Lessons from the Seven Churches of Revelation
by Dr. Sandra Glahn
Think for a moment about the different sorts of correspondence you receive. A thank-you note. A postcard from another continent. An advertisement. A bill. A shower invitation. Think, too, of the ways we communicate with each other. Texting. Snail mail. Twitter. Blogs. Email. Posting a note. Using the phone.
Two thousand years ago when Jesus chose to communicate messages to seven churches in the then province of Asia (present-day Turkey), He appeared to the elder John—perhaps their overseer. And Jesus told John to record what he saw in what we now know as the Book of Revelation. The book begins with a vision of the exalted Christ followed by seven post-card-length messages to the churches. Those messages still speak to believers today:
- Ephesus: Return to me with the love you once had, demonstrated in the deeds you first did.
- Smyrna: Remain faithful in suffering, even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
- Pergamum: Conquer in a context of lies and immorality, and I will reward you.
- Thyatira: Hold on till I come, and I will give you authority over the nations.
- Sardis: Wake up and strengthen what remains; remember what you received and heard, and obey it and repent.
- Philadelphia: Hold on to what you have so no one can take away your crown.
- Laodicea: You think you are rich, but you are really poor. Be earnest and repent!
To Jesus’ original recipients in a world filled with violence and volatile leaders, He brought course corrections, providing a glimpse of His future rule in justice and righteousness. For those of us living on a planet that’s still enduring violent times and volatile leaders, Jesus’ “postcards” have timeless relevance. Which of the seven messages speaks most directly to where you live?
Dr. Sandra Glahn is a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, and her book Sumatra with the Seven Churches is one of the titles in her ten-book Coffee Cup Bible Studies. She blogs for bible.org and at aspire2.com. You can also find her on Facebook or Twitter @sandraglahn.
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