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.
The messages are intended to awaken the spiritually dying Churches, to avoid losing out on God’s promises. The respective attributes were highlighted on each, with peculiar strengths and weaknesses. The Philadelphian Church was commended for being more faithful than others.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10 NIV).
The most important aspect is that God’s Church is not represented in one particular Church denomination. God’s Church comprises people with God’s Spirit, regardless of which Church they belong to. There is no point in calling oneself Christian, without the Holy Spirit. One may be a Christian believer, but not necessarily God’s Child, as long as not have received the Holy Spirit.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:9-11 NIV).
God’s Church comprises those having become God’s Children, but that condition does not regard their denominational identities. Belonging to a denomination does not necessarily make one God’s Child; answerable to God, only.
God’s child can be regarded as controversial, as not conforming to common human behaviour. Jesus also did not conform to Jewish behaviour. The disciples were also killed for not behaving like ordinary humans. The Church of Laodicea could be regarded as applicable to Christianity in general.
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”(Revelation 3:14-17 NIV).
Any comfortably established Church grouping could apply the exhortation. No one can claim to fully comprehend God’s knowledge. Even John, having belonged to the original apostles, did not fully understand God’s revelation.
We see in part, but we shall see fully (1 Corinthians 13:12). Complacency settles when one assumes to know it all. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”(Matthew 5:3 NIV). It is only the poor in spirit, who make it into God’s Kingdom.
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches”(Revelation 3:18-22 (NIV).
Falsehood becomes exposed when applying the above passage of Scripture. There is a difference between God’s children and the children of the world. However, those, supposedly representing God’s church, confuse personal comfort with the truth, being what God is against. Being lukewarm is comfortable, yet portrays the most dangerous condition.
Being hot implies taking God’s word seriously and applying it, accordingly. However, being cold implies disregarding God’s word, ignoring what it teaches. There is safety in genuinely avoiding God’s Word, just as one is safe when applying God’s word. This is a matter of sincerity and conviction.
The patent danger is being lukewarm, which is similar to mixing negative and positive electric currencies. There is no safety in the comfort of being neither hot nor cold, as this implies losing everything.
The Book of Revelation depicts the methodology toward salvation and condemnation at the end. God comes to pass judgment on humanity who would have refused salvation. The Book of Revelation cannot be understood, by ordinary humanity.
However, when one appreciates the role of Jesus on earth, everything falls in place. The starting point is at the revelation of Christ, as God’s Son. That is what enjoins the entire humanity as God’s children.
Humanity comprises God’s children, through Christ as God’s Son. This divulges the secret, hitherto, hidden from humanity. When the disciples disclosed that Jesus was God’s Son, He instructed them to hide the secret. He said this after the mystery had been revealed, identifying Jesus as God’s Son.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you lose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah (Matthew 16:13-20 NIV).
After appreciating the aspect of being God’s child, the Book of Revelation ceases to be a mystery. The Book is as prophetic as the Old Testament prophecies. However, to God’s Children, such prophecies are irrelevant.
“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it” (Luke 16:16 NI).
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
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