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Showing posts from June, 2020

Worthy is the Lamb

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The central figure of Revelation is the slain Lamb, who alone is worthy to open the sealed scroll – Revelation 5:5-14 .  In the preceding paragraph, John saw the scroll sealed with seven seals held tightly in the right hand of the “ One Who Sits on the Throne .” A search was made throughout the Cosmos to find someone “ worthy ” to break the seals and open the scroll, but no one could be found. This caused John to weep profusely. If the scroll remained sealed, its contents could not be revealed and implemented - [ Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash ].

Sealed Scroll

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John saw the scroll again, now unsealed and completely open, signifying his call to prophesy once more to peoples and kings  –  Revelation 10:1-11 .  The first six trumpet  plagues  failed to cause the “ inhabitants of the earth ” to repent. Instead, they only further hardened their hearts.  Something more was needed to complete “ the mystery of God .” The narrative now takes a new direction. Rather than another plague, John is commissioned to prophesy to the “ nations and kings of the earth ” - [ Photo by  Timothy Eberly  on Unsplash ].

Throne and Cosmos

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The image of the Throne presents God reigning at the center of the created order – Revelation 4:1-11 .  The vision of the “ throne ” is the theological center of the book and sets the stage for all that follows. In chapter 4, John saw the divine “ throne ” and the “ One Who Sits on it ” reigning from the center of the Creation. In chapter 5, he saw the “ slain Lamb ” take the “ sealed scroll ” from the “ throne ,” then all creation declared him “ worthy ” to open the scroll - [ Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash ].

Laodicea

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The church at Laodicea receives no commendation, only corrections, and ominous warnings  –  Revelation 3:14-22 . Laodicea was founded in approximately 260 B.C. on the site of an older village named  Diospolis , meaning the “ city of Zeus .” It was sixty-five kilometers southeast of Philadelphia and one hundred and sixty kilometers east of Ephesus. Because of its location at the confluence of three major trade routes, the city depended heavily on regional trade - [ Photo by Stefan Gogov on Unsplash ].

Philadelphia

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Philadelphia receives no correction, for she has remained faithful, and therefore, she will be kept from the “hour of trial”  –  Revelation 3:7-13 .  Philadelphia lay fifty kilometers southeast of Sardis, where it straddled a major road into the interior, making commerce with the other cities of Asia vital to its economy. The city was established in 189 B.C. by the king of Pergamos, and later, came under the Roman provincial government when the last king bequeathed his realm to Rome in 133 B.C. - [ Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash ].

Sardis

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The church at Sardis received no commendation, only warnings, and calls to repent while time remained  –  Revelation 3:1-6 .  Sardis was situated approximately sixty kilometers south of Thyatira, near the crossroads between Smyrna and Pergamos. Therefore, regional commerce was vital to the economic and cultural life of the city. Woolen goods figured prominently in local trade.  Sardis  is mentioned in  Obadiah  - (“ They of the captivity of Jerusalem who are in  Sepharad  shall possess the cities of the South ”), “ Sepharad ” being the Hebrew form of ‘Sardis.’ - [ Photo by  Caglar Araz on Unsplash ].

Thyatira

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The prophetess “Jezebel” deceived many at Thyatira into accommodating the idolatrous practices of pagan society  –  Revelation 2:18-29 .  The city of Thyatira was situated fifty-five kilometers southeast of Pergamos and eighty kilometers from the Aegean Sea. Its proximity to Pergamos explains why the doctrines of the  Nicolaitans  had also infiltrated this congregation. Christianity reached Thyatira at an early stage, but the details of its establishment are unknown. Most likely, it was an area reached by Paul’s earlier missionary activities from Ephesus - [ Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash ].

Pergamos

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The church at Pergamos received correction for tolerating the teachings of “Balaam” – Revelation 2:12-17 .  P ergamos lay sixty kilometers to the north of Smyrna and twenty kilometers from the sea . Though not a major commercial center, occasionally, it served as the seat of the Roman provincial government and the provincial center for the imperial cult . The first temple dedicated to Augustus Caesar in Asia was built at Pergamos in 29 B.C. - [ Pergamos theater- Photo by Ahmet Demiro─člu on Unsplash ].

Smyrna

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Ironically, the church at Smyrna was promised even more “tribulation” after its past faithfulness in persecution  –  Revelation 2:8-11 .  The city of  Smyrna  was a seaport approximately fifty-five kilometers northwest of Ephesus. It marked the start of the major road and trade route into the interior of  the province . As a leading commercial center, the city prospered from its location and the importation of goods by sea. The imperial cult was well-established and widespread in the city - [ Photo by Antonio Sessa on Unsplash ].

Ephesus

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The "angel" at Ephesus was commended for rejecting false apostles but chastised for losing his “first love” – Revelation 2:1-7 .  The first three letters form a distinct literary unit, which is indicated by the order of the concluding exhortation and promise at the end of each for “ he who overcomes .” Each of them ends with the exhortation to “ hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches ,” followed by the promise to overcomers. This sequence is reversed in the final four letters - [ Roman Arch - Photo by Jace & Afsoon on Unsplash ].

Missing Seventy Weeks

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SYNOPSIS  -  Despite its frequent use of the book of Daniel, Revelation does not apply Daniel’s “seventy weeks” prophecy to any of its visions . The  book of Revelation  never cites or alludes to the “ seventy weeks ” prophecy from the  book of Daniel ,  a passage from the Hebrew Bible that is foundational to  the chronologies and expectations to many interpretations about the end-times.  Revelation  never attempts to use Daniel’s prophecy for its chronology or in any of its visions - ( Daniel 9:24-27 ). - [ Photo by  Jean-Jacques Halans  on Unsplash ].