The Book of Revelation causes division in Christianity. However, the Book does not need Scholastic theology. The message was directed to the seven churches, through the Apostle John, on the island of Patmos. The message came directly from God, through Jesus Christ.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day, I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”(Revelation 1:8-11 NIV).
The starting point is appreciating that the mystery is veiled against ordinary humanity. Jesus preached in parables, not to clarify, but to mystify God’s Kingdom. He would privately explain the significance of the parable, to the inner circle, comprising those having left everything to follow Him. At one stage, the disciples privately asked Him why He preached in parables:
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:10-15 NIV).
Without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to understand the mysteries of God’s Kingdom. The disciples had the privilege of Jesus in their midst. Hence He would explain the parabolic meaning in private. On the Island of Patmos, Jesus did not explain the meaning but instructed John to write what he saw and heard, without explanation.
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lamp-stands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:17-20 NIV).
The voice came directly from Jesus, who declares Himself as the first and the last. Although Jesus was human, He bore the nature of being God. Godliness applies to humanity, as well, just as humanity was created in God’s image. The term “first and the last,” also applies to humanity, when conditioned to be like God. However, the Heavenly rank Structure applies, as Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:20-23 NIV).
Jesus’ declaration of being God’s Son incensed the Jews who sought to stone Him. They regarded Jesus’ statement as blasphemous. Jesus attempted to reveal their Godliness, but they could not comprehend.
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp (John 10:33-39 NIV).
The seven Churches existed in the province of Asia Minor (Revelation 1:4). Symbolically, those Churches represented God’s Churches prevailing in all ages. Figuratively, while the seven Churches existed in Asia, the divine Revealer used them to portray their significance throughout the ages.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen (Revelation 1:7 NIV).
The above passage is not limited to seven Churches. Jesus is yet to appear in the clouds so the exhortation cannot only be for Asian Churches. That message is still applicable, depending on the circumstantial condition of any Church grouping.