The Seven Churches of Revelation, part two

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.

See intro @ https://polination.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/the-seven-churches-of-revelation/

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].

Rev 1 Jesus with stars and lampstands

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).

1st century map Asia Minor - 7 churches in Revelation

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. 🙂

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Who was Uriah Smith?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uriah_Smith

7 Comments

Filed under Bible Prophecy

7 responses to “The Seven Churches of Revelation, part two

  1. True confession time…. Revelation is one of those books I generally avoid, because of Revelation-induced trauma from my childhood. I went to a lot of different churches when I was growing up, as well as a parochial school for many years, and Christian summer camp, and various Bible study and prayer groups and so on… and each one of them had its own interpretation of Revelation, which it held to be the Truth, and anyone who held a different interpretation was thought to be the spawn of Satan. The fact that no two churches seemed to be able to agree on how to understand Revelation really bothered me. I also felt that many of them were obsessed to an unhealthy degree with the whole last days thing — they were always insisting that Christ’s return was going to happen any minute, and then they’d list dozens of supposed proofs based on stuff in Revelation. Some of them were busy preparing for the tribulation, others believed they would be raptured before the tribulation began. Folks on different sides of the aisle would get into knock-down drag-out arguments over it, which could go on for hours. I found it all hopelessly confusing, and I admit that I gave up even trying to understand it. I admire your courage in tackling such a challenging and difficult subject!

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    • chrissythehyphenated

      As a lifelong Catholic, I was taught to avoid the book and discussion of it altogether. The official version is it was about stuff that happened a long time ago, so apart from a few passages that tell us to shape up and keep the faith etc., it shouldn’t concern us.

      I had never even heard of Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib and Post-Trib before very recently and never heard of the Rapture until … hmm, I think it might’ve been the Left Behind books? Those made me kind of nuts, just because they had so much potential, but the authors were so flaming LAZY.

      They didn’t even bother to line up time zones in the first book and there’s a whole section in one of the later ones where they conflate mortician (a one year degree) with forensic pathology (a medical specialty that takes years AFTER medical school). I mean, sheesh. That’s just DUMB and SLOPPY.

      Then there is Hattie’s pregnancy, which I got so annoyed about, I actually tracked it through the books. The morons chasing her because of her “unborn child” were still chasing her 18 MONTHS after she conceived. Hello, people!

      I tried reading Revelation once or twice. It was gobbledygook. Then I bought my new Bible and set out the read it straight through, but something along the lines of a 2×4 upside the head got me to flip to the end and … Revelation suddenly made sense. And it made me want to just dig in and learn about the symbols and such.

      I’m having so much fun with it. But while I do have a theory about what the 7 churches sort of stand for, I haven’t seen any sign of a predictable date. Jesus did tell us only the Father knew the date and the time, but that we should watch the signs and be ready, so I’m thinking it’s okay to look for general trends and, seeing things like, oh wait, Israel IS a nation again, but predicting specific dates like the Jehovah’s and the Adventists have both done (wrongly) is off limits.

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      • History is full of examples of people who thought they had the time of Christ’s return nailed down, and all of them have been wrong. That alone is enough to make me refrain from even trying.

        I’ve never read the Left Behind books — sounds like I didn’t miss much.

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