Last week, I introduced my idea that the seven churches and their messages were much more than memos to seven little first century Christian communities.
The whole of the Book of Revelation is introduced as “the revelation of Jesus Christ … to show his servants what must happen soon” and with “blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.” (Rev 1:1-3)
Another puzzler is that the seven letters are each addressed not to the people, but to “the angel of the church.” And this after we’ve been explicitly told that the seven stars in Jesus’ right hand are “the angels of the seven churches” [Rev 1:20].
In Scripture, the right hand of God denotes Divine power, which makes me think these angels are specific beings whom Jesus tasked to guard and guide each of the seven churches in the letters. This idea is supported by this passage:
“When I caught sight of him [Jesus], I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid.'” [Rev 1:17]
“Do not be afraid” is one of the first things every angel has ever said the minute it appears to someone in the Bible. And angels are immortal, which again suggests the letters have to do with churches in time or through time.
I think they stand for seven, successive periods in church history, starting with the Apostolic 1st c. Church (Ephesus) and continuing on to the End of Time Church (Laodicea).
For the record, I got the basic idea of the churches as time periods in church history out of a Seventh Day Adventist book called, Thoughts, critical and practical, on the book of Revelation by Uriah Smith.
Since he was convinced Jesus was returning Any Minute Now, he squashed his interpretation into pre-1880 history, with a major emphasis on demonstrating how Revelation proved that the Roman Catholic Church was the Worst Thing That Ever Happened. Like … EVER.
Apparently, the Adventists had a real bug up their butts about denominational churches, particularly the Big Mother of All Denominations based in Rome. It’s kinda funny, since they’ve done what other break-away, holier-than-them, renewal movements have eventually done. They’ve become a denomination.
So you’ll forgive me for getting little else of value from Uriah’s book, though I will say the man could teach modern Leftists a thing or three about spewing anti-Catholic venom. His ranting goes on for pages, all of it with Big Vocabulary Words and zero references to body parts, fluids or functions. It’s almost poetic. If I weren’t Catholic, I might have even enjoyed it.
I can tell you fershure that comparing Smith’s rants with something like Jason Biggs’ tweet to Pope Benedict: “Hey @pontifex since u obvs like the web and shit u should totes peep christianmingle.com lots of great ass ur welcome” is kinda like comparing Shakespeare’s plays to “A recent ex-virgin from Maine … .” IOW, Christians even do bilious insults better than the godless Left. Ha.
I also got nothing else about this “seven periods of church history” theory from anywhere else. I did consult various Bible study sites and resources in my researches, but never came across any other mention of the idea. It may be out there and I just didn’t see it. I don’t know. Smith mentioned in his book that the “seven periods of church history” idea had held sway in the past, but was now (1881) generally discredited by theologians, though he thought it was true.
I just wanted to point out that I came up with my ideas on my own, but that I have no teaching or preaching credentials from any institution or denomination whatsoever. So please … take what I write about Scripture with a ton of salt. And if you think I’m full of it, that’s fine.
I’m planning to write more later about the letters and periods of history. But again, this has gotten long enough and we all have other stuff to do. 🙂
Who was Uriah Smith?