus did not say. He did not complete the rest of the sentence. He deliberately stopped mid-sentence. The text tells us that he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, sat down and said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Just the part that he quoted was fulfilled. He did not quote the rest of the passage because the rest of the passage wouldn’t be fulfilled until thousands of years later.

Another example of a passage with a huge time gap is Isaiah 9:6-7 where a child is born, but a Son is given and the very next verse says that he will reign on David’s throne—not when the child grows up, but thousands of years after verse 6. And you can look at Isaiah 11:1-5 for another similar example.

One last thing that I want to mention that is important to understand about biblical prophecy is that many times, God writes his prophesies with a double meaning. One meaning is for practical use, for the time it was originally given; then the other meaning is the prophetic meaning to be fulfilled at a much later period.

Examples of double meaning prophetic passages can be found throughout the bible, but I will give a couple of examples here. Revelation chapters 2-3 are examples of this, which we are about to look at. Psalm 69 is an example. It is written by King David, and originally intended to be about David, but in God’s prophetic power, he turns David’s Psalm of himself into a prophetic prophesy of Jesus Christ. Verses 7-12 and verse 21 are prophesies of Jesus. Verse 21 says, “They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.” This probably happened to David, who wrote this. But the double meaning is that it also happens to Jesus centuries later.

The entire Psalm 72, written by King Solomon, is initially about Solomon, but it is all a prophetic Psalm about Jesus Christ. I just want the reader to get a feel for how God’s prophesies work in the bible. Time is boxed, though the events are usually in order. And passages can have double meaning, both applying to the circumstances of the day, and also spanning centuries or thousands of years later with a prophetic meaning.
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